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Cobra
03 Sep 2014, 19:07
This thread is for the purpose of discussion among Shinto practitioners regarding practices, difficulties, beliefs, and day to day life. Individuals who do not follow Shinto are of course welcome to observe, ask questions, and participate in the discussion.

Let us begin with introductions and how you came to follow Shinto OR your relationship with / things you desire to know about Shinto.

- - - Updated - - -

I am from Louisville, Kentucky but I now live in Tucson, Arizona. I was raised as a Baptist, but never too strictly. For a while I went to church and appreciated some of the pastor's messages about honesty and generosity. He was never one to talk about social issues very much, focusing more on people's morality and conscience. Eventually I turned away from Christianity, without having much negativity toward it. My primary reason was that I did not think God could hate or would condemn people for acts of love, which I believed to be the most pure emotion. I never stopped believing in a deity, so at that point I became a Deist, believing that a deity set the universe into motion and did not bother with people.

Then I had an experience that got me interested in paganism and prompted me to join PF. I had a very strange and powerful experience with the Moon seemingly out of the blue one night. It was very significant to me because I never expected it or felt anything like it before. I believe it was what one would call a spiritual experience. This shattered my line of thinking that there was no spiritual interference in the world. With an increased interest in the supernatural, I found what I believed and went on somewhat of a journey looking at different religious traditions and how they compared. Shinto turned out to match very closely philosophically and spiritually with what I believed.

Since then, I have had several experiences as I follow the way of the Kami. It has given me many positive feelings and I have found very good harmony and increased understanding with Shinto.

LunarHarvest
03 Sep 2014, 21:04
I was raised in a family that almost, if not, exclusively practiced Roman Catholicism. My family was also very devout and tended to be more strict on moral issues than other families in the area, or of my mates. Throughout my life I simply followed along because it was the family expectation for me to follow the Catholic faith, and I sincerely believed in the Christian god for quite some time. I would, of course, eventually leave the faith, but had you said that to me even a year before I would do so, I would have thought you to have been suggesting the impossible. Christianity was all I knew, and I had been actively warned by my family about other religions and their beliefs, so I was very devout in my beliefs.

The time when I first started to become skeptical about Christianity was when, in a deep and long period of depression, I opened the Bible asking God to show me the verses he wanted me to see with the first verse my eyes fell upon. I don't remember the exact verse that I read that day, or what its contents were, but that verse started my formal deconversion process. I committed myself to reading the Old Testament, and I believe I had made it through Judges before I was sent spiraling into a spiritual identity crisis. The result was a period of about a year where I was in a state of deep philosophical and spiritual questioning. It was a year of skepticism and self-evaluation. Trying to find out what I truly believed in, why I believed it, and how I can believe it, and whether such belief can be true or viable?

Despite all of this, I remained under the nominal title of being a Roman Catholic, but I hardly had any faith in the Christian god, or Christianity in general. My views had completely reversed, and made me almost hostile to many of the aspects of the Christian god, although not specifically at those who followed him. It was near the end of this year that I finally found my faith in Christianity to be dead, in every sense of the word. I became Agnostic, and began to seriously question the existence of deity.

This sparked another period of deep philosophical inquiry in my life. I eventually found myself unable to rationalise a universe without the presence of some form of deity, although I did not believe in a personal deity, and had a more Deist view of the universe. I identified as an Agnostic-Theist, and it became my goal to try and research as much as I could about the other world religions, and to draw my own conclusions on the spiritual nature of the world. I eventually came to believe these fundamental conclusions.

1) The physical and the spiritual are not completely separate, and overlap in some ways.
2) Everything within the physical world expresses an element of the divine.
3) Human beings possess a soul, or something of a similar nature.
4) God cannot be all-good and monotheistic. It is not philosophically viable.
5) Ancestors deserve proper respect for the role they play in our current existence.

As I continued to develop my views on the nature of the spiritual, I found myself seemingly drawn to religions that shared my beliefs about the world. I first gravitated towards the religion of Zoroastrianism, and I found it the simplest religion to be drawn to. Yet my evolving beliefs would prevent my from joining that faith, and I eventually moved to see about Sikhism, yet I also had issues with that as well that prevented me from being properly interested in becoming a practitioner. This continued for about a year.

Eventually I kept finding myself coming back again and again to Shinto, almost as if there was something about it that I felt clicked. Over the year I had largely dismissed it for its ritualism and polytheism, but I started to find myself, despite my best efforts, leaning in favour of it. The more I researched it, the more I found myself having come to some similar conclusions and agreeing with its beliefs wholeheartedly. Although I still struggled with its ritualism, its personal deities, and the ability for human beings to seemingly ascend to godhood, I found Shinto becoming a bigger and bigger influence in my spiritual outlook until I identified myself as having basically Shinto believes while not considering myself a practitioner.

It was at this point that I joined Pagan Forum as an Agnostic-Polytheist. I knew my beliefs were very similar to Shinto, but I did not view it as a religion of which I could be a practitioner. I was interested in finding a polytheistic faith which wasn't Shinto, to fill that void and that is part of what brought me here.

I don't rightly know what it was, but something clicked with me about half a year ago. I became perfectly fine with the concept of Kami and the ritualism of Shinto, and even began to perform ritual purification myself. I found myself starting to revere Kami within the world around me (especially Tsukuyomi-no-Mikoto). It was at this point I stopped trying to delay the inevitable, and formally converted to Shinto.

Since then I have never looked back, and my belief in Shinto, and my faith in the Kami, has increased steadily over time, although I admit that I still have some learning to do. I am firmly in the broom-closet with my family, and do not plan on coming out, and I plan to continue to practice my faith in secrecy. The only thing they know is that I am no longer Christian, and that is limited to my immediate family.

Wow...that ended up being much longer than I expected...:=o:

Cobra
07 Sep 2014, 00:39
Yes, some of your story reminds me of my own. Oddly enough, Tsukuyomi-no-Mikoto also seems to be the kami that I get the strongest feelings from and revere the most.

I, too, have a family who does not know of my religious leanings. I can't really have a kamidana here in the dorms - not that it is required, I would just like to do the most I can. I am also unfortunately having a tough time finding a place and time to pray here on the campus. I enjoy doing so at night, but there is really not anywhere to be alone and safe like I used to have next to the garden in Kentucky.

LunarHarvest
08 Sep 2014, 01:16
I am in the same situation. I am largely unable to practice rituals because I rarely feel like it is safe to do so. Largely also due to the fact that there are people around. I am lucky though in that I am, at times, alone where I live, or everyone else will be asleep, and that's when I most often perform any rituals. In addition, I have been finding ways to practice my beliefs in secret. For example, I disguise ritual purification as washing my hands. :p

I have to wonder about whether there would be a different reaction to someone saying they are Pagan compare to a Shinto practitioner, in the public sphere. Shinto does come with the added difficulty of not only being a form of Paganism, but also being greatly misunderstood by a great deal of people in the Western world that I have seen discuss the religion. Its yet another hurdle we may have to get over.

Cobra
08 Sep 2014, 19:15
I'm interested as to how you disguise it as such. I might like to try doing so.

I actually had the experience of telling someone the other day I am Shinto. He was doing some sort of religious survey on the campus. His first question was whether I had a Japanese parent or friend. I had to explain that was not the case. I have heard religion professors tell students it is impossible to be Shinto outside of Japan even though this is not true. Rev. Koichi Barrish at Tsubaki Grand Shrine is a well-known example.

There is also a misunderstanding of what kami is. It's sometimes hard to grasp from a glance, I suppose.

LunarHarvest
08 Sep 2014, 21:13
Aye, Rev. Koichi Barrish is certainly well-known. There are even some European priests like Paul de Leeuw MA in Amsterdam.

I will often do it as I wash my hands after using the toilet, or before eating. I will wash my hands with soap initially, then perform Temizu. Behind the closed doors I can do this ritual without causing much attention. It is certainly not the most formal performance of Temizu to use tap water, but I figure that it is much better than not performing any rituals at all. It is perhaps one of the only rituals I have been able to somewhat routinely preform.

Shinto also just isn't properly heard of in the West. I have yet to know a person who knew of Shinto when I mentioned it. Just about ever Western interpretation of the religion I have seen paints it as a 'Japanese-only' religion, or a religion that cannot be practised outside of Japan because 'the Kami only exist within Japan'.

Additionally to all those, as you stated, is the very concept of Kami. It is a very difficult concept to grasp at first, and especially in a society which is used to a completely different concept of 'God'.

Cobra
10 Sep 2014, 18:38
In an ideal world, we'd be able to use natural water. But, you know, today's world and the like. I have to wonder if the pools on Mt. Lemmon (mountain nearby me) are clean enough.

It does seem that there is little understanding of Shinto outside Japan. There also seems to be this idea among people that Japan is a very non-religious country. I think that stems from a very Western outlook on what religion means. Eighty percent of people in Japan go to the shrines and revere the kami, so that should say something...

And kami are definitely here, in other parts of the world. Otherwise there couldn't be shrines in Washington and Amsterdam. I'm sure that, like myself, you've probably had personal experiences that tell you the kami exist here as well.

LunarHarvest
12 Sep 2014, 15:33
If this was an ideal world I probably would have already gotten a certification of priesthood and opened a shrine in my city. :;):

Perhaps part of the issue is that Shinto does not, or rarely ever does, anything remotely similar to missionary work for the purpose of converting people to the faith. Shinto seems very content to let outsiders find it, rather than it going out to try and find them. That is all well and good, but it possibly could be one of many sources of why so many people have no proper understanding of Shinto.

I have to wonder, if Shinto was properly understood among the population, how it would fare in another nation? It would be a first, and it would be interesting to see what would happen if another country were to at least get a sizeable influx of the Shinto religion among its population. Then there comes the other question of would anything happen at all? :confused:
But I digress.

Cobra
12 Sep 2014, 16:04
I have actually thought of what it would be like to go and earn that certification. I think it would be nice. I can't sacrifice my geoscience studies for it, though, and I think it is beyond the resources I have.

Actually, there is a case where a U.S. state received a sizeable influx of Shinto. The state of Hawaii has I believe 8 shrines. I'm not sure if it has grown or shrank. I know that the Tsubaki Grand Shrine in Washington has of course grown since its inception.

Technically, the population of Shinto adherents is shrinking, but only because Japan's population is shrinking.

LunarHarvest
12 Sep 2014, 18:05
Yeah, it really is a shame about Japan's shrinking population. They need to get their economy back going to start reversing this trend. I could go deep into the politics and economics of that, but that is probably a discussion best put aside for a later date. :xD:

The actual numbers of Shinto practitioners in Hawaii is proving very difficult to find any information on, but the shrines are, with I believe the exception of one, in good condition and properly maintained, so the congregations are obviously large enough to be able to support the shrines. That or they are receiving funding from the main shrine back in Japan.

From what I can tell though, the number of Shinto practitioners in Hawaii alone probably numbers in the tens of thousands. Needless to say its properly difficult to estimate the population of Shinto practitioners. I'm going to go ahead an contact the Census bureau in the States and in Hawaii, if they have one, and see if I can get a number of individuals who identified as Shinto. I'll see what I can find out.

Cobra
12 Sep 2014, 18:20
Good point about it being difficult to estimate the population of Shinto individuals. When I applied for college, you could fill out information on the application website. One category was religion. They had everything from Yazidi to Seichi-no-Ie. No Shinto.

LunarHarvest
12 Sep 2014, 21:56
Found data from the Office for National Statistics which details the Shinto practitioner population in England and Wales, so I decided to make a map showing the population of each region that practices Shinto. :^^:

3456
Just in case the resolution makes the text illegible, or its just hard to read. The numbers are in the spoiler.

Total England and Wales--------1075
England--------------------------1041
North East------------------------23
North West-----------------------55
Yorkshire and the Humber------62
East Midlands--------------------39
West Midlands-------------------64
East of England------------------95
London-------------------------408
South East---------------------204
South West----------------------91
Wales-----------------------------34

The London Borough of Barnet is the most likely place you'll find a Shinto practitioner, with the largest number of reported practitioners at 52, or just over 4.8% of the Shinto population in England and Wales.

I've checked with the Scotland Census website, but no luck finding any mention of possible Shinto practitioners other than the usual "Other" category on religious demographics. :='(:

Next up I hope to do Ireland! :D

Cobra
12 Sep 2014, 23:14
Wow, that's interesting. Good job finding that. I rather doubt I could find anything for the United States other than Hawaii, Washington, and possibly Minnesota.

LunarHarvest
13 Sep 2014, 14:49
I just finished contacting the CSO (Central Statistics Office), in the Republic of Ireland, and reviewing the 2011 Census data from the NISRA (Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency), and here is what I have been able to gather so far. :^^:

In Northern Ireland there are less than 10 Shinto practitioners. This is because Shinto did not properly appear on 2011 Census records, and is likely among the 5,211 people practising "Other Religions". That category is reserved for, as stated by the NISRA, those religions "where there are fewer than 10 usual residents" It can be assumed that Shinto is, at best, almost non-existent among the people of Northern Ireland. :='(:

In terms of the Republic of Ireland, the CSO reported that there were 14,118 People of “Other Stated Religions”, and this does not include Buddhists, Pantheists or Hindus, which were counted separately. I have contacted the CSO requesting additional information regarding this topic, and I am awaiting their response. :;):

tranha
13 Sep 2014, 16:47
Yes, igree, too

LunarHarvest
15 Sep 2014, 09:18
Just heard from the CSO. They have no available records or information regarding Shinto as religious group within the Republic of Ireland. :='(:

Cobra
16 Sep 2014, 18:28
I went on a hike last weekend and there were some pools on the mountain that were clean enough to drink! It was beautiful. There were actually some other people praying as well.

That's too bad about Ireland, though.

LunarHarvest
18 Sep 2014, 23:24
*working at finding statistical information*
Finally! After reading small print to find sources, and jumping from one website to another, I have finally found a comprehensive and detailed dataset which should properly record Shinto adherents within it.

*downloads*

Now to take a look at the data and start making the next map. :D
*can't open the files because they are in .sav format*
:shakefist:

Cobra
21 Sep 2014, 14:21
Here's what I found on the Internet for you:


GNU PSPP is a free application that is functionally equivalent to IBM SPSS and fully capable of opening, editing, analysing and saving .SAV SPSS Statistics files. Learn more here: http://www.gnu.org/software/pspp/

Hope that helps. I myself went to a fall meeting of pagans yesterday. It was nice to talk to some of them, especially ones who didn't know about Shinto. They had a ritual at the end, but I had to leave before that and I'm not sure it would be something for me. They said they would contact me if they found any Shinto activities in the area. I'll probably go to more events with them. They were a nice bunch. I think I'll make some Japanese foods for their potluck.

LunarHarvest
29 Sep 2014, 09:49
No luck opening those files, and I haven't been looking for new info for a bit, but we'll see what arises in the future.

Nice! I have yet to properly look into the pagan groups in my area, but I have definitely thought of doing so in the past. I'll be honest that one of the reasons is I am nervous about going to meet-ups since all the meetups I saw were usually based in Wicca or Witchcraft. I know little to nothing about Wiccan ritual, and likewise I'm not sure it or witchcraft would be something for me.

Jembru
01 Oct 2014, 02:53
I was searching 'Scotland' to see if I could find anything about the referendum but instead found this. I'm interested in Japanese culture so think I'll will enjoy reading this thread. I have a few questions already.

1) I know you're struggling to find current statistics but based on your experiences so far, do you think that Shinto is growing in popularity in the West?

2) I had a short period where I was interested in learning more about Shinto. At the time I felt the Kami had no interest in me at all. Later when I came to discuss my experiences with other pagans, they reported similar feelings with some people going so far as to say unless you are of Japanese origin, you will never be accepted into Shinto. Since then though, I have met non-Japanese people who genuinely found their home in Shinto, as you appear to have. So, do you think the Kami themselves are beginning to reach out further and identify honest followers from other countries and ethnicity?

3) In the absence of a local shrine, where do you prayer to the Kami? Do you create an altar? Strange question but.. do you still pay before you prayer and if so what do you do with the coins? Sorry if that was a dumb question. I've never actually prayed at a Shinto shrine, but I learnt how to by watching an episode of Nihonjin no shiranai nihongo.

LunarHarvest
01 Oct 2014, 10:51
1) Yes! There have been Shrines appearing all over the Western world. :3 From Australia to New Zealand, to the Netherlands to the United Kingdom, and the States and Canada across the pond, shrines and communities of Shinto practitioners have been appearing. It is still in its very early stages of development, but I feel like Shinto could easily become an actively present part of Western Society, at least that is my hope. :3

2) Shinto is to the Japanese what Christianity is to the West, as a cultural religion of sorts. In this way, to paraphrase what I recently saw someone state, "Japan is Shinto-centric, but Shinto itself is not solely Japanese-centric." The Kami have always been in the universe around us. Everything within the universe, has in itself a proper Kami. Just because something is not in Japan does not mean that said object does not have a Kami. Many Kami also exist beyond Japan. Tsukuyomi-no-Mikoto, for example, is the same no matter where you go in the world, as we all see the same moon, and experience the night, on this planet. :3

The issue is that there really were not many, if any, followers before, and it is (like paganism) a very recent thing for the religion to be expanding in the West. The Kami have always been around and within each of us, and we have simply not looked or acknowledged their existence, but anyone can pray or revere the Kami regardless of where they live or what race they are.

3) There is another way for a practitioner to pray without a local shrine. It is called a Kamidana, or "home shrine". The home shrine will provide the same function of a regular shrine, and will have Kami enshrined within it like a regular shrine. I am still in the broom closet about being Shinto though, so I don't have one.

When I pray I purify myself of impurity through ritual purification, and turn to face nature. I then pray just like I would if I had been at a shrine. It may not be as good or ideal as praying at a proper shrine, but since there are Kami existing everywhere, and within everything, I feel like it shouldn't be an issue. I did have a small makeshift altar for my ancestors, and food offerings, during Obon (a three day festival honouring ancestors), but that was about it.

Jembru
02 Oct 2014, 11:02
Hey, thanks for the reply! I found the other Shinto threads after I posted, so if I would be better off posting there, please redirect me!

I always wondered where that feeling came from, that Shinto only belongs to the Japanese. My Japanese friends certainly don't seem to agree (although as you have said, the majority of Japanese just 'go through the motions' so aren't that knowledgeable about the spirituality behind Shinto).

One of the reasons I am so curious (besides the fact that my second language is Japanese, which I realise isn't a good enough basis on which to choose a spiritual path) is that I can't quite see how my current beliefs really differ from Shinto. I give my deities different names, but I worship local Celtic deities that we know were revered in the region due to the shrines that were left behind by the Romans acknowledging local deities. I also don't see a distinction between what we now call 'faeries' 'fairies' 'shee' 'sidhe' or whatever you want to call them, and gods, other than their power and for want of a better word, 'ranking' within their hierarchy. While I haven't really tried to create a celtic-based path, the fact that I feel more at home acknowledging local spirits just naturally led me to Celtic deities and by extension my beliefs have taken on a loosely Celtic flavour. Most of the names I know my gods by were given to them by an invading race, and I am not aware of what they were called by the Celts themselves. I don't really think the specific name is so important. So say I DID choose to call my path Shinto, for want of a better name, surely I would be worshiping exactly the same beings?

My family (my mum, sister, niece and myself), perform a sort of ritual every Thursday.. I've just done it in fact, where we light a green candle to drawer prosperity and protect us from poverty. My sister started this and we all just latched onto the practice, calling one another every Thursday to make sure no one forgets! When I do this, I also throw a 5 pence piece into a vessel of water, to represent the concept of the wishing well (I chose 5p because it looks like a little silver moon). When it gets full, I donate what I've collected to a food bank, because they're there to help people in my region when they fall on hard times, so it seems fitting. Then when I saw that episode of Nihonjin no shiranai nihongo it made me think of this little custom of mine and I started to wonder if something is subtly leading me more towards Shinto. I just don't want to fall into the trap of confusing an interest in Japan with an interest in Shinto, especially when the path I'm already on seems to be working so well for me as it is.

LunarHarvest
02 Oct 2014, 19:41
You're identification for Shinto beliefs is quite similar to myself. I found myself to have almost identical spiritual beliefs to Shinto. I also did not properly identify as a practitioner, but for a different reason. I was, at the time, heavily opposed to ritualism, which I thought disqualified myself from being a Shinto practitioner. I also had different names for the Kami, for example I referred to Tsukuyomi-no-Mikoto as Luna. Over time, as my faith in the Way of the Kami grew, I grew to perform the tradition rituals of Shinto, but everyone is different.

In terms of names for the individual Kami, that is really only for identifying the individual Kami. In Shinto, local areas and creative forces also contain Kami, and the beings of a place are also Kami. So the cities of Corcaigh (Cork) and the city of York - that rhyme was complete unintentional I assure you :3 - would have their own proper Kami just as they would anywhere in the world. Even the Kami with no proper 'assigned' names are still Kami, so I do not see why referring to Kami by different names would be a deal-breaker.

In my mind, I would say that Kami are not bound by names, but by the understanding of the nature of Kami. Call the Kami of Moon and of Night Tsukuyomi-no-Mikoto, or Luna, the Kami you are revering does not change. The most important aspect of Shinto, and Kami worship, is not that you refer to the Kami by a specific name, or any name for that matter, but that when you do so, and pray or perform rituals to them, you do it with sincerity.

LunarHarvest
23 Oct 2014, 02:17
So I found this author discussing his book "Shinto: A Celebrations of Life", in which he talks about the relevance of Shinto to modern western spirituality, and I found it to be quite interesting. I don't know if the man himself is Shinto, but he certainly seems to have some understanding of the basics. What do you think?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OnaK8r42TiQ
In addition, I would also like to open up discussion on two different topics in Shinto spirituality; Kannagara and some of the more folkloric aspects of Shinto such as Yōkai.

To me, Kannagara is the understanding and awareness of the world around us, and how it is interconnected in all of its areas. It is the understanding that the world will always rebalance itself and change, and that even the smallest actions taken play a part in this. Kannagara to me is the understanding and awareness of the spiritual nature of all things. That being said, this is only my opinion.

I will admit that I don't properly know where I stand on Yōkai. I tend to not be much of a follower of the folklore aspects of Shinto. That being said, I don't properly understand what exactly Yōkai are supposed to be so I can't get a full conclusion on the topic. Are they supposed to be spiritual beings similar to Kami, in some sense, or are they of a different nature? What about other areas of mythology and folklore?

Cobra
23 Oct 2014, 05:05
The only criticisms I have for the author in the video are that he says Buddhism is the "intellectual side" and Shinto is the "intuitive side" and when he says that Shinto has no concept of sin. First of all, I think it is very possible to be intellectual and Shinto and to think about its philosophy and believe in it with both thought and spirit. Secondly, there is a concept of sin, it's just not the same as in Western religions. I liked how he pointed out that Shinto doesn't have the types of prohibitions that can be found in the West. Of course, I agree with him that Shinto and its ideas are relative in this age, and outside of Japan.

Kannagara is an interesting concept I think. Even Kokugakuin University's Encyclopedia of Shinto says that there are multiple definitions for it. The way I usually take it is that kannagara is the "underlying spirituality of all religion"... how we say in Shinto that we are not "exclusive." I think kannagara plays into how all peoples of different faiths have valid religious experiences.

Yōkai are not exactly kami. I suppose maybe they could even be caused by kami. Yōkai can be a lot of different things... ghosts, weird creatures in stories, strange things. They are distinct from yūrei, which I generally take as just being ghosts, spirits of people. Most people think of a lady when they think of yūrei, this is pretty common but I think it results from the fact that the first time somebody saw a yūrei and painted it, it was a woman's ghost. Take a look at these two links.

http://hyakumonogatari.com/2013/11/15/whats-the-difference-between-yurei-and-yokai/

http://hyakumonogatari.com/2013/06/12/the-ghost-of-oyuki/

Oh yeah, and sorry for not replying to those questions about Shinto... I think LH covered it quite well, so I didn't have anything to add.

LunarHarvest
24 Oct 2014, 00:25
I agree entirely with what you said Cobra. I personally have the view that the relationship between Shinto and Buddhism is much less about intellectual and intuitive pursuits, but rather can be properly explained by the view that Shinto is the spiritual understanding of life, and Buddhism the spiritual understanding of death. That being said, to say that it did not have some spiritual impact would not be accurate, as Kami such as the Seven Kami of Good Fortune trace their original understandings to Buddhism - even if they are now considered to be proper Kami of their own right.

I have to say that I personally did disagree with the author on some points - like what we have already discussed - but I was pleased at his understanding of Shinto beyond what I have seen by many other people who discuss Shinto in the West.

One thing I really liked about Shinto even before I joined the ranks as a practitioner was how open and non-exclusive it was. It considers that there is a proper way to worship Kami through the rituals, shrines, festivals and prayers, but at the same time does not view the practices of other religions and faiths as being a 'wrong way' to revere and worship the divine. I think that Kannagara could very well be understood as a part of this, as you say, by being a fundamental recognition of a sort of universal experience of spirituality, for lack of a better term.

On the topic of yūrei, I think that I must agree with you that it is possible for them to encompass more than just women. If they are indeed supposed to be considered the spirits of the restless dead, to summarise a more complex definition, then why would this be limited to a single gender?

Cobra
24 Oct 2014, 05:00
I personally take all of my understanding of death from Shinto. I have discussed before that there is enough in Shinto to develop an idea of it, and then an individual may interpret it. In my opinion, we can see that there is something because I believe that the ancestor kami that are revered of course exist in the spiritual realm, so to speak, and they at one time were the souls of living people. The Kojiki also contains some material to that regard. Past that, it is up to a person's interpretation. I should note that in no way should death be focused on... it detracts from celebrating life, and is polluting. I believe that what Shinto tells us about ancestors and celebrating life is enough to stop a person's worrying about death and letting it pollute their life. I have experienced this firsthand... death is polluting because you worry about it, but if you have a sincere connection to the Divine you realize there is nothing to worry about. I don't hold Buddhist beliefs in almost any way, really.

Regarding my interpretation of kannagara, I think you said it better than was able to.

Again, I think yūrei brings an image of a woman to mind first because of Ōkyo's painting, popular culture, and stories of loss that you can read about on the site I linked to. I once read a long blog post about a group of men who traveled to Aokigahara forest. Two of them got lost for a while and met a Buddhist monk who told them which way to go. When they exited the forest, they came out into a parking lot and some twenty people crowded around them. One of them (might have been both) was able to speak Japanese well and told the people that they had not thought of suicide, and instead had just gotten lost. The people calmed down until he mentioned the monk that they met. They believed that the monk may have actually been a yūrei that had apparently been seen before, and advised the men to go to a shrine, which they did. I could find the blog post for you if you wanted.

LunarHarvest
24 Oct 2014, 19:02
In my opinion, we can see that there is something because I believe that the ancestor kami that are revered of course exist in the spiritual realm, so to speak, and they at one time were the souls of living people. The Kojiki also contains some material to that regard. Past that, it is up to a person's interpretation. I should note that in no way should death be focused on... it detracts from celebrating life, and is polluting.
You just described my positions on Buddhism and death almost exactly. For me there is the ancestral Kami, which all persons who are at peace and given proper respect and burial ritual join, while those not given a proper burial ritual or who hold a great attachment to something on Earth essentially become yūrei. Other than this I hold no real beliefs about the afterlife. To me, as you have stated, to focus on death and afterlife detracts from the focus of living a fulfilled life. The focus of spirituality is not how to best live in preparation for the afterlife, but to instead seek how to best live.

The topic of the Kojiki and other books of Shinto lore and mythology is something which is also interesting. As Shinto has no central scriptures or written dogma, a practitioner of Shinto could simply choose to ignore the Kojiki entirely, and not be at a fault, or technically drift from Shinto teachings. I have read parts of the Kojiki, if memory serves, but I personally do not consider it to play altogether much of a role in my Shinto faith. That being said, I am admittedly no expert on the mythology, so I wouldn't say that I dismiss it without any proper consideration. They just haven't formed a crucial part of my understanding of Shinto.

That is indeed an interesting story. I do like the possible idea that yūrei can be helpful instead of their common malicious perception among the West, and even among those in the East. As for finding the blog post, it would certainly be an interesting resource to have, but don't feel like you have to. :)

sirz345
29 Oct 2014, 20:59
Welcome to the thread! I've been a rather devout follower of Shinto for about four years and your second question intrigued me very much so! I've actually talked with Rev. Lawrence Koichi Barrish (link to his shrine's page: http://www.tsubakishrine.org/) about this very same subject! You see Rev. Barrish in many ways disproves the idea that you MUST be Japanese to be Shinto, after all he is the first non-Japanese Shinto kannushi (priest) who broke barriers placed by people arguing that only Japanese can be Shinto. In our discussion we talked about how in reality, a jinja (shrine) does not NEED to be near you to be Shinto (although it is quite important in many cases), what is important is you living in harmony with divine nature and honoring the kami and such. He would explain it far more eloquently than me and I encourage you to reach out to him (his email is on the jinja website and he answers all emails). His final statement in the discussion was really about how since the sun is the only thing required to be Shinto as it is the great mother so-to-speak, as long as you receive energy from the sun you can be Shinto.

And in my honest opinion, very few faiths (Shinto is VERY different from what someone in the west would use to describe a faith but still) discriminate based on ethnicity, and while Shinto is central to Japan, no where is it said that you must be from a specific area to revere the gods and live with divine nature as they are an eternal truth and just leaving an island chain will not remove them as they are all around us. That's my 2 cents on the matter but Japanese is a very central language to the faith and either way some understanding is encouraged of that language. I hope this helped!

- - - Updated - - -


You just described my positions on Buddhism and death almost exactly. For me there is the ancestral Kami, which all persons who are at peace and given proper respect and burial ritual join, while those not given a proper burial ritual or who hold a great attachment to something on Earth essentially become yūrei. Other than this I hold no real beliefs about the afterlife. To me, as you have stated, to focus on death and afterlife detracts from the focus of living a fulfilled life. The focus of spirituality is not how to best live in preparation for the afterlife, but to instead seek how to best live.

The topic of the Kojiki and other books of Shinto lore and mythology is something which is also interesting. As Shinto has no central scriptures or written dogma, a practitioner of Shinto could simply choose to ignore the Kojiki entirely, and not be at a fault, or technically drift from Shinto teachings. I have read parts of the Kojiki, if memory serves, but I personally do not consider it to play altogether much of a role in my Shinto faith. That being said, I am admittedly no expert on the mythology, so I wouldn't say that I dismiss it without any proper consideration. They just haven't formed a crucial part of my understanding of Shinto.

That is indeed an interesting story. I do like the possible idea that yūrei can be helpful instead of their common malicious perception among the West, and even among those in the East. As for finding the blog post, it would certainly be an interesting resource to have, but don't feel like you have to. :)

The kojiki is basically a story book with spiritual meaning. You are absolutely right that you don't need to read it to be Shinto. Many of the stories teach us lessons about life but still they are not essential. Hell, most stories originating in Japan can be considered Shinto stories too if you think about it. Shinto has a dogma per se but it isn't written, it is more implied and people just go along with the way it is.

Cobra
03 Nov 2014, 15:42
That is indeed an interesting story. I do like the possible idea that yūrei can be helpful instead of their common malicious perception among the West, and even among those in the East. As for finding the blog post, it would certainly be an interesting resource to have, but don't feel like you have to. :)

Here is the blog post: http://endofthegame.net/2012/02/20/aokigahara/

It is interesting to consider how we think about the narratives (mythology, as some would say) in our tradition. This is something that pretty much every polytheistic tradition must consider, and we see it a lot on PF.

I myself was recently wondering about symbology... Do you think it would be appropriate as a Shinto practitioner to express oneself using our most common symbol, the Torii gate, as other religious people do with their jewelry, etc. (crosses, pentacles)?

LunarHarvest
04 Nov 2014, 02:31
Hey there sirz345! It has been quite some time since I saw you last. Welcome back. :3

On the topic of having to be Japanese or in Japan to worship the Kami, or that the Kami only exist within the area of Japan, I could not agree more with you. The Kami exist within all things not just those in Japan, and many things which contain Kami can be worshipped and revered regardless of your location on the world. Take Amaterasu-Ōmikami as an example. Does the Sun cease to be the Sun when you leave Japan? Just as the physical nature of these things holds a permanence outside of Japan, so to do their Kami not cease to be once you leave Japan.

On the topic of dogma, I think that the only argument for dogma that can be made is that Shinto generally has a common understanding of spiritual nature through the belief in Kami. Though I would say that even this could not been seen as a set dogma, because there is no proper consensus on the matter. Some view Kami as hard or soft polytheistic, some pantheistic, some monist, and so on and so forth.


Here is the blog post: http://endofthegame.net/2012/02/20/aokigahara/

It is interesting to consider how we think about the narratives (mythology, as some would say) in our tradition. This is something that pretty much every polytheistic tradition must consider, and we see it a lot on PF.

I myself was recently wondering about symbology... Do you think it would be appropriate as a Shinto practitioner to express oneself using our most common symbol, the Torii gate, as other religious people do with their jewelry, etc. (crosses, pentacles)?

That forest is not a place I plan to visit any time soon, and especially not by myself, or at night. I'm too scared to watch most horror movies, so I can only imagine the results of going to such a place. :ohnoes:

As to the usage of symbols by Shinto practitioners, I think that the Torii gate is the safest bet. I have seen that the Jinja Honcho has a small torii as a part of its symbol. It is easily recognisable to other practitioners. A more discrete symbol could be a red circle in a pendent to symbolise Amaterasu-Ōmikami, or foxes for Inari-Ōkami,a Moon for Tsukuyomi-no-Mikoto, and so on and so forth, though that would probably be for people seeking the protection or connection with a particular Kami.

LunarHarvest
05 Nov 2014, 18:07
So I was looking over the internet and I came across these images of some Kami. I really like them myself, and thought I might as well share them. Enjoy! :^^:

356035613562
From left to right: Amaterasu-Ōmikami, Tsukuyomi-no-Mikoto, Konohanasakuya-hime

Sources:

Amaterasu-Ōmikami (http://pernastudios.deviantart.com/art/Amaterasu-Classic-Mythology-296537968)
Tsukuyomi-no-Mikoto (http://pernastudios.deviantart.com/art/Tsukuyomi-Classic-Mythology-298521205)
Konohanasakuya-hime (http://pernastudios.deviantart.com/art/Konohanasakuya-hime-Craig-Yeung-274917374)

Cobra
24 Nov 2014, 22:35
As to the usage of symbols by Shinto practitioners, I think that the Torii gate is the safest bet. I have seen that the Jinja Honcho has a small torii as a part of its symbol. It is easily recognisable to other practitioners. A more discrete symbol could be a red circle in a pendent to symbolise Amaterasu-Ōmikami, or foxes for Inari-Ōkami,a Moon for Tsukuyomi-no-Mikoto, and so on and so forth, though that would probably be for people seeking the protection or connection with a particular Kami.

My question was more along the lines of whether it would be appropriate to wear it as others wear their symbols. It's not a common question that is gone over because most people in Japan do not need to express themselves that way.

That art is nice. Since there was no depiction of Susanoo-no-Mikoto, I will share one of my favorites. It's by Kuniteru, and was painted sometime in the mid nineteenth century.

3600

LunarHarvest
24 Nov 2014, 23:02
I personally do not see anything which could indicate itself as being a reason why doing such a thing would be considered unacceptable, in both Shinto tradition or in a spiritual sense. I do think that it would raise some eyebrows amongst more traditional practitioners, as you said it is not a common question or practice among the Japanese. That being said, I do not see how wearing such symbols is any more offensive to the Kami, or the Shinto faith and traditions, as wearing or carrying Omamori, or other amulets or talismans. That is to say, not at all. :;):

As for the image, that is very nice! I will definitely be saving that to my files. In the mean time, I also have a depiction of Hotei. It is not traditional drawings by any sense, but I like it, although I do wish that he was laughing as he is usually depicted as doing. Hmmm...the art I have been going after so far has been contemporary, but perhaps I should look more at the traditional paintings and iconography. They look really cool and nice! :^^:
3601

Cobra
08 Dec 2014, 08:42
Yes, I actually tend to enjoy the older art such as Kuniteru's a bit more, but that's just me.

Cobra
25 Dec 2014, 01:12
Sorry to double post, but if you all ever need a quick, official link to explain Shinto afterlife beliefs, here it is! From the Jinja Honcho website itself!

http://www.jinjahoncho.or.jp/en/spiritual/index2.html

sirz345
07 Jan 2015, 13:22
I know I'm a little late to the party but here it goes! I've been Shinto for around three years now, I am a non-Japanese convert and I'm proud to represent a faith with little to no representation in the west. My experience with Shinto began on accident about 4 years ago when I stumbled across the faith and read into it, it represented my beliefs almost perfectly so I said 'You know what? Sign me up!' and I began identifying as Shinto twoish months later (I felt like I needed to do a little bit more reading into it, identify prayers and other traditions, etc.) in the great state of Utah. Utah was hard, polytheistic traditions such as Shinto have a long, sad history of being the whipping boy for Christians and boy oh boy did the local LDS population remind me of it, I'm glad most did remain silent however to them, it was easy to ignore the comments of those who knew so little.

I believe in the power of the kami and also a principle I call "tiered Kami" which isn't really an official thing but it is a belief that there are different tiers of kami: an example of which would be a familial ancestor being lower than Amaterasu, her holiness, the sun, both are kami and both have great power, one is just a little bit higher than others. Another thing that polytheistic traditions did for me was something I always had a problem with concerning semitic faiths: if god was good and satan had no real mortal power, why did god intentionally give children and adults alike horrible diseases and allow wars? Polytheism answered it quite simply: there are bad and good GODS, not god, the bad ones cause the disease, the war, the famine, while the good ones heal them and are constantly fighting the bad ones to make us healthy and happy but sometimes the bad ones can win. This seemed like a good explanation to me so honestly that was what truly attracted me to polytheism, the morals revealed themselves later and really they were the icing on the cake. I attempt to live my life as best the gods can ask for, including a weekly offering of food/spices (depends on my mood) at my kamidana. I am more than willing to openly answer any questions about Shinto (which I've already been doing a little of haha) just as my brothers and sisters in the faith already have. May the Hachiman and Sarutahiko watch over all who read this!

- - - Updated - - -


My question was more along the lines of whether it would be appropriate to wear it as others wear their symbols. It's not a common question that is gone over because most people in Japan do not need to express themselves that way.

That art is nice. Since there was no depiction of Susanoo-no-Mikoto, I will share one of my favorites. It's by Kuniteru, and was painted sometime in the mid nineteenth century.

3600

https://www.etsy.com/listing/160396348/pendant-charm-necklace-bright-red-epoxy?ref=sr_gallery_26&ga_search_query=red+circle+pendant&ga_search_type=all&ga_view_type=gallery

This for representation of Amaterasu and perhaps you could stencil on a torii, as both a symbol of Amaterasu and the faith itself? A dark circle could be used for Susano-o since Amaterasu and himself are generally considered quite opposite. I myself have looked for torii necklaces and they are RARE. Although with five minutes and a piece of cardboard you could make a decent torii symbol and put it on the necklace. After all, the best kinds of religious pendants are handmade ones.

LunarHarvest
15 Jan 2015, 13:46
One of the really good resources I have found to explain the basic principles of Shinto spirituality is this publication called the "Soul of Japan (http://www.sengu.info/pdf/soul-of-japan.pdf)" that was published by Jinja Honchō (The Association of Shinto Shrines) and Ise Jinja (One of the oldest and most revered shrines for those unfamiliar). It also contains some basic information about Kami like Amaterasu-Ōmikami, and about the establishment of Ise Jinja.

It also has pictures, which automatically makes it much more awesome! ^u^

SilverShadow
05 Feb 2015, 01:05
Sorry if this has already been asked, but I was wondering whether tattoos are not allowed in Shintoism?

I've read it's frowned upon because our bodies are gifts from our parents and the Gods, so to tattoo our bodies is to dishonour the gift. I've also heard there's a lot of stories where the bad guys get tattooed by Gods, as punishment.

Can anyone shed some light on this for me?

LunarHarvest
06 Feb 2015, 01:01
Sorry if this has already been asked, but I was wondering whether tattoos are not allowed in Shintoism?

I've read it's frowned upon because our bodies are gifts from our parents and the Gods, so to tattoo our bodies is to dishonour the gift. I've also heard there's a lot of stories where the bad guys get tattooed by Gods, as punishment.

Can anyone shed some light on this for me?
I couldn't really find any mention of tattoos in a religious sense online, but I definitely found plenty on the views of Japanese people towards tattoos. If you could get a link to where you have read information about the body being a gift thing that would be much appreciated. :=):

As for tattoos being used for punishment, or on bad guys, well that draws itself from more of a cultural aspect than a religious one from what I can tell. In Japan, tattoos have long been associated with the criminal element. In Japan's history, tattoos have been used to make criminals and slaves instantly recognisable as punishment. Today, in modern Japan, there is still a large-scale stigma around tattoos. Since tattoos were illegal in 19th century, to the end of World War 2, Japan, tattoos became a symbol of the criminal element, and especially of the Yakuza (equivalent of the Mafia in Japan). The Japan Times says it best, in my opinion, “…the perception Japanese people have of tattoos, at its most simple, core level is this: People see tattoos and that equals yakuza, yakuza means criminal.”

SilverShadow
06 Feb 2015, 13:02
I couldn't really find any mention of tattoos in a religious sense online, but I definitely found plenty on the views of Japanese people towards tattoos. If you could get a link to where you have read information about the body being a gift thing that would be much appreciated. :=):

As for tattoos being used for punishment, or on bad guys, well that draws itself from more of a cultural aspect than a religious one from what I can tell. In Japan, tattoos have long been associated with the criminal element. In Japan's history, tattoos have been used to make criminals and slaves instantly recognisable as punishment. Today, in modern Japan, there is still a large-scale stigma around tattoos. Since tattoos were illegal in 19th century, to the end of World War 2, Japan, tattoos became a symbol of the criminal element, and especially of the Yakuza (equivalent of the Mafia in Japan). The Japan Times says it best, in my opinion, “…the perception Japanese people have of tattoos, at its most simple, core level is this: People see tattoos and that equals yakuza, yakuza means criminal.”


I just found the thing about tattoos and shinto on another forum-

http://www.japan-guide.com/forum/quereadisplay.html?0+64781

They do mention that in one of the sacred texts that the Gods tattooed criminals/bad people. But I haven't read any of those yet, so I wasn't sure if it was true or not.

I had heard about the cultural reasons in Japan for people not embracing tattoos. I'm sure that perception will change over time, but probably not in time for me to visit a bath house, ha ha!

But I did think given the cultural importance of Shinto in Japan, there might also be an element of a bias against tattoos in Shinto as well. I'm interested in Shinto (maybe more as a practise than a spiritual thing), but I don't want to be disrespectful of the rules/beliefs.

I've heard the Yakuza still practise Shintoism, but then they're not exactly known for their strict adherence to the rules...

LunarHarvest
11 Feb 2015, 13:49
My apologies for taking so long to reply. I decided that it would probably be best, as I could not find an satisfactory answer on my own independent research, to consult a Shinto priest, in this case an American priest, Reverend K. Barrish of the Tsubaki Grand Shrine of America. His response on the subject was as follows:

"—as for the tattoo —Shinto world tends to be rather conservative…during Meiji times tattoos were associated with criminals —so tattoos are not so good for shrine environment"
Ultimately what is able to be concluded from this is that the general view of Shinto practitioners and shrines, with Japanese being a large majority, is that tattoos are associated with their already preconceived notion of the criminal element born from the Meiji era. :^^:

That being said, this does not mean that tattoos are considered prohibited in the Shinto spirituality itself, but rather that the culture which Shinto arises from, and from which it draws the overwhelming majority of its practitioners, have a general negative stigma regarding tattoos. Like other religious texts the use of punishments by the Kami are not exempt from the cultural context in which they are written. With tattoos, and forced tattooing, being used to identify criminals, the use of punishments by Kami, if present, as I am unfamiliar with such tales, would not surprising absorb such qualities via the cultural osmosis of the culture which it draws itself from.

To sum everything up, tattoos are not so much divinely prohibited as they are cultural viewed with a negative disposition. This does not mean that you cannot have tattoos while practising Shinto as a religion, and they are even becoming somewhat more common in Japan outside of Yakuza, but you should be aware whenever you go to a shrine, and especially one in Japan, that there is a negative stigma associated with them, and consider covering them up if you can. First impressions can be crucial, and having something commonly associated with criminal behaviour in their culture can send a wrong first impression. :;):

If there is any further clarification I can offer then feel free to post or private message me. :3

sirz345
11 Feb 2015, 23:46
Sorry if this has already been asked, but I was wondering whether tattoos are not allowed in Shintoism?

I've read it's frowned upon because our bodies are gifts from our parents and the Gods, so to tattoo our bodies is to dishonour the gift. I've also heard there's a lot of stories where the bad guys get tattooed by Gods, as punishment.

Can anyone shed some light on this for me?

In the documents I've read as well as a few statements from Kannushi associations, it is frowned upon in Japanese culture, not necessarily against the rules of Shinto but due to the common association of Shinto=Japanese Culture (they often share traits but aren't 100% aligned).

SilverShadow
14 Feb 2015, 15:38
My apologies for taking so long to reply. I decided that it would probably be best, as I could not find an satisfactory answer on my own independent research, to consult a Shinto priest, in this case an American priest, Reverend K. Barrish of the Tsubaki Grand Shrine of America. His response on the subject was as follows:

Ultimately what is able to be concluded from this is that the general view of Shinto practitioners and shrines, with Japanese being a large majority, is that tattoos are associated with their already preconceived notion of the criminal element born from the Meiji era. :^^:

That being said, this does not mean that tattoos are considered prohibited in the Shinto spirituality itself, but rather that the culture which Shinto arises from, and from which it draws the overwhelming majority of its practitioners, have a general negative stigma regarding tattoos. Like other religious texts the use of punishments by the Kami are not exempt from the cultural context in which they are written. With tattoos, and forced tattooing, being used to identify criminals, the use of punishments by Kami, if present, as I am unfamiliar with such tales, would not surprising absorb such qualities via the cultural osmosis of the culture which it draws itself from.

To sum everything up, tattoos are not so much divinely prohibited as they are cultural viewed with a negative disposition. This does not mean that you cannot have tattoos while practising Shinto as a religion, and they are even becoming somewhat more common in Japan outside of Yakuza, but you should be aware whenever you go to a shrine, and especially one in Japan, that there is a negative stigma associated with them, and consider covering them up if you can. First impressions can be crucial, and having something commonly associated with criminal behaviour in their culture can send a wrong first impression. :;):

If there is any further clarification I can offer then feel free to post or private message me. :3


Thank you for taking the time to find a good answer, rather than just a fast one :D

Cobra
16 Feb 2015, 21:52
I just thought I should say, I am back and regularly visiting at this point.

LunarHarvest
17 Feb 2015, 03:37
I just thought I should say, I am back and regularly visiting at this point.
Welcome back! :3

sirz345
21 Feb 2015, 00:30
I just thought I should say, I am back and regularly visiting at this point.

Welcome back brother! I am not exactly Shinto anymore (LONG STORY, I actually wasn't looking to convert but something happened) but am still using my knowledge to help those who want it!

Cobra
21 Feb 2015, 17:13
Thank you both for the welcomes back.

I was thinking recently about religious holidays. Have you ever done something for a Shinto holiday? If so, what?

LunarHarvest
22 Feb 2015, 11:41
I celebrated Obon last year, and have ever intention to celebrate it this year as well. I celebrated it via making a makeshift altar and making food offerings of salt, rice and water, as well as some tea. I know it is more of a Buddhist holiday than a proper Shinto holiday, but I'll still count it.

Now that I think about it, Shyunki Taisai (Great Spring Ceremony) is coming up. Any plans for celebrating it? I'll probably set up another makeshift shrine and offerings, and pray for the upcoming season. :3

Cobra
23 Feb 2015, 19:32
However simple I will definitely do something. It is a little tough for me considering how I am in college, luckily I will be done rather quickly. I'm curious as to exactly how you have constructed your makeshift altar.

LunarHarvest
27 Feb 2015, 20:44
However simple I will definitely do something. It is a little tough for me considering how I am in college, luckily I will be done rather quickly. I'm curious as to exactly how you have constructed your makeshift altar.
It was really simple, to be honest probably a little bit too much so. I placed some cloth on a table, with electric candles and the offering. I was really just trying to establish a space for proper offerings, since I cannot really purchase anything close to a proper home shrine, or something similar, due to circumstances. :3

Cobra
01 Mar 2015, 05:05
Salt, rice, water, and tea, right?
What kind of tea? Can't wait until I can get a kamidana by the way.

LunarHarvest
01 Mar 2015, 17:43
For me it was just peppermint tea. xD
To be perfectly honest, there was no real 'spiritual' reason for my choice in tea. That being said, it was my go-to tea at the time.

I also can't wait for when I can finally get a kamidana, but I'm not in an area or place where an open practice of polytheistic religions, let alone Shinto, is welcome, so it will probably be quite some time before I can acquire one for myself. :P

Cobra
05 Mar 2015, 04:48
Oh, I understand about the tea.

The way you talk you would think that you live in the Holy See or something :P If the kamidana is in your home, who is going to raise a fuss about it?

LunarHarvest
05 Mar 2015, 23:35
Oh, I understand about the tea.

The way you talk you would think that you live in the Holy See or something :P If the kamidana is in your home, who is going to raise a fuss about it?
I live in a family that is universally made up of devout Catholics, and very traditional ones at that. On both sides of my family all my immediate family, my uncles and aunts, cousins, grandparents, et cetera, are all Catholic. In addition, they would be very cross if they knew I held polytheistic beliefs, and even more cross if I brought something that would 'invite demons' into the house, like a kamidana.

It is one of the major reasons I am in the broom closet currently. I may step out of it soon enough, but that action would not be smart at the moment.

Redfaery
07 Mar 2015, 14:51
Hi everyone! I thought I'd pop in here, since a LOT of the gods/spirits I work with are Japanese. I don't self-identify as Shinto. I just...do Shinto stuff? I bought a kamidana in Japan. They're much cheaper over there, and I was able to put mine in my (ginormous) suitcase. I painted it black and applied pearlescent powder upon Herself's instructions (Sarasvati, in Japan - Benzaiten-sama), to imitate traditional lacquerwork. She didn't like the plain wood at all. It looks rather amateurish, but She is very fond of it. In fact, when I was considering saving up for one of those beautiful scale models, she was like but you painted this one for me!!! I'd say she has the same attachment to it as a parent has to the lopsided "World's BEST mom/dad!!!" Coffee mug/Ashtray they get from their kids

Gleb
08 Mar 2015, 09:41
Hey everyone! :)
I have a question. Is there some sort of codex in Shinto? Something that it's acceptable to follow.

Redfaery
08 Mar 2015, 12:12
Hey everyone! :)
I have a question. Is there some sort of codex in Shinto? Something that it's acceptable to follow.

I'm not sure what you mean? Shinto doesn't have a holy text like the JCI faiths, or even multiple ones like Buddhism and Hinduism. The Kojiki and Nihongi often get cited, but both were more "mythic history" than religious text. Think The Golden Bough and The White Goddess. There certainly are standards of behavior one must follow when worshiping at a shrine, some are really basic (the temizu ritual is a given) and others are more situational.

There's actually a great book out from an American-born Shinto priestess (Ann Llewellyn Evans), simply entitled Shinto Norito. You can find it on Amazon. It's a very good basic primer on the most standard Shinto praxis.

Gleb
08 Mar 2015, 12:27
Well, there are the 42 purifications of Ma'at in Kemetism which are used on daily basis among people. So I thought maybe there is something similar in Shinto.

Redfaery
08 Mar 2015, 13:12
Ah, OK. Yeah, there are daily rituals for home worship. The Norito book by Evans has a good rundown on them.

Gleb
08 Mar 2015, 13:30
Cool! Thanks! :)

LunarHarvest
08 Mar 2015, 23:34
So there really isn't a codex, in any formal sense, for Shinto or its practitioners. This is, in part, is because the roots of Shinto, and its concepts and practices largely take there root even before written history, as an ingrained aspect of the social fabric of the Japanese life as its natural religion. That being said, it is also a factor that there is really no Shinto 'religion', in the sense of a unified church, as much as there are a group of Shintos which reflect the same basic traditions and principle understandings, and which find their identities in such.

There are some religious texts which are present, of which most notable are the Kojiki and the Nihon Shoki, and these certainly have their merits, but they are not typically considered to be of any official sense of religious dogma. That is another thing, in that Shinto has effectively little to no official dogma, and many of its practice and beliefs hold themselves in millennium of religious tradition rather than in doctrine.

With all that said, one principle belief of Shinto that is common among all of its practice is belief and rituals regarding impurity. Impurity in Shinto is not like 'sin' or similar concepts, as it is something which is innate to the world around us, and which we naturally accrue throughout our lives. It can also be brought from coming into contact with impure things such as disease, corpses, and blood shed in violence. Purification of impurity is done by literally washing away impurity we gather throughout our daily lives, and is typically done through bathing, although Shrine sites are typically maintained as purified and sacred areas (hence the reason for purification before entering a Shrine).

Redfaery
09 Mar 2015, 01:19
I've been dying to get my hands on the Engi Shiki which *was* intended as a codex of rituals to be used at the Imperial Court in Heian times. Of course, back in the 10th and 11th century, trying to parse out what was "Shinto" and what wasn't would have been...difficult at best.

Cobra
11 Mar 2015, 05:16
Shinto does have an organization of sorts, Jinja Honcho, which is the association of the shrines. I would also note that the distinction of "Shinto" was first made when writing came to Japan, to avoid having it get mixed up completely with Buddhism; some deities that you see are not of Shinto origin but of a Buddhist one. Of course Shinto practitioners don't invalidate them or anything; the best way to put it is that Shinto is very non-exclusive in the way it sees the world.

Redfaery
11 Mar 2015, 06:42
Some deities that you see are not of Shinto origin but of a Buddhist one. Of course Shinto practitioners don't invalidate them or anything; the best way to put it is that Shinto is very non-exclusive in the way it sees the world.

Indeed, I believe only ONE of the Shichi Fukujin is native Japanese. My patroness Sarasvati is also very popular in Japan as Benzaiten-sama.

LunarHarvest
11 Mar 2015, 11:27
Indeed, I believe only ONE of the Shichi Fukujin is native Japanese. My patroness Sarasvati is also very popular in Japan as Benzaiten-sama.
She is also known as 'Ichikishima-hime-no-mikoto', in relating her to a more "Shinto-y" name. :3

I don't really have a favourite or patron Kami, but I am quite partial to Tsukuyomi-no-Mikoto (Kami of the Moon and Night Skies), Konohanasakuya-hime-no-Mikoto (Kami of things which bloom), and Susanoo-no-Mikoto (Kami of Seas and Storms).

Redfaery
11 Mar 2015, 11:44
She is also known as 'Ichikishima-hime-no-mikoto', in relating her to a more "Shinto-y" name. :3

I haven't heard that one before! Is that the same as Itsukushima-hime?

I actually connected with Sarasvati through *trying* to be Shinto. I was fumbling around trying to honor Ame-no-Uzume and some others, and included Benzaiten-sama as an afterthought. I kept praying to her for luck with my schoolwork, and eventually she went "Hey. You're mine, mmmkay?"

When I went to Japan, the first thing I did was look for a shrine. My chaperone (I was in an exchange program) told me there was one in the park (I was in Kichijouji. I went there, and saw a sign giving directions to an Inari shrine. I shrugged and went looking. BOOM! Inokashira Benzaiten Jinja!3867

Cobra
11 Mar 2015, 15:01
She is also known as 'Ichikishima-hime-no-mikoto', in relating her to a more "Shinto-y" name. :3

I don't really have a favourite or patron Kami, but I am quite partial to Tsukuyomi-no-Mikoto (Kami of the Moon and Night Skies), Konohanasakuya-hime-no-Mikoto (Kami of things which bloom), and Susanoo-no-Mikoto (Kami of Seas and Storms).

I may have mentioned this before, but I am also very patrial to Tsukuyomi-no-Mikoto and Susanoo-no-Mikoto. Oddly I had not heard of Konohanasakuya-hime-no-Mikoto but there are many, many kami in this world :P I myself am also partial to Ame-no-Uzume.

I remember, early on, the first time I revered Susanoo-no-Mikoto. That was good!

LunarHarvest
11 Mar 2015, 19:50
I haven't heard that one before! Is that the same as Itsukushima-hime?
Yep! :3
'no-Mikoto' is a fairly common title added onto the proper names of Kami. It is similar to 'Ōkami', or 'Ōmikami', for example with Inari-Ōkami and Amaterasu-Ōmikami respectively.



I may have mentioned this before, but I am also very patrial to Tsukuyomi-no-Mikoto and Susanoo-no-Mikoto. Oddly I had not heard of Konohanasakuya-hime-no-Mikoto but there are many, many kami in this world :P I myself am also partial to Ame-no-Uzume.

I remember, early on, the first time I revered Susanoo-no-Mikoto. That was good!
If I recall correctly, the first Kami I grew to recognise as a Kami was Tsukuyomi-no-Mikoto. After that, the first time I prayed it was to Tenjin. Konohanasakuya-hime-no-Mikoto I actually found by accident, if memory is serving me properly.

Redfaery
11 Mar 2015, 23:25
'no-Mikoto' is a fairly common title added onto the proper names of Kami. It is similar to 'Ōkami', or 'Ōmikami', for example with Inari-Ōkami and Amaterasu-Ōmikami respectively.

Oooh, honorifics...such a tangle! I was pretty sure "no Mikoto," etc. were used as such, but frankly, the only *named* kami I work with regularly is Benzaiten-sama. I've encountered kami in trees and rocks, etc. But since they were here in the US, they didn't have names. There's a wonderful one in my family's front yard that's an enormous oak tree. I call it Kashiwagi-sama.

Inka
19 Mar 2015, 13:04
I've got a question about kami. Shinto is, from what I've read, considered highly animistic. The main diffrence between Animism and idealist Pantheism is that although both believe that everything in the universe possess a spiritual essence, Pantheism generally is monist about it, seeing all of it as one being or entity. Animism is pluralist about it, seeing the many parts as having each its own entity. But I think I've read somewhere on this thread that kami are sometimes described as pantheistic. Is it true? :)

Redfaery
19 Mar 2015, 13:21
I've never heard it described that way myself, but it's possible, and in fact quite likely. There's no central religious authority in Shinto the same way there is for say, Roman Catholicism, so individual practitioners are free to interpret the notion of kami however they want. I'm a Tendai Buddhist as well as a Shintoist, and my animism certainly does bleed into pantheism given my views on the Tendai doctrine of "Buddha-nature"

LunarHarvest
20 Mar 2015, 04:09
I've got a question about kami. Shinto is, from what I've read, considered highly animistic. The main diffrence between Animism and idealist Pantheism is that although both believe that everything in the universe possess a spiritual essence, Pantheism generally is monist about it, seeing all of it as one being or entity. Animism is pluralist about it, seeing the many parts as having each its own entity. But I think I've read somewhere on this thread that kami are sometimes described as pantheistic. Is it true? :)
To my understanding, Shinto is typically much more animist than it is pantheistic, although it does have elements of both, and there is some interpretations (especially in Sectarian Shinto) which attributes a much higher emphasis on the pantheistic interpretation of Kami. Konkōkyō comes to mind in that regard.

That being said, the general viewpoint I have seen and understand is that, while the underlying spiritual nature of all things is recognised, each Kami is seen as an independent being over a part of a collective being. Kami are typically considered to be independent and unique beings from each other, and has a more hard polytheist view of nature (ie. Amaterasu-Ōmikami is not Inari-Ōkami is not Tenjin is not Tsukuyomi-no-Mikoto, et cetera). :;):

For another example, while their is a Kami of Australia generally, the Kami residing within everything in Australia are not considered to be the same as, or a part of, the Kami of Australia generally. Rather they are seen as separate beings sharing some roles, but ultimately being separate beings in their existences and serving different responsibilities and roles.

While it is from Wikipedia, I found this statement which describes the general difference adequately, and probably better than I have, and which can be applied in comparing Pantheism to Shinto. :D

One of the main differences is that while animists believe everything to be spiritual in nature, they do not necessarily see the spiritual nature of everything in existence as being united (monism), the way pantheists do. As a result, animism puts more emphasis on the uniqueness of each individual soul. In pantheism, everything shares the same spiritual essence, rather than having distinct spirits and/or souls. Additionally, Pantheism posits a source of this "monism". This source may or may not have agency. In contrast, in Animism, the soul or essence or spirit of objects and living things are novel and separate from the whole, while still seen as irrevocably intertwined with one another in a community.

Hope this answers your question adequately. :^^:

Redfaery
20 Mar 2015, 06:35
That's a much better explanation than I gave....You rock! :headbang:

Cobra
22 Mar 2015, 01:28
I would have to agree with LH, noting the distinct kami of human souls, deities, natural places, etc.

Inka
23 Mar 2015, 13:05
Hope this answers your question adequately. :^^:

It does, thank you. :)
Aside from worshipping at the shrines and/or household altars does Shinto encourage any other activities that enable interactions with kami? I mean shamanistic techniques, etc.

LunarHarvest
24 Mar 2015, 23:58
Not sure I entirely understand the question, to be honest. Could you specify, and perhaps list an example?

Inka
25 Mar 2015, 23:29
I mean for example altered states of cosciousness in order to encounter and interact with kami. I found this:


Shamanism is part of the indigenous Ainu religion and Japanese religion of Shinto, although Shinto is distinct in that it is shamanism for an agricultural society. Since the early middle-ages Shinto has been influenced by and syncretized with Buddhism and other elements of continental East Asian culture. The book "Occult Japan: Shinto, Shamanism and the Way of the Gods" by Percival Lowell delves further into researching Japanese shamanism or Shintoism.The book Japan Through the Looking Glass: Shaman to Shinto uncovers the extraordinary aspects of Japanese beliefs.

But I'm sure it's not mainstream Shinto. :)

Cobra
26 Mar 2015, 20:31
Well, there are several different "parts" to Shinto, Folk Shinto and Shrine Shinto for example. I understand that this is a very simple explanation, but Shrine Shinto pertains to the official ceremonies and rituals that are performed at the shrines. They're organized, and they also serve, like a church, as a purveyor of religious services. (I am not saying that the "services" are the same as a church service.) For the most part though your average Shinto practitioner, even if near a shrine, does not go as a regular or scheduled sort of thing.

Then there is the side of Shinto that individuals partake in which is in the personal or family life. There are customs and rules, but there is no concrete code for what you may do. So for example, some may not take it past the kamidana aspect of things, but others may make personal prayers for themselves or for their families, and revere their own ancestors.

Jembru
31 Mar 2015, 13:21
I'm not sure if this would interest anyone or not, but it has me exited so I thought I'd share on the off-chance others might enjoy it as much as I did.

I've started exploring some of the old Japanese folktales and I have to say I'm finding them really moving. At first it was purely academic. I study Japanese through kokugo textbooks (kokugo is Japanese as a school subject for native speakers) these days. Kokugo is split into 'gendaibun', which is modern Japanese as it's written today, and includes the learning of all jouyou kanji, studying modern literature, and developing good communicative skills, and 'kobun', which is old Japanese, and involves learning to read old scrolls, calligraphy and of course, folk tales. Obviously as a non-native speaker, kobun isn't that much use to me, but out of curiosity I thought I'd humour my textbooks and dip a toe in.

Besides my textbooks, I also use 'NHK for schools' to access kokugo material. There I found a series for kobun that looks at folktales, called 'ohanashinokuni classic'. These short episodes start with a reading of a classical tale, and then they retell the story in modern Japanese, with the original text shown on the screen so you can compare.

Anyway, I realise that you may not be able to follow the words, but just the general aesthetic of the show is very moving, so I thought I'd share..

http://www.nhk.or.jp/kokugo/classic/

Here, they tell 'taketorimonogatari' or 'tale of the bamboo cutter'. It's apparently very famous so you probably already know the story if you have an interest in Japanese culture, but I'd never heard it before. Maybe you'll enjoy seeing this modern retelling for kids, dunno.. Oh the story is outlined in English on wiki here -> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Tale_of_the_Bamboo_Cutter

It started as a purely academic exercise, but you know what? I think I might actually be growing to like Japanese culture (I never didn't like it.. I was just indifferent, and maybe slightly intimidated by the stiffness). Still not looking to convert to Shinto, but I will be exploring it more deeply, and maybe incorporating more aspects into my own unique brand of paganism.

I wish we had such a strong link to and appreciation of, our pre-christian culture and folklore. :(

LunarHarvest
19 Apr 2015, 00:53
The aesthetic on those videos is indeed very beautiful, and I will certainly be sure to check them out when I get the chance. Thanks for linking them Jembru! :3

One thing I have been thinking about is the greater link between the spiritual and physical existences which we occupy in this universe. While we can train our spirit to be receptive and learn from Kami around us, I am also interested in seeing how the things we can naturally perceive with our senses can teach us a great deal about our lives, our nature and our general state of existence.

One thing that I currently am amazed at is the web of relations within world and the greater universe, and how complex it is in its make-up. How everything in the world is properly connected to everything else, and how even the slightest actions send ripples of effects along the entirety of the cosmic universe (even if they are too small to really have significant effect). Just seeing and trying to trace, in either direction, how things effect other things it is amazing to see how things go in all directions regardless of their starting position, and serves to heighten the respect for the role that all Kami play in the universe.

Jembru
19 Apr 2015, 09:12
Eeeh... I was going to be posting about something similar in another thread! If my partner hadn't been having a lazy lye-in this morning, I'd have probably posted it around the same time you'd written the above, but I as my PC is in the bedroom, I had to wait until this evening.

It will be a very long post, so I think I'll start a new thread for it as I'd intended, but then link it here, because I'm not sure it really counts as Shinto if I don't identify as a practitioner (although I admit that we share a fair few beliefs and practices).

Phew, that took longer than I'd expected. It's here (http://www.paganforum.com/showthread.php?9975-Physical-World-as-a-Spiritual-Plane&p=178476#post178476) in case you're interested, but if long posts aren't your thing, suffice it to say that I too am exploring the physical world as a spiritual cosmos. Very strange coincidence indeed!

Oh and that NHK series: they've only aired two episodes so far, but I'm definitely going to keep tuning in. That's if my PC will play the videos. They're a bit buggy for me sometimes.

Cobra
25 Apr 2015, 15:47
One thing I have been thinking about is the greater link between the spiritual and physical existences which we occupy in this universe. While we can train our spirit to be receptive and learn from Kami around us, I am also interested in seeing how the things we can naturally perceive with our senses can teach us a great deal about our lives, our nature and our general state of existence.

One thing that I currently am amazed at is the web of relations within world and the greater universe, and how complex it is in its make-up. How everything in the world is properly connected to everything else, and how even the slightest actions send ripples of effects along the entirety of the cosmic universe (even if they are too small to really have significant effect). Just seeing and trying to trace, in either direction, how things effect other things it is amazing to see how things go in all directions regardless of their starting position, and serves to heighten the respect for the role that all Kami play in the universe.

I don't usually really enjoy participating in discussions on this sort of thing, but that is one item that really clicked with me about Shinto. I never believed that everything was "one" so to speak. It makes very much sense to me that many, individual parts, some greater in power or greater in number than others, can make up a whole - and even the smallest members of this community are important, like plankton in the sea.

A new thought, though: have you ever considered getting omamori?

LunarHarvest
02 May 2015, 05:40
I don't usually really enjoy participating in discussions on this sort of thing, but that is one item that really clicked with me about Shinto. I never believed that everything was "one" so to speak. It makes very much sense to me that many, individual parts, some greater in power or greater in number than others, can make up a whole - and even the smallest members of this community are important, like plankton in the sea.

A new thought, though: have you ever considered getting omamori?
I've actually been considering it recently, but I'm not really sure about it.
The thing is that I've never had anything which I could properly call a 'charm', of any sort for that matter. I do know what I would want it in and things like that. That being said, I'm not sure about purchasing one.

Ultimately I think I will order on in the coming months, or perhaps for the opening of the New Year. Why not? :3

Cobra
13 May 2015, 18:15
Can you order them in the middle of the year like this?

I personally would be worried about getting mine returned at the proper time.

LunarHarvest
24 May 2015, 16:38
I think I'm a little bit worried about that too. I have heard that keeping it longer than a year can lead to it somewhat reversing in its purposes, so it brings misfortune, but that was just something I heard in passing. Another big question is what to get it in. I know that they can, if you ask, make you one for a unique purpose, but I'm not properly sure on what for myself.

In other news, I'm finally going to get my hands on "Shinto Norito a Book of Prayers" by Ann Llewellyn Evans! :3 I've been delaying myself too long, and admittedly have been a little distracted, from continuing my studies properly and seeking to further my understanding. ^-^;

Out of curiosity do any of you meditate?

LunarHarvest
29 May 2015, 16:10
Way back in November of last year the question was asked about the proper use of symbols in Shinto, and especially whether it was acceptable to wear symbols as in a similar fashion to wearing a pentacle or cross. For the sake of reference the original question is listed below.


I myself was recently wondering about symbology... Do you think it would be appropriate as a Shinto practitioner to express oneself using our most common symbol, the Torii gate, as other religious people do with their jewelry, etc. (crosses, pentacles)?
I was reminded of this while reading "Shinto: The Kami Way" by Sokyo Ono* (published 1962), and I must say that I think that one of the symbols a practitioner of Shinto could use would be a mirror of some variety. To explain this position properly I will quote this passage from the Jinnō Shōtōki (1339) by Chikafusa Kitabatake*, as quoted in Shinto: The Kami Way.


“The mirror hides nothing. It shines without a selfish mind. Everything good and bad, right and wrong, is reflected without fail. The mirror is the source of honesty because it has the virtue of responding accordingly to the shape of objects. It points out the fairness and impartiality of the divine will.”

Thus it is my personal opinion that the mirror is a rather good, and inconspicuous, symbol to use for Shinto. I am by no means suggesting that this should serve as some form of official role in Shinto theology, but I feel that it might be fitting as an informal symbol, and especially could help with Shinto practitioners who want to display their faith inconspicuously.

What do you all think in regards to this matter?

*Names are presented with personal name first, according to the book

Cobra
14 Jun 2015, 18:05
I think I'm a little bit worried about that too. I have heard that keeping it longer than a year can lead to it somewhat reversing in its purposes, so it brings misfortune, but that was just something I heard in passing. Another big question is what to get it in. I know that they can, if you ask, make you one for a unique purpose, but I'm not properly sure on what for myself.

In other news, I'm finally going to get my hands on "Shinto Norito a Book of Prayers" by Ann Llewellyn Evans! :3 I've been delaying myself too long, and admittedly have been a little distracted, from continuing my studies properly and seeking to further my understanding. ^-^;

Out of curiosity do any of you meditate?

It's good to hear you are receiving a book. I feel sometimes that I should invest more time reading about such topics. In regards to meditation, I used to experiment with it... I always focused outside of myself instead of inside. From what I understand, meditation is from Buddhism, at least in respect to Shinto.


Way back in November of last year the question was asked about the proper use of symbols in Shinto, and especially whether it was acceptable to wear symbols as in a similar fashion to wearing a pentacle or cross. For the sake of reference the original question is listed below.

I was reminded of this while reading "Shinto: The Kami Way" by Sokyo Ono* (published 1962), and I must say that I think that one of the symbols a practitioner of Shinto could use would be a mirror of some variety. To explain this position properly I will quote this passage from the Jinnō Shōtōki (1339) by Chikafusa Kitabatake*, as quoted in Shinto: The Kami Way.



Thus it is my personal opinion that the mirror is a rather good, and inconspicuous, symbol to use for Shinto. I am by no means suggesting that this should serve as some form of official role in Shinto theology, but I feel that it might be fitting as an informal symbol, and especially could help with Shinto practitioners who want to display their faith inconspicuously.

What do you all think in regards to this matter?

*Names are presented with personal name first, according to the book

The mirror thought is interesting. My mind instantly went to Yata no Kagami - the mirror that is part of the Imperial Regalia. One of the items used in the story of the cave.

I have, while searching for appropriate symbols, been reminded of the mitsudomoe
4034
Here is the associated Wikipedia article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tomoe

Jembru
01 Jan 2016, 02:36
I wanted to visit a shrine for hatsumode (first shrine visit of the new year) so I could pray for a good year ahead. I did a quick search and found this virtual shrine for people who can't get to a real one. I thought our Shinto members might be interested too.
http://www.sakura.jingu.net/youhai.html

It's in Japanese but I'd gladly help if Google translate is gobbledygook. I'll give a quick reference though.

1. The page I linked brings you to the main entrance. You can see a map of the shrine grounds on the right. Click on the '次へ進む' button with the sakura blossom flowers on the left to enter.

2. You come to the shrine itself. You are told that if this is a regular visit to pray for something specific, bow twice, clap 4 times, then bow once.

For seasonal festivals, bow 4 times, clap 8 times then bow again.

You can press the buttons for this if you like. Then click the sakura flower button again to make your prayer.

3. You can just say your prayer to yourself, but your can also fill in the form so your name and prayer (unless you choose 非公開) will appear in the box. It looks like you need to sign up to the site to do that though, so if anyone needs help doing that I'll post instructions on request).

Once you've prayed, click the button on the left again.

4. Now you can pick up a slip with your fortune or 'omikuji' on like at a real shrine. To get your omikuji, click on the month at the top of the page. As it's now January, that would be '1月'. The options you might receive are;

大吉 (daikichi) Great blessing
中吉 (chuukitchi) Middle blessing
小吉 (shoukitchi) Small blessing
吉 (kitchi) Normal blessing
半吉 (hankichi) Half blessing
末吉 (suekitchi) End blessing
末小吉 (sueshoukitchi) end small blessing
凶 (kyuou) curse
小凶 (shoukyou) small curse
半凶 (hankyou) half curse
末凶 (suekyou) end curse
大凶 (daikyou) great curse

There will then be a short prediction for you. Again, I don't mind helping with translations of the fortune if anyone needs it.

5. You can then choose to write your prayer on an ema, which is a wooden plaque (and is romantically written 絵馬 or 'picture horse'). Again, you will need an account to do this.

6. Now you're at the omamori stall. Click the one you want, and see it blown up. You could even save the image and print it out to hang somewhere for luck! (the website claims that the Guuji has blessed them for you!).

7. Consultation with the Guuji. I'm going to assume the people at the temple won't speak English so maybe skip this section!

And that's it! All your shrine visiting needs met by a virtual shrine!

あけましておめでとう!
(Happy new year!)