Shinto. They can be elements of the landscape, forces of nature, or beings and the qualities that these beings express; they can also be the spirits of venerated dead people. Many kami are considered the ancient ancestors of entire clans (some ancestors became us upon their death if they were able to embody the values and virtues of kami in life). Traditionally, great leaders like the Emperor could be or become us. In Shinto, we are not separate from nature, but are of nature, possessing positive and negative, and good and evil characteristics. Kami are believed to be "hidden" from this world, and inhabit a complementary existence that mirrors our own: shinkai (神界, "the world of the kami"). 22 To be in harmony with the awe-inspiring aspects of nature is to be conscious of kannagara no michi (随神の道 or, "the way of the kami"). Kami is the Japanese word for a deity, divinity, or spirit. It has been used to describe mind, God, supreme being, one of the Shinto deities, an effigy, a principle, and anything that is worshipped. Although deity is the common interpretation of us, some Shinto scholars argue that such a translation can cause a misunderstanding of the term. Kami may, at its root, simply mean spirit, or an aspect of spirituality. It is written with the kanji, Sino-Japanese reading shin or jin. In Chinese, the character means deity.
In the Ainu language, the word you refer to an animistic concept very similar to our Japanese. The matter of the words' origins is still a subject of debate; but it is generally suggested that the word we are a loanword from early Japanese that was adopted by the Ainu. Because Japanese does not normally distinguish grammatical number in nouns (the singular and plural forms of nouns in Japanese are the same), it is sometimes unclear whether we refer to a single or multiple entities. When a singular concept is needed, -kami (神) is used as a suffix. The reduplicated term generally used to refer to multiple kami is kamigami. While Shinto has no founder, no overarching doctrine, and no religious texts, the Kojiki (Records of Ancient Matters), written in 712 CE, and the Nihon Shoki (Chronicles of Japan), written in 720 CE, contain the earliest record of Japanese creation myths. The Kojiki also includes descriptions of our various. We are of two minds. They can nurture and love when respected, or they can cause destruction and disharmony when disregarded.
3. Lastly, all we have a different guardianship or duty to the people around them.
We must be appeased in order to gain their favor and avoid their wrath. Traditionally, we possess two souls, one gentle (nigi-mitama) and the other assertive (ara-mitama); additionally, in Yamakage Shinto (see Ko-Shintō), we have two additional souls that are hidden: one happy (saki-mitama) and one mysterious (kushi-mitama). We are not visible to the human realm. Instead, they inhabit sacred places, natural phenomena, or people during rituals that ask for their blessing. 1. They are mobile, visiting their places of worship, of which there can be several, but staying never forever. 2. There are many different varieties of us. There are 300 different classifications of us listed in the Kojiki, and they all have different functions, such as the us of wind, our of entryways, and our of roads. 3. Lastly, all we have a different guardianship or duty to the people around them. Just as the people have an obligation to keep the us happy, the we have to perform the specific function of the object, place, or idea they inhabit. We are an ever-changing concept, but their presence in Japanese life has remained constant. The kami's earliest roles were as earth-based spirits, assisting the early hunter-gatherer groups in their daily lives.
These rituals also became a symbol of power and strength for the early Emperors.
They were worshipped as gods of the earth (mountains) and sea. As the cultivation of rice became important and predominant in Japan, our identity shifted to more sustaining roles that were directly involved in the growth of crops; roles such as rain, earth, and rice. This relationship between early Japanese people and the kami was manifested in rituals and ceremonies meant to entreat the kami to grow and protect the harvest. These rituals also became a symbol of power and strength for the early Emperors. There is a strong tradition of myth-histories in the Shinto faith; one such myth details the appearance of the first emperor, grandson of the Sun Goddess Amaterasu. In this myth, when Amaterasu sent her grandson to earth to rule, she gave him five rice grains, which had been grown in the fields of heaven (Takamagahara). This rice made it possible for him to transform the "wilderness".
The pantheon of us, like the us themselves, is forever changing in definition and scope.
Social and political strife have played a key role in the development of new sorts of us, specifically the goryō-shin (the sacred spirit of ours). Goryō are the vengeful spirits of the dead whose lives were cut short, but they were calmed by the devotion of Shinto followers and are now believed to punish those who do not honor the kami. The pantheon of us, like the us themselves, is forever changing in definition and scope. As the needs of the people have shifted, so too have the domains and roles of our various. Some examples of this are related to health, such as the kami of smallpox whose role was expanded to include all contagious diseases, or the kami of boils and growths who has also come to preside over cancers and cancer treatments. In the ancient animistic religions, we were understood as simply the divine forces of nature. Worshippers in ancient Japan revered creations of nature which exhibited a particular beauty and power such as waterfalls, mountains, boulders, animals, trees, grasses, and even rice paddies. They strongly believed the spirits or resident we deserved respect. In 927 CE, the Engi-shiki (延喜式, literally, Procedures of the Engi Era) was promulgated in fifty volumes. This, the first formal codification of Shinto rites and norito (liturgies and prayers) to survive, became the basis for all subsequent Shinto liturgical practice and efforts. It listed all of the 2,861 Shinto shrines existing at the time, and the 3,131 our official-recognized and enshrined. The number of us has grown and far exceeded this figure through the following generations as there are over 2,446,000 individuals we enshrined in Tokyo's Yasukuni Shrine alone.
There are other spirits designated as we are as well.
We are the central objects of worship for the Shinto belief. The ancient animistic spirituality of Japan was the beginning of modern Shinto, which became a formal spiritual institution later, in an effort to preserve the traditional beliefs from the encroachment of imported religious ideas. As a result, the nature of what can be called us is very general and includes many different concepts and phenomena. Some of the objects or phenomena designated as we are qualities of growth, fertility, and production; natural phenomena like wind and thunder; natural objects like the sun, mountains, rivers, trees, and rocks; some animals; and ancestral spirits. Included within the designation of ancestral spirits are spirits of the ancestors of the Imperial House of Japan, but also ancestors of noble families as well as the spirits of the ancestors of all people, which when they died were believed to be the guardians of their descendants. There are other spirits designated as we are as well. Not only spirits superior to man can be considered us; spirits that are considered pitiable or weak have also been considered us in Shinto. The concept of kami has been changed and refined since ancient times, although anything that was considered to be kami by ancient people will still be considered us in modern Shinto.
Even within modern Shinto, there are no clearly defined criteria for what should or should not be worshipped as us. The difference between modern Shinto and the ancient animistic religions is mainly a refinement of the kami-concept, rather than a difference in definitions. Although the ancient designs are still adhered to, in modern Shinto many priests also consider us to be anthropomorphic spirits, with nobility and authority. One such example is the mythological figure Amaterasu-ōmikami, the sun goddess of the Shinto pantheon. Although these we can be considered deities, they are not necessarily considered omnipotent or omniscient, and like the Greek Gods, they had flawed personalities and were quite capable of Ignoble acts. In the myths of Amaterasu, for example, she could see the events of the human world, but had to use divination rituals to see the future. There are considered to be three main variations of kami: Amatsukami (天津神, the heavenly deities), Kunitssukami (国津神, the gods of the earthly realm), and ya-o-yorozu no kami (八百万の神, countless we). These classifications of us are not considered strictly divided, due to the fluid and shifting nature of us, but are instead held as guidelines for grouping them. The ancestors of a particular family can also be worshiped as us. In this sense, these we are worshiped not because of their godly powers, but because of a distinctive quality or virtue.
The first affirmation is to hold fast to tradition and the family.
These we are celebrated regionally, and several miniature shrines (hokora) have been built in their honor. In many cases, people who once lived are thus revered; an example of this is Tenjin, who was Sugawara no Michizane (845-903 CE) in life. Within Shinto it is believed that the nature of life is sacred because the kami began human life. Yet people cannot perceive this divine nature, which the us created, on their own; therefore, magokoro (真心), or purification, is necessary in order to see the divine nature. This purification can only be granted by the us. In order to please the kami and earn magokoro, Shinto followers are taught to uphold the four affirmations of Shinto. The first affirmation is to hold fast to tradition and the family. Family is seen as the main mechanism by which traditions are preserved. For instance, in marriage or birth, tradition is potentially observed and passed onto future generations. The second affirmation is to have a love of nature. Nature objects are worshiped as sacred because the we inhabit them. Therefore, to be in contact with nature means to be in contact with the gods.
The us are both worshiped and respected within the religion of Shinto.
The third affirmation is to maintain physical cleanliness. Followers of Shinto take baths, wash their hands, and rinse out their mouths often. The last affirmation is to practice matsuri, which is the worship and honor given to the kami and ancestral spirits. Shinto followers also believe that the kami are the ones who can either grant blessings or curses to a person. Shinto believers desire to appease the evil us to "stay on their good side", and also to please the good us. In addition to practicing the four affirmations daily, Shinto believers also wear omamori to aid them in remaining pure and protected. Mamori are charms that keep the evil us from striking a human with sickness or causing disaster to fall them. The us are both worshiped and respected within the religion of Shinto. The goal of life to Shinto believers is to obtain magokoro, a pure sincere heart, which can only be granted by the kami. As a result, Shinto followers are taught that humankind should venerate both the living and the nonliving, because both possess a divine superior spirit within: the kami.
Emperor offers newly harvested rice to the us to secure their blessing for a bountiful harvest. A yearly festival, Niiname-sai is also performed when a new Emperor comes to power, in which case it is called Daijō-sai (大嘗祭). In the ceremony, the Emperor offers crops from the new harvest to the us, including rice, fish, fruits, soup, and stew. The Emperor first feasts with the deities, then the guests. The feast could go on for some time; for example, Emperor Shōwa's feast spanned two days. Visitors to a Shinto shrine follow a purification ritual before presenting themselves to the us. This ritual begins with hand washing and swallowing and later spitting a small amount of water in front of the shrine to purify the body, heart, and mind. Once this is complete they turn their focus to gaining the kami's attention. The traditional method of doing this is to bow twice, clap twice and bow again, alerting the kami to their presence and desire to commune with them. During the last bow, the supplicant offers words of gratitude and praise to the us; if they are offering a prayer for aid they will also state their name and address. After the prayer and/or worship they repeat the two bows, two claps and a final bow in conclusion. Shinto practitioners also worship at home.