[Table of Contents]

Sano Tsunehiko[Glossary: sano_tsunehiko] and "Divine Principle (Shinri)"I

INOUE Nobutaka

1. Kami and Ri (Deity and PrincipleII)

Shinrikyô[Glossary: shinri-kyo] (teaching of divine principle) was the name Sano Tsunehiko (1834-1906) gave to the religious group which he founded. The name itself is not uncommon in the context of other Shinto-affiliated religious groups, so it usually goes without particular notice, but one can likewise say that the specific name would not have been selected had it not been felt to be particularly apropos. In short, Sano must have had some reason for feeling the name Shinrikyô was necessary.

The term shinri ["divine principle"] itself can be found in the preface to the Kojiki[Glossary: kojiki], where it says, "he established divine reason wherewith to advance good customs; he disseminated brilliant usages wherewith to make the land great."III As a result, it may be that Sano made conscious use of the term based on this source, but no matter what its usage in the Kojiki, it remains true that the term shinri itself encompasses the meaning of "Truth (Principle) of the kami" or "the kami as manifestation of Principle." The character ri carries with it the fundamental significance of "Truth" (shinri) or "Law" (hôsoku, and one can assume that that signifi-cance was present at the time Sano founded Shinrikyô. It goes without saying that when used within a religious context, the terms "Truth" or "Law" are not necessarily equivalent to their usages within the natural sciences, although they do share certain aspects in common.

Religious doctrines and teachings provide answers to questions of the meaning of creation, the final purpose of history, and the reason for human existence. Further, the answers in most cases make reference to the ultimate and are voiced in a way which might be described as "in the beginning was the answer," thus cutting off further inquiry.

A typical example might be the concept of Divine Providence in Christianity; even if the concept is unconvincing to modern common sense and logic, when the issue of Providence is raised, explanation can proceed no further. To doubt that explanation is to doubt the very system of faith based on Divine Providence. As a result, the religious system relating to meaning and purpose is given the status of eternal, immutable truth.

In contrast, scientific truths and laws satisfy the need for explanations of processes of change, rather than "meaning" and "purpose." As a result, when experimentation and logical investigation shows them to be incorrect, they are naturally subject to modification. Truth is not an determinate given at the outset, and the search for more perfect truths and laws continues without end.

In light of the diverse ways in which scientific research is actually carried out, this sort of contrast between science and religion may seem a bit too conceptually clear-cut. I have adopted this kind of prologue, however, since despite such fundamental differences, a surprising degree of approach exists between religion and science in their common perception that humans are moved by laws which operate in a realm surpassing human power. And it is necessary to introduce this perspective in order to understand Sano Tsunehiko's thought.

The presupposition among religious thinkers that religious doctrine corresponds to natural law is not particularly unusual. In fact, the concept existed as a distinct theme within the Shintoistic groups which arose during Japan's modern period. This motif did not erupt into being suddenly; Sano can merely be considered one of many adherents of a current of thought which had its origins in the pre-Meiji period.

Next, as expressed in the term shinri, Sano's concept of "divinity" (kami or shin) was clearly polytheistic at base, although his understanding occasionally exhibits monotheistic features as well. This dual characterization has its sources in Sano's thought itself, but it should also serve to remind us that the difference between monotheism and polytheism is not always so distinct as is commonly assumed.

One of the fundamental categories of religious studies is the one dividing monotheistic from polytheistic religions: Islam and Christianity are monotheistic while Shinto is polytheistic. On the plane of abstract speculation, the distinction between monotheism and polytheism may be clearly maintained, but on the level of actual faith and practice, it is more common, on the contrary, for the two to be separated by a more hazy border. The problems for theology and religious instruction are not so simple even within sectarian Shinto[Glossary: kyoha_shinto] and some of the Shintoistic new religions. While the concept of kami held by such religious groups demonstrate clearly polytheistic traits, monotheistic attributes are on occasion also strongly brought to the fore. I want to consider this fact in the context of Sano's concept of kami.

In addition, I also want to consider what psychological supports may have contributed to Sano's strong conviction that his teaching was flawless, as evidenced by his selection of the name "Divine Principle" (shinri). It can be assumed that those supports involved both a reliance on preexisting religious tradition, and his own unique religious experience. The determination of the relative weight of each of these factors is likely related to the attributes of the individual as a religious founder, making the analysis equally applicable to the religious founders of certain other Shinto sects. Namely, the relationship between a previous religious tradition and personal religious experience can be thought closely related to the resulting creativity and uniqueness of their respective religious groups.

2. Sano's Concept of Kami

Basing themselves upon the intellectual accomplishments of late-Tokugawa National Learning (Kokugaku[Glossary: kokugaku]), a number of Shintoists of the Meiji period undertook the work of formulating a new concept of kami. They undertook this work against the backdrop of a pressing need to resist the propagation of Christianity while simultaneously composing teachings that would be in line with the aims of popular national indoctrination. Since one of the purposes of Sano's movement was to oppose the spread of Christianity, he was highly motivated to clearly formulate the Shinto concept of kami, particularly as regards the mutual relationship between the kami, the functions of the kami, and the relations between kami and humans.

While Sano wrote extensively, some of his works have already been lost,1 and of those which remain available, a considerable number are undated. As a result, some difficulty is involved in any attempt to chart the progress of his thought through his early teaching career, as he met other religious figures and came into contact with Christianity. The core elements of his concept of kami, however, evidence virtually no change throughout his life, with the result that there is little difficulty in abstracting the overall attributes of his thought as revealed in his major works.

Very little in-depth research has previously been done on the group Shinrikyô, leaving us with a very incomplete understanding of Sano's thought. The group itself, however, has carried out what might be called doctrinal research ever since the pre-war period, and it continues to engage in that research today, though at a reduced level of activity. Core works of the pre-war period would include Shinri no gyôten [Dawn of divine principle] by Fujie Isahiko (1920), Kyôso no dôtô [Tradition of the founder] (1925) by Sano Yutaka, and Kyôso shugi no senden [Disseminating the founder's way] by the same author. Of these works, Kyôso no dôtô presents the overall contours of Sano's thought in relatively accessible form, making it valuable as an introductory text on Sano's thought. Further, since the majority of the text is concerned with Sano's concept of kami, I want to use it as I attempt to summarize that concept.

Here, I want to proceed by discussing the outlines of these works, and then continue with the discussion of the issue I introduced at the beginning of the paper.

Within Kyôso no dôtô, Sano's thought is organized within topics such as "view of kami," "view of human life," "view of spirits," "view of the relationship between kami and humans," "view of the cosmos," "view of the national polity" and "theory of morality," and these topics are arranged in a relatively organic way. First, in "view of kami" [shinkan], a basic explanation is given of the way in which Sano grasped the concept of the Japanese native deities known as kami. The section "view of human life" [jinseikan] explains what relationship the activity of such kami has to the way in which human beings live. In "view of spirits" [reikan], spirit is explained as the essence which links kami and human beings. This is followed by "view of the relationship between kami and humans" [shinjin kankeikan], in which the divine-human relationship is explained primarily from the perspective of the problem of evil, and ways to avoid or purge such evil.

In the section "view of the cosmos" [uchûkan], a discussion of the process of the unfolding of heaven and earth is presented in the context of a comparative study, while "view of national polity" [kokutaikan] presents reasons for Japan's unrivaled status among world nations. Finally, "theory of morality" presents the view that the fundamental nature of human beings --- who are the offspring of the kami --- is good.

Sano Yutaka begins his work by discussing Sano's etymological theory of kami. Sano states that while Sano did not deny the various views of previous scholars, he possessed his own unique interpretation. Namely, the word kami is said to have its etymological origin in the word ikimochi ().3 Basing his claim on Sano's own work Koshi hongi [The true meaning of ancient history], Sano states that Sano's conception was that the i of iki had been dropped, thus producing ki alone, which then evolved into ka, while mochi became truncated in mi, thus producing "kami." In essence, the claim is made that kami means ikimochi, a word signifying supreme ruler, Nature, Ultimate Principle and blessing. The degree to which Sano's etymological analysis possessed a sound basis in linguistics is of little importance to the theme of this paper. What is more important is the issue of why he adopted that kind of explanation, or what aspect of kami he was trying to emphasize by means of it. By defining kami as ikimochi, he suggested a kami which operates dynamically within the universe.

As a part of his discussion of Sano's etymological theory, Sano Yutaka also directs attention to the way Tsunehiko understood the kami. Tsunehiko described the most important of the kami with the expression tenzai shoshin ("heavenly kami"), a category which included the following eighteen deities (one theory includes only fifteen) from Ame no minakanushi no kami[Glossary: amenominakanushi_no_kami] to Amaterasu ômikami:4

(1) Ame no minakanushi no kami; (2) Takami-musubi no ôkami ; (3) Kamimusubi no ôkami ; (4) Umashiashikabihikoji no kami; (5) Ame no Tokotachi no kami; (6) Kuni no Tokotachi no kami; (7) Toyokumono no kami; (8) Uhijini no mikoto; (9) Suhijini no kami; (10) Tsunokuhi no kami; (11); Ikukuhi no kami; (12) Ôtonoji no kami; (13) Ôtonobe no kami; (14) Omodaru no kami; (15) Kashikone no kami; (16) Izanagi no kami[Glossary: izanagi]; (17) Izanami no kami[Glossary: izanami]; (18) Amaterasu ômikami.

First, it is immediately apparent that these eighteen kami represent the consecutive line of deities appearing early in the Kojiki. Sano's tenzai shoshin are thus the deities of heaven and earth: the parent-deities of all creation, which existed before the creation and which incorporate all existence. At the same time, the kami are likewise said to represent Principle (ri), namely, the Ultimate Principle which cannot be grasped by human knowledge and which operates behind all events.

In contrast to Japan's other founder religions, Shinrikyô claims to be a religion of heavenly origin, one which transmits the "heavenly ordained Shinto" which first arose in the era of the "high plains of heaven" (Takamagahara)IV spoken of in the myths. It is further claimed that the name "Shinto" itself was only attributed to the religion as a means of discriminating it from other religions, and that the religion was originally kannagara no michi[Glossary: kannagara] or kaminarai, the way followed "in imitation of" or "in accord with" the kami. The claim is thus made that while Buddhism arose from a worldview founded in pessimism, and Christianity arose from a worldview oriented toward the concept of sin, Shinrikyô can be defined as the path of cosmic nature (tenchi shizen) based on the Great Way in accord with the kami.

While understanding kami on the one hand as ri or Principle, mention is also made of the functional discrimination of the various kami. This is done by explaining the roles played by each kami, while weaving in discussions of Chinese "five-element" thought as I describe in the next section. Further, the view of human life is explained from the perspective of how kami and humans are related.

Good and evil are summed up in the following way: human nature is originally good, based on the fact that humans possess the "apportioned spirit" of the deity Amatsu Musubi (the heavenly deity of becoming). On occasion, however, humans come under the influence of the underworld (ne no kuni[Glossary: ne_no_kuni]) land of Yomi[Glossary: yomi], which is the source of evil, and thus become polluted with sin. The land of Yomi is heavily defiled and not a place for the dwelling of kami, but there is a kami which has dominion over it. An explanation is also given for the visible and invisible realms, and the "separation of visible and invisible realms" is described in terms of three aspects: the first separation is that observed in nature, the second is that observed in the relationship of kami and human beings, and the third is that of moral significance.

The concept of kami must be approached in relation to the concept of the human. The relationship of kami and human beings is important even to a consideration of the essential nature of kami. One of the points of linkage between kami and the human is the fact that both are in possession of spirit (tamashii, rei). Simply put, the religion teaches that kami are the highest expression of spirit-nature, while humans are understood as a form of existence in which spirit-nature cannot escape from its physical limitations. A discussion of the relationship between rei or tama ("spirit") and tamashii ("soul") is presented in this same context. Namely, rei is said to be comprehensive, while tamashii is particular. Also, rei is described as original essence, while tamashii is a term adopted to indicate the functional activity of that essence. The work also develops discusses a theory called "one spirit and four souls."

The foregoing represents an outline of my understanding of Sano Tsunehiko's thought as introduced in Kyôso no dôtô; this outline should help us understand how he apprehended kami and the human. Next, I want to discuss how that understanding of kami was structured, and based on that, what items require further study.

3. The Functioning of Kami

Sano's vision of kami is explained repeatedly and in a variety of ways throughout his numerous works. Of these, what can be called his most fundamental religious work is Shinrizu or "Pictures of Divine Truth." Sano apparently carried these wood-block print illustrations with him during his missionary forays; he also presented the illustrations to the prince Arisugawa no Miya; Sano apparently considered them to contain the distilled essence of his teaching.

In another extant work, Shinri zukai (An explication of pictures of divine truth), Sano attempts to explain in more detail the items depicted within the Shinrizu. Shinrizu presents the framework of Sano's concept of kami, but its structure is not so complex. Founded on a base of nativist explications of the Nihon shoki[Glossary: nihon_shoki] and Kojiki, together with imperial-rule concepts, it also demonstrates evidence of influence from Chinese "five-element" thought and the I-ching. Here, while making reference to Shinri zukai and other works, I want to describe how the activity of kami is described within Sano's Shinrizu.

Shinrizu is composed of sixteen illustrations (see Figures 1-16), each one of which is accompanied by a simple explanation. Based on their contents, it is possible to divide the sixteen illustrations into three groups, which I shall here tentatively call "Group A," "Group B," and "Group C."

Briefly, Group A is concerned with the unfolding of heaven and earth, and the coming into being of the various deities. Group B explain why Japan is the foremost imperial land, and Group C explain the principle of "sowing what you reap," particularly in terms of the relationship between ancestors and descendants.

Group A includes the first four illustrations. Illustration 1 presents the words "Throughout the cosmos, there is nowhere without the active ether [ki], and it is kami which is chief over the active ether." The illustration is a single kami figure against the background of a circle symbolizing the sun. The kami shown dwelling within the sun is Ama no minakanushi no kami.

The second illustration explains the discrimination of sun, moon, and land in the words, "The sun is like the upper bloom, the moon is like the lower root, and the land is like the stalk, and thus it is called the middle country." Inside the circle of the sun are drawn five deities, while one deity is drawn within the circle of the moon.

The next illustration is accompanied by the words, "The five deities within the sun are also called heavenly kami (tenshin), while the one kami inside the moon is called Kunitokotachi no kami[Glossary: kuni_tokotachi_no_kami], and the nine generations of the kami are given dominion over the five planets." Here, names are given to the five deities inside the sun, and the nine deities from Toyokumono no kami to Kashikone no kami are distributed among the five major planets.

In the fourth illustration, the inscription reads "The husband-kami is over the sun-world and possesses the nature of pure brilliance, while the wife-kami enters into the moon realm, and possesses the nature of heavy turbidity," thus describing the dichotomy of sun-moon in terms of clarity and opacity. Izanagi no kami is here associated with Ônaobi no kami[Glossary: naobi_no_kami] (the god of rectification and becoming), while his consort Izanami no kami is associated with Ômagatsubi no kami (the deity of disorder).

The illustrations to this point have provided explanations of the unfolding of heaven and earth and the functional discrimination of the various kami; in the subsequent section, Group B (composed of illustrations five and six), reasons are given for the august nature of the Imperial Land (Japan).

The first illustration in this group is accompanied by the title "MaturationV is in accord with distance from the sun-realm." This illustration describes differences in human development occurring between those areas of earth close to the "sun realm" and those which are not. The idea that Japan is situated in that part of the earth originally closest to the sun is clearly under the influence of concepts developed by Hattori Nakatsune[Glossary: hattori_nakatsune] and Hirata Atsutane[Glossary: hirata_atsutane].5

The sixth illustration is entitled "The kami offspring of sun and moon descends to the imperial land, dividing the seen and unseen, and protecting all the lands, for which reason it is called the greatly reverenced land." Here, lines are drawn to Japan from the sun and moon, and from Japan to the other parts of the earth, suggesting that Japan is respected throughout the world since it is the land where the heavenly grandchild descended. The expression "greatly reverenced land" [ôyamato kuni] is the formulation used to indicate this unique characteristic of Japan.

The third group of pictures (Group C) is composed of the remaining illustrations from number seven on, in which an explanation is given for the principle that "good brings about good fruits, while evil brings about evil fruits." The seventh illustration is entitled "the joy of doing good elevates one's spirit [ki] to heaven, while the gloom from the heart that does evil causes one's spirit to decline," describing how one's ki rises or falls in accordance with good or evil deeds.

The eighth illustration offers the principle that "the spirit (rei or tama) of the good man protects his descendants," while the ninth illustration proclaims the converse principle, namely, that "the descendants of the evil man perish."

The subsequent tenth through the fifteenth illustrations are entitled, "The accumulation of ancestors' good causes descendants to prosper," "The accumulation of previous evil causes descendants to decline," "The accumulated good of both parents produces fertility in offspring," "The accumulated good of parents-in-law produces prosperity," and "The good or evil of parents results in the prosperity or decline of their children." In other words, each illustration further emphasizes the theme that the prosperity or decline of descendants is dependent upon the good or evil accumulated by their ancestors.

The final illustration, number sixteen points out the converse principle, namely that, "the good done by the individual assists the spirit-souls of ancestors." This doctrine resembles the belief in the efficacy of memorial services to ancestors as found in many Buddhist-oriented new religions, but as indicated here, the performance of such ancestral rituals frequently forms an important theme of the teaching in Shinto new religions as well.

Most of the Shinrizu depicted in the accompanying photographs were originally color illustrations, and it is likely that some people were captivated by them for their visual impact alone. In terms of the illustrations' contents, however, the most characteristic features are found in Group C. The contents of Groups A and B are virtually no different from the teachings espoused by other nativists. The final illustrations are interesting, however, since they graphically express, and form a linkage between, that operation of kami and the level of real, everyday life. They are unique in that Principle is expounded not only in relation to this life, but in relation to the world after death as well. And based on extant diaries and memoirs, it appears that when the Shinrizu were used in actual proselytization work, greater persuasive results were achieved at the point the last group of illustrations were discussed.

At the same time, this does not mean that the view of kami presented here was nothing more than a continuation of various earlier theories. In particular, a variety of new explanations are offered with regard to the activity of the various deities summed up as the "heavenly kami" (tenzai shoshin). In order to understand the general thrust of those explanations, I want to refer here to an unusual document entitled "Last Will and Testament" (Yuigonjô). This document was written in November, 1905, just a year before Sano's death in October, 1906, and it represents Sano's teachings in the form of an enumeration of articles of faith.VI The Yuigonjô thus displays in structured outline those teaching which Sano continued to proclaim throughout his life. Even though the basics of Sano's thought changed very little throughout his life, some degree of change can be detected in minor details. And since the thoughts expressed in Yuigonjô are those of Sano's very last year of life, they can be considered his final considered opinions. The contents of Yuigonjô cover the entirety of Sano's teaching, but it might be overall divided into two general currents or themes. The first deals with cosmology and the concept of kami, namely, the attributes and activity of the kami, the relationship of kami and humans, and Sano's view of the cosmos and world. The other category is a focus on human conduct, namely, the ethical behavior desirable for humans, the purpose of human life, and the significance of faith.

In terms of quantity, the latter thematic material is slightly more voluminous than the former, but it also includes comments on the kami from a variety of perspectives. In short, even in Sano's final year of life, it remained for him a matter of gravest urgency to present a clear explanation of the nature of kami, and the nature of their activity.

In the very first article of the Yuigonjô we find the statement,

Before the unfolding [of heaven and earth], kami were there, without beginning; these august deities of that beginningless great origin I call the "heavenly kami" [tenzai shoshin]. These are also the kami of Divine Principle, also called the kami of moon, sun and planets, which successfully effected the work of crafting and generation, thus bringing into being the myriad kami and giving birth to the myriad things.

The kami of Divine Principle are of exquisite spirit, and magnificent virtue, the beginningless and endless origin of the myriad kami, the foundation of the myriad spirits, with omniscience and omnipotence forming the fundamental kami attributes, so that there is nothing they do not know, nothing they cannot do. If people but constantly worship the kami without forgetting, the divine spirit [shinrei ] will directly descend and attribute endless blessings and happiness.

This passage emphasizes kami in their aspect as Principle. The expressions "omniscient" and "omnipotent" are seen as well, and the passage clearly iterates from the beginning that the activity of the kami extends to all phenomena.

The subsequent several passages include references to the kami as well, including such claims as that the "heavenly kami" are the parent kami of heaven and earth which comprehend all existence within them; that the "heavenly kami" are the kami which crafted heaven and earth; that they are the original kami from which originated humanity and all things throughout the universe; and that the kami represent Nature [shizen ] and Principle. As demonstrated here, kami are described with terms such as "kami of great origin," "kami of crafting and generation," or "the parent kami of heaven and earth," phrases which suggest attributes also possessed by monotheistic deities.

On the other hand, explanations are also included regarding the kami of the "five elements" (gogyô), or the respective functions of the heavenly kami, thus giving the impression of an introduction to a polytheistic pantheon.

Humans are described as being endowed by nature with characteristics appropriate to their status as the descendants of the kami. The physical appearance of human beings is modeled after the body of the kami, and all people are the descendants of the kami. All things are equal before the kami, but since humans have received the entirety of the kami nature, they are considered the spiritual head of all things. Sano further states that humans and kami are linked in spirit.

From this, it is unquestionable that Sano's view of kami owes greatly to the views of the nativists. In the area of his cosmology and imperial-rule thought[Glossary: kokoku_shiso], it might be more appropriate to understand Sano as an legitimate heir to nativists like Hirata Atsutane and Ôkuni Takamasa. But it must also be noted that Sano adopted his cosmology and imperial-rule thought not from the mere necessity of formulating a doctrine and intellectual system, but as a teaching crucial for the expansion of a religious movement. In that sense, Sano can be identified as a member of that group of people who introduced nativist ideals to the realm of practical religious activity.

4. Emphasis on Five-Element Theory

From its explanation of the birth of the kami to its sections dealing with imperial rule, Sano's view of kami can be basically situated in the camp of the nativists, though some differences exist in minor details. Sano demonstrates implicit faith in the Kojiki, Nihongi and other Japanese classics, and one detects throughout the attitude that one must begin from a fervent belief in the classics as factually accurate documents.

Within that overall nativistic thought, what can be called relatively unique is the fact that even when explaining the activity of the kami, Sano demonstrates the remarkably strong influence of Chinese "five-element" (gogyô; Ch. wu-hsing) thought. In fact, the influence of five-element thought is something which Shintoists cannot avoid; even in the preface to the Kojiki, its author Yasumaro recites,

Grasping the regalia, he ruled the six directions; gaining the Heavenly Lineage, he embraced the eight corners. Adhering to the Two Essences, he put the five elements in right order.VII

In short, it is impossible to ignore the theory of the five elements if one intends to place heavy emphasis on the Japanese classics. During the early modern period, the five-element theory was accepted, on the contrary, as a matter of course within the traditions of both Shinto and National Learning, although it should be added that Sano belongs to that segment of sectarian Shinto founders most profoundly influenced by the belief. At this point, I want to consider how that five-element belief was actually woven into Sano's teaching, and its significance.

What is most striking is that Sano extends his use of five-element theory in explaining the functional differentiation of the kami so as to likewise divide humanity into five categories. This ordering is linked to the five-element theory via his concept of the so-called "five-colored races."

The "Graphic Explication of the Divine Principle of Our Faith" [Honkyô Shinri shinan zukai] includes a section entitled "the origin of the five-colored races," in which Sano offers explanations for the existence of five continents, five races, and five skin colors. According to this work, explanations of the origin of human races based on differences in soil or diet are merely speculating out of their ignorance of the anciently transmitted classics. In fact, Sano insists, the real origin of the five-colored races is their five ancestral kami. Namely, the ancestral kami of the five races are the fire kami Kagutsuchi no kami[Glossary: kagutsuchi]; the earth kami Haniyamahime no kami; the water kami Mitsuhanome no kami; the wood kami Kukunochi no kami; and the metal kami Kanayamabiko no kami and Kanayamabime no kami. These kami are associated with the five races and their respective ancestral kami in the following way:

Asians (yellow): Earth kami, Haniyamahime no kami
Americans (red): Fire kami, Kagutsuchi no kami
Africans (black): Metal kami, Kanayamabime no kami
Europeans (white): Water kami, Mitsuhanome no kami
Malaysians (blue): Wood kami, Kukunochi no kami

In this way, Sano expresses the view that the kami of the five elements are by no means relevant to Japan alone, but to the entire world. In short, Sano attempted to include the steadily expanding knowledge of the world at that time within the theory of the five elements.

Sano states that the theory that the ten deities of heaven were the ancestors of the kami of the five elements was transmitted in the Kitôden, a work passed down through the Yoshida family of ritualists. But within the "Collected Works of the Yoshida" [Yoshida sôsho], the only references to five-element thought is found in the "Record of the Five Great Heavenly Element Deities" [Tenshin godai genshin roku] within the "Record of the Deities of the Three Elements and Five Great Origins" [Sangen godai denshin roku, where it states, "Kuninosatachi no mikoto, Toyokumunu no mikoto, Uhijini and Suhijini no mikoto, Ôtonoji and Ôtomabe no mikoto, Omodaru and Kashikone no mikoto. The foregoing fiveVIII great kami originally produced the five elements, which are water, fire, wood, metal, and earth."

Likewise, the "Record of the Five Great Spirit-Deities of the Land" [Chigi godai reijin roku] states, "The ancestor of wood is Kukunochi no kami; the ancestor of fire is Kagutsuchi no kami; the ancestor of earth is Haniyamahime no kami; the ancestor of metal is Kanayamabiko no kami; and the ancestor of water is Mitsuhanome no kami. These five great deities produced the five-element deities, namely wood, fire, earth, metal, and water."6

A comparison of the Yoshida materials and Sano's position reveals that the five-element kami relevant to the five-color races correspond to the five-element kami which appear in the Chigi godai reijin roku. Since the order given for the earth deities and five great spirits is wood, fire, earth, metal, and water, they correspond to the standard order for the five elements, while in Sano's theory, the order is random.

On the other hand, the Shinri shinan zukai adopts the following order for the kami of the five elements:

Ancestral deity of water: Kuni no Tokotachi no kami

Ancestral deities of earth: Uhijini no kami, Suhijini no kami

Ancestral deities of wood: Tsunogui no kami, Ikugui no kami

Ancestral deities of fire: Ôtonoji no kami, Ôtonobe no kami

Ancestral deities of metal: Omodaru no kami, Ayakashikoni no kami

This order corresponds to that given previously in the Tenshin godai genshin roku, but it presents a different order for five elements. Namely, in the Tenshin godai genshin roku, the elements are presented in the order in which they are mutually produced, but in Sano's work, the order is a reversal of the order in which the elements are mutually defeated.IX

It is difficult to judge whether this difference is the result of a personal interpretation added by Sano to the theory of Yoshida Shinto, or whether his understanding of five-element thought was merely insufficient. In any event, it is clear that five-element thought played a great role in the way that Sano characterized the kami by first assigning the five elements to the seven generations of heavenly deities mentioned in the divine-age chapters of the classics, and then further proposing that the kami produced by Izanami no kami were the ancestors of the five human races (colors).

Sano applied the five-element theory not only to the Japanese kami, but to other phenomena as well. Since the five-element theory was originally meant to explain the entire operation of the cosmos, once it was accepted, it was inevitably applied to the ordering of all particular phenomena.7

Also, Sano did not merely accept the five-elements as a bit of theory, but displayed an aggressive attitude toward utilizing the theory as a means of understanding a variety of the events in human life.

As one example of that attitude, I want to introduce the concepts expressed in Shinrikyô anshin yôron [Essentials of confidence in the teaching of divine principle], which Sano wrote in April, 1884. There we see presented the concept that when a woman is pregnant, a different kami has jurisdiction over each of the ten lunar months followed by the course of the pregnancy. The months of pregnancy and their corresponding kami are as follows:

First month: Kunitokotachi no kami (Moon = water)
Second month: Toyokumono kami (VenusX)
Third month: Uhijini no kami (Saturn)
Fourth month: Suhijini no kami (Saturn)
Fifth month: Tsunugui no kami (Jupiter)
Sixth month: Ikugui no kami (Jupiter)
Seventh month: Ôtonoji no kami (Mars)
Eighth month: Ôtonobe no kami (Mars)
Ninth month: Omodaru no kami (Mercury)
Tenth month: Ayakashini no kami (Mercury)

This listing is thus in agreement with the ordering expressed in the Shinri shinan zukai, making it additionally clear that Sano's view of kami was strongly influenced by five-element theory. As I noted earlier, it was, in fact, entirely natural for Shintoists to adopt the five-element theory in their attempt to achieve an ordered understanding of the world; for Shintoists living in the period of the Meiji Restoration, it may have even been unavoidable, as they attempted to transmit and enlarge upon the intellectual legacy of the Tokugawa period.

But these general conditions are not sufficient for understanding Sano's case. Namely, we must also consider Sano's interest in "Principle" (Ri), namely, the fact that his work was not unrelated to his attitude toward the concept of orderly law, and thus his attempt to understand the workings of all events in the world through the medium of "Divine Principle" (kami no ri). The belief that everything throughout the cosmos operates in accord with orderly principles was highly amenable to five-element theory.

Sano's apparent fondness of ordered regularity can be ascertained from other facts as well. When carrying the shinrizu along on his teaching circuit, he would occasionally receive objections from listeners regarding the Group C illustrations, namely, that their principle that "good brings about good fruits, while evil brings about evil fruits" was no different from the Buddhist teaching of karma.8

As one of his explanations of the shinrizu, Sano sometimes used the expression, "The house that accumulates good is heir to blessings" (sekizen no ie ni yokei ari), an expression which is clearly taken from the I-ching. As a result, rather than Buddhist influence, the I-ching and its related Chinese thought is much more frequently encountered, but in any event, Sano expressed vehement reactions to any suggestion that his teaching was the result of Buddhist influence.

Given his heavy dependence on imperial-rule thought[Glossary: kokoku_shiso], Sano could in no wise accept the charge that Buddhist influence was a part of his doctrine. Ignoring for a moment the actual sources of influence in his work, it must merely be noted here that Sano insisted --- under the name of "Divine Principle" --- on a way of thought which closely corresponded to the Buddhist concept of karmic retribution. Both his dependence on five-element theory, and his authoring of karmic-retribution-type doctrines, can be interpreted as appearing from the same root, namely, his deep conviction regarding "Principle."

We can thus confirm that Sano's fundamental position was that the Principle of the kami operates throughout all things, extending from the unfolding of the cosmos to the individual events of human life.

5. Monotheistic Elements within Polytheism

As depicted by Sano, Kami are, on the one hand, unified within "Principle," and in that sense, the function or activity of kami closely resembles the activity of god within monotheism. Kami have dominion over the creation of the universe, giving meaning to all existence and showing the purpose of human life.

On the other hand, however, the kami described by Sano are likewise truly polytheistic in nature, appearing as deities which display a wide range of functional diversity. Together, Sano's "heavenly kami" and the kami of the five elements maintain order, while they also divide a variety of discrete functions. Accordingly, it might be possible to understand Sano's concept of kami as a type of polytheism in which the ordering of the kami, their hierarchy, and their mutual interrelationships are organized in a highly structured fashion. Only, here, I wish to examine the characteristics of this concept of kami --- unified in "Principle" and pluralistically divided in function --- from a bit different perspective.

Toward that end, I want to review the significance of Sano's naming of his religion "Shinrikyô." Based on my discussion to this point, it can be seen that the word shinri ("kami Principle") encompasses the sense that the Ultimate Principle operates through the kami, or that kami is Principle. Sano likewise stated that his teaching was not a "human-made teaching" (jinzôkyô), but a "heavenly made teaching" (tenzôkyô); in other words, he stressed that his was not a teaching conceived out of human understanding, but one in accord with Nature itself.

Sano believed that all the activities, from the functions of the human mind to the currents of society, were ordered by a causal law, and that that law was Principle, or "Divine Principle." From his perspective, that assertion was true beyond any shadow of doubt. Needless to say, from our perspective today, Sano's "Principle" was quite different from the "laws" of natural science, but in his own subjective perception, "Principle" no doubt included what we today would call "laws" in the sense given the word by the natural sciences. Sano's fundamental position was that all human action, consciousness, and social change possessed purposefulness, and were ruled by a certain law, and further, that it was crucial for humans to submit to that law, or to know that they were subject to it.

Under normal conditions, monotheism and polytheism are naturally handled as entirely different species in terms of their views of deity. Here, however, I want to raise the issue of polytheistic forms arising from within monotheism, and the occurrence of monotheistic elements within polytheism.

Christianity may be called a prototypical monotheism, but if one observes the variety of concrete religious forms actually existing within the Christian world, any number of polytheistic elements can be detected. For example, from the perspective of Church doctrine, the cults of Mary and other saints are interpreted as matters of an entirely different dimension from faith in God, but when viewed in terms of their actual religious function, one can find any number of examples which might be called the "deification" of Mary or the saints.

The situation within Islam --- considered a strict monotheism --- is similar. For example, recent research has frequently noted the important role played by the cult of saints and the worship of mausolea within folk Sufism.

On the other hand, a prototypical polytheism like Shinto is likewise not totally without its own monotheistic elements. Although Hirata Atsutane's concept of kami exerted great influence on the Shinto theology of the Meiji period, questions were raised regarding to what degree the Christian concept of a supreme deity had influenced Atsutane's thought. Specifically, the claim was made that Atsutane's work Honkyô gaihen displayed the influence of his reading of Christian works, and that his raising of Ame no minakanushi no kami to the status of supreme kami was a manifestation of that influence.9

In fact, however, even if Atsutane's concept of kami displayed monotheistic elements, that fact should not be considered at all unusual in context; in terms of its derivation, as well, it drew probably less from Christianity than from Chinese thought. Namely, it was concepts like "Principle" (ri) within Chinese philosophy which formed the more important footing for the establishment of monotheistic elements in the Japanese concept of kami.

The Chinese concept of Principle (Jp. ri; Ch. li) was introduced through the medium of the Neo-Confucianism of the early-modern period. And while adherents of Restoration Shinto[Glossary: fukko_shinto] occasionally displayed the attitude of rejecting Confucianism, it is unquestionable that one of the preconditions for the development of Japanese National Learning was the results produced by Confucian thought; it was thus only natural that the concept of "Principle" made its presence known in National Learning as well.

Whether the religious tradition be ostensibly monotheistic or polytheistic, there are occasions when one finds a coexistence of aspects, namely deity expressed as a solitary principle, and deity as functionally divided and appearing in a plurality of discrete forms. And it may be that Sano realized that when deity (kami) is under-stood in its aspect as Principle, the same kind of understanding could exist as well within his arch-rival Christianity.

In 1884 Sano visited Archbishop Nikolai, the Russian priest who was disseminating Russian Orthodox Christianity in Japan, and he engaged Nikolai in a kind of doctrinal dialogue.10 On that occasion, Sano raised the issue of the concept of deity and the creation of the world, and he attempted to show inconsistencies in Nikolai's positions.

For his part, Nikolai observed that portions of Sano's teaching resembled the Christian doctrine of creation, and he expressed suspicions that Sano had appropriated the doctrine from Christianity. Which conversely means that Sano's description of the unfolding of heaven and earth possessed a structure which sufficiently resembled the Christian doctrine of creation as to evince such a charge from Nikolai. And Sano must have been aware of that resemblance as well, which makes it appear that Sano's attacks on Christian doctrine involved, in part, a kind of "love-hate" relation-ship with his adversary.

Needless to say, the mere fact that Christianity was a foreign religion was sufficient to make it worthy of exclusion in Sano's eyes. But --- and this may be a somewhat cynical impression --- I wonder whether he did not feel in addition that another "Divine Principle" was being expressed within Christianity, and thus intensified his attacks. In short, it might be suggested that the consciousness of opposition --- or sense of unease --- in the face of something resembling his own teaching may have been one reason for the relentless attacks which Sano directed at Christianity throughout his life.

Within the religious tradition of Shinto, that position which understands kami as Principle, and which subsumes the entire activity of kami under the rubric of Principle, can be considered as a monotheistic element within polytheism. Aside from its use within monotheistic religions, when this kind of element materializes within polytheism, it almost always appears on the level of theology and doctrine, or on the plane of philosophical endeavor.

In contrast, when it comes to the dimension of practical religious life, polytheistic elements frequently appear even within monothe-istic religions, and religions which are polytheistic to begin with express those characteristics freely. When viewed in this way, the problem of polytheistic elements within monotheism and monotheistic elements within polytheism may be rephrased as the problem of the view of deity on the abstract level of theology and doctrine, versus the view of deity on the level of actual religious life.

The kami concept held by Sano and other Shintoistic groups of the modern period were based broadly on polytheism, but they were likewise frequently accoutered with monotheistic traits. There was, however, a great degree of variation in the strength of such monotheistic elements.

For example, the concept of deity expressed by religious founders like Kurozumi Munetada[Glossary: kurozumi_munetada], Konkô Daijin[Glossary: konko_daijin], Nakayama Miki[Glossary: nakayama_miki], and Deguchi Nao[Glossary: deguchi_nao] were characterized by the recognition of a polytheistic world, while simultaneously presenting quasi-monotheistic kami like Amaterasu Ômikami, Tenjikane no kami[Glossary: tenchikane_no_kami], Tenri-ô no mikoto[Glossary: tenri-o-no-mikoto] and Ushitora no Konjin[Glossary: ushitora_no_konjin] as central objects of worship.

On the other hand, from Nakayama Miki, in whom the clearest expression of monotheistic traits appears, to Kurozumi Munetada, in which such elements are far less prominent, the concept of kami is not uniform, and examples can be found in other Shinto groups as well in which a deity with some degree of monotheistic identity serves as the focus of worship. In Sano's case, no monotheistic-type deity appeared under a new name, but Ama no minakanushi no kami is treated as the first kami to become active, and can thus be recognized as having the symbolic significance of a deity which functions as Ultimate Principle.

It is probably impossible to make general claims regarding the conditions necessary for the development of monotheistic traits within otherwise polytheistic religious cultures. Even so, I feel that a hypothesis can be suggested regarding the fact that this phenomenon appears frequently in the founders of the so-called "popular religions" (minshû shûkyô) of Japan's modern period. In their proselytizing activities, the founders of Japan's popular religions inevitably must have expounded a concept of kami which was a familiar part of their listeners' everyday vocabularies. Within the cultural conditions of a country like Japan and its originally polytheistic ambiance, the religious founders had to depict deity in a way amenable to polytheistic predilections.

On the other hand, many of the founders also found themselves in the position of transmitting an older theological and theoretical intellectual tradition. Some, like Deguchi Nao, may have had extremely little opportunity to engage in such intellectual endeavors, but on the whole, and in some form or another, most founders came into contact with such existing systems of theology and teaching, even if only in fragmentary form. And it was at the intersection of these two dimensions --- the everyday world and intellectual space --- that the religious founders stood.

Sano's case was similar, in that he transmitted the ideals of Japanese National Learning, and based himself upon its doctrinal perspective. At the same time, he came into frequent contact with the common people during his missionary trips, and was thus conversant with the actual state of kami faith within the everyday world of the Japanese. He was unquestionably in the position of linking these two currents. As a result, this perspective should also be considered valid when observing the composite of polytheistic and monotheistic concepts in Sano's thought.

6. Foundations of Faith

Sano Tsunehiko appears to have had greater concern for establishing an ordered religious worldview, compared to other early Meiji-period religious leaders, such as Hirayama Seisai[Glossary: hirayama_seisai] (1815-1890), who founded the umbrella organization of Shinto groups known as Taiseikyô[Glossary: shinto_taisei-kyo]; Nitta Kuniteru[Glossary: nitta_kuniteru] (1829-1902) of Shintô Shûseiha[Glossary: shinto_shusei-ha]; or Senge Takatomi[Glossary: senge_takatomi] (1845-1918) of the Izumo Ôyashirokyô,. For Sano, the existence of the kami was an adamant reality.

But what formed the support for his strong conviction of the real existence of the religious world? A number of factors can be inferred, judging from the process of his intellectual formation, but here, I want to pay particular attention to the religious tradition on which he depended, together with his own private religious experience.

The religious traditions forming the basic background for Shintoists of the late-Tokugawa and Restoration periods included National Learning, Restoration Shinto, Confucianism, Shugendô[Glossary: shugendo], and Watarai Shinto.XI Of these, direct influence on Sano came from National Learning, and perhaps Restoration Shinto. In turn, the fundamental basis for the development of the intellectual traditions of National Learning and Restoration Shinto was the Shinto Classics represented by Kojiki and Nihongi. It was only natural that Sano continued in this tradition. In the sense of his perfect trust in the Shinto classics, Sano shared a basis of faith with the nativists and adherents of Restoration Shinto. In Sano's case, the unique elements of his religious foundation were also supplemented by his reliance on the works transmitted by the Urabe family of ritualists.

In his youth, Sano was the disciple of a nativist named Nishida Naokai (1793-1865), and the influence of National Learning may have been stronger on him than even he realized. At the same time, the chief support for his reliance on the classics and his psychological stance toward the creed of imperial rule was, first and foremost, his own personal origins.

Sano himself gave crucial emphasis to his identity as the scion of a family which claimed to be descendants of the kami Nigihayabi no mikoto.XII According to his family's genealogy, Sano was in the seventy-seventh generation since the first-generation represented by Nigihayabi no mikoto.11 For Sano to believe in these origins was immediately linked to his belief in the accounts recorded in the classics.

Sano undertook his own personal reinterpretation of the concept of kami as it had originally been established within National Learning, and one of the factors which spurred that activity was the continuing inroads of Christianity.

In their attempt to establish the identity of National Learning, Restoration Shintoists of the Tokugawa period --- Hirata Atsutane in particular --- adamantly set themselves against the mental processes of Buddhism and Confucianism. But when it came time for Shintoists of the Meiji period to transmit that same tradition, it was the specter of Christianity which raised its head before them. Even granting the difference in degrees to which it was consciously realized, the Shintoists of this period by and large were confronted with the issue of how to deal with this religion of Christianity.

In terms of sheer possibilities, they were presented with three alternative paths of action: they could either (1) accept the new worldview outright; (2) accept it while adapting it to their own perspective; or (3) entirely reject the new religious worldview. But from the national perspective, their only realistic alternative was the last of the three.

Needless to say, Sano adopted that last alternative, and it had the effect of making him uphold even more zealously the Restoration Shintoist worldview of which he was a transmitter. His trust in the classics must also be understood from that kind of dynamism. Sano's own personal birthright and his response to immediate conditions through his staunch conservatism were powers which operated throughout his life.

At the same time, we must also consider the role played by the special religious experiences which Sano underwent. In the case of religious experience as a medium of conversion, the most important of such experiences is the mystical. Many religious leaders have realized the reality of their religious worlds as the result of entering such a non-everyday realm of awareness. Such mystical experience may become the occasion for initially launching out on religious activities, or for reconfirming one's earlier faith. As a psychological support for religious belief, there is nothing more powerful and sure than the individuals's own real experience.

How does Sano's specific case accord with this generalization? First, Sano never had the kind of intense religious experience that would allow him to remotely understand the divine possession experienced by founders like Nakayama Miki or Deguchi Nao. But it is known that he felt he had undergone numerous occasions of mystical experience involving spiritual concourse with the kami, experiences which came primarily in the form of spiritual inspiration and oracular dreams. Sano continued to have inspirations at the time he organized the Shinri Kyô[Glossary: shinri-kyo]kai and launched out on his path as a religious leader. One day in September, 1876, he had an experience in which the kami of the five elements appeared to him in succession and informed him of his mission.12 His diary also reveals episodes in which he ascertained the significance of his own activities through the medium of dreams.13

Sano gave special significance to dreams. The Honkyô shinri shinan zukai (part 2) contains one section entitled "The Principle of Seeing One's Ancestors in Dreams" [Yume ni sosen o miru ri]. There, Sano states that dreams are media whereby heavenly kami reveal things to people that they cannot yet see, and where tutelary kami might give miraculous revelation of emergency situations.

Sano goes on to argue the mistaken nature of popular theories like "the wise see no dreams" and that "dreams are a manifestation of disturbance in the five vital organs," and he asserts that the original function of dreams is to deliver oracular messages. He states that particularly before illnesses, disasters or adversities, the tutelary kami of one's grandparents or parents will appear in dream, providing oracular warning of the impending event. Accordingly, the contents of some dreams may have crucial significance. While Freud said that dreams represent the royal road to the unconscious, for Sano, the road they open is to the world of the kami.

In this way, Sano relied, in broad outline, on the worldview established by National Learning and Restoration Shinto, and he made his own personal experience the basis for his faith. But if these two are compared, it appears that the part played by personal religious experience was less decisive. And this characteristic is shared by a large number of other religious founders within the current of sectarian Shinto.

Namely, the unique religious experience was not some remarkable event so potent as to radically change the individual's life from what it had been up to that point. Rather, it had the effect of clarifying the direction of the religious road which the individual had already begun traveling. One may distinguish between radical and gradual types of conversion,14 but one considers the will of the individual involved, it seems more appropriate to make a differentiation on the basis of whether or not the religious experience was something initially anticipated.

In the case of the radically sudden divine possession observed in some of the founders of new religions, if one assumes that the individual did not have a prior longing for such experience, then the mystical experience can be labeled an entirely "passive" affair. But even then, it is virtually never the case that the individual possessed no prior interest in religion at all.

In contrast, when a person who is already pursuing a life of religious faith undergoes a mystical experience, the experience can be called "positively" or aggressively effected. If we then compare the mystical experience to a form of communication link between the human and kami or buddhas, then the former kind of experience can be called mystical experience via "reception," while the latter kind can be called mystical experience via "transmission."

Using this model, Sano's experience can be classified within the "transmission-type" of religious experience. There is likewise a sense in which Kurozumi Munetada's so-called "direct receipt of the heavenly will" (tenmei jikiju) should be classified with the "transmission-type" of experience.

When one considers the purpose of the earlier religious practice engaged in by Kitamura Sayo[Glossary: kitamura_sayo], her later mystical experience of hara ga mono o iu ("everything is decided in the belly") can be called a "reception-type" experience, with the addition of several elements of the "transmission-type."

Cases reflecting relatively strong elements of the "reception-type" of mystical experience would include Nakayama Miki and Deguchi Nao; Inai Sadao (Tomomarusai), founder of the Ôyamanezu no Mikoto Shinji Kyôkai[Glossary: oyama_nezu-no-mikoto_shinji_kyokai]; as well as Iwasaki Shôô, founder of the Nihon Seidô Kyôdan[Glossary: nihon_seido_kyodan] (formerly, the Takachiho Shinrei Kyôdan). For example, Inai was the proprietor of a public bath, but one night in 1946, he had a dream in which he witnessed the apparition of a goddess. Similarly, Iwasaki was employed as a broadcast announcer when, in 1961, he underwent the experience of having his hair turn white in a single night, while simultaneously hearing a strange humming in his ears.

As part of the "reception-type" of mystical experience, the individual may announce the names of deities and buddhas which transcend the framework of the existing religious tradition, but the deities and buddhas which appear within in the "transmission-type" of experience are normally the same objects of worship found within the religion of which the individual has hitherto been an adherent. Very rarely does the individual name deities which are entirely new. Sano Tsunehiko depicted a worldview whose foundations had been laid by Restoration Shinto and the mature period of National Learning, with the result that the "kami of the five-elements" which appeared in his inspired visions were none other than the deities of the Kojiki. In short, the issue of "transmission-type" or "reception-type" experiences cannot be dealt with merely in relation to the strength or weakness of the experience itself, but rather in relation to the strength or weakness of continuity with the existing religious tradition.

7. The Concept of Kami Within Sectarian Shinto

Pressing this inquiry a bit further, we can now make a connection to the issue of the nature of the relationship between religious founders and their kami, buddhas or other spiritual beings. Within almost all groups of sectarian Shinto or the Shinto-oriented new religions[Glossary: shintokei_shinshukyo], the founder plays an important role as a link between the deity and ordinary human beings. Only, differences may exist in the degree of that importance, and those differences can be classified on the basis of where the founder is positioned along the line running from kami to human.

If the founder is posited as equivalent to, or in a position of immediate proximity to, the kami, he or she will be regarded as an divine incarnation, or "living kami" (ikigami). The founder may also be situated precisely in the middle, acting as a mediator, or she may be located fully within the category of the human, but as a human specially oriented toward kami, a representative of the human before the kami.

Apart from this, it is also possible to make a classification based on the degree to which the founder occupies a unique role in his or her relationship to the kami. When Nakayama Miki is venerated as "Oyasama" by her followers, her role as "august parent" is peerless, one in which no other individual can act as substitute, and in that sense, Miki's relationship to the kami is "exclusive."

In contrast, most of the founders within sectarian Shinto either lack such exclusive status, or else it plays an extremely minor role. Namely, the human beings serving as founders here were not thoroughly imbued with the kind of religious idea that would introduce an entirely new principle into the relationship between kami and human beings. As a result, the founders are not the indispensable "first occasion" on which the will and purpose of the kami has been revealed; rather, they play the role of redirecting people's attention to a divine will and purpose which have already been revealed in the past.

In the case of groups under the strong influence of Restoration Shinto, the process of revealing this divine will and purpose involves both the historicization of myth and mythicization of history. By the historicization of myth, I mean that the Japanese classical mythos is treated not as a collection of parables and symbols, but as bearing the significance of events which occurred in reality. In turn, the mythicization of history refers to the process whereby a religious significance is attributed to the events of history. History is thus viewed not merely as a continuum of events, but as a place where the unfolding of the divine will can be observed. Imperial-rule thought can be called a crystallization of this train of thought, and it was this process which Sano also adopted in his own way, adopting contemporary intellectual currents in the attempt to understand his own existence and condition.

On the basis of this kind of classification, I want to suggest finally that Sano's concept of kami was a paradigm of sectarian Shinto traits, even though the very meaning of the term "sectarian Shinto" has today become rather vague. While the concept is crucial for understanding prewar government policies toward religion, when the prewar term is used in the context of postwar conditions to classify Shinto-oriented groups, it may, on the contrary, be occasion for confusion.

Basically, the use of the prewar term "thirteen sects of sectarian Shinto" (kyôha Shintô jûsan-ha) as a category discriminated from other Shinto-related new religions no longer corresponds to the actual known characteristics of the groups themselves. At the same time, the category "sectarian Shinto" did have its own substantial meaning in the earlier period, and there remains a way of applying the term constructively.

In the prewar period, the label "sectarian Shinto" was used to refer to those groups which still existed within the broad stream of the Shinto tradition, but were thought to possess teachings sufficiently unique to make them individual branches of the larger stream. In other words, even if the standard itself was ambiguous, the basic elements of membership in the category of sectarian Shinto clearly included the fact of being included within Shinto in a broad sense, and the possession of teachings unique enough to make the group recognizable as an independent branch of that larger Shinto tradition.

Used as a means of redefining sectarian Shinto and Shinto-oriented new religions, and thus of reclassifying the numerous Shinto-affiliated groups which have come into being until the present, this standard may also be helpful when attempting to ascertain the place of a Shintoist like Sano within modern Japanese religious history. Here, as one factor that discriminates sectarian Shinto from the other Shinto-oriented new religions, I want to raise the position of the founder and the concept of kami, in the attempt to introduce my own definition of sectarian Shinto.

First, sectarian Shinto should be defined as having its origins in the period surrounding the Meiji Restoration; under the influence of its earliest historical environment, it assumed the worldview established by National Learning and Restoration Shinto. As a natural result, classics like the Nihongi and Kojiki were adopted as scriptures or putative scriptures. Accordingly, the role of the sectarian founder in that context was narrowly circumscribed; founders did not reveal new kami or institute any radical reformation of the preexisting Shinto tradition.

Shinto-oriented new religions, on the other hand, can be characterized by the fact that the sectarian founders exhibited a greater degree of independent originality, even while not overtly ignoring the earlier Shinto tradition. Most founders received their summons from specific kami, and the founders tended to experience more personal, intimate relationships with those kami.

Based on this standard, Tenrikyô should be considered a Shinto-oriented new religion, even though it was classified in the prewar period as one of the thirteen sects of sectarian Shinto. Likewise, while Konkôkyô is presently included within the Association of Sectarian Shinto[Glossary: kyoha_shinto_rengokai], it is more appropriate, in fact, to classify it as a Shinto-oriented new religion.

In contrast to these two groups, religions like Kurozumikyô and Misogikyô more closely approach sectarian Shinto as I have defined it above. Similarly, most shrine-affiliated confraternities [kôsha] which have evolved into independent sects have been more closely characterized by the forms of sectarian Shinto.

While Shinrikyô should be included within sectarian Shinto, that classification should not be taken to suggest that the founder Sano possessed no unique characteristics. Adopting a local place name, he called himself the "divine agent of Myôjô" (Myôjô daijin), giving him a status resembling one kind of "living kami" (ikigami).

But what is most important is the fact that Sano had no consciousness of having created a unique mythos. All exists as "Divine Principle," and he was merely in the position of explicating that Principle. Sano was the founder of Shinrikyô, but Shinrikyô did not launch itself as an independent religion outside the existing tradition of Shinto.

In this way, characteristics of the founder concept exist in mutual correspondence to the characteristics of the concept of kami. If one assumes as precondition the traditional interpretation of kami, then the role of the founder is relatively diminished. On the other hand, the announcement of a new kami enhances the relative importance of the new world introduced by the founder. As a result, when Sano emphasized the Principle of kami, he was identifying himself with the work of confirming a world which had already been revealed.

It cannot be denied that Sano's concept of kami was strongly conditioned by the era in which he lived. The style he employed in describing the kami was closely similar to the contents found in guidebooks for popular indoctrination used by the national "religious instructors" (kyôdôshoku[Glossary: kyodoshoku]XIII) of the day. That resemblance was a product of their common historical background, but it was not a result of that historical limitation alone. It should also be considered a result of the fact that he shared a place with other founders in the tradition of sectarian Shinto as I have described it above.


1. The primary reason for their loss is the fact that Sano's disciples had personal possession of Sano's original writings, and the documents were not always stored and preserved under optimum conditions at the various churches.

2. In addition, in the postwar period, Seko Masamitsu has written the following introductory texts which are valuable for research on the group's doctrine: Shinri no tobira [The Door to Divine Principle] (Shinrisha, 1964); Shinri nyûmon [Introduction to Divine Principle] (Shinrisha, 1969); Shinri no koe [The voice of Divine Principle] (Shinrisha, 1976); Kyôshi no shirube [Guiding from the master] (Shinrisha, 1983).

Doctrinal research has also been undertaken primarily by Shinrikyô's Tokyo branch office (Shinrikyô Tokyo Shutchôsho), and the results of that research can be found in a small volume entitled Shinri no seishin [The spirit of Divine Principle], Shinrikyô Tokyo Shutchôsho Kyôri Kenkyûkai, ed. (1978).

3. It might be noted that previously etymological explanations of the word kami have generally fallen into the following three categories: (1) those which propose associations with "bright" or "shining": Inbe Masamichi's theory of kamukami , Yamazaki Ansai and Keichû's theory of a root in the word "mirror" (kagami), and Tanigawa Kotosuga's theory of "bright appearance" (akemi); (2) those which look for associations with hierarchy or level: Arai Hakuseki, Kamo Mabuchi[Glossary: kamo_no_mabuchi], and Ise Sadatake's theory of "above" (kami); and (3) those which associate the word with roots meaning divine virtue, power, or mystery: Arakita's theory of "awe" kashikomi ; Hirata Atsutane's theory of "mystery" (kabi); Saitô Hikomaru and Hatta Tomonori's theory of "hidden body" (kakurimi); and Ôkuni Taka-masa's theory of "spirit-full" (kamu ).

4. According to Shinri no seishin [see above note 2], the "heavenly kami" did not in fact number eighteen, but rather fifteen, since Izanagi, Izanami, and Amaterasu ômikami are omitted from the list. Further, the present headquarters Shinrikyô Honchô enshrines the following eleven kami: Tsukiyomi no kami[Glossary: tsukuyomi_no_mikoto], Toyoukehime no kami[Glossary: toyoukehime]; Futsunushi no kami, Takemikazuchi no kami, Ame no Oshihone no mikoto, Nigihayabi no mikoto, Ôkuninushi no mikoto, Sukunabikona no mikoto, Haraedo no ôkami, Nominosukune no mikoto, and Ubusuna no ôkami[Glossary: ubusuna_no_kami].

Further, the spirits of historical emperors are enshrined in an annex hall (betsuden ), while a "spirit hall" (reiden) enshrines the spirits of Shinrikyô's founder and followers, national patriots, and famous individuals who have sacrificed for world humanity.

5. In his Sandaikô, Hattori Nakatsune considers the workings of the three heavenly bodies (sun, earth, moon), and while Hirata Atsutane develops this line of thought in his Tama no mihashira[Glossary: tamano_mihashira]. Ten illustrations are presented in the latter work, depicting reasons for the superiority of Japan. The influence of this work is clearly visible in Groups A and B of the shinrizu .

6. Yoshida Jinja, ed., Nakatomi no harae, Nakatomi no haraeshô (Sôbunsha, 1977).

7. The Sangen godai denshin roku also includes in its "Record of the Five Great Mind-Deities of Human Spirit" ( Jinki godai shinjin roku ) a distribution of the five elements in such diverse areas as the elements of the universe, the human body, sensation, music, ethics, and religion. Further, since the listing is earth, water, fire, metal, and wood, it represents the order in which each element defeats the next.

8. See his Tôkôki [A record of travel to the east], the diary he wrote during his travels to Tokyo in 1881 and 1882.

9. See, for example, Ebizawa Arimichi, Nanban gakutô no kenkyû (Sôbunsha , 1958). Further, I have expressed my own position on this issue in "Fukko Shintô no keisei katei ni okeru gairai shisô e no taisho" [Measures against foreign thought in the formation of Restoration Shinto], Nakamaki Hirochika, ed., Kamigami no sôkoku [Conflict of the gods] (Shinsensha, 1982).

10. With regard to the contents of this dialogue, see my "Sano Tsunehiko, Nikorai mondô ni tsuite" [The dialogue between Sano Tsunehiko and Archbishop Nikolai], Kokugakuin Daigaku Nihon Bunka Kenkyûsho Kiyo [Transactions of the Institute for Japanese Culture and Classics, Kokugakuin University], No. 61 (1988).

11. Sano's genealogy is included in the original Japanese version of this article. --- Trans.

12. With regard to this point, see my "Sano Tsunehiko no shisô keisei" [The formation of Sano Tsunehiko's thought], Tôkyô Daigaku Shûkyôgaku nenpô (University of Tokyo religious studies yearbook), No. 3, 1986.

13. The Tôkôki , for example, contains such references. See my "Sano Tsunehiko no junkyô taiken (1)" [Sano Tsunehiko's missionary experiences, part 1], Shintôgaku No. 130, 1986.

14. With regard to this classification, see Inoue Nobutaka and Shimazono Susumu, "Kaishinron saikô" [A review of theories of conversion], Ueda Shizuteru and Yanagawa Keiichi, ed., Shûkyôgaku no susume [A recommendation of religious studies] (Chikuma Shobô,, 1985).

Translator's Notes

I. Originally published as "Sano Tsunehiko to shinri" Kokugaguin Daigaku Nihon Bunka Kenkyûsho kiyô , No. 62 (September, 1988).

II. The term ri (Ch. li), a fundamental philosophical term in Chinese philosophy, can be described as the "formless principle" or "being" underlying existence; truth or reality in its passive state. Combined with the character for the Japanese native term for "deity," kami (alt. shin), the expression can be rendered "divine principle," "divine truth," "divine law," or "divine reason" (see note III). Using a different combination of characters, the homophone shinri also means "truth."

III. Basil Hall Chamberlain, Kojiki: Records of Ancient Matters . Kobe: J.L. Thompson & Co., 1932, 10. Donald L. Philippi renders the same shinri as "profound principles"; see his Kojiki . Tokyo: University of Tokyo Press, 1968, 41.

IV. The "high plains of heaven" are the land where the first creator kami came to be, according to the Japanese mythos.

V. The Japanese reads literally, "Pregnancy (occurs) earlier and later in accordance with distance from the sun realm," apparently indicating that the age of sexual maturity, and thus childbearing, differs depending on distance from the sun.

VI. The complete text of the Yuigonjô was included in the author's original paper, but has been omitted from this translation.

VII. Donald L. Philippi, Kojiki , 41.

VIII. Eight kami names are listed, but the last six are male-female pairs (mates), each viewed respectively as a single kami . See Philippi, Kojiki , 48.

IX. The elements were believed to interact with the others in specific ways, each one producing one of the series, while defeating another. For example, water defeats fire while it is defeated by soil, and it also produces wood; fire, on the other hand, defeats metal and is defeated by water, but produces soil.

The order in which the elements defeat each other is:

Water defeats fire
Fire defeats metal
Metal defeats wood
Wood defeats soil
Soil defeats water

As a result, Tsunehiko's list reverses this order, with the exception of fire and metal, which are given in the normal order.

X. The relevance of these planets to the five elements is immediately apparent in Japanese and Chinese, since the five major planets are simply named after the five elements:

Mercury ( Suisei = "water planet")
Saturn ( Dosei = "soil planet")
Jupiter ( Mokusei = "wood planet")
Mars ( Kasei = "fire planet")
Venus ( Kinsei = "metal planet")

Further, since the sun and moon are always considered an opposed pair, the moon is passive "water" to the sun's active "fire"

XI. Watarai Shinto was the version of Shinto theology developed by the Watarai family of priests at the Grand Shrine of Ise[Glossary: ise_no_jingu], and thus alternately called "Ise Shinto."

XII. Nigihayabi no mikoto was the divine ancestor of the Mononobe clan, from which the Sanos had descended.

XIII. The kyôdôshoku were religious instructors assigned by the government to engage in national Shinto and patriotic indoctrination during the early Meiji period, particularly as a means of combating the influence of Christianity. The system of kyôdôshoku was instituted in 1872, but abandoned in 1884. Tsunehiko was also a participant in the kyôdôshoku system.

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