Basic Terms of Shinto

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[Ebisu] A deity worshiped as the protector of basic livelihoods and believed to impart happiness and prosperity. Generally regarded as united with the native deity Kotoshironushi no kami, Ebisu is worshiped in the city as the god of merchants and in rural areas as the god of the ricefields (ta no kami). These beliefs originated in fishing villages, where Ebisu was believed to be the god of abundant catches. He was thought to have appeared from out of the sea, a god from a far country believed to bring blessings. See also Daikoku.


[Eboshi] Headgear for Shinto priests. Worn with less formal costumes such as joe and kariginu.


[Ema] Votive tablets presented to shrines. Originated in the practice of hanging paintings of horses before a deity as a substitute for making an offering of sacred horses. Variety in the form and style of the paintings gradually increased, and works of famous artists began to appear.

At some shrines, ema are displayed in special buildings called emaden.

Emakimono[Glossary: emaki][Glossary: kitano_tenjin]

Picture scrolls, often with explanatory text. Unique to Japan, this art form flourished after the Heian period. Emakimono were used to depict events such as the establishment and miracles of shrines. The national treasure Kitano tenjin engi, owned by Kitano Tenmangû in Kyoto, is particularly famous.

Engi Shiki[Glossary: engi_shiki]

A collection of detailed regulations concerning government administration under the ritsuryô codes, in use from the seventh to the late ninth century. The Engi shiki, in 50 volumes, was formulated with consideration of two preceding compilations, the Kônin and Jôgan; of these three major works, only the Engi shiki is extant today. It is a compilation of laws detailing imperial court ceremonies and etiquette, penal measures, local administration, etc. Compilation was begun in 905, and the completed work was presented to the court in 927, but it was not actually promulgated until 967. Compilers included Fujiwara Tokihira and Fujiwara Tadahira. The first ten volumes are regulations concerning Shinto.

Ennichi[Glossary: ennichi]

[Ennichi] Day of affinity. A day believed to have a special relation (en) with a particular deity. It is believed that merit is gained by visiting the shrine on these days each month, a custom also common in Buddhism. Because of the large crowds of people who visited the shrine on these days, markets sprang up to sell various goods, and settlements grew up around the shrines and temples.

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