Basic Terms of Shinto

back to Table of Contents
I[prev] [next]K



see Ji matsuri

Jidai Matsuri

[Jidai Matsuri] Festival of the Ages. An annual festival celebrated on October 22 at the Heian Jingû in Kyoto. The procession that makes its way through the city is a pageant of historical characters dressed in period costumes representing the 1000-year history of Kyoto as the capital of Japan.


[Jigami] Land deity. Worshiped in regions west of the Kanto plain. The spirit of the person who founds a village or first cultivates land in an area is enshrined in a corner of a garden or on the border of a field, and thus worshiped as a deity of that land. In some localities, worship of the jigami appears to be tied to reverence for family ancestors. For example, it is said in some cases that an individual becomes a jigami 33 years after death, and in other cases, the jigami is identified with the ta no kami.

Ji matsuri

A ritual performed before constructing a building to worship the deity of the locality and to pray for safety during the process of construction.

Jingi[Glossary: jingi]

see Kami

Jingi-in[Glossary: jingi_in]

A government office established in 1940 within the Ministry of Home Affairs (Naimushô) as an expansion of the Ministry's Bureau for Shrine Affairs (Jinjakyoku). Its purpose was to increase the prestige of Shinto worship and to promote Shinto education among the people. Until its abolition at the end of the second world war, it was the core of shrine administration and held the leading position in the Shinto world.

Jingikan[Glossary: jingikan][Glossary: kyobusho]

The Department of Divinities, an ancient government office in charge of Shinto worship. The Taihô codes, established in 701, stipulated that the Dajôkan, in charge of political affairs and local administration, be the highest government office, and that the Jingikan be on a level equal with it. The Dajôkan was established in imitation of the government system of T`ang China, but to give the Jingikan the same rank was a unique Japanese development. The Jingikan was responsible for all matters related to the worship of the gods.

In 1868, the first year of Meiji, the Jingikan was reestablished in accordance with the prevailing ideal of saisei itchi (the union of worship and rule); in August of 1871 it became the Jingishô; later, in March of 1872, it became the Kyôbushô (Ministry of Religious Education). It finally ended as an entity quite removed from its original intent.

Jingû Kôgakukan[Glossary: jingu_kogakukan]

Educational institution located in Ise. Established in 1882 by order of Prince Tomohiko, saishu of the Grand Shrine of Ise (Ise no Jingû), Jingû Kôgakukan was located within the Hayashizaki Library, and provided education for the sons of shrine priests.

In 1903, it was placed under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Home Affairs (Naimushô) and became a government school administered by the Jingû Shichô; it was located at Kuradayama in the city of Uji Yamada. It trained many leaders in the fields of Shinto and education until it was closed at the end of World War II as a result of the policy enforcing separation of church and state. The institution was reopened as a private university in 1952 when Ise no Jingû established a course of study for the priesthood; courses in Japanese studies were also established in 1955.

Jingû taima

A kind of amulet distributed by the Grand Shrine of Ise (Ise no Jingû). At present (1985), about 8 millions are in the possession of worshipers and enshrined in kamidana in their homes.


[Jinja] Shinto shrine, a building and grounds enshrining the spirit of a deity or deities. There are about 80,000 shrines throughout Japan. In response to historical conditions, shrines have assumed various forms and sizes. Many are located in pure natural surroundings of great beauty and generally include the following elements:

  • Honden (inner sanctuary or main shrine where the spirit of the deity is enshrined)
  • Haiden (oratory or hall of worship where visitors worship and offer prayers)
  • Norito-den (hall of litany where religious ceremonies are perfomed)
  • Heiden (hall of offerings)
  • Kagura-den (stage for performance of kagura, Shinto ceremonial dance)
  • Shamusho (shrine office)
  • Torii (arch)
  • Temizuya (place for performing ablutions, see also temizu, misogi)

Shinto priests (shinshoku) officiate at shrine ceremonies. Committees of priests, ujiko (parishioners), and ujiko sôdai (parishioner representatives) manage the shrines. Upkeep is based on offerings from the ujiko and worshipers.

Jinjachô[Glossary: jinjacho]

Local branch of the Jinja Honchô.

Jinja Honchô[Glossary: jinja_honcho]

Association of Shinto Shrines, organized when the nation's shrines were disestablished as a result of the Occupation order issued in 1945. Membership includes most of all shrines in Japan (about 80,000 shrines) and about 20,000 priests. Guided by the spiritual leadership of Ise no Jingû, the Jinja Honchô works to preserve shrine Shinto (Jinja Shinto) and to maintain principles of integrity. Its head office is in Tokyo, and local branches (jinjachô) are located throughout Japan.

Jinjakyoku[Glossary: kyobusho][Glossary: shaji_kyoku]

Bureau of Shrine Affairs. The government bureau under the Ministry of Home Affairs (Naimushô) which, until 1940, dealt with the administration of shrines and the Shinto priesthood. After the abolition of the Kyôbushô (Ministry of Religious Education) in 1877, Shinto affairs were administered by the Shajikyoku, a Naimushô bureau that dealt with both Shinto and Buddhist affairs. In April of 1900, the Shajikyoku was replaced by two new bureaus, the Jinjakyoku for Shinto affairs and another bureau for all other religions. Later, when the Naimushô was reorganized, the Jinjakyoku became the highest ranked of the five Ministry bureaus.

Jinja saishiki

Regulations concerning the order and conduct of rites performed at Shinto shrines. Before the Meiji period, ritual forms varied depending on the shrine and school of thought, but in 1875, uniform ritual observances for all shrines were established. The observances conducted today are those fixed in 1948 by the Jinja Honchô.

Jinja Shintô

Shrine Shinto. The traditional religious practices carried on in shrines throughout Japan's history, as well as the attitudes toward life which support these practices. At the core of this religion exists a reverent religious experience which has prevailed from antiquity and which leads Japanese believers to experience the will and activity of the gods through various events of everyday life. Shrine Shinto claims no founder, but through the interpretation of classical mythology and the re-evaluation of folk ways, it is gradually organizing its own theology. The politico-theoretical side of Jinja Shintô is called Kokka Shintô or State Shinto. At present there are in Japan some 80,000 shrines, of which some 97 percent belong to the Jinja Honchô.


[Joe] A garment worn in religious ceremonies. Worn since ancient times by Shinto priests, and also worn on occasion by laymen visiting shrines to worship or attending religious ceremonies. Made of white silk or other fabric tailored in the same way as the kariginu.


A ritual performed during construction of a building. The carpenters worship gods connected with architecture and pray for safe completion of their work. The ritual is performed when the ridgepoles are made and set in place on the roof.


A pilgrimage following a definite course to visit certain shrines and sacred places. This practice became common in the middle of the Heian period. Famous pilgrimage routes include the 88-station route in Shikoku (henro) and the various 33-station routes in Tokyo and Kyoto. It is believed that merit is gained by traveling and praying through hardships and austerities. This practice is also widespread among Buddhist believers.

I[prev] [next]K
back to Table of Contents

Copyright © 1997 Institute for Japanese Culture and Classics, Kokugakuin University. All rights reserved. [copyright notice]