SHINTO RELIGION AND JAPAN
AMATERASU ( SUN-GODESS ) , after banishment of storm and darkness to the world below , had become the most important SHINTO deity . It became now the Supreme Being and AMATERASU had , thus , the greatest SHINTO shrine in JAPAN established at the Island of the South coast . It is there that her mirror the Sun has been kept in a box which is treated with a great reverence . Apart from that the second greatest shrine was located at IZUMO where SUSANOWO ( THE STORM-GOD ) and his son OHONAMOCHI ( THE EARTH-GOD ) were worshiped . The SHINTO myths , further , states that how AMATERASU dispossessed OHNAMOCHI from ruling the Earth and the reign of the entire JAPAN was given to her grandson NINIGI . It is said that NINIGI all the way came down from the Heaven and married the Goddess MOUNT FUJI . And JIMMU TENNO , one of their grand children , was declared as the first Emperor of JAPAN supposedly in 660 BC . However , there is a dispute among historians about the date as some them put his date as back as only 40 BC . Thus , the Emperor was believed to be of divine decedent . Moreover , all the three sacred Imperial Treasures : 1. Mirror ; 2. Jewels ; and 3. Sword were considered as of divine origin . As we know that the Mirror had been kept in a box at South Coast Island , the Sword at another shrine and the Jewels at the royal palace of TOKYO .
References have been made about other Gods in the SHINTO cults apart from the Sun-Goddess . The most important among them was UKEY-MOCHI (FOOD-POSSESSOR) , the spirit of food and drink . Another lesser God was INARI (RICE-GOD) whose shrines were located in every Village of JAPAN . It is said that the fox was his messenger and was considered as one of the lesser Gods itself as such . The shrine of the Gods were generally made up of wood . They also had the wooden roofs . It is said that they were rebuilt every twenty years on the same traditional patterns . It appears to be on the similar basis of the shrine of LORD JAGANNATH of PURI in INDIA . As the shrine of the LORD is made up of wood and rebuilt/replaced ceremoniously every twelve or nineteen year . For these Gods of SHINTO religion, there existed small dwellings where priests performed the ceremonies and the ritual dances but public generally were not allowed to be inside such dwellings as such . We however don’t see any concept of images worship in the ancient SHINTO religion , Mirror and Sword were just symbolic . The concept of images only entered into it after the entrance of BUDDHISM in JAPAN . And every shrine has a typical wooden gateway at the entrance and ropes mark off the entire sacred areas . The GOHEI ( USED FOR BLESSING AND SANCTIFYING A PERSON OR AN OBJECT IN THE SHINTO RELIGION ) was used as symbols of sanctity . It is a sort of small poles in which was inserted small pieces of paper or cloth . We could also see groves of tall ancient trees around the shrines which expressed how the JAPANESE were having intense love for the nature .
Many historical facts ascertain that SHINTO is a primitive religion but the fact is that it has an organized priesthood and elaborate rituals . We also see existence of family and village Gods which have their own festivals . It is virtually a religion of love and gratitude . But the defect with this religion was that it had no concept or doctrine of immortality of soul and that’s why they avoided funeral ceremony as such . It was the cause why BUDDHISM took its root in the JAPANESE society . Since BUDDHISM allowed images worship and believed in the doctrine of immortality of soul , it was liked by the JAPANESE people despite the fact that it was an imported religion and its origin being in INDIA as such . However , the SHINTO sects gave more emphasis on purity of heart and soul . The rituals simply existed for purification from defilement , but it had a very limited sense of sin as such .
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