Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 17

The national religion of Japan until the end of the 2nd World War,

Shintoism is an ancient Japanese folk religion that even in this postmodern era still has a powerful influence on Japan's spiritual, cultural
and political worlds.

Shintoism is a nearly three-thousand-year old traditional Japanese religion acknowledging more
than 8 million "gods" or "spirits" known as kami which includes the Sun Goddess, ancestor spirits,
natural phenomena such as mountains and rivers and even thunderstorms or earthquakes. It
also embraces the moral values of loyalty and duty to the family, clan or nation, while placing
an emphasis on physical and mental purity and cleanliness.
The name Shinto is derived from the Chinese characters for Shen - 'divine being' and Tao 'way', and can be translated as "the way of the gods" or "way of the spirits". As with other
traditional religions, Shinto has no specific founder, no fixed teachings and no official sacred
scriptures. However, its general beliefs, values and rituals had survived more or less intact for many

ABOVE: The Wikipedi Shinto Shrine in Japan.

General beliefs
The Universe
Because Shinto developed from a myriad of ancient Japanese tribal religions and beliefs, two
variations of how they viewed the universe were present in Ancient Shinto. According to the
three-dimensional view, the universe consisted of three distinct worlds, arranged vertically. Right at
the top is the High Heaven where the kami's (deities or spirits) live. Below that is the Middle Land

where humans now live and right at the bottom is Yomi, the land of the dead. This view is also
found in the traditional North Siberian and Mongolian cultures and although it is often described
in Japanese myths, it is not generally accepted in Shinto.
More generally accepted was a two-dimensional view of the universe in which this current,
visible world and the "Perpetual Country" (Tokoyo - a utopian place far beyond the sea) existed in
horizontal order.
However, as Shinto developed into a more uniform religion, it made no distinction between a
natural or physical world and a supernatural or transcendental "spirit" world. The entire universe is
part of creation which includes everything that exists both visible and invisible. Unlike most
other religions, Shinto also makes no distinction between body and spirit. A human being (and all
other living creatures, for that mater) is a single living entity or unit which co-exists in the same
world as spirits and gods.
However, Shintoism does make a distinction between the visible world ("kenkai") and the
invisible world ("yukai"). Shintoists believe that these two worlds are part of one another with the
invisible world extending from the visible world. Because of this "fusion", events in both worlds
have a direct consequence in the other.
Shinto therefore aims to promote harmony between the different worlds by, for instance
respecting the "sacredness" in every element of the physical world. For this reason Shinto has
often been perceived as a religion of nature-worship. Shinto shrines are designed to symbolize the
"oneness" of the visible and invisible worlds in one single, all-inclusive universe. Shinto also place
high value on the moral values of loyalty and duty to the family, clan or nation. This includes
loyalty to the kami related to the family, clan or nation.

Kami beings, objects or "properties"

Shintoism is based on the belief in and devotion to kami spiritual beings and powers sometimes
translated as "spirits" or "gods". However, kami meaning "that which is hidden" - is actually very
difficult to define and even Shintoists hold that humans are in fact incapable of understanding the
nature of kami.

ABOVE: Mount Fiji in Japan one of Shinto's most sacred places.

Defining kami
Although gods and spirits are kami, natural objects and phenomena such as mountains, rivers,
thunderstorms and earthquakes or the powers these objects and phenomena possess, are also
kami. Kami can therefore refer to living beings and natural objects or to qualities and properties
which beings or things are believed to possess.
As a property, kami is the sacred and mystical element in almost everything that exists.
Everything is therefore believed to have kami, but only beings and things that show their kamiqualities in an exceptional way, are referred to as kami.
Shintoists believe that kami have life-giving, harmonizing power ("musubi") as well as a truthful
will ("makoto"). Makoto is sometimes translated as sincerity or purity of intention, but this does not
mean that kami are all good - some kami are actually believed to be very evil.
Basically, it is possible to distinguish between the following groups or types of kami:

Kami who are the Shinto gods or deities mythical beings such as the Sun Goddess
("Amaterasu ") and others described in the ancient Japanese texts (see paragraph: "Sacred
texts of Shintoism").

Kami who are believed to be the ancestors of the ancient Japanese clans. In tribal times,
each tribe dedicated their worship to a specific kami believed to be their ancestor and
their protector.

Similar to the previous type of kami are the souls of dead human beings of outstanding
achievement who became kami after death.

Kami of natural objects and phenomena (eg mountains, rivers, etc).

Kami of the powers possessed by natural objects and phenomena (eg the power of a
waterfall) and of the forces of nature (eg thunderstorm or earthquake).

Kami of living creatures (anything from flowers and butterflies to horses and tigers).

Some important kami

ABOVE: A Religious painting of the "Sun Goddess" Amaterasu.

With at least 8 million kami believed to live in Japan alone, it is impossible for even the most
dedicated Shintoist to worship or even know them all. Also, different regions, towns, villages and
sometimes families all have specific or local kami which they regard as important and which they
worship. In general, however, the following kami are prominent and regarded as important by
most Shintoists:

Amaterasu (Amaterasu o-mikami) the most prominent and "upper" deity of Shintoism,
known as the "Sun Goddess". She is the kami of the Ise shrine, and believed to be the
ancestor of the Japanese Imperial family.
Susanoo brother of Amaterasu and kami of the wind, or the storm-god, who both
causes and protects from disasters.
Izanagi / Izanami - the brother and sister kami who gave birth to Japan and other gods
(including Amaterasu and Susanoo) according to Shinto scriptures.
Hachiman venerated in ancient Japan as the god of archery and war.
Benten/Benzaiten - a female kami associated with the arts and music (originally a Hindu
Tenjin the kami of education who can help to achieve success in exams. Tenjin was a
human - the Japanese scholar Sugawara no Michizane (845-903 CE) who became a
kami after his death.

Ebisu - a kami who is believed to give prosperity. Originally the abandoned leech-child of
Izanami and Izanagi.
Konpira (Kompira) protector of fishermen and sailors (originally a Buddhist deity).

Kami is not God

Although the word "God" was translated as kami in some early Japanese translations of the Bible,
kami is not God. This becomes particularly clear if one look at some of the attributes ascribed to

Shintoists believe there are more than 8 million kami in Japan;

kami are not divine but simply a superior manifestation of the same life energy as humans;

kami are not immortal - they can be injured and they can die;

when kami die, they rot just like humans and animals;

kami are not omnipotent (all-powerful) or omniscient (all-knowing);

kami exist in one place only and are therefore not omnipresent (everywhere at once);

kami are not perfect - they sometimes make mistakes or do evil deeds; and

kami live in the same world as human beings.

Although kami include the "gods" that Shintoists believe created the universe, they also include
spirits believed to inhabit some living beings or things (such as shrines), some living beings
themselves, natural objects (rivers, oceans, mountains), natural phenomena or forces of nature
(thunderstorms, volcanoes and earthquakes) and even humans who became kami when they
died. (Also see paragraph: "Worshipping Kami".)

"Sin" and Purity

Shintoists see all of humanity as "kami's child" and believe that human life and human nature is
essentially good and sacred. Babies are not born in sin, they are born pure and sinless. According
to Shinto belief, impurity rather than inborn sin, disobedience to God or anything else is the
root and cause of man's problems in life. To be impure is to be in a state of disgrace and that
separates a person from kami and musubi the life-giving, harmonizing power all kami possess.

However, later in life a person can become "polluted" and impure through "tsumi" (sin). Tsumi
can be physical, moral or spiritual misconduct. However, the Shinto concept of sin also includes
things which are not controlled by the individual bad things that have an influence on the
person's life that are caused by bad kami or evil spirits. In ancient Shinto, tsumi also included
disease, disaster and error. Even today, anything connected with death, the dead, disease and
blood is considered polluting.
Shintoists have a relatively easy solution for sin compared to most other religions. They believe
a person can usually be cleansed of tsumi and impurity and its consequences simply by following
the prescribed purifying rituals! If executed correctly, the person once again become pure and
can once again live in harmony with the kami. Thus for Shintoists the old saying "cleanliness is
next to godliness" is taken a step further as they seem to believe "cleanliness is godliness"!

Worshipping kami
Shintoists believe that most kami are benign - they sustain and protect and they care about
human beings and want humans to lead fulfilled and happy lives. They also believe kami
appreciate and encourage human's interest in them and like to interact with humans. In essence,
worship aims to enable human beings to communicate and interact with kami.

ABOVE: A Shinto priest performing rituals in a Tokyo shopping mall as part of the New Year

Reasons for worship

Shintoists believe that most kami are not only able to help people, but also very willing to do so.
Therefore, the kami are worshipped and venerated to gain specific benefits.
Shintoists revere "musuhi" - the kamis' "creative and harmonizing powers" which help people to
grow and develop spiritually. They hold that all the kami deities or gods cooperate with each
other and have the same basic good intentions with regard to humans. If a person lives
according to the kami's revealed will, he or she is believed to receive the protection, cooperation,
spiritual power and approval of all the kami. The kami's will is revealed during worship and
interaction between it and the believer.

A good example is the Shinto aspiration to have "makoto" - a true and sincere heart. They
believe that it is the will of the kami for humans to have makoto. In a worshipper's interaction with
the kami, the kami reveals makoto to him or her and guides the person to live accordingly.
Another very practical reason to worship and venerate the kami is that, depending on their
individual qualities and powers, kami can influence nature and natural forces, as well as human
conduct. If they are treated in the right way, kami will grant good health, protection, success,
wealth or victory in war. Kami can even be petitioned to grant good exam results!

Forms of Shinto worship

Such worship is very ritualized and performed according to strict protocol, order and control.
Aesthetics what it looks like is very important during ceremonies as the ritual is supposed to be
pleasing to the senses and minds of the participants as well as the particular kami which is
worshipped. A lot of care is therefore taken with props, sound, smell, clothing of the priests or
worshipper and using the correct way of speech and language.
Although the patterns for Shinto worship was set when the religion was centralized in the
19th century, ceremonies and rituals still differ considerably from one area or even shrine to
another. Worship rituals are diverse and include ritual purification; adoration (e.g. bowing to the
altar); reciting of prayers; ritual dances; burning of incense; offerings of food (excluding animal
meat), drink or flowers; and fasting.

Places of worship
Kami can be worshipped at home, in shrines or even in public places. Most Japanese houses have
a special area which is set aside for Shinto worship. It usually contains a "kami dana" ("kami shelf")
with a small replica of a shrine's sanctuary. There would also be some amulets believed to bring
good luck or absorb bad luck as well as a mirror in the centre of the shelf. Shintoists believe that
the mirror forms a spiritual "porthole" between the house, shelf and the resident kami.
Offerings of food or flowers are left on the shelf while prayers are also recited in front of it. If
someone had bought a religious object or an object of high value, they may lay it on the shelf,
thus linking the home to shrine and pertaining the kami's blessing over it.

ABOVE: Old photograph of Japanese Shinto woman in her home.

Public worship ceremonies could be performed virtually anywhere and at any important event.
For instance, before a new building is constructed, a Shinto ceremony would be performed on
the site. During festivals such as New Year, public ceremonies would be performed in all kinds of
places, including modern shopping malls and at sacred sites.
Worship performed at local shrines include public and shared rituals (eg during festivals or rites
of passage ceremonies) as well as individual acts of worship. For instance, an individual may visit a
shrine to petition the particular kami for a specific need, or to thank the kami for having received
something good. (See paragraph: "Shinto Shrines".)

Local kami popular

In theory, it is important for Shintoists to consider all types of kami in worship. In practice, however,
local kami especially the ancestors of the Japanese clans (called "ujigami") and the kami of
natural objects in a specific area are popular in worship.
In ancient tribal times, each tribe dedicated their worship to a specific kami believed to be their
ancestor and their protector. In later years, shrines were erected in towns and villages for the

worship of these kami. Local believers often see "their" particular kami which is usually believed
to have a distinctive personality and abilities - as the source of life and existence for everyone in
that community.

Shinto Shrines
It is estimated that there are about 80 000 Shinto shrines all over Japan. They vary in size from
massive constructions on large peaces of open land to small edifices on top of high-tech Japanese

Designed for worship

Where possible, Shinto shrines are built with great consideration to nature and are often found
amidst beautiful natural surroundings. Shrines are dedicated to specific kami and are constructed
in a way that aids the worshipper to progress from the outside world to the special holy place of
purity and sanctity. In fact this journey from the gate ("torii") to the ablution basin where ritual
hand washing and mouth rinsing takes place to the outer sanctuary or oratory ("haiden"), is part
of the individual's worship ceremony.

ABOVE: Shinto priest performing ceremonies in the Fukuoka shrine in Japan.

The most sacred part of the shrine is the inner sanctuary ("honden"), where a sacred symbol
called a "shintai" ("kami body") or "mitamo-shiro" ("divine spirit's symbol") is kept. This symbol is often
a mirror, traditional Japanese sword or wooden image and it is regarded as the "embodiment" of
the kami. The kami dwells in the shintai. However, only the shrine's head priest is allowed to enter
the inner sanctuary and thus ever see the symbol. Some shrines have a connecting hall or
passage between the honden and heiden where prayers are recited

Reasons for attending

Shintoists may visit a shrine on any day of the week and as often as they wish. The individual
worshipper would be likely to visit shrines for festivals, for personal spiritual reasons, or to make a
special request to the local kami. Family and friends would also visit the shrine together to attend
rituals performed by priests for the various Shinto life passages. These rites of passage include
"introducing" a newborn baby to the local kami, a commemoration for reaching the age of 20
years, weddings and funerals.
When visiting the shrine for personal reasons, the worshipper would normally just make an
offering at the haiden and then recite some prayers to the kami.
Most of the public ceremonies at the shrines are performed by priests and include ritual
cleansing (performed in nearby rivers or lakes in ancient times), prayers and offerings. Another
form of public worship are "kagura" ritual dances accompanied by traditional musical instruments.
These dances are performed either by young virgins, a group of men, or just one man. all
intended to praise, please or petition the resident kami.

ABOVE: Kagura dancers. Some large shrines have a special hall where these dances are
Local shrines also play an important role during festivals such as spring planting, harvest, and
special days related to the history of a shrine or of a local patron spirit. Other festivals include
Shogatsu (New Year - celebrated from 1-3 January); Hinamatsuri (Girl's Day - celebrated on March
3) and Tango no Sekku (Boy's Day - - celebrated on March 5). Some shrines also celebrate
National Founding Day on February 11 to commemorate the founding of Japan.

Rituals and practices

Ritual forms a central and essential part of Shinto life and worship. In a sense, it is not important
what a person believes and what knowledge he or she has of doctrines and teachings. Instead,
performing the right rituals in the correct way, is all-important and determines if the person would
succeed spiritually or not.
Although the patterns for rituals were determined and prescribed in the late 19th century, there
is still a lot of variation in practice. For the purpose of this article, we will just look at some of the
very basic and most important rituals and practices of modern-day Shintoism.

Purification Harai
The Shinto concept of sin is simply to become "polluted" through "tsumi" (physical, moral or
spiritual misconduct or influences). To be restored to a condition of purity, one can just follow the
prescribed Shinto purification rituals ("misogi") and personal practices to cleanse both body and
mind. Water and salt (by sprinkling) are commonly used as purifying agents, while priests can also
use a hiraigushi wand (a stick with streamers of white paper on the one end) to purify a person or
Purifying rituals is part of all Shinto religious ceremonies and are always performed at the start
of the ceremonies. Even when visiting a shrine, the individual performs the temizu ritual a simple
washing of hands and rinsing of the mouth at the ablution basin upon entry of the shrine. In
this way, the worshipper is purified to enable him or her to approach the kami.
The Oharae purification ritual is used to "remove sin or pollution" from a large group of people
even from the entire population. It can be performed for companies and is often performed
after disasters such as earthquakes or mudslides. In Japan, this ritual is performed every six months
(in June and December) to purify the Imperial Family as well as the entire nation.
The origin of Shinto purification rituals can be traced to the ancient myth of Izanagi and
Izanami. After escaping from Yomi the land of the dead - Izanagi was contaminated by his
contact with death and bathed himself thoroughly in the ocean to wash away the pollution of

Rites of passage
Shintoists observe several rites of passage, most of which involve special rituals and ceremonies
performed at the local shrine and attended by family and friends.
A baby is "introduced" to the local kami as a new Shinto adherent between 30 and 100 days after
birth. On 15 November, five year old boys and girls of three and seven years old take part in the
Shichi-go-san ("Seven-Five-Three") ceremonies to thank the kami for its protection and health. 15

January used to be a sort of male coming of age festival called Adult's Day. However, the
ceremonies nowadays include all Japanese who have reached the age of 20 years.
Japanese weddings are often performed in Shinto tradition with the bride and groom
pronouncing their vows to the kami. Funerals are the final rite of passage in Shinto, although
today most Japanese prefer to have funerals in the Buddhist style.

Four Affirmations
Shinto has four affirmations or declarations of faith which distinguishes adherents from other

Tradition and the family: The family is the main vehicle by which traditions are preserved.
The main family-celebrations relate to birth and marriage.

Love of nature: Nature is sacred; to be in contact with nature is to be close to the kami.
Kami of natural objects or forces are worshipped and venerated.

Physical cleanliness: Physical and spiritual purity is interlinked and essential. Taking
regular baths, washing of hands, and mouth rinsing is part of the daily purification

Matsuri: The worship and veneration of kami.

Local shrines play an important role during festivals such as the Spring Festival (Haru Matsuri),
Harvest Festival (Niiname-sai), Autumn Festival (Aki Matsuri), New Year (Shogatsu - celebrated
from 1-3 January); Girl's Day (Hinamatsuri - celebrated on March 3) and Boy's Day (Tango no
Sekku - celebrated on March 5) and the Annual Festival (Rei-sai). Some shrines also celebrate
National Founding Day on February 11 to commemorate the founding Japan while most
shrines also commemorate special days related to the history of a shrine or of a local patron spirit.

ABOVE: The Divine Procession during the Annual Festival.

During the Annual Festival, an important ceremony called the Divine Procession takes place.
Believers follow the priests who carry miniature shrines on their shoulders in a procession through
the grounds of the shrine. After various rituals, which among others include water purification
(misogi), bowing to the altar, food offerings and sacred dancing, the festival ends with
participants having "communion" with the kami by drinking sake (rice-wine). Activities such as
sumo wrestling, horseback riding (kurabe-uma) and archery (matoi) are also part of some festivals.

Sacred texts of Shintoism

Unlike most other religions, Shintoism does not have any official sacred scriptures. In a sense
though, the Kojiki ("Records of Ancient Matters") and the Nihongi, (or Nihon shoki - "Chronicles of
Japan"), are regarded as the foundational texts or sacred texts of Shinto. Both these works are
collections of oral traditions of ancient Shinto and were written early in the 8th century AD.
In essence, these texts contain the traditional and largely mythical story of the creation of Japan
and its people. They do also give valuable information on the real history of Japan as well as
Shinto doctrines and religious practice.
The Shinto creation stories revolve around the lives and deeds of the first kami. It claims that the
universe was created from pre-existing chaos and that from this chaos, several kami ("gods" or
deities) appeared spontaneously. Relationships between them produced a pair of kami a
brother and sister called Izanagi ("he who invites") and Izanami ("she who invites"). The central
island of Japan was formed when Izanagi and Izanami thrust a jeweled spear into the ocean.
They later married and their offspring somehow include the rest of the Japanese island as well as
more kami who became the ancestors of the various Japanese clans.

ABOVE: Image of Amaterasu the Japanese Sun Goddess.

The central figure in the Shinto texts is Amaterasu (the Sun Goddess) daughter of Izanagi
and Izanami and the highest deity in Shinto mythology. Amaterasu sent her grandson, Ninigi, to
unite the warring Japanese clans and his grandson, Jimmu, became the first Japanese emperor.
Apparently Jimmu (or his grandfather Ninigi) received the "Three Sacred Treasures" (a mirror,
sword and jewels) still the most revered symbols of the Japanese imperial household from
Amaterasu. The ruling Japanese Imperial Family claim a direct lineage from Amaterasu, and she is
therefore seen as the first ancestor of the Imperial Family.
Amaterasu's brother, Susanoo (the storm-god or ruler of the nether regions) also came down
from heaven and, among other famous deeds, killed a great evil serpent.

Branches of Shintoism
21st Century Shinto can be ordered into three major branches or groups namely Shrine Shinto,
Sect Shinto, and Folk Shinto. Unlike different branches of most other religions, the three Shinto
groups are still closely interrelated and adherents may freely interact and worship together.

Shrine Shinto (Jinja)

Shrine Shinto is perhaps the oldest and "purest" form of Shinto and also has the largest number of
followers. Its roots are found in ancient Japan when Shinto first emerged as a recognizable
religion. The now defunct State Shinto (Kokka Shinto) which became a tool for Japanese
nationalism from the late 19th century until the end of World War II, was closely related to Shrine
Shinto. State Shinto was an attempt to unify principles of ancient Shinto and the imperial
government of Japan, and saw the Japanese emperor worshipped as a living kami deity.

Sect Shinto (Kyoha)

Sect Shinto is a relatively new development and consist of sects based on Shintoism but
containing strong influences from other religions or the teachings and interpretations of
individual sect founders. Thirteen of these sects emerged during the 19th century while others
only became prominent after World War II. Sect Shinto can be classified into five groups namely:
Revival Shinto sects (Izumo-oyashiro-kyo, Shinto-taikyo and Shinri-kyo); Confucian sects (Shinto
Shusei-ha and Shinto Taisei-kyo); Purification sects (Shinshu-kyo and Misogi-kyo); Mountain
Worship sects (Jikko-kyo, Fuso-kyo and On take-kyo); and Healing sects (Kurozumi-kyo, Konko-kyo,
and Tenri-kyo).

Folk Shinto (Minzoku)

Folk Shinto is an aspect of Japanese folk or traditional religion and not a separate Shinto sect. It
has no central organizational structure or creed. It is based on the veneration of small roadside
images and the practice of age-old agricultural rituals and the rituals of individual rural clans and

Is Shinto a religion?
Some writers argue that Shinto is a Japanese worldview and traditional way of life rather than a
religion. Others believe that in its basic sense, Shinto is a religious form of Japanese patriotism and

Ritual before theology

One of the reasons for this reasoning is that Shinto places most of its emphasis on conduct and
ritual and generally have very little regard for doctrine and theology. In fact, Shinto has no official
set of theological beliefs or moral codes. Many Shinto beliefs are therefore fairly vague and not
clearly defined.
A prominent Shinto scholar as writer, Motoori (1730-1801), explained the lack of ethics in
Shintoism by stating: "It is because the Japanese were truly moral in their practice that they
require no theory of morals." Most practitioners of Shinto are not interested in its beliefs or in using
the religion as a way of explaining the world. Instead, they see in Shinto a way of living in
harmony with the entire universe both the visible ("kenkai") and invisible("yukai") worlds.

Co-existence with Buddhism

Another reason why Shinto is often regarded as a part of Japanese culture rather than a religion,
is because it so easily co-exists with other religions, particularly with Buddhism. Statistics show that
in 1999 about 76% of Japan's population described themselves as followers of Buddhism while
83% followed Shinto! This explains why in so many Japanese homes one would find a Shinto
"god-shelf" ("kamidana") right next to a Buddhist altar.
In 1936 the Vatican in Rome issued a proclamation which allowed Japanese Roman Catholics
to take part in Shinto ceremonies because these ceremonies were merely civil rites of "filial
reverence toward the Imperial Family and to the heroes of the country".
Japanese following both Shinto and Buddhism or Roman Catholicism do not see themselves as
adherents to two different religions. Instead, they distinguish between the two and seems to find
it quite easy to reconcile the two beliefs in daily practice. This is simply because for many
Japanese, Shinto is a part of their cultural heritage and tradition, rather than their religion.
However, as Shintoism conforms to all the basic criteria for a religion, it will be regarded as
such for the purpose of this article.

Amaterasu: The most prominent and "upper" deity of Shintoism, known as the "Sun Goddess".
Bushido Code: A Japanese war code emphasizing honor, courage, justice, loyalty, truthfulness,
self-discipline, respect and reserve. Adhered to by Samurai warriors.
Harai: The act of ritual purification or the state of ritual purity central to Shinto. Harai removes both
inner and outer pollution or impurity.
Hiraigushi wand: A stick with streamers of white paper on the one end used by Shinto priests to
purify a person or object.
Kami: Spiritual beings and powers of Shintoism sometimes translated as "spirits" or "gods".
Makoto: A true heart, absolute sincerity or purity of intention.
Misogi: Shinto purification rituals to cleanse a person from sin or pollution. Also used to specifically
refer to the ritual washing of bodies in a river near the shrine.

Monism: A believe that all is one an impersonal God that is part of everything and everything
is part of God.
Occult: A study and alleged 'science' of the hidden, secret, esoteric, demonic, paranormal and
supernatural - not related to the true God of the Bible.
Polytheistic: The belief in many gods or supreme/higher beings.
Shintai: An object that "embodies" a kami. Often a mirror, traditional Japanese sword or wooden
image kept in the inner sanctuary of a Shinto shrine.
Tsumi: Sin or pollution brought on by physical, moral or spiritual misconduct. It also includes
things which are not controlled by the individual bad things that has an influence on the
person's life that are caused by bad kami or evil spirits.
Ujigami: A Japanese clan's particular ruling or guardian deity. The clans' ujigami were not always
its ancestral kami some clans regarded kami of nature as its ujigami.
Article by Manie Bosman (E-Mail maniebosman@mweb.co.za)