The Sound Of Waves Essay
Question: How has the Japanese reliance on the environment determined the nature of their religion? Japanese religion: Shintoism is the main religion in Japan. Shintoism: “Japanese Religion” is a general term used to describe the unique blend of a great variety of religious traditions within Japan. Religion in Japan reflects a long history during which various religious beliefs and practices – some indigenous, some “imported” from other places – have been accepted and personalized to Japanese culture.
The ancient indigenous folk religion, later formalized as Shinto, was based on feelings of awe toward the sacred powers (kami) that brought life to the earth and human community. In the 6th century CE, Buddhism was introduced into Japan; it both influenced Shinto beliefs and practices and also incorporated Shinto elements. Shinto which literally means “The way of the Gods. ” It is Japan’s native belief system and predates historical records. Shintoism is basically a reverent loyalty to familiar ways of life and familiar places.
In Japan, patriotism is an issue of the heart. Shinto followers have a deep connection with their land, and they believe that the best way to express that connection is to do what the emperor wants them to do. The emperor’s expectations are their key motivation to live. Because of their emperor and their country they have developed a touching loyalty of an intense kind. They find no difficulty to be faithful to their kokutai, -“the national organization” or “the solidarity of the nation. ” Japanese love their land; it is a love of t he country as a whole. Every hill and lake, all their mountains and rivers are dear to them, so dear that they can with difficulty think of parting from them. ” (pages 428-9 Man’s Religions by John B. Noss) They’ve always believed that their country was their own. They can’t see themselves living anywhere else but where they do, and can’t imagine anyone invading their country either. Basically, this means that when their country is in harm and needs protection, they will happily die for it. The Story of the origin of Japan: “Long ago all the elements were mixed together with one germ of life.
This germ began to mix things around and around until the heavier part sank and the lighter part rose. A muddy sea that covered the entire earth was created, from this ocean grew a green shoot. It grew and grew until it reached the clouds and there it was transformed into a god. Soon this god grew lonely and it began to create other gods. The last two gods it made, Izanagi and Izanami, were the most remarkable. One day as they were walking along they looked down on the ocean and wondered what was beneath it.
Izanagi thrust his staff into the waters and as he pulled it back up some clumps of mud fell back into the sea. They began to harden and grow until they became the islands of Japan. The two descended to these islands and began to explore, each going in different directions. They created all kinds of plants. When they met, again they decided to marry and have children to inhabit the land. The first child Izanami bore was a girl of radiant beauty. The gods decided she was too beautiful to live in Japan, so they put her up in the sky and she became the sun.
Their second daughter, Tsuki-yami, became the moon and their third and unruly son, Sosano-wo, was sentenced to the sea, where he creates storms. Later, their first child, Amaterasu, bore a son who became the emperor of Japan and all the emperors since then have claimed descent from him. ” (http://www. cs. williams. edu/~lindsey/myths/myths_17. html) Shintoism is animalistic and a kind of nature worship with the belief that kami (supernatural power of spirit) resides in both animate and inanimate natural objects such as wind, sea, and rocks.
This spirit is worshipped and appealed to for protection and favors by those who believe in Shinto. The following are characteristics of Shintoism: Torii gates, white garments of priests and pilgrims, multiple “altars” throughout the shrine, strips of white cotton cloth hung for protection, worshippers heads are bowed, similarities to Buddhist temples, the use of wooden plaques to make requests. In every Shrine there is an offering box that is called an offertory chest (which Shinji tosses a ten-yen coin into it, Chapter 3, page25)