2012/02/23

Shintoism and the guardian animals

 In Japan we have our own religion, Shintoism.
Briefly speaking Shintoism originated  from the nature worship and the ancestor worship.
 From the ancient period , our life is always greatly influenced and controlled by nature.
Because of the geographical reason, people always struggled and (even now struggle) with the natural disasters in this country.
 Especially in the country where the life depended very much  on the agriculture,  nature played an important role.
 Our life was deeply involved in  nature. (even now)

 In this situation people naturally learned the power of  nature and respected it.
People thought the god descend and rest in  nature, such as  mountains, rocks,  trees, etc.
 They built a  shrine in such places so that they could be protected by the god.
In each village and town there is it's local shrine, and the people of the area take care of the shrine and participate the annual events and the festivals of the shrine.

 Then they also respected the spirit of their ancestor and began worshiping it.
 In this way the number of the god increased in Shintoism.
Shintoism is deeply related to the life of the people, but at the same time it was closely connected with the nation under the emperor in history.

 Anyway Shintoism was for the peace and prosperity of the local community  which is deeply controlled by nature.
 People always entreated something to gods.
 Even now when we visit a Shinto shrine, we pray  to try to get some benefit from the god.


 There are a great number of  Shinto shrines with a great number of  gods.


When you visit a Shinto shrine, you always find a pair of guardian animals.
Generally speaking we find dogs or  tigers called 《komainu》 at the entrance of the shrine.


But you can find other animals  as well.

 In Kyoto there is  《a philosopher's path》, near this path  is a tiny local Shinto shrine where you can find the mice as guardian animals in front of a tiny sub shrine.
 This sub shrine is dedicated to a mythological god 《ookuninushi》. He was one time saved by a mouse in the myth.

                                     a mouse with a big belly is for 《having a baby》
                               
                                 a mouse with a scroll is for the study


  All over this country there are 《Inari》Shinto shrines.
 Inari shrines are dedicated to the god of the agriculture and the commerce.
 At the Inari shrines you always find the foxes, messengers of the god Inari.

                      Fushimi Inari Shinto shrine of Kyoto , head shrine of all of the Inari shrines

                                 

 Now we sometimes find a Shinto shrine called 《**tenmangu》shrine.
**tenmangu shrine is dedicated to a historical person named Michizane Sugawara of the
9th c.  This time you always find oxen, his guardian animals. I will talk about this person or this shrine someday.
 
         

                             
 In 《Goou》Shinto shrine near the imperial palace park you can find wild boars.
This time the god enshrined here is another historical person of the 8th c. 《wakeno-kiyomaro》.
In a legend when he injured his leg , he was protected very much by wild bores and finally his injury was cured.
 Because of this reason, this shrine is good for the problems of feet,legs and the back.
So why not visit this shrine for my feet, very important tool for a guide.


Under the ceiling of the gate something purple is hanging , this represents a good luck charm.

 And of course I bought a good luck charm 《omamori》 for my feet.

  

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kyoto, Japan
I'm a national licensed English and French speaking tour guide living in Kyoto ,and I cover the majority of this country. I am a free lance guide. Why don't you visit Japan with me./ Je suis guide touristique qui habite à Kyoto. Je guide non seulement Kyoto, mais le Japon entier.