Shintoism: Kami and One-ness Intro Notes

Once a month I host a discussion at Sengoku Japan, and the topics are rotating around ancient Japanese philosophy (since that is the theme of the sim). So far we have only talked about Shintoism, but I intend to focus on ethics and politics and other philosophies from that era. Anyway, here is an intro to Kami and the idea of one-ness.

Kami and One-ness

The Meriam-Webster dictionary describes Kami as a sacred power or force. “…one of the Shinto deities including mythological beings, spirits of distinguished men, and forces of nature.”

“In Shinto religion every object of nature has a soul, even mountains, rivers, lightning, wind, waves, trees and rocks for instance. Stemming from this belief naturally flows the strict practice to only use natural materials as wood, paper, silk, cotton and laquer (made from the resin of trees).

…each season other flowers bloom and Shinto follows these changing colours through the seasons, specially when it comes to clothing. A Shinto priest, for instance, owns many different robes, for each season an other set. Priests wear the traditional robes every day, and wear different ones with special ceremonies.”

“When entering inside a Shinto shrine, the visitor should perform a symbolic cleansing called temizu (from te “hand” and mizu “water” – water to purify the hands). This purification is considered indispensable before visiting the sacred area and it signifies the removal of evil and pollution. For the ritual, every shrine provides an ablution pavilion – chōzuya or temizuya – usually a stone basin filled with clear water, with wooden ladles.

How to properly perform temizu:

Take the ladle with your right hand, fill it with water and pour some water to rinse your left hand. Then, move the ladle to your left hand and pour water over the right hand.
Now, you take again the ladle into your right hand, cup the left hand, pour some water into it and use it to rinse your mouth.
Finally, repeat the rinsing of the left hand and place the ladle back.”

“The Shintō pantheon of kami 神 (spirits) includes countless deities and innumerable supernatural creatures. The term KAMI can refer to gods, goddesses, ancestors, and all variety of spirits that inhabit the water, rocks, trees, grass, and other natural objects. These objects are not symbols of the spirits. Rather, they are the abodes in which the spirits reside.”


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