YouTube channel “Nikko-City(日光市)”
Do you know which religion is unique to Japan, Shinto or Buddhism?
The Japanese are an odd people. They visit shrines on New Year’s Day, throw beans at the change of the season, give presents to their close person on Valentine’s Day, enjoy special dinner at Christmas, and their children believe in Santa Claus.
At held to wedding they wear wedding dress or suits, when a life is lost they are put one’s hands together and a monk hits a wooden fish.
I never found them “It’s a strange”. But you would be think “It’s a strange”. I am a Japanese living in Nikko-City in Japan, and if I were asked “What do you believe kind of religion?”, I might answer “Nothing at all”. Well, oddly enough.
Japanese has unique religious views. Why did that? It’s have relationship with Japan history. I will introduce them together.
Japanese shrine ~Japan has YAOYOROZU no KAMI~
Japanese shrine is building of “神道(Shinto)”.
Japan has shinto since a long time ago. I think, that is introduced “Yaoyorozu no Kami“ in overseas maybe. Mean is “Eight Million Gods“ but the original meaning is “there are too many gods to counting“.
In Shinto, “God(神)” is enshrined. Oh, this word God is a little different in God of Christianity.
If in short to Easy-to-understand way for foreigners, Shinto is kind of animism. In Shinto, it is believed that “God dwell all things”. for example, stones, plants, sky, cloud, rain, created building, and everything.
There is also a toilet god, right?
There is even a “THAT“ god that’s only attached to men’s lower body, you know?
Shrine are built with meanings such as afraid, awe, and respect the gods. If one of place has risk to natural disasters, there is might be built “God of Nature’s shrine”. In some cases, a person who done to great thing is enshrined as “Guardian deity”.
About Shinto and Jinja is “Click here“
Japan Economic Foundation(国際経済交流財団)
about the way of thinking God and Building is “Click here“
AichiNow( Official site for Tourism AICHI )
If you interest for phallic worship “Click here“
Jinja Miya Jingu Taisha ~神社 宮 神宮 大社~
Japanese shrine is called “Jinja“, but Jinja has few kinds. In syort, these are “great versions of shrines“.
Originally, only “伊勢神宮(Ise Jingu)” was called [ 〇〇 Jingu ]. But with the passage of time, shrine with deep relationship of Japanese emperor and the imperial family came to call themselves “Jingu”. For example, 霧島神宮(Kirishima Jingu), 平安神宮(Heian Jingu), 明治神宮(Meiji Jingu) and more…
[ 〇〇 Miya ] is enshrined the Imperial Prince. Or there are exceptions such as “日光東照宮(Nikko Toshogu Shrine)” where NIkko-City I live.
Nikko Toshogu Shrine was named “東照社(Toshosya)” in Edo period, than in 1645, this is forgave named Toshogu by 後光明天皇(Emperor Gokomyo) at the time. Because he is a great man who created peace period at long time.
[ 〇〇 Taisha ] also pointed only to “出雲大社(Izumo Taisha)” originally. Nowadays, Taisha is simply bigger shrine than other shrines, has a long history, or mean point to “shrine to supervises an same name shrines“. Like 伏見稲荷大社(Fushimi Inari Taisha), 諏訪大社(Suwa Taisha), 熊野大社(Kumano Taisha).
If you visit to Japan, please focus on Shrines name.
Tokyo Jinja Honcho(東京神社本町)
about Jinja,Miya,Taisha is “Click here“(Japanese)
Nikko Toshogu Shrine(日光東照宮)
about the history of Nikko toshogu is “Click here“(Japanese)
web page is “Click here“
Buddism Temple ~Japan has Buddhism culture deeply~
Buddhist temple is building of “Buddhism“. In japanese to “仏教(Bukkyo)”.
“堂塔(Doto)” where worship objects are enshrined, “僧坊(Sobo)” where the monks live, these buildings are all together called “堂塔伽藍(Doto Garan)”.
I think, In Japanese Buddhism is more enshrined a great human than God maybe. The gods enshrined in Indian mythology are enshrined in Buddhism as beings who guide humans to the truth. On the other way, Buddhism is not a religion that believes in God.
Buddhism is a group of people who believe that “No matter how hard you try but we will perish after all, so let’s not be obsessed to desires”. It’s Look at themselves by dealing with the enshrine to a great human(仏:Hotoke) who to got enlightenment.
Usually, Temple is enshrined some Hotoke. The main Hotoke is called the “本尊(Honzon)”. Did you know that there are various names for the Hotoke, and that each has class? Let’s introduce them in order from the top.
Tathāgata in Pali language
It means one who is enlightened
Simple clothing and curling hair
釈迦如来(Siddhartha Gautama)、阿弥陀如来(Amitābha) etc…
Bodhisatta in Pali language
Person in training for seeking enlightened
Gorgeous clothing and hair is tied up
Vidyārāja in Sanskrit language
A hotoke who guard those who practice from all desires
Has a weapon that banishes all desires, exist flame on its back. almost strict face
Deva in Pali language
God imported from Indian mythology
Like a animism, there have many “gods”
To be careful, Myōō also has do to leading the civilian to enlightenment.
Many Buddhist buildings in Japan are made of wood
Japan is blessed to many woods, so there are many buddhist buildings made of wood in Japan. On the flip side, in India or eastern Asia has Buddhism building almost made of stone or using a cave.
Japanese Buddhism was imported from east Asian culture especially in China. It’s the building was just a pile of soil and a roof built over, but the Japanese tried to make a taller than those by using the many of woods.
The result, was born you love so much that 五重塔(five–storied pagoda) you know.
There are not noisy, few obstacles, unique Japanese mountain worships… As Japanese culture, Buddhist buildings are built halfway up the mountain.
As a result of those, who don’t know where are destination temple, so they were created “号(Gou)”.
山 = moutain
People can know which mountain the temple is located
It is sometimes named just for “putting on prestige“
比叡山–延暦寺(Hiei zan Enryaku ji)、北山–鹿苑禅寺(Hoku zan Rokuonzen ji)※ etc…
※ Other name is “金閣寺(Kinkaku ji)”
院 = A large building enclosed in high fences
The Imperial Family serves a chief abbot. Have close ties with the Imperial family
平等院(Byodo in) etc…
A common name for a Temple
Many Japanese know lnly this maybe
Have a many “〇〇寺” in Japan
Byodo-in is known as 『平等院鳳凰堂(Byodo in Hōō do)』, 堂 mean is Hall. Do means one of buildings and not the whole temple.
Japan has Shrine and Temple, even churches
Buddhism is a group that aims for pure land(or heaven). For them, the lost of life is as a kind of “beginning“ maybe. That is why the Temple grounds are lined graves.
On the other hand, Shinto views lost the life is “穢れ(Kegare)”. There are no graves Shrines ground, and families who held Shinto-style funerals often have graves near their homes.
Japan is a odd country where many religions coexist. Shrines and temples of Nikko are both Shinto and Buddhism on the same site, but we don’t think “It’s a strange”.
What do you think about Nikko in Japan?
With easy access from Tokyo, you can hike through Nikko, Kinugawa, Senjogahara falls and vast nature, if when you get tired, return to the hotel and enjoy Onsen, delicious local cuisine to spend the night.
Such a dreamlike world is waiting for you. By all means, Would you like to experience Japan’s wonderful religious views with your own eyes?