Encyclopedia of Shinto

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カテゴリー1: 7. Concepts and Doctrines
カテゴリー2: Research on Shinto
Archaeological Research
The archeology of Shintō is a field that focuses on sites and relics relating to rituals, as well as other archeological materials that can shed light on ancient beliefs. As a field of study, Shintō archeology was advocated, outlined and defined by Ōba Iwao in 1935. Ōba dedicated himself to its development until his death in 1975. The work he produced over this period of forty years can be divided into an early and a late period. First, however, it is necessary to discuss a few pre-Meiji scholars who had interests that we would now call archeological.

Research in the early modern period
Already in the Edo period there were scholars with an interest in archeological materials, comparitively few of them focused on sites and relics related to religious belief. Among ritual objects, quite a number of scholars make mention of the strikingly shaped komochi magatama (large magatama or "comma-shaped beads" mounted with small magatama). They are mentioned, for example, in Kiuchi Sekitei's Unkon shi, Tanigawa Kotosuga's Sekkentō , Tanki manroku and Jindai koki, and Matsuura Hiroshi's Hatsumu yokyō. At the time, these objects were mostly thought to have used as a pommel for the hilts of stone swords. However, we should also take note of Ban Nobutomo, who refered to the magical nature of komochi magatama in his Jinmyōchō kōshō (in his discussion of Ikeda shrine in Shinano province, now Tamayori-hime Jinja). Also the more common usudama ("mortar-shaped beads") appear to have attracted the attention of scholars in various parts of Japan. Tanigawa wrote about them in his Usudama ; but more famous are the usudama excavated in large numbers at Mount Miwa in Yamato province. Ninagawa Shikitane (Kanko zusetsu) and Kanamori Tokusui (Honchō tōki kōshō) recorded how these beads were excavated together with numerous pieces of earthenware. The site, popularly known as Chausuyama, is near to the closed-off area behind the worship hall at what is today Ōmiwa Jinja. Also, Seki Shigetaka published drawings of earthenware and usudama found at Hitsuishi on Mount Akagi (today Miyosawa, Miyagi Village, Gunma prefecture) in his Koki zusetsu, and argued that this was a ritual site. Anchū shi, compiled by Itakura Katsuaki, includes a report on the excavation of sword-shaped objects and "rosary beads" (actually usudama) from the Iriyama pass, today on the border between the prefectures of Gunma and Nagano. Itakura expressed his surprise at the fact that such objects were found at a place where there are no kofun grave-mounds. Finally, horses of earthenware (called doba) are mentioned in many works, but they were not recognised as ritual objects.

From Meiji
Archeology was established as an academic field in the Meiji period, and it was from this time onwards that reporting on archeological sites and objects began. The first report on a ritual site was by Ōno Ungai, who worked on the Higashi Nagata site in Chiba Prefecture. Of special importance is A journey to Okitsu-shima (Okitsu-shima kikō) by Etō Masasumi, who excavated the closed-off area of Isonokami Jingū in 1874 and surveyed Munakata's Oki-no-shima in 1888. Takahashi Kenji's A study of stone replicas found on kofun (Kofun hakken sekisei mozō kigu no kenkyū, 1919) stands on the faulty premise that all sites where stone replicas are found are kofun; but the work nevertheless retains its documentary value even after the discovery (first presented in the report on the Miwa Yama-no-kami site) that such objects were not necessarily connected to kofun. Moreover, in the early decades of the twentieth century the academic scene was enlived by a heated discussion over the question whether the Jingoseki site was a hill fortress or a ritual site.
As observations relating to ancient ritual attracted attention from different quarters, the category of "ritual sites" was introduced for the first time by Iwata Jōkei in 1924 in Japanese archeology (Nihon kōkogaku), and it was maintained in subsequent publications. If we leave aside Torii Ryūzō's work on megaliths, reporting on ritual sites in various regions of Japan began in the early Shōwa period (from 1925 onwards). Especially after 1945 such reporting increased rapidly in volume. A series of excavations on Oki-no-shima from 1954 onwards, and the voluminous reports produced in their wake, such as Oki-no-shima, Oki-no-shima continued (Zoku Oki-no-shima), Munakata Oki-no-shima, and Munakata Oki-no-shima, the Shōsōin of the sea (Umi no Shōsōin Munakata Oki-no-shima), had a great impact on the field. Also, an excavation at Mount Nantaisan in Nikkō (in 1959) and its report (published in 1964) attracted attention as an important instance as a Shinbutu-shūgō historical site, both in qualitative and quantitative terms.

The establishment of Shintō archeology
In 1935, Ōba Iwao published an article entitled "An organisation for advocacy of Shintō Archaeology" (Shintō kōkogaku no teishō to sono soshiki) in the journal Jinja kyōkai zasshi, Vol. 34 No.1. In the introduction to this article he stated that it was his intention to "plan for the establishment of an archeology that is based on Shintō, the original religion of our country that has persisted as a system of thought among the Japanese since the founding of our land." As to the "reason for and significance of advocating a Shintō archeology," Ōba emphasised the necessity of introducing archaeological research methods, arguing that in contrast study of Shintō up to that point, which had researched Shintō from historical and philosophical perspectives, "only archeological research will enable us to explore the forms in which kami spirits were enshrined before the origin of shrine buildings, or to study ancient ritual on the basis of discovered remains, since there are no written materials on such matters." He defined the scope and aim of Shintō archeology as "the study of all phenomena related to our original religion of Shintō through the analysis of relics and sites." He indicated that there are subtle differences between Shintō archeology and archeology in general, and defined the former as "the discipline that studies all phenomena that have their background in Shintō as the original religion of our country, on the basis of material remains."
In the early 1920's, Ōba gained a position at the Shrine Bureau of the Ministry of Home Affairs surveying treasures preserved at major shrines throughout Japan and arranged for the publication of records of shrines and their treasures. Under the name of Miyaji Naokazu, who headed the Research Division of the Shrine Bureau, he published a volume on Shrines and Archeology (Jinja to Kōkogaku, Yūzankaku) in the series Lectures on Archeology (Kōkogaku kōza). It was his participation in the excavation of the Kisamisenda site on the Izu peninsula in 1927 that finally occasioned his advocacy of Shintō archeology. As well as his basic expertise as an archeologist, he was also heavily influenced by the ethnology of Orikuchi Shinobu, who was his teacher and advisor at Kokugakuin University, and the document-based Deities history (Jingishi) of the aforementioned Miyaji Naokazu. In 1943 Ōba published Essays in Shintō Archeology (Shintō kōkogaku ronkō) and in 1948 he earned his doctoral degree with his A Study of Ritual Sites (Saishi iseki no kenkyū). While lecturing on Shintō archeology at Kokugakuin University, he gradually changed its contents, and proposed a restructuring of the field in his Shintō Archeology as a System (Shintō kōkogaku no taikei), published in 1964. By focusing on sites and relics he integrated the field more closely with modern archeology, and introduced a periodisation that distinguished between: (1) The period of proto-Shintō; (2) The period of nascent Shintō; and (3) The period of cultured Shintō.

Modern research
Ōba dedicated the later years of his life to the compilation of his own collected works and the editing of a series of volumes called Lectures on Shintō Archeology (Shintō kōkogaku kōza). A range of scholars participated in this series, and it contributed to the further expansion of the field.
At the same time, excavations multiplied as remains from all periods were discovered in a great many places, and the number of archeologists boomed. Historical places and objects that had been impossible to reconstruct on the basis of historical documents alone were recovered at sites such as the old Imperial palace in Nara (Heijōkyū). Of special importance are the written records on excavated strips of wood (mokkan), the discovery of the Daijōkyū (enthronement hall) from the Nara period, and of a structure that is believed to be the site of the ancient Jingikan. Equally noteworthy are the numerous wooden figurines (hitogata) used for the ritual of Great Purification (ōharae) at the imperial court, and of objects similar to the iron figurines mentioned in the Engi shiki. Hitogata figurines, imigushi (skewers used for the removal of impurity), and earthenware figures with facial marks in ink have also been found at the sites of Fujiwara-kyō and Nagaoka-kyō, as well as provincial and district headquarters (kokuga, gunga). These finds are gradually revealing how ritual procedures spread from the center to the provinces, where the examples set by Ritsuryō institutions would appear to have been followed closely.
In 1978 Inoue Mitsusada published the article The rituals of ancient Oki-no-Shima, (Kodai Oki-no-Shima no saishi), first published in Tōdai 30-yonen, later reproduced in Nihon kodai ōken to saishi. A few years later, Inoue became the first director of the National Museum of Japanese History opened at Sakura, Chiba Prefecture in 1981. Here, he raised the theme of "ancient beliefs in Japan," and organized numerous seminars relating to this topic. In 1985 this resulted in Ancient rituals and beliefs (Kodai saishi to shinkō) with the accompanying volume A list of place names where ritual relics have been excavated (Saishi kankei ibutsu shutsudo chimeihyō), both published as volume 7 of the museum's own journal. Other important works that appeared around this time include excavation reports such as Kamei Masamichi, Tatehokoyama, Ōba Iwao et al., Musashi Ikō and Misaka-tōge, and Sugiyama Shigetsugu, Iriyama-tōge, and studies such as Ono Shin'ichi, Ritual Sites (Saishi iseki) and A list of place names of ritual sites (Saishi iseki chimei sōran), Sano Hirokazu, The World of Magic and Archeology (Jujutsu sekai to kōkogaku), Okamoto Kenji, Shintō Archeology in Tosa (Tosa Shintō kōkogaku), Koide Yoshiharu, Haji earthenware and rituals (Hajiki to saishi), and many others. With the appearance of this large body of detailed research on individual sites and remains, the scope of research topics is steadily broadening as new periods are addressed. The trend is towards a progressive diversification of approaches and reconstructions.

— Sugiyama Shigetsugu

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