國學院大學
國學院大學デジタルミュージアム

Encyclopedia of Shinto

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カテゴリー1 6. Belief and Practice
カテゴリー2 Introduction
Title
Text This portion will address various faiths that had shrines at their center but were broadly disseminated. This will include explanations of mountain beliefs that developed from the medieval to early modern period, kōshin and similar folk cults, varieties of invocations and divination (bokusen) that are also treated here as forms of faith, and the social groups that formed around these various religious practices. This is done in an attempt examine various forms of religious faith from a broader perspective.
     Although the discussion will be limited to major examples, the succeeding contains, beginning with the Grand Shrines of Ise, more than twenty examples of shrine based faiths. Several typologies can be suggested for the distribution of the kami involved in such cults.
     As an example of the spread of a shrine cult centered on an ethnic group, the Suwa and Munakata cults presented here, a form based on the cult of the Kamo Shrines in Kyoto, as indicated by the nationwide distribution of place names and shrines of that lineage. These kami were originally worshiped by specific lineages, but subsequently evolved into tutelaries of geographical regions.
     In relation to the shrines involved, the Heian period saw the spread of the cult of the "child kami" (mikogami) of the shrine Kashima Jingū to Japan's northeastern region, and the original Kashima Jingū is considered to have been related to the rituals of this cult. The Kashima kami was likewise moved to Nara to be enshrined at the shrine Kasuga Taisha, where rites were supported by shrine taxes from the Kashima region, thus illustrating the relationship between locally dedicated kami and their original shrines. Even into the early modern period, the distribution of Kashima emblems (shinsatsu) by itinerant Kashima priests called kotobure was a means of spreading the Kashima cult among the common people. The popularity of the "three-shrine pilgrimage" that included Katori, Kashima and Ikisu was the result of the development of inland waterway transport on the Tonegawa and other rivers, and is also related to the growing economic status of the Edo populace. Since the ancient period, the cults of the Katori and Kashima kami were strongly devoted to these deities as mighty military tutelaries, and particularly at the time of the Mongol invasions (1274 and 1281), entreaties were made to the shrines for defeat of the foreign power. The custom of kashima-dachi (making a visit of supplication to the Kashima Shrine before beginning an important battle or journey) and the common practice of enshrining these kami in martial arts dōjō are likewise based on their nature as strong military deities.
     As exemplified by the case of shinmeisha (small local shrines dedicated to the kami of Ise ) and shrines dedicated to Kasuga, some kami were enshrined upon lands donated to large shrines as shōen and mikuriya (manors or estates meant for the provision of grains and other supplies to the shrines). And these small shrines continued to exist even after the dissolution of the manor organizations themselves. Later, onshi (or oshi), a type of priest, who distributed emblems and encouraged pilgrimage to the Grand Shrines of Ise also played a role in the spread of shrine faith among the classes of commoners. As for the kami of Kasuga, under the auspices of the Fujiwara a large number of locations associated with provincial and district government (kokuga and gūke) came under the control of Kōfukuji and shrine Kasuga Taisha with the result that the kami of Kasuga was frequently enshrined as a tutelary (chinjusha) on such estates leading to this kami's distribution throughout the entire nation. The kami Hachiman became widely dispersed as the champion of the construction of Tōdaiji and its subsequent role as Buddhist temple tutelary, and through associations with the rising medieval period warrior clans. In the same way, the kami Hie Sannō was enshrined to protect the temples of the Tendai sect and many of these shrines gained independence beginning in the Meiji Period. This represents another pattern illustrating the manner in which shrines proliferated.
     Some coastal areas are populated by peoples who migrated on ocean currents, resulting in another form of shrine distribution. It has been said that the large concentration of Kumano shrines on the Bōsō Peninsula (Chiba Prefecture) is related to this kind of seaborne migration, but the nationwide proliferation of the Kumano shrines is more likely a result of the propagation efforts by Kumano oshi (priestly guides for pilgrims), and bikuni (itinerant female nuns who canvassed for donations to the shrine).
     Cults to the shrines of Gion (Yasaka Shrine, Kyoto) and Tsushima are intimately connected to the Shinto-Buddhist syncretic worship of the deity Gozu Tennō, but because of a connection also develops with the kami Mutō Tenshin of Bingo no kuni fudoki, these kami also came to be worshiped primarily in the Kansai region in the form of the Somin Shōrai cult (see gozu tennō ). The origins of the nationwide custom of passing through a ring of cogon grass (chi no wa) on the occasion of summer rites of purification (nagoshi no harae) is also drawn from this cult. Invocations and prayers for the healing of illnesses are linked with cults surrounding the Buddha Yakushi, but at shrines of this kind, which are called Yasaka or Yagumo, the powerful deity Susanoo is worshipped.
     Further, in cases where illnesses are thought to be the result of evil-spirit possession, healing is effected by exorcizing the spirit involved, an element of shrine cults important around Izumo and other parts of western Japan.
     Ascetic practitioners called yamabushi who had practiced in the mountains and obtained power from the kami were through the various faith healing and folk remedies involved in salvational activities among the masses and sought to heal both spiritual and physical ailments. One example of this is medicines of Toyama (Toyama baiyaku). This kind of mountain cult derives from beliefs that the mountains are dwellings or domains of kami, and that the kami there will provide water, instruction about weather, and knowledge of one's position on the sea. At times, such mountain kami also may become the kami of rice paddies or ancestors. Within Shinto-Buddhist syncretic cults, mountains could be viewed as Buddha's "Pure Land" and/or as hell. And over time, these multifarious cultic practices also changed forms. The style and naming of groups associated with the different faiths also varies depending on local custom and organizational requirements of the time.
— Sugiyama Shigetsugu
國學院デジタルミュージアム
國學院大學
國學院大學デジタルミュージアム
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