Basic Terms of Shinto 神道基本用語集

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Shinbutsu shûgô
Text The harmonization of Shinto, the native Japanese religion, with Buddhism, which came from India via China. According to Buddhist doctrine, a person who has done good may become a deva after death, living in heaven, encouraging humans to do good, and acting as a protector of Buddhism. When Buddhism was introduced to Japan around 552, the word deva was translated not only as the Japanese ten, but also as kami, in order to facilitate the propagation of the new religion among the common people. This process of syncretization became particularly conspicuous during the Nara period. Before constructing the huge statue of the Buddha at the Tôdaiji in Nara (741), Emperor Shômu first commanded the priest Gyôki to report the plan to the goddess at Ise no Jingû and to make an offering of relics of the Buddha; Buddhist scriptures were also offered to the Usa Hachiman Shrine. Syncretic practices such as building shrines on temple grounds and pagodas in shrine precincts, and of reading Buddhist scriptures before Shinto deities or presenting them to shrines, all continued until the two religions were forcibly separated in the early Meiji period (see shinbutsu bunri). The theory of honji suijaku (see honji-suijaku setsu) was developed during the Heian period to explain this relationship and propagated through such movements as Shingon Shintô and Tendai Shintô.