This is the glossary of Shinto , including major terms the casual (or brand-new) reader might find useful in understanding articles on the subject. Words followed by an asterisk (*) are illustrated by an image in one of the photo galleries. Within definitions, words set in boldface are defined elsewhere in the glossary.
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Kami are the spirits, phenomena or "holy powers" that are venerated in the religion of Shinto. They can be elements of the landscape, forces of nature, as well as 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. Traditionally, great or sensational leaders like the Emperor could be or became kami.
Religion in Japan manifests primarily in Shintoism and in Buddhism, the two main faiths, which Japanese people often practice simultaneously. According to estimates, as many as 80% of the populace follow Shinto rituals to some degree, worshiping ancestors and spirits at domestic altars and public shrines. An almost equally high number is reported as Buddhist. Syncretic combinations of both, known generally as shinbutsu-shūgō, are common; they represented Japan's dominant religious practice before the rise of State Shinto in the 19th century. The western concept of "religion" as an organized doctrinal system which demands exclusive adherence is problematic in the local context of Japan. Many researchers have dismissed the idea as a non-useful tool in explaining Japanese society. Spirituality and worship are highly eclectic and personalized, and religious affiliation is an alien notion. While the vast majority of Japanese citizens follow Shinto, only some 3% identify as such in surveys, because the term is understood to imply membership of Shinto sects. Some people identify as "without religion", yet this does not signify irreligion. The mushūkyō is a specified identity which is used mostly to affirm regular, "normal" religiosity while rejecting affiliation with distinct movements perceived as foreign or extreme. Objective non-religiosity and rejection of traditional faith is evident among the urban and educated, though exact figures are hard to gather.
In Japanese religion,Yahata formerly in Shinto and later commonly known as Hachiman is the syncretic divinity of archery and war, incorporating elements from both Shinto and Buddhism.
In Japanese religion, an ofuda is a talisman made out of various materials such as paper, wood, cloth or metal. Ofuda are commonly found in both Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples and are considered to be imbued with the power of the deities (kami) or Buddhist figures revered therein. Such amulets are also called gofu (護符).
A Shinto shrine is a structure whose main purpose is to house ("enshrine") one or more kami. Its most important building is used for the safekeeping of sacred objects and not for worship. Although only one word ("shrine") is used in English, in Japanese, Shinto shrines may carry any one of many different, non-equivalent names like gongen, -gū, jinja, jingū, mori, myōjin, -sha, taisha, ubusuna or yashiro.
The Japanese word mitama refers to the spirit of a kami or the soul of a dead person. It is composed of two characters, the first of which, mi, is a simply an honorific. The second, tama (魂・霊) means "spirit". The character pair 神霊, also read mitama, is used exclusively to refer to a kami's spirit. Significantly, the term mitamashiro is a synonym of shintai, the object which in a Shinto shrine houses the enshrined kami.
A tamaya is an altar used in Shinto-style ancestor worship, dedicated in the memory of deceased forebears. It generally has a mirror symbolizing the spirits of the deceased or a tablet bearing their names and is used not only to enshrine blood relatives, but also to honor respected non-family members.
Toyouke-Ōmikami is the goddess of agriculture and industry in the Shinto religion. Originally enshrined in the Tanba region of Japan, she was called to reside at Gekū, Ise Shrine, about 1,500 years ago at the age of Emperor Yūryaku to offer sacred food to Amaterasu Ōmikami, the Sun Goddess.
Ōtoshi or Nigihayahi, commonly known: Toshigami or Ōtoshi is a Kami of the Shinto religion in Japan.
Kamidana are miniature household altars provided to enshrine a Shinto kami. They are most commonly found in Japan, the home of kami worship.
A gongen (権現), literally "incarnation", was believed to be the manifestation of a buddha in the form of an indigenous kami, an entity who had come to guide the people to salvation, during the era of shinbutsu-shūgō in premodern Japan. The words gonge (権化) and kegen (化現) are synonyms for gongen. Gongen shinkō (権現信仰) is the term for belief in the existence of gongen.
A yorishiro (依り代・依代・憑り代・憑代) in Shinto terminology is an object capable of attracting spirits called kami, thus giving them a physical space to occupy during religious ceremonies. Yorishiro are used during ceremonies to call the kami for worship. The word itself literally means approach substitute. Once a yorishiro actually houses a kami, it is called a shintai. Ropes called shimenawa decorated with paper streamers called shide often surround yorishiro to make their sacredness manifest. Persons can play the same role as a yorishiro, and in that case are called yorimashi or kamigakari.
Shinto architecture is the architecture of Japanese Shinto shrines.
Aso Shrine is a Shinto Shrine in Aso, Kumamoto Prefecture, Japan. Aso is one of the oldest shrines in Japan. This shrine holds several Important Cultural Properties, including Ichi-no-shinden (一の神殿), Ni-no-shinden (二の神殿), and Rōmon (楼門). The Aso family in charge of the shrine is said to have the second oldest recorded lineage in Japan after the Imperial family. The Aso Shrine was heavily damaged in the 2016 Kumamoto earthquakes. The shrine's rōmon completely collapsed. The haiden also collapsed.
This is the glossary of Japanese Buddhism, including major terms the casual reader might find useful in understanding articles on the subject. Words followed by an asterisk (*) are illustrated by an image in one of the photo galleries. Within definitions, words set in boldface are defined elsewhere in the glossary.
The Japanese Buddhist Pantheon designates the multitude of various Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and lesser deities and eminent religious masters in Buddhism. A Buddhist Pantheon exists to a certain extent in Mahāyāna, but is especially characteristic of Vajrayana Esoteric Buddhism, including Tibetan Buddhism and especially Japanese Shingon Buddhism, which formalized it to a great extent. In the ancient Japanese Buddhist Pantheon, more than 3,000 Buddhas or deities have been counted, although nowadays most temples focus on one Buddha and a few Bodhisattvas.
In Shinto, shintai, or go-shintai when the honorific prefix go- is used, are physical objects worshipped at or near Shinto shrines as repositories in which spirits or kami reside. Shintai used in Shrine Shinto can be also called mitamashiro.
Tsushima Shrine is a Shinto shrine in Tsushima, Aichi Prefecture, Japan. It is the head shrine of a nation-wide shrine network of shrines dedicated to the Tsushima Cult, Centered primarily in the Tōkai region, this network has approximately 3,000 shrines, and is the tenth-largest network in the country. The main kami of this faith are Gozutennō, the god of pestilences, and Susanoo, two deities which have been conflated together. For this reason, like other shrines of the network it is also called Tsushima Gozutennō-sha.
In Japan, a chinjusha is a Shinto shrine which enshrines a tutelary kami; that is, a patron spirit that protects a given area, village, building or a Buddhist temple. The Imperial Palace has its own tutelary shrine dedicated to the 21 guardian gods of Ise Shrine. Tutelary shrines are usually very small, but there is a range in size, and the great Hiyoshi Taisha for example is Enryaku-ji's tutelary shrine. The tutelary shrine of a temple or the complex the two together form are sometimes called a temple-shrine. If a tutelary shrine is called chinju-dō, it is the tutelary shrine of a Buddhist temple. Even in that case, however, the shrine retains its distinctive architecture.