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Kojiki

(359 words)

Author(s): Pye, Michael
[German Version] As the oldest compilation of myths and legends from ancient Japan, the Kojiki is highly significant not only in the context of Shintō (Shintoism), but also for the cultural history of Japan as a whole. It was set down in writing in 712 ce by the court nobleman Yasumaro, although it doubtlessly goes back to oral traditions attributed to Emperor Temmu in their existing form. The latter had ascended the throne in 673 and was interested in placing the legendary descent of the ruling clan from the gods ( Kami ) in a favorable light. The mythological secti…

Shugendō

(264 words)

Author(s): Pye, Michael
[German Version] (literally “the path of training and testing”) denotes a rather loosely organized complex of strenuous ascetic practices that emerged in the Middle Ages on the fringes of Japanese esoteric Buddhism (I, 2.d). It includes recognizable elements of a shamanistic culture (Shamanism) that did not survive independently, including the use of animal symbolism and familiarity with the primitive world of plants and animals. En no Gyōja (or En no Ozuno), who probably lived in the second half of the 7th century, is venerated as its founder. The yamabushi were already organized …

Shintoism

(2,455 words)

Author(s): Pye, Michael
[German Version] I. Historical Development As a coherent system, the religion of Japan known to us as Shintoism (or better: Shintō) emerged in the course of Japan’s reception of cultural elements from China, especially the Confucian (Confucianism) administrative system, Buddhism (I, 2.d), and writing. The name shin-tō itself consists of two Chinese characters meaning “gods” or “spirits” and “way.” Put in Japanese, it is the “Kami Way” ( kami no michi). The kami (= shin), or with the honorific kami-sama, are supernatural beings that appear in great number in the ancient Jap…

Lotus-Sūtra

(385 words)

Author(s): Pye, Michael
[German Version] (Skt. Saddharmapuṇḍarīkasūtra, i.e. “ Sūtra on the lotus blossom of the true dharma ”), a fundamental text of early Mahāyāna Buddhism and a work of prime importance in the Chinese Tiantai school (Jap. Tendai) as well as in Japanese Nichiren Buddhism. The most important Chinese translation by Kumārajīva (406) bears the title Miaofa Lianhua Jing (“ Sūtra on the lotus blossom of the sublime dharma”), which gave rise, in Japan, to the frequently used prayer formula Namu myōhō renge kyō. Sanskrit manuscripts are of later date. In terms of content, the concept of “(skill…

Japan

(7,003 words)

Author(s): Pye, Michael | Dohi, Akio | Thöle, Reinhard | Repp, Martin
[German Version] I. General Facts – II. History and Culture – III. History of Religion – IV. History of Christianity – V. Orthodox Church – VI. Japanese Religions, Missiology I. General Facts The Japanese archipelago ( nippon rettō) consists of four main islands and several smaller ones with a total area of 373,534 km2. Honshū, the largest island by far (227,414 km2), is the country's geographical middle. All the political power centers of Japanese history (Nara, Kyōto, Kamakura, and Edo/Tokyo) are situated here. Owing to its proximity to the southe…

State Cult

(1,973 words)

Author(s): Kleine, Christoph | Otto, Eckart | Kern, Martin | Pye, Michael
[German Version] I. History of Religions State cults in the narrow sense are religious ceremonies, governed by tradition or law, performed in the name of the state and for its benefit; typically they are addressed to extrasensory powers such as gods, demons, natural numina, or personalized cosmic forces. It is necessary to distinguish cults celebrated regularly at fixed times and places from those staged on a particular occasion such as an enthronement, the death of a ruler, a natural disaster, an epi…

Temple

(9,630 words)

Author(s): Maier, Bernhard | Berlejung, Angelika | Steimle, Christopher | Bieberstein, Klaus | Zellentin, Holger | Et al.
[German Version] I. Religious Studies The English word temple derives from Latin templum. In the technical vocabulary of religious studies, it is more specialized than sanctuary, shrine, cult site, or place of worship. The usage of the originally Latin term beyond the sphere of classical antiquity is well established, particularly for structures that appear comparable in regard to their architectural form (monumentality, stone construction) or religious function (dwelling place of a god or goddess). But this usage does not reflect a precise defi-¶ nition it is based primarily …