Encyclopedia of Shinto

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カテゴリー1: 1. General Introduction
カテゴリー2: History of Shrines and Shinto
1. Ancient Shinto (1)
Because Shinto is regarded as a natural or ethnic religion, its origins cannot be clearly specified. Rather, it must be considered a religion that was nurtured over a long history. Kami worship (jingi saishi) or shrine Shinto became systematized in a variety of aspects in or just before the period of the Ritsuryō codes, but the cultic forms on which the system was based had taken shape before that, and those were systematized at a stage where they had already received strong continental influence. Since no documentary evidence exists from the period before the reign of Suiko (r. 593-628), we are left to speculate on the basis of fragments transmitted from earlier times.

Evidence from Kojiki and Nihonshoki
Ritual worship (matsuri) is a central element of Shinto, and we can speculate on the primitive forms of such worship based on descriptions in Kojiki and Nihonshoki (the term kiki is also used when referring to both texts simultaneously). For example, banquets held to celebrate the building of a new hall can be seen in Kumaso Takeru's Nihimuro utage which is contained in the records of Keikō's legendary reign (c. 71-130 C.E.), and in the story of Shijimu of Harima Province (in present-day Hyōgo Prefecture), from the reign of legendary Emperor Seinei (c. 480-484). The observance of the rite of Toyonoakari as part of the Niinamesai is seen in the tale of Uneme of Mie in the legendary records of legendary Emperor Yūryaku (reigned c. 418-479). The poems for this occasion were called "songs of heavenly words" (amakoto-uta), and they were passed down to be sung in future observances of the Niinamesai.
Further, Kojiki relates that Ōkibitsuhiko no mikoto and Wakahiko Takebitsuhiko no mikoto placed iwaibe (ceremonial urns) at Hikawa no Saki ("before the Hi River") in Harima Province, and made that place their base when proceeding to conquer Kibi Province (a region including parts of present-day Okayama, Hiroshima, Hyōgo and Kagawa Prefectures). Kojiki's description of the reign of Sujin (c. 97-30 B.C.E.) also reports that iwaibe were placed at Wanisaka (in present-day Nara Prefecture) before an army was deployed on the occasion of the rebellion by Takehaniyasu. From the fact that ritual worship was carried out at important tactical locales such as mountain passes before advancing with an army, and that in Nihongi's record of legendary Emperor Sujin, red shields and spears were offered to the kami of Sumizaka while black spears and shields were offered to the kami of Ōsaka, it can be surmised that these rituals of worship directed to the tutelaries of representative mountain passes to east and west were ceremonies to border deities (sakai no kami). At the same time, such entries also suggest the extent of the boundaries of the Kinai region at that time.
Nihongi record of Sujin also relates that the kami Yamato Ōkunitama was served by a man named Nagaochi, but it was only from the Ritsuryō period that such kunitama deities (spirits of the land) were worshipped in various parts of the country. The Sujin records also relate that Atahime, wife of Takehaniyasuhiko, secretly collected earth from Kaguyama in Yamato, wrapped it in a scrap of magical cloth, and prayed over it as the "essence" (monozane) of Yamato. The same story is related in earlier accounts of legendary Emperor Jinmu entry into Yamato. Such accounts suggest the practice of taking the monozane of a province as a magical means of determining victory in battle there, a motif that appears to link the concept of border deities (sakai no kami) to spirits of the land (kunitama).
Also, Nihongi relates that Jimmu was instructed in this magical practice from a kami that appeared in a dream, but instructions from the kami can also be transmitted by oracles delivered while under divine possession. In Kojiki's record of legendary Emperor Chūai (c. 192-200 C.E.), the emperor plays a koto and his consort Jingū becomes possessed (see kamigakari , takusen ); the words of the deity are heard by the spirit medium (saniwa) Minister Takeshiuchi no Sukune. After Emperor Chūai dies, Takeshiuchi no Sukune plays the koto, and once again the empress is possessed, with the divine oracle being heard by Nakatomi no Ikatsu no Omi in the role of saniwa. In short, a central male plays the koto, a female becomes possessed by the kami, and her words are heard and transmitted by another male. In Nihongi record of Sujin, the name of the deity Ōmononushi no kami is revealed by the emperor's aunt, Yamato Totohimomoso Hime while she is in a state of possession. While no koto is played in this case, the words of the kami are once again transmitted through a female and heard by a male. Other objects of kami possession included children of both sexes. It was believed that events would turn out well if worship were performed or government policies undertaken in accordance with the instructions of the kami revealed on such occasions. Alongside plastromancy and other magical forms of divination (bokusen), possession and oracles represented important elements of ancient period religion.
That women played important roles in worship of the kami is indicated by Nihongi record of Sujin's reign, according to which Toyosukiirihime received an oracle from Amaterasu ōmikami and in response enshrined the kami in Kasanui Village in Yamato, and later in the same record when the kami departed from Toyosukiirihime and possessed Yamatohime no mikoto, having her serve the kami as the kami's "august staff" (mitsueshiro). These customs are related to the later institution of itsukinomiko (or saiō ), young daughters or sisters of the emperor assigned as virgin priestesses to the service of the kami (see saigū ). On the other hand, cases are also seen in which men served in worship, as in the case when Ōmononushi was to be worshipped by Ōtataneko, or when Yamato Ōkunitama no kami was to be served by Nagaochi.
These texts also reflect concretely on the manner in which ritual was carried out. Nihongi record of Chūai's reign states that when Kumawani, ancestor of Okanoagatanushi, and Itote, ancestor of Itoagatanushi received the emperor, they "hung an eight-span jeweled necklace, a bronze mirror, and a ten-span sword on an uprooted sakaki tree, and told the emperor 'may you oversee mountains, rivers, and oceans as clearly as the bronze mirror, may you govern as skillfully as the intricately curved jewels, and may you pacify the realm with this ten-span sword."
Similarly, in a poem attributed to Crown Prince Karu recorded in Kojiji's record of Emperor Ingyō and also transmitted by Man'yōshū , mention is made of a "mirror hung on a sacred post (igui)", and "jewels hung on a true post (magui)," as well as the erection of sacred poles as part of riverside worship. While the earlier example is transmitted in the context of greeting the emperor, its format is common to kami worship as well.
Many other important issues remain in the study of ancient Shinto, including worship of the kami of heaven and earth ( Tenjinchigi ), the role of inspector (kengyō) of shrine treasures ( shinpō ) at Izumo and Izushi shrines, the background to the construction of the Sumiyoshi and other eminent shrines in various locales, the practice of "trial by boiling water" said to have been used to investigate proper names and titles during the reign of Emperor Ingyō, and the introduction of Buddhism.

Reports of Japan in the Chinese Chronicles of Wei (Wei Zhi; Jp. Gishi )
We may also speculate on the form of ancient Shinto based on ancient Chinese records. Sangokushi (Ch. Sanguo Zhi, History of Three Lands), compiled by Chen Shou (Jp. Chinju, d. 297), especially that portion called the Gishi Wajinden, reflects on customs in Japan during the mid-third century. Since the record was written outside Japan, it may involve errors of transmission, but it is significant in that the original document on which the author relied was the Weilue (Jp. Giryaku) by Yu Huan (Jp. Gyoken), who was reporting on events that had occurred during his lifetime. According to that work, when a voyage was made from Japan to China, one man was selected as a "mourning keeper." He did not use a comb or remove the lice or fleas from his hair. He allowed his clothing to become dirty, and he abstained from meat and contacts with women, overall acting as one in mourning. If the voyage met with success, the mourning keeper was given presents, but if an epidemic occurred or foul weather visited, it was thought to be because the mourning keeper had not been meticulous in his behavior.
This role is believed to have been the same as that of the later "master of rites" who was included on boats sailing on official missions to China. The persons filling this role were appointed from the Tsumori family of priests at the Sumiyoshi Shrine in Settsu Province (in present-day Osaka Prefecture). The description that the mourning keeper resembled one at a funeral implies a professional priest (shinshoku), someone who remained in a state of taboo and seclusion while accompanying the mission to pray for its safety. This record also describes funeral ritual, specifically noting that meat was not eaten, letting us know that this custom existed even before Buddhism's arrival. It is also noted that after a funeral the family would immerse themselves in water, and it is recorded that mourning in the kingdom of Wa lasted a year and was broken by bathing. Thus purifying lustration (kessai) was observed after a funeral.
Moreover, when we consult the section concerning Queen Himiko, it records that "she dealt with spirits (kidō) and confused the people." The meaning of "confused" here is that her words caused the people to be convinced, and the "spirits" in question were probably spirits of nature. As a result, it may be possible to interpret the name "Himiko" as meaning "august child (miko) of the sun (hi)," or "the miko (priestess) of the sun," suggesting the ancient practice of sun worship. The record states that though advanced in years, she had no husband, and that almost no one had seen her since her accession. She had a thousand female servants, but only one man waited upon her to hear her words or serve her food. In short, the mass of women had no contact with her. Her younger brother assisted her in ruling, but because Himiko never appeared before the people, someone had to transmit her words. This role was limited to a single male only, and the younger brother implemented the instructions received from his sister. This story bears a resemblance to the story mentioned above from the reign of Chūai, though the man in question there was not a younger brother. Thus, even in the mid-third century we can see evidence of ritual practices that can be linked to later institutions of purification (misogi), divine oracles, and specialized ritualists.

Archaeological Sources
Speculations on the form of ancient Shinto may also be based on archaeological sources. The relation between outdoor rituals and the development of shrine architecture is rather complex. Builders of the Jōmon period, utilizing massive pillars, did not merely erect logs, but split them and joined them with lateral ties as seen at the Koyabe site in Toyama Prefecture, suggesting that the structures may have possessed large upper levels that have not yet been reconstructed. Such details may be related to the extremely tall construction speculated for the prehistoric Kizuki Taisha of Izumo.
In the Tōhoku region, there can be found remains of large Jōmon-period pit dwellings exceeding thirty meters on a side. They are regarded as having been used for large gatherings, but if so, the gatherings were likely for purposes of ritual and not ordinary assemblies, thus, it may be possible to consider them as ritual sites or large shrine structures. However, it is difficult to indicate what elements of Jōmon period ritual practice continued on to be included in later ritual forms. Although the ritual use of implements like stone pillars or clubs may be linked to later elements of phallic worship, problems of interpretation remain.
From the middle of the Yayoi period, we find bronze ritual implements, notably weapons and the characteristically bell-shaped objects known as dōtaku, but we have no documents specifying how these were actually used and these items were found buried earth providing little or no clues concerning their function. These do not appear to have been merely abandoned at ritual sites as in the case of later periods, and the burial locations do not generally overlap with ritual sites in continuous use later in time. In a very few cases, the earlier ritual sites coincide with the later worship of large rocks that continued to later periods, such as the standing rock on the mountainside of Kinomuneyama in Hiroshima Prefecture and the shrine at Gotobiki-iwa in Wakayama Prefecture, but overall, such examples are very rare. In short, it is difficult to link the earlier burial sites of bronze ritual implements, such as the Kōjindani site in Shimane Prefecture, to the ritual practices of later ages.
The rituals of the Takaoka Shrine of Kōchi Prefecture involve the use of ancient bronze halberds, but this is not a practice that continued from the prehistoric period, but rather a result of the later discovery of such implements and adoption of them in ritual practice. It is also apparent from the treatment accorded a "precious bell" discovered at the time of the construction of the temple Ishiyamadera (in Shiga Prefecture) that the people of the time had already completely forgotten what a dōtaku was.
Nevertheless, from the end of the early into the mid-Yayoi period, a regular set of implements begins appearing in tomb mounds, including mirrors (kagami), swords, halberds and other weapons, and the curved stone jewels known as magatama. From the middle of the period tomb burials are accompanied by numerous bronze mirrors, obviously a practice that continues into the laterKofun period, indicating the birth of a new way of thinking not evident on the Korean peninsula or Asian continent. These practices continue into later Shrine cults, and can be considered evidence of a unique Japanese culture. Combined with such foreign objects as swords, mirrors, and magatama (in use since the Jōmon period) having clearly religious meaning, many glass items were also produced from the Yayoi period. Manufacture of jade objects continued and was transmitted into the Kofun period. Not only jade, but also the manufacturer of so-called "Izumo stone" (agate) beads increased, including some of red amber color called akamenō, although the bluish type are overwhelmingly more numerous. This is connected with the use of softer stone materials for the manufacture of replica ritual implements.
In the early Kofun period, jasper goods were produced for ritual use but this made from blue stone representing a break with the South Sea shell rings that served as the original form of these ritual objects. In addition, jeweled staffs, chairs, arrowheads and other weapons were manufactured and buried, not in the belief that the dead would use them in the afterlife, but that such objects could pacify the souls of the dead. Along with an increase in the production and decrease in quality of these stone items, items such as swords, leather-sheathed knives, mirrors, axes, sickles and magatama began to appear in miniature form. Upon close examination of the composition of these remains, along with items buried with the deceased, it appears to be obvious that there are indications of differences and, although similar ritual implements were employed in instances of rites specifically for the kami and intermediary pre-burial rites, these were understood differently. Along with fifth-century ritual relics such as these unearthed at old shrines, at sites such as at large rock outcroppings, in ravines, on islands and promontories, and at the foot of mountains where religious traditions and rituals have taken place stone and ceramic items have been discovered. Additionally, some ritual sites have been identified at the seashore or on riverbanks, but natural conditions make it difficult for such sites to be preserved. There are also examples of ritual goods buried at the foot of great trees, a situation which can be observed similarly in the outdoor ritual sites of later ages. No evidence remains of the use of paper or cloth goods, and therefore it is difficult to prove, but judging from later folk rites the possibility exists that such goods were also used in ancient times.
In the Kofun period we find such magical items as "compound magatama (komochi magatama)." These appear in the shape of magatami producing offspring, and can be considered kind of religious belief that stones could grow, multiply, and move by themselves. Such beliefs would appear to be at odds with the belief that stones are immobile and unchanging, but the two beliefs apparently coexisted.
Horses were thought to be related to water, with the result that horse images made of earth, stone, or straw, or painted horse pictures (ema) were used in prayers for rain (kiu) and fine weather. On the other hand, in some cases such horse images were treated as mounts for kami of pestilence (see Goryō shinkō ) and cast off in bodies of water in the hope that the pestilence would be taken far away. Similar beliefs existed in relation to birds and boats, but as continental beliefs, including Yin-Yang thought, were introduced, those particularly related to the Ritsuryō system of codes were diffused from the capital to provincial centers and to temples and shrines. Rites of purification (harae) such as the "seven tides purification" (nanase no harae) appeared in time, together with the use of human-shaped paper images (hitogata) or vessels with painted human faces. The human images used in the Great Purification (ōbarae) were meant to serve as surrogates (katashiro) for the purpose of taking on people's transgressions (tsumi) and pollutions (kegare), after which they were floated away in bodies of water with the hope of prolonging life.
In addition to these rites performed out of doors, evidence of rituals performed inside dwellings has also been found beginning in the Kofun Period, although the issue of when shrine buildings began to be constructed is a separate question; a very few sites dating from this period have been pointed out as possibly being shrines. Because shrines were considered buildings serving as the seat of the kami, however, actual rites were performed outside, and it was probably not until the Heian period that ritualists entered the building to perform rites as seen in the haiden architecture of more recent times. Nevertheless, as shrine architecture took form, shrine treasures were stored inside, thus serving to ensure the transmission of ritual forms. As the objects of indoor rites, bronze mirrors, stone jewels, and swords were viewed as particularly appropriate objects in which the kami might dwell, but outdoor rites also continued to be performed, directed toward stones and other natural objects. The appearance of statues of kami (shinzō) had to await the advent of Buddhism.
— Sugiyama Shigetsugu

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