TokyoCityTOUR Culture & Travel Tips

Religion

Shinto

Shinto is Japanese religion from ancient times, centering on the ideas of Japanese intimacy with nature and ancestor worship.
All things on earth were brought forth and rules over by the gods who reside throughout all nature.
Mountain and trees often became object of worship, and Shrine archway and sacred Shinto rope mark sacred area.
When shrine are built, objects of worship in which a god or gods reside are enshrine there.
Shinto constitutes the foundation of sensibility of Japanese people, but most present day Japanese, rather than placing faith in Shinto, feel their cultural identity through it
Shinto supported the Emperor system in a religious sense, and even now its ancient customary practices remain as the religion of the Imperial Family.

Shinto Shrine

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Shinto shrine were building where Shinto deities are enshrine. At the entrance are Shinto shrine archways indicating the shrine precincts, and then come the main sanctuary and other facilities.

The floor of main building is elevated and roofs are generally thatched with reeds and cypress bark.

At New Year, virtually all Shinto Shrine are thronged with worshippers for the first temple or shrine visit of the New Year.

Torii -Shinto shrine archway-

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Torii are archway at the approaches to Shinto shrine and have become symbols of Shinto shrine. indicating a sacred place where divinities dwell. Originally, they were perched for roosters offered to shrine. Two crosspieces are set on top of two upright pillars. There are everywhere in Japan. On seeing a torii, one can expect to find on the other side a Shinto shrine or a small shrine sheltering divinity.

Omikuji -Written oracle-

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Omikuji are written oracles, obtained by drawing lot in which the good luck or bad luck of event is indicated through praying at Shinto shrine or Buddhist temples. One's overall fortune can range from outstanding to average to bad, covering various aspects of life such as academics, business, marriage proposals, and victory or defeat.

At New Year, most people visit shrines, and enjoy drawing Omikuji, however, rather than drawing Omikuji to actually learn about their fortune. Omikuji are written on long narrow paper and usually are tied to tree after being read in hopes that their prayers will be answered.

Omamori -Talismans-

omamori

Omamori are said to summon good fortune and expel evil, so divinities names or prayers or temple and shrine names are written on piece of wood or scraps of paper. They are usually sold at Shinto shrine and Buddhist temple. Answers to prayer include a variety of things, such as traffic safety, passing a school exam, business prosperity, good health, and easy childbirth.

Omamori are put in pouches and kept on one's person, hung in cars, placed in the home or attached to pillars or gates. It is common to present them to family members or to a lover who are leaving for travel or doing dangerous work and also to pray for their safety and health.

Osaisen -Money offering-

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Osaisen are offerings of money made when worshipping at Shinto shrine and Buddhist temples.

There is offertory box, where worshippers pray, tossing in any amount of money they wish, or else they offer money as thanks for prayer that have been answered.

Ema -Votive pictures-

Ema -Votive pictures-

Ema are pictures of horses drawn on wood, the upper part of which has a roof, and presented to temples, and shrines when making vows or when ones prayer have been answered.

They are mostly used in praying for success in passing entrance exams. In ancient Japan, There was the practice of presenting horses when praying something.

Shimenawa

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This is a rope hung out to distinguish sacred places from the rest. In addition to being hung in the main building at Shinto shrine and on Shinto shrine archways, It is called Shimenawa.

Shimenawa are seen on Shinto home alters and the New Year sacred straw festoon is made by attaching various good luck charms to the Shimenawa. The belt or sideway rope worn by grand champion in Sumo is another form of Shimenawa.

Kannushi -Shinto priest-

Kannushi -Shinto priest-

Kannushi are Shinto priest who minister at Shinto shrine. They serve the diviniies by making offerings and reciting Shinto prayers. They also perform the Shinto purification for people who come to worship and they conduct wedding..

Meanwhile, Shinto priest work also involved shrine administration. Management, for example, of sales of written oracles, talisman, and good luck charms, and accounting of money offering, all come under the direction of Shinto priests.