Though Shinto is a Japanese religion, its name comes from 2 Chinese words: shin – ‘divine’ and tao – ‘the way.’ The gods, or kami, in Shinto are thought to live in rocks, mountains, and rivers. It explains the creation of Japan, its people and links the emperor to the divine line of the kami.

Shinto promotes harmony between people, nature and the kami. It has no known founder, central figure or scripture, though there is a code of values promoting cleanliness, purity, and renewal. Shinto believes in kuni-hito where group solidarity is favoured over individual identity. Closely associated with Buddhism, which offers the comfort of life after death, Shinto, however, sees death as the end of existence. From this comes the phrase “Born Shinto, Die Buddhist.”

Shinto has no regular services, other than festivals, as people are to live by Shinto daily and offer thanks when they feel the need. Shinto has many festivals, Spring planting, Fall harvest, and New Year being most important.

Though Shinto is a Japanese religion, its name comes from 2 Chinese words: shin – ‘divine’ and tao – ‘the way.’ The gods, or kami, in Shinto are thought to live in rocks, mountains, and rivers. It explains the creation of Japan, its people and links the emperor to the divine line of the kami.

Shinto promotes harmony between people, nature and the kami. It has no known founder, central figure or scripture, though there is a code of values promoting cleanliness, purity, and renewal. Shinto believes in kuni-hito where group solidarity is favoured over individual identity. Closely associated with Buddhism, which offers the comfort of life after death, Shinto, however, sees death as the end of existence. From this comes the phrase “Born Shinto, Die Buddhist.”

Shinto has no regular services, other than festivals, as people are to live by Shinto daily and offer thanks when they feel the need. Shinto has many festivals, Spring planting, Fall harvest, and New Year being most important.

© 2006, Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. All Rights Reserved.

A pair of lion-dogs (one with a closed mouth and one with an open mouth) would guard the doors of a Shinto shrine.

This lion-dog is likely one of a pair of those typically used to guard the doors of a Shinto shrine. One would have a closed mouth (like this one), while the other’s would be open.

Unknown
Fred & Isabel Pollard Collection
17th Century
JAPAN
AGGV 67.141
© 2006, Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. All Rights Reserved.


A Shinto shrine is used for prayer to the kami and purification.  This one has many carvings including dragons and baku

Front view of the shrine all lit up

Unknown
Purchased with Funds provided by the B.C. Lottery Fund and the Asian Art Society of Victoria
c. 1903
JAPAN
AGGV 87.7
© 2006, Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. All Rights Reserved.


A Baku, a combination of earthly animals, is a mythical animal that eats nightmares.

Baku – a mythical animal that eats nightmares; is summoned by saying “devour o baku;” a combination of animals with a hairy head, trunk-like nose, tusks, cow-like ears, spotted hide and ox tail.

Unknown
Purchased with Funds provided by the B.C. Lottery Fund and the Asian Art Society of Victoria
c. 1903
JAPAN
AGGV 87.7
© 2006, Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. All Rights Reserved.


A dragon ascending from waves.

Dragons are one of the four sacred creatures thought to have powers to live in the heavens, on land, and in water. As such, they are often depicted descending from the clouds or ascending from waves.

Unknown
Purchased with Funds provided by the B.C. Lottery Fund and the Asian Art Society of Victoria
c. 1903
JAPAN
AGGV 87.7
© 2006, Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. All Rights Reserved.


Learning Objectives

The following learning objectives have been created with considerable and specific reference to the Prescribed Learning Outcomes (PLOs) for various grades and subjects as outlined by the Ministry of Education for the province of British Columbia. The portions that directly reflect curricula language have been italicized. All applicable texts, websites, and other learning resources are listed in the bibliography under References.

• Students will familiarize themselves with aspects of Shinto practice and with its focus on nature students can also assess the relationship between cultures and their environments.
• Students will appreciate how Shinto relates to and affects Japanese culture, ethics, visual arts, family and national structure.
• Students will learn about kuni-hito, where salvation means that of the whole nation instead of salvation of a few individuals, and again compare individual rights and social responsibilities in various cultures and also demonstrate knowledge of basic concepts and terms that characterize Japanese culture and society.


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