[Table of Contents]

Amenominakanushi no Kami in Late Tokugawa Period Kokugaku[Glossary: kokugaku]I

SASAKI Kiyoshi

1. Introduction

Japanese academics have been quick to point out the influence of Christianity on Japanese Kokugaku.II The particular aspect of that issue I wish to raise here is the claim that Christian influence is apparent in Hirata Atsutane[Glossary: hirata_atsutane]'s emphasis on a creator deity, and that such influence made its way into the Shinto thought of the Meiji period. For example, Ebisawa Arimichi stated1 that

Atsutane grasped the concept of a creator god, and recognized that the emperors forming the descendants of that creator god were absolute beings in a sense even greater than that admitted by Norinaga. In other words, by introducing a creator deity to restoration Shinto[Glossary: fukko_shinto], the spiritual basis for a restoration of imperial rule was strengthened, and by viewing the Japanese emperors as descendants of the same Amenominakanushi no kami[Glossary: amenominakanushi_no_kami] who created the world and entire universe, Kokugaku's Japano-centric thought formed one factor promoting the establishment of absolute emperorism upon the conceptual basis of "all eight corners of the world under one roof."III

Ishida Ichirô, who called Hirata's thought "syncretic Shinto-Christian Shinto" (Shin-Ki shûgô Shintô), adopted the same viewpoint when he stated,

Hirata Atsutane, who called himself Motoori's posthumous disciple,IV authored the work Honkyô gaihen with the appended comment "not to be shown to others." As a private work, he considered it "Shintoistic self-exhortation" [honkyô jibensaku]; in fact, it was after he wrote Honkyô gaihen that he penned all his other works relating to Shinto. This Honkyô gaihen is, as a matter of fact, a replication of a book of Christian apologetics, or else a satire of such a work, in which Atsutane models Amenomina-kanushi no kami after the deus of Christianity as a creator and ruler of all things, who dispenses rewards and punishments to human beings in accord with actions during their lives, and who leads good souls to heaven[Glossary: takama_no_hara] and casts evil souls into an underworldly hell. This syncretic Shinto-Christian "Hirata Shinto" became the rallying ideology of the sonnô ["revere the emperor"] movement[Glossary: sonno_undo] in the late Tokugawa period, as is evident from such works as Shimazaki Tôson's Yoakemae ["Before the dawn"]. And that same Hirata Shinto became linked to the movement for the "Dissemination of the Great Teaching" (taikyô senpu[Glossary: taikyo_sempu]V) in the early Meiji period, and to State Shinto[Glossary: kokka_shinto] from the last half of the Meiji period.2

Needless to say, both Ebisawa and Ishida base their claims on the presumption that Hirata was influenced by Christianity. Most scholars of the Shinto and Kokugaku persuasion, on the other hand, are more diffident with regard to the influence of Christianity on Hirata. As I have argued elsewhere,3 it is impossible to establish with certainty that Hirata developed his thought based upon an acceptance of Christianity. While it is true that Hirata emphasized Amenominakanushi no kami, his thought is not so simple as to allow one to conclusively establish that such emphasis was the direct result of Christian influence. In short, it must be said that the attempt to directly link Hirata's thought and the early Meiji-period Taikyô Senpu Undô, which was centered on a creator-god concept, represents a distortion of Hirata's thought.

Transcending earlier philological interpretations, the nativists who followed Hirata in the late Tokugawa period continued to maintain a foundation in the myths of the Kojiki[Glossary: kojiki] and Nihon shoki[Glossary: nihon_shoki], but came to the point of proposing a new cosmology. The concept of kami in the early years of Meiji cannot be considered while ignoring the intellectual contributions of this group. In turn, the structure of the cosmology they were attempting to achieve can be seen by studying their idea of Amenominakanushi no kami. Toward that end, it is first necessary to understand the relation of Amaterasu ômikami[Glossary: amaterasu_omikami] and Ôkuninushi no kami to that cosmological structure.

2. Motoori Norinaga's Understanding of Amenominakanushi no Kami

To begin, how did Motoori Norinaga (1730-1801) understand Amenominakanushi no kami? As is well known, Motoori indicates in his Kojiki-den[Glossary: kojiki-den] that he considered the Kojiki to record the "true events of the ancient past," with the result that he takes exception to the Nihon shoki, which situates Kunitokotachi no mikoto[Glossary: kuni_tokotachi_no_kami] at the very beginning. As expressed concisely in Naobi no mitama, Motoori's thought is organized systematically around a focus on Amaterasu ômikami.

In the Gobusho,VI the Watarai priests at the Outer Shrine of Ise had emphasized the importance of Amenominakanushi no kami; in response, Motoori raises the following criticism:

The real intent lying behind the [Watarai's] preference for Amenominakanushi among all the kami is to insinuate that since this kami came into being first of all at the beginning of heaven and earth, his status as First Ancestor of Amaterasu ômikami makes him superior in esteem to all other kami. But this is the most clumsy, pedestrian sort of reasoning produced by later ages, since there is no particular reason to think that coming into being earlier indicates superiority, nor that coming into being later indicates inferiority. If it were so, wouldn't it be true that all the deities that came into being before Amaterasu ômikami were superior to her?

Likewise, as I point out later, Takamimusubi no mikoto is a most highly esteemed kami, long held in deep devotion by the court, but even that devotion does not hold at the Grand Shrine of Ise[Glossary: ise_no_jingu]. Even the two kami Izanagi[Glossary: izanagi] and Izanami[Glossary: izanami], divine parents of Amaterasu ômikami, are found at Ise in the ranks of betsugû [detached shrineVII].4

Motoori here makes a clear discrimination between the deities' order of appearance in time and their rank or status. If kami were ranked in accordance with their sequence in time, then the possibility exists that all kami might converge into monotheism. All deities other than Amenominakanushi no kami would fade into nothing more than secondary significance.

Motoori likewise raises objections to the interpretation of Amenominakanushi no kami as the "First Ancestor of lord and vassal" (kunshin no taiso):

Some people call Kunitokotachi no mikoto the First Ancestor of the imperial sovereign (teiô no taiso), or call Amenominakanushi no kami the First Ancestor of lord and vassal; but such are the (views) once more of those infatuated with Chinese sensibilities, and who have no sense for the chronicles of the divine age, the chronicles of JinmuVIII noted earlier, nor for other historical records, and who are entirely untutored in the significance of ancient events. Originally, all things from the earliest emergence of heaven and earth to the hosts of kami, to the peoples of every land and all existing things, everything one and all came to be from the divine productive power (musubi[Glossary: musubi] no mitama) of Takamimusubi no mikoto, with the result that it is this kami which should be known as the First Ancestor of heaven and earth, of all kami and of all existence.

If so, then it is only natural that (this kami) be worshiped as the divine ancestor of the emperor --- this is also the reason it is given the epithet kamurogiIX in the various norito[Glossary: norito] liturgies. In turn, it is Amaterasu ômikami who should be particularly venerated as the First Ancestor of the imperial sovereign; the matter of lord and vassal came to be only as a result of her having dominion over the Plain of High Heaven --- it was by her becoming its "lord" that the distinction first arose. Before that time, there was no such thing as lord or vassal. The same goes for husband and wife, father and child: those relations only arose with the marital conjugation of the two kami Izanagi and Izanami and their giving birth to the land and various kami. Until that time, there were neither husband and wife, nor father and child, so how could Kunitokotachi no mikoto possibly be the First Ancestor of the imperial line?5

Motoori not only refuses to characterize Amenominakanushi no kami as a kami of procreation, but he also denies it the status of original source for such human ethical relations as lord and vassal, father and child, and husband and wife.6 In contrast, he calls the two kami of production (musubi no kami[Glossary: musubi_no_kami]) the "First Ancestors of heaven and earth, of the kami, and of all existence." Holding them in highest regard, Motoori states that

Each and every thing in the world, from heaven and earth to its manifold beings and phenomena, one and all, came to be from the productive spirit [musubi ] of these two great kami of production, so that even though manifold kami are in the world, it is these [two] kami that are particularly esteemed for the blessed virtue [mimegumi[Glossary: mimegumi]] of their productive spirit. It is they, of all others, which should be worshiped with highest esteem."7

In any event, Motoori analyzes the name of Amenominakanushi no kami in his Kojikiden by saying that the (n)ushi of the name means "to occupy a domain" [shimeraru koto nari], with the result that the name should be understood to mean only "a kami who resides in the midst of heaven, and occupies the world."8 Motoori's thought here recognizes Amenominakanushi as a kami who occupies the midst of heaven, but it lacks the concept of a kami of creation with sovereignty over all things. Amenominakanushi no kami came into being "within the void" (ôsora) before heaven and earth came into existence; but after heaven and earth were generated, that place became Takamagahara, and it was Amaterasu ômikami who had dominion (shiroshimesu) over it.

In short, Motoori did not attribute to Amenominakanushi no kami the role and function of creation, sovereignty, and source of values (ethics). Certainly, one cannot detect that kind of role from a strict reading of the Kojiki, and to go beyond that point requires the introduction of arbitrary interpretations.

3. Tsurumine Shigenobu and the Influence of Western Astronomy

Based on Motoori's Kojikiden, Hattori Nakatsune[Glossary: hattori_nakatsune](1757-1824) composed more than ten drawings visually depicting the initial generation and development of heaven and earth. Hattori's illustrations were published in his work Sandaikô, which in turn was included as a supplement to Motoori's Kojikiden, in this way exerting a tremendous influence. It is undeniable that this graphic expression of the cosmic development found at the beginning of the Kojiki worked to enliven the way in which the unfolding of heaven and earth was interpreted.

Hattori understood the initial emergence of heaven and earth as the development of Heaven (the sun), Land (the planet earth) and the underworld Yomi[Glossary: yomi] (moon), a conceptualization which relativized the status of Amaterasu ômikami, contrary to Motoori's original intent. This relativization of Amaterasu ômikami occurred since Hattori located YomiX (the moon) at the opposite pole from Heaven (the sun), thereby proposing the existence of a world separate and apart from that world ruled by Amaterasu ômikami.

The accompanying table is based on the ninth illustration in Sandaikô, where each of the realms Heaven, Land, and Yomi are associated with a particular kami:

Amaterasu ômikami
Takamimusubi no kami[Glossary: takamimusubi_no_kami]
Izanagi no mikoto
Amenooshihomimi no kami
Sumemima no mikoto
[Imperial descendants]
Tsukuyomi no mikoto[Glossary: tsukuyomi_no_mikoto]
(Susanoo no mikoto[Glossary: susanoo_no_mikoto])
Izanami no mikoto
Ôkuninushi no kami

Behind Hattori's graphic depiction of the unfolding of heaven and earth lay the influence of Dutch studies of astronomy.9 What is important here is the fact that Hattori's classification was impetus for the creation of a structure in which the manifest world [kenkai] of Amaterasu ômikami and the imperial descendants was juxtaposed against the unseen realm [yûkai] of Ôkuninushi no kami.

It should also be noted that Tsurumine Shigenobu (1788-1858), who wrote Ame no mihashira, was likewise influenced by "Dutch learning" (rangakuXI) in his attempt to read a Japanistic cosmology into the pages of Kojiki. Tsurumine attempted to make a rational interpretation of the creation myths of the Kojiki and Nihon shoki based on a synthesis with his understanding of modern Western astronomy.

For example, in his illustration of "The Six Planets Circling the Sun," each of the bodies in the solar system is paired with various of the initial deities appearing in the creation myths, thus attributing to each body its ruling kami. As a result, the sun is associated with Amaterasu ômikami, Umashiashikabihikode no kamiand Amenotokotachi no kami; Venus is associated with Omodaru no kami and Ayakashikone no kami; Mercury is associated with Ohotonoji no kamiand Ôtonobe no kami, the earth with the imperial descendants (sumemima no mikoto), Tsunugui no kamiand Ikugui no kami; the moon with Tsukuyomi no mikoto; Mars with Uhijini no kamiand Suhijini no kami; Saturn with Toyokumonu no kami, and Jupiter with Kuninotokotachi no kami.10

In sum, the temporal process of the evolution of kami at the beginning of the Kojiki was applied to the spatial distribution of the six known planets, thus freezing the existence of the kami in space, or in other words, indicating a spatialization of the temporal dimension. By spatially visualizing the flow of primeval time at the unfolding of heaven and earth, the hoary kami of long ago were describe as beings in existence now. By making the "three kami of creation[Glossary: zoka_no_sanshin]"XII not merely kami of the ancient past, but deities who continue to have an effect upon us today, a monumental shift was introduced to the interpretation of the creation myths.

Tsurumine adds the following explanation regarding the three kami of creation:

These three kami are first, Amanominakanushi, secondly Takamimusubi, and thirdly, Kamimusubi. These three great kami are described in the body of the Kojiki with the words, "These three kami were produced alone, and hid themselves." The meaning of "hid themselves" is that they could not be perceived by human eyes. The fact that there are particles [bunshi] in all things is probably a result of the action of the [kami] of productive power (Mimusubi),XIII while the fact there is gravity is a result of the action of [the kami] Minakanushi.11

This gravity cannot be seen with eyes or taken up in the hand, and like the attraction between magnets and iron, is something that mutually pulls and attracts things together. It is because of the existence of this gravity that particles coalesce and thus the sun, moon, planetsXIV and earth spontaneously take their proper form. As a result, when one speaks of the "land illumined with heavenly crimson shining,"XV it was due to the actions of these three kami that [that land] came into being. Thus, while these three kami are said to have become in the Plain of High Heaven[Glossary: takama_no_hara], it does not mean literally there was originally a place called the Plain of High Heaven, and that the kami then came into being within that place, but rather that the Plain of High Heaven itself emerged into existence by virtue of the fact that these three kami came into being. Now, when one speaks of Amenominakanushi no kami, the amenominaka means around the core of the sun, while nushi means the lord of that place, with result that the name means the one who makes its domain in heaven and earth.12

Thus linking universal gravity to Amenominakanushi no kami, Tsurumine identifies Amenominanakanushi as the "lord" who oversees the process whereby the activity of the kami of "coalescing" (musubi) results in the creation of all things out of the basic elements represented by "particles."

It is on the basis these three kami and their action that the aforementioned planets and various other kami are systematically organized. Not only does Tsurumine make a forced synthesis with astronomy, but he also develops his discussion of the three kami of creation under the influence of Christian writings:

These three kami, as the ancient ancestral kami of heaven (amatsu mioya no kami) and great kami sovereign over first origins (ômoto shusai no ôkami), have existed in the midst of heaven since the beginning, before the division of heaven and earth, down to the final ages of today. And since they are the great kami who have made all things, from sun and moon, the planets, and earth to every other thing, their great virtue cannot be expressed in writing, and the marvelous power of their acts cannot be perceived by ordinary minds. Even though heaven and earth may exist, without these great kami, they would be incomplete, like a ship without steersman. Fundamentally, neither heaven and earth, nor any other thing could come to be without these great kami, and it is for that reason they are called the three kami of creation.13

Tsurumine's example here, comparing the relationship between a divine sovereign of creation and all existence to the steersman and his ship, is borrowed from the Tenkei wakumon by You Ziliu, and Matteo Ricci's Tenshu jitsugi.14 In short, the three kami of creation are here modeled after the God of Christianity.

When Tsurumine states at the beginning of his Kyûri wakumon ["Inquiries into natural philosophy"] that "nothing under heaven is outside of ri, and nothing is not subject to the investigation of ri (kyûri ),"15 he is obviously taking a stand at variance from Motoori's fundamental viewpoint. The ri which Tsurumine speaks of here, and with which he attempted to synthesize his views, was not New-Confucianistic "Principle," but the "natural law" of modern science; it was upon that foundation that he attempted to rationally interpret the myths of Kojiki and Nihon shoki in the light of Christian texts.

The influence exerted on Tsurumine by Christianity and other Western (Dutch) coalesced in the creation of a cosmology of existential deities, centered on Amenominakanushi no kami.

4. Hirata Atsutane's View of Amenominakanushi no Kami

As suggested by Nagata Gûtoku's statement that "Hirata's Shinto should never have been possible without its theory of creation,"16 the interpretation of events at the beginning of heaven and earth plays a very important role within the thought of Hirata Atsutane (1776-1843).

While Motoori considered it improper to speak of any matter not recorded in the Kojiki, Atsutane looked within legendary folklore materials for tales not transmitted within the classics, and used them to augment the Kojiki account.

First, Hirata's characteristic interpretation of Amenominaka-nushi no kami is based on his master Motoori's Kojikiden, but continues as follows:

The master [Motoori] says, "As a result, the name means that this kami exists in the middle of heaven, and occupies the world." Things are just as the master says. So if one asks where the dwelling of this great kami is, it is in the very center of heaven, very highly elevated, in a still and unmoving place, namely, the so-called pole star, the point forming the fulcrumXVI of heaven; it is there that Amenominakanushi no kami resides.

And just as though innumerableXVII strands were stretched out and woven from that single point, we understand that he has sovereignty over all the things in the universe. Since this great kami thus exists without a beginning, it is only appropriate that he be called the ultimate, first deity, and that no words should possibly exist to describe the heights and depths of his virtuous power.17

What must be noted in Hirata's description is the fact that the "sovereignty" (tsukasadori-tamau koto) spoken of here differs from the Christian concept of a ruling deity by virtue of its use in a structural sense. That prototypical form is indicated in Honkyô gaihen:18

All things in heaven and earthXVIII have an original, great ancestral kami. Its name is Amenominakanushi no kami. It has no beginning and no end. It abides in the heavens above. It is furnished with the quality of producing all things within heaven and earth, but it acts not and is quiescent (it dwells in the so-called Plain of High Heaven from the original beginning), and it is sovereign over all existence.

Next are Takamimusubi no kami and Kamimusubi no kami. They are apportioned with the qualities of Amenominakanushi no kami, producing all things in heaven and earth, and exerting sovereignty over all things in heaven and earth. They are equipped with the immeasurably marvelous quality called the spirit of generation (musubi). They are the ultimate natural ancestral kami of human beings. These two ancestral deities then forged heaven and earth, giving birth to Izanagi no mikoto and Izanami no mikoto, and making them firm the land and give birth to the people. These are our great natural parent deities.

The great parent deities then gave birth to the people, blessing the people by producing all existing things, and of all the multitude of kami to which they give birth, including kami of wind, fire, metal, water, and soil, Amaterasu ômikami, together with her gentle spirit [nigimitama[Glossary: nigimitama]] and the kami of rectification [Naobi no kami[Glossary: naobi_no_kami]], is given dominion over the heavenly sun, while Tsukuyomi no mikoto has dominion over the land of Tsukuyomi . . .19

In other words, when heaven and earth were yet unborn, Amenominakanushi no kami was the "kami who was sovereign over all existence," while Takamimusubi no kami was "the kami sovereign over all things in heaven and earth," followed by Izanagi no mikoto and Izanami no Mikoto, who are described as the "great natural parent deities." Finally, this structure describes Amaterasu ômikami as the "lord kami with dominion over the Plain of High Heaven."20 In his commentary in the 29th section of the Koshiden[Glossary: koshi-den], Hirata says the following:

That Amaterasu ômikami is thus established as the kami with dominion over heaven, is because she was thought most appropriate to that bright heavenly realm, since her divine qualities, broad and great, and her divine form, brilliant and majestic, shine piercingly throughout heaven and earth; for just this reason she was established as its lord.21

Hirata's conception of Amenominakanushi no kami must be considered within the context of this kind of structure. In short, even if Amenominakanushi no kami included elements of a "sovereign kami," it was a concept with completely different significance from the sovereign god of Christianity.

The accompanying table is my attempt to depict Hirata's mythic system in structural terms, based on the Kodô ômoto ken'yû bunzoku-zu ("Illustration of the Division of the Original Visible and Unseen Realms in the Ancient Way").

Level 1 Amenominakanushi no kami ShibikyûXXI
(Plain of High Heaven)
Level 2 Takamimusubi no kami Kamimusubi no kami
Level 3 Izanagi no mikoto Izanami no mikoto Hi no wakamiya Yomi no kuni
Level 4 Amaterasu ômikami Susanoo no mikoto Sun Moon
Level 5 Sumemima no mikoto
(Visible world)
Ôkuninushi no mikoto
(Unseen world)
Central Land of Reeds (Amanohisumi no miya)

When this table is compared to the previously mentioned illustrations by Hattori Nakatsune, a substantially different system is revealed. The unique characteristics of Hirata's thought are seen not only in the status given to Amenominakanushi no kami, but also in the way that the contrast between "visible things" (arawanigoto) and "unseen things" (kakurigoto ) is discussed on the fifth level.

It is well known that in his Tama no mihashira[Glossary: tamano_mihashira], Hirata argued --- in response to Motoori's theory --- that "the old theory that dead spirits go to the land of Yomi is simply impossible to accept. If one then asks where the spirits of people go who die in this land, when the sense of the ancient legends is considered together with present and visible realities, it is clear that they forever dwell within this land,"22 and again, "If one asks where they go if not to Yomi, then it is at the various kinds of shrines which are built, and in which they are worshiped that they rest in peace; but if not there, then again, they rest in peace around their tomb. In any event, this is the same as saying that the kami dwell in their shrines forever, coeval with the unending heaven and earth."23

For Hirata, the issue of the nature of the visible and unseen realms was relevant to this earth, with the result that the kind of conflict between Amaterasu ômikami and Ôkuninushi no mikoto apparent in the Meiji-period "debate over objects of worship"XIX does not have its origin in his conceptual structure, at any rate. Amaterasu ômikami stands in a position superior to both the "visible" (the emperors) and the "unseen" (Ôkuninushi no mikoto). In other words, both the visible and unseen realms have merely to do with life on this earth, while the sun (Amaterasu ômikami) exists in transcendence above the earth. Ôkuninushi's "unseen things" [kamigotoXX] are certainly "divine things" [kamigoto ], but Hirata does not use the expression kamigoto to mean that Ôkuninushi rules over all other kami; rather, he understood it to mean the "invisible things" forming the counterpart to the "visible."24

It was Hirata's theology that erected a system of deities within this structure. The world of the kami revealed within the "ancient history" (koshi) possessed an overlapping of roles and division of labor, together with a division into the various realms where the kami existed. From Hirata's perspective, Amenominakanushi no kami was neither a supreme being nor creator deity of the Christian mold. Hirata related the creation of all existing things to the second level of Takamimusubi no kami, while considering Amenominakanushi as existing in a world separate and apart, in a state of inaction and quiescence.

5. Mutobe Yoshika and Ôkuninushi no Kami

Mutobe Yoshika (1806-1863) was born as the son of the priest of the shrine Mukô Jinja in Otokuni-gun, Yamashiro Province, and developed his conception of the underworld based on beliefs in local tutelary deities (ubusuna). He entered the discipleship of Hirata Atsutane in 1823 at the age of eighteen, and it is said that "he was considered importantly by Hirata, and assumed the central supporting role of the Hirata school in the Kansai area."25

Mutobe's view of Amenominakanushi no kami differed from Hirata's. At the beginning of his Ken'yû junkôron, Mutobe argues as follows:

When the classics speak of the first unfolding of heaven and earth, or the opening of heaven and earth, they all state regarding that first creation of the world that it was done by heaven, and not at the beginning of heaven. . . . If so, then among the heavenly bodies of distant empty space --- with the exception of the five planets (and some others) --- are suns [amatsuhi], and each of those suns is surrounded by a great void at its border, to the limit of which light is emitted. These shining things, these globular stars, all come into being as a result of the divine virtue of the three kami Amenominakanushi no kami, Takamimusubi no kami and Kamimusibi no kami. And while it cannot be known when the last star was made, in the center of one of those empty spaces, the earth was formed, namely, within what was afterwards called Amanohara; the earth came to be, and from that time this (realm) was honored by the name Plain of High Heaven (Takamahara), while even later it came to called merely "heaven" [Ame]. This is how the sun which we constantly see far off, came to be.26

In short, the stars visible in "heaven" (the universe) are the same as the sun, each possessing its own respective "great void" (the space enclosing its respective solar system), and each forming an independent unit, with the entire collection of these solar systems composing the universe. In other words, Mutobe's cosmology is based on the foundations of modern astronomy. According to this unique interpretation, the Kojiki`s episode recounting the generation of heaven and earth is not a description of the unfolding of the entire cosmos, but rather a depiction of the generation of our own solar system alone.


According to Mutobe, our solar system was created in the same way as the other fixed stars, by the three kami of creation, and "thus, after this Plain of High Heaven came to be, these three kami came down to this land, and the two kami of production produced over one-thousand and five-hundred of their divine offspring,"27 thus giving them supervision over the "great origin" [ômoto]; when Ôkuninushi no kami later surrendered the country, he was appointed by the kami of production to engage in the administration of rites [matsurigoto] for production [musubi] in the unseen realm, or musubi no yûsei:

In his imperial mandate to Amaterasu ômikami at that time, Takamimusubi no kami praised Ôkuninushi no ôkami's peerless act of great merit. Then, the administration (matsurigoto) of all things pertaining to the visible realm, which until then had been undertaken by Ôkuninushi no ôkami, was assigned instead to Ninigi no mikoto[Glossary: ninigi_no_mikoto], who was the imperial descendant (Sumemima no mikoto). In exchange, Ôkuninushi no ôkami was entrusted with that most noble and weighty of offices which until then had been undertaken by Takamimusubi no ôkami, namely, performance of the "invisible realm matsurigoto," called yûsei or kamigoto ["administration of the unseen"]. This is the administration of rites not visible with the eye, but which gives people birth in this world, and after they are born, controls their weal and woe, and all other aspects of their lives, continuing to rule that spirit even after they die and their spirit and body part.28

As he says in result, "Ôkuninushi no ôkami, in place of the great deity of production (musubi), came to undertake the unseen administration (kakurigoto ) of this earthly globe,"29 thus producing a division of labor whereby the emperors rule over this visible realm [utsushiyo[Glossary: utsushiyo] ], while the lives and deaths of humans, together with their weal and woe, are presided over by Ôkuninushi no kami.

Further, Ôkuninushi no kami has jurisdiction not only over humans, but over grains and other foods as well, furnishing them all with growth and production, protecting them from sickness and disaster, and providing them with wealth and prosperity. And after death, he gives the souls of good people the spiritual role of agents of production throughout heaven and earth. In each local area, it is the local tutelary deity (ubusunagami) that has supervision over the immediate aspects of this process: "From the origins of birth, to protection while in this world, and to one's fate after death, there is nothing within the visible realm for which the shrine of the local tutelary does not have responsibility."30 Namely, Mutobe understood the relationship between these kami to be one in which the activity of the kami of production is linked to the activity of the local tutelary kami in production (musubi). In turn, through its immediate supervision of people's lives and deaths, the tutelary kami is directly linked to the administrator of the unseen realm, Ôkuninushi no kami.

From this, Ôkuninushi no kami takes on a highly magnified status, since he holds in his hands the lives and deaths of human beings. On the other hand, the musubi no kami, with charge over generation, take on a more attenuated role, coming to be replaced in function by the local tutelary deity, ubusuna no kami[Glossary: ubusuna_no_kami]. In the sense that they both have charge over the sources of generation and becoming, faith in the local tutelary deity (ubusuna no kami) coincides with that toward the kami of production (musubi), with the result that worship of musubi no kami becomes entirely subsumed within the worship of the local tutelary, and Ôkuninushi no kami takes on the status of a "great kami" (ôkami) with supervision of the overall productive process.

In short, Ôkuninushi no kami came to have charge over "the administration of unseen things (yûsei), first in importance throughout heaven and earth."31 Mutobe also expresses this by saying, "As was noted earlier, Ôkuninushi no ôkami was, as a result of his most distinguished service, designated eternally by Takamimusubi no ômikami and Amaterasu ômikami as the most profound, noble and grand foundation of yûsei."32


Mutobe took the evaluation Hirata had given to the three kami of creation, and reapplied it directly to Ôkuninushi no kami, thus reversing their places. For example, Hirata says that the three kami of creation existed in that part of the sky called "Purple Palace"33 (shibikyû,XXI but Mutobe claims that "In the Taoist canon, the Purple Ministry (Shifu XXII) is called variously shibikyû, or shikyû, or shibi tengû, but these are merely terms customarily used by the hermit sages of China to refer to Japan's own headquartersXXIII for the hidden palace of the divine (yûkyû), namely, the Great Shrine of Izumo[Glossary: izumo_shrine]."34 In this way he associates the celestial shibikyû with the Izumo Shrine.

Likewise, Hirata states that names like Taiitsu and Jôkô Taiitsu were Chinese expressions referring to Ameno-minakanushi no kami, Genshi Tennô was a Chinese name referring to Takamimusubi no kami, and Tennô, Taitei , Jôtei and Tentei were Chinese names referring to Izanagi no mikoto. In contrast, Mutobe claimed that all these names were meant to refer to Ôkuninushi no kami alone, thus pressing forward with a consolidation in the single kami Ôkuninushi.35

Transmitting Hirata's view of the otherworld (yûmei) while adding his own developments, Mutobe's worldview was system-atically structured with Ôkuninushi no kami at its apex. Based on the fact that Ôkuninushi no kami was entrusted by the musubi no kami with the role of creative generation, Mutobe included the ubusuna no kami within that structure, thereby attempting to comprehend the root source of the generation not just of human beings, but of all other things in existence. Situating the local tutelary deities at the terminal end of that worldview linked the system to the everyday religious concerns of the common people, and led to the organization of a religion equipped with a view of the afterlife.

Further, based on his capacity of supervisor over otherworldly things [kamigoto], Ôkuninushi no kami was made head not only over the otherworld, but also over things pertaining to kami (kamigoto), thus giving him a position of leadership over all the other deities. In short, Mutobe succeeded in composing a worldview unified on Ôkuninushi no kami.

From Hirata's perspective, Ôkuninushi no kami did no more than preside over the unseen, otherworldly (yûmei) side of human life here on earth, but Mutobe elevated Ôkuninushi to a position replacing the three kami of creation. And it cannot be denied that the roles of Amaterasu and the emperors were attenuated as a result. Motoori and Hirata had stated that Amaterasu

has dominion over the Plain of High Heaven, coeval with the eternal heavens and earth, and illuminates every corner within and without heaven and earth. And since there is no nation under heaven not subject to her divine spirit, she is the great lord over the ends of heaven and earth, and it is to this Great kami that belongs the title of utmost, noblest in this world.36

In contrast to this high evaluation, Mutobe hardly touches on the role of Amaterasu at all. As a result, the conflict with Shintoists and nativists who were opposed to Mutobe's Ôkuninushi-centered version of Shinto was carried over into the Meiji period and developed into a full-blown debate.

Limited to his view of the otherworld, Mutobe expounded a more systematic theory than Hirata's, and it had great influence on the otherworld views of Meiji-period figures like Yano Harumichi[Glossary: yano_harumichi] (1823-1887). Although Mutobe was a disciple of Hirata, the contents and structure of his thought were completely different. But Mutobe's thought was subsumed under the rubrick "Hirata school," thus forming one source for the misunderstanding of Hirata's thought itself.37

Mutobe's theology produced these results for the following reasons: first, his interpretation of the episode of the unfolding of heaven and earth did not include the overall universe as did Hirata's, with the result that the functions of the kami were limited to production here on earth. The range of divine work ("kamigoto") allotted to Ôkuninushi no kami, on the other hand, broke through those limits, creating confusion and complexity, and the cosmology of Hirata's Shinto was understood by Mutobe within the context of folk faith in local tutelaries.

Even when Hirata used expressions implying a sovereign role for Amenominakanushi no kami, his interpretations did not describe the kami as one that disclosed its existence, but as a deity that existed "eternally hidden within the so-called north star, which is the High Plain of Heaven,"38 or one that existed "without beginning or end, forever quiescent above the heavens."39 But when Mutobe promoted Ôkuninushi no kami to a status equivalent to the three kami of creation, the result was the formation of a theological structure resembling the Christian concept of a sovereign god.40

6. Ôkuni Takamasa's View of Amenominakanushi no Kami

The honkyô (or mototsu oshie) and hongakuthoughtXXIV of Ôkuni (Nonokuchi) Takamasa[Glossary: okuni_takamasa] () (1792-1871) formed the theoretical base supporting the Shinto policies of the early years of the Meiji period, through the work of people like Kamei Koremi (1825-1885), domainal lord of Tsuwano, and the nativist Fukuba Yoshishizu (1831-1907). Fukuba stated that he had "done no more than take the ideal aspirations of master Ôkuni and put them into practice."41

Ôkuni became a disciple of Hirata Atsutane in 1806 at the age of fifteen. The same year, he entered the official academy of the Bakufu, the Shôheikô, and later studied under Murata Harukado (1765-1836). At the age of twenty-seven, he traveled to Nagasaki, where he studied Western science, and like other nativists, came to espouse tenets which combined Dutch learning and other newly obtained knowledge. Other nativistic scholars at that time even criticized his theories as representing "foreign mindedness" (karagokoro) and "Dutch-learning syncretism,"42 but from Ôkuni's perspective, what was important was how that foreign knowledge was put to use. In his words, "To put Japan's ancient truths into the body of text, and view Confucian, Buddhist, and Western theories as the explanatory endnotes, is the style of learning of the Nonokuchi family."43 Ôkuni took the viewpoint that beneficial ideas should be accepted aggressively to improve the world. No matter whether it be Confucian, Buddhist, or Dutch, "Any good word should be used for the betterment of society."44

Ôkuni studied Christianity as well, but he expressed negative opinions of its doctrines in works like Gyojû mondo, Bunbu kyojitsuron, and Sekijubutsu. While this is not the place for an extended treatment of his criticisms of Christianity, I would like to note the following of his statements:

The teachings of the true god (shintenshu) have been transmitted to this land of Japan, without waiting for the reborn God [of Christianity]. This is called the "Original Teaching" (honkyô). In our ancient legends, the fundament of heaven and earth is called Amenominakanushi no kami. The two characters used for "god" (tenshu) are both found in this name.XXV By this, we should know that the teaching of the true god is in Japan.45

This claim should not be taken merely as Ôkuni's peddling a plag-iarized version of Christianity. Ôkuni is here expressing a unique, qualitatively different view of kami.

Ôkuni begins from the claim that "in the beginning of heaven and earth, there was a kami called Amenominakanushi no kami, a kami who came into existence in the middle.XXVI From this, know that the foundation of the study of the Original Teaching is in the single word "middle" (naka) alone."46 By reducing the basis for all existence in heaven and earth --- together with the study of Japan's "Original Teaching" based on it --- to the word "middle," Ôkuni sets out to develop his own unique interpretation of Amenominakanushi no kami.

As for the meaning of "middle," Ôkuni states, "The word `middle' (naka) has three senses. One is the middle that means `between,' another is the middle that means `inside,' and the third is the middle that means `without deviation to either side.'"47 The "be-tween" meaning is that found in "top, middle, bottom," or "midway between inside and outside." The "inside" sense is used when one refers to the interior of a container, and the "no-deviation" sense of middle is used to mean the center point between two extremes. In a single word,XXVII "`middle' has the sense of `middleness.'"48

From there, Ôkuni goes on to discuss the etymology of na in naka, saying, "When reflecting deeply on the meaning of na, one recalls the na in words like nashi (not), naki (lacking), and naku (without).XXVIII It is that place of lacking that the middle way fills up completely. From this we know that the void is in the middle,XXIX and that the middle is void."49 This emphasis on the relationship between the "middle" and the "void" involves a use of "void" (mu) which is close in sense to the ultimate nothingness of Chinese Song thought, or the absolute void of Nishida philosophy. This is not a nihilist void, but an emptiness that, because it is empty, encompasses everything, an emptiness like the transparence of white light that comprehends all possible colors.

Based on this unique linguistic analysis, Ôkuni undertakes to interpret Amenominakanushi no kami: "The naka [middle] of Amenominakanushi no kami is `great middle' [ônaka], while the middleness that fills up the void (muchû) should be called `small middle' [konaka]."50 In other words, the "great middle" of Amenominakanushi no kami is one that unites all three kinds of middle mentioned earlier, while the "small middle" is that part of Amenominakanushi no kami that is apportioned to and included within each thing existing throughout the universe, in other words, something like the corpuscles or molecules of chemistry.51

As a result, Amenominakanushi no kami is not merely the personalized kami described by Motoori. While possessing a personal kind of existence at the center of the universe, he also represents an impersonal aspect of existence bestowed on everyone. Ôkuni thus claims that our souls have been bestowed by Amenominakanushi no kami: "The soul (mitama) is bestowed by the heavenly lordXXX (Amenominakanushi no kami), as sovereign of the body granted to each and every person, and since it was a gift (tamamono), therefore it is called the soul ["mitama"]. . . . The mitama is inside the brain. The brain is called the encephalon [nazuki], which in turn means "middle-attachment."XXXI This is because it is linked there to Amenominakanushi no kami."52 In short, our "brain is the Plain of High Heaven in each individual."53

Using this kind of argument, Ôkuni claims that Ameno-minakanushi no kami is "attached" to human beings in their brains. Ôkuni has thus passed beyond the realm of nativist etymological analysis into the claim that Amenominakanushi no kami indwells each human being in the same way that Neo-Confucianists argued that the "original nature" (honnen no sei) indwells each individual human and is expressed as "individual personality" (kishitsu no sei).

In sum, Amenominakanushi no kami did not represent a personal deity for Ôkuni. He was the entirety of the universe, the core of the universe, the particles that saturated each corner of the universe. As a result, Ôkuni approached a Confucio-Buddhist interpretation, saying that "the small middle is a middle provided throughout the void (muchû), just as Confucians speak of things like the yet-unbecome middle, and `all things are within the Great Ultimate,' or as Buddhists say that all existence has the Buddha nature."54

In turn, Ôkuni leapt on Hirata's interpretation of Takamimusubi no kami and Kamimusubi no kami as a married couple, criticizing it by saying, "To view kami as human beings was something unbecoming the master's sharp insight."55 Here, the original nativist inspiration, which began from a criticism of Confucian interpretations of kami in abstract terms like "Principle" and "Heaven," now veered back once again toward a Confucian kind of analysis.

But in fact, it can also be said that Ôkuni was placing the raw material of classical myths and Confucian concepts into the bag of "Dutch learning" and attempting to draw out a new synthesis. The Tokugawa-period astronomer Shizuki Tadao (1760-1806) stated in his Rekishô shinsho ["A new treatise on astronomy"] that

Throughout the universe is a uniform active ether (ki), which is both void and a substance. These are two while being one, and one while being two. If they were one, there could be no distinction between compression and expansion . . . . that there is compression and expansion is because [the universe] is both void and substance. The extreme of compression is substance, and the extreme of expansion is void. Ultimate substance and ultimate void interpenetrate to become one. . . . Because of compression and expansion, change is unending, and because of a single active ether, all things are united in one.56

Here, Shizuki expounds not only on the universal existence of ki and the generation of motion, but also insists that that ki coalesces to become "matter" (particles: bunshi):XXXII

In general, that which is in coalescence is matter (shitsu), while that which is in movement is ether (ki ). The ether gathers together, coalescing into matter, and the matter accumulates, thus producing ether. It is for this reason that matter exists within the ether, and ether within matter. The various particles within matter await their dissolution into movement, something we call the presence of ether within matter; and the various particles within the ether await their coalescence, which we call the presence of matter in ether. Keill [John Keill, 1671-1721] names these "last particles," while the infinitely small, indestructibly hard particles he calls "first particles." There are particles within particles, and they are endless.57

Considered in this way, it cannot be denied that the characteristics Ôkuni attributed to Amenominakanushi no kami closely resemble the nature of the "ether" (ki) described in Shizuki's Rekishô shinsho. As is also clear from the previous analysis of Amenominakanushi no kami, Ôkuni's etymological analysis has numerous strata or interwoven layers. For example, he stated above that "the brain is the Plain of High Heaven in each individual," but at the same time, "the Plain of High Heaven means the divine world of the sun. And as far as its outer limits, the entire sun can be called the Plain of High Heaven. Also, each one of the fixed stars can as well be called a Plain of High Heaven, even so the entirety of all the fixed stars can be so called."58

For Ôkuni, Amenominakanushi no kami existed universally throughout the entire universe, descending to gradually indwell each individual concrete being, while in the same way possessing the consolidating function of integrating all existence, as all individual beings converge in him. As a result, while the process appears to be one of reducing all to a single centralized Amenominakanushi no kami, it is not necessarily so, since by existing as ki within all things, his substance is attenuated. Simultaneously, the existence of Amaterasu becomes more pronounced, and she takes on the concrete aspect of a ruling kami. Ôkuni describes the relationship between Amenominakanushi no kami and Amaterasu ômikami in the following words:

The sun is at the center of the planetary heaven. At its middle pole is Amenominakanushi no kami. The most wondrous apportioned spirit (sakimitamaXXXIII) of Amenominakanushi no kami is called Amaterasu ôkami. She is the deity who has supervision over the sun and all the planets together.59

Amenominakanushi no kami and Amaterasu ôkami are a single deity, but divided spirits, and that is why the sakimitama of Amenominakanushi no kami is revealed as Amaterasu.60

Almost as though he were now trying to make up for the highly attenuated personality of Amenominakanushi no kami, Ôkuni gives Amaterasu the deep hue of a concrete ruling deity:

In China, they call both the sovereign and Maker together by the word `heavenly lord' (Tentei), but in Japan, the sovereign deity is called Amaterasu, while the Maker is called Takagi no kami.XXXIV Although they are spoken of separately, Takagi no kami is a companion spirit of Amaterasu, and assists in her divine work, with the result that it is also proper to speak of them together as the single deity Amaterasu ôkami.61

From Motoori on, other Japanese nativists had highly evaluated the three kami of creation, but in Ôkuni's hongaku, Takamimusubi no kami never comes to the fore. Concepts of creative generation, like musubi and ubusuna are not given particular emphasis.

As is evident from the above, Ôkuni's concept of Amenomi-nakanushi no kami possessed the simultaneous characteristics of a pantheistic substance and the "original nature" of Neo-Confucianism, making it quite different from the absolute god of Christianity, but Ôkuni nonetheless viewed them as the same, claiming that

The divine spirit called Amenominakanushi no kami in Japan is the same as God (Tenshu) in the West, and Jôtei or Tentei in China. And the next deities, Takamimusubi no kami and Kamumusubi no kami are what in China is called the Maker (zôbutsusha). It was to that Jôtei, Maker, and Izanagi no mikoto and Izanami no mikoto that was given the task of bringing forth all the nations of the world.62

Hirata Atsutane wisely avoided a direct comparison of Amenominakanushi no kami with the god of Christianity. Instead, he opted to associate the Christian god with the kami of production, Takamimusubi. Ôkuni, however, found it easy to link the Christian god to Amenominakanushi, though the pair had virtually no points of resemblance.

Here, we should consider Ôkuni's concept of the otherworld (yûmei). As a student of Hirata, the young Ôkuni displayed great devotion to the study of Hirata's view of the otherworld, but he eventually came to question its utility:

That the revealed realm (kenro ) and the unseen realm (yûkai) do not intermingle is a basic tenet of Shinto . . . . It was wrong to break the divine rule and attempt to know that unseen realm from within. When one hears about what happened to those people who succeeded in making passage to the unseen realm, it usually turns out that they experienced punishment or something else bad. The kami are not to be approached intimately from within. They must be worshiped by the priest or ritualist with great reserve from without.63

Takamimusubi no kami divided this world (yo no naka) into the revealed realm (kenkai) and the hidden realm (yûkai), assigning the former to be administered by the emperors and the latter to be administered by the Izumo Grand Shrine, thus decreeing that the two should not intermingle with each other. As a result, those rarest of instances in which someone living in the present world traveled from the revealed realm to the hidden realm are improper, since they are acts that violate the dictates of the kami. The revealed realm is divided from the hidden realm, and the hidden from the revealed, and people of the revealed realm should never dare to meddle with the hidden realm.64

Ôkuni believed that the revealed realm and hidden realm had been separated, and that humans were to have nothing to do with the latter. His reasoning was that the kami had made all things in heaven and earth, including humans, then passed on the responsibility for those things to humans, while themselves retreating to the hidden realm to oversee the flourishing of existence.65 To fail to discriminate the world where humans live from the world of kami and recklessly meddle with that other world of kami is irrelevant to everyday life. That unseen realm of the kami is not far off, but can be found everywhere, just it was said earlier that the Plain of High Heaven can be found everywhere:

There are many kinds of hidden realm where the kami reside. Leaving aside the hidden realm of the separate heavenly kami [koto-amatsukami], the hidden realm of Amaterasu is in the sun. Izanagi no mikoto betakes himself there. A hidden realm is also found within this earth, called the land of Yomi. This is the place over which Izanami no kami has dominion, and to which Susanoo no mikoto repairs. Too, there are hidden realms in the strata of heaven, in the high mountains, the wide plains and at the bottom of rivers and seas, to which repair those kami as are given birth by the kami of that Plain of High Heaven. That there are hidden realms in the strata of heaven, in the mountains, and in the fields, is the same as the fact that there is spirit (tama) in the eyes, mouth, and limbs of the human body. And the fact that sight, hearing, and thought are gathered together in the human head is the same as the fact that the eight-hundred myriads of kami gather in the Plain of High Heaven.66

Ôkuni thus claims that there are hidden worlds very near to us, and not merely within those limited realms of the moonXXXV or the land of Yomi deep within the earth. It goes without saying that Ôkuni's theory of the separation of the visible and unseen realms did not downplay ritual worship of the kami. At any rate, Ôkuni placed more emphasis on the visible realm than on the unseen, and it was this separation of visible and unseen that gave Ôkuni's Shinto a perspective oriented toward practical everyday life and politics. While Hirata taught a theory of retribution for good and evil in the afterlife, Ôkuni's separation of visible and unseen resulted in a dissociation of the issue of life after death from the problem of good and evil, or human ethics. Further, he criticized Motoori's rejection of Confucianistic expressions like "loyalty and filial piety" or "benevolence and righteousness." He insisted that "loyalty, filial piety, benevolence and righteousness are the Way of heaven and earth. They are not a way made up by Confucianists. . . . their origin was in the Shinto of the ruling kami of creation."67

This unremittingly Confucian tint occurred because his own thought was a practical Shinto that demanded the incorporation of an everyday ethical perspective. Neither Motoori's kind of ethereal literary study, nor an elegant nativism that savored classical poetry, Ôkuni's Shinto was oriented toward a discipline and faith grounded in everyday life, making it inevitable that he incorporate the Confucianism that structured contemporary ethical norms. In his Sankyô itchi-ben [Opinion on unity of the three reli-gions], he argued that the three teachings of Shinto, Confucianism and Buddhism should unite to aid the "great business of imperial government," saying,

The discrimination of lord and vassal, father and child, husband and wife, elder brother and younger brother, and friend and friend found in Confucianism, together with its tenets of loyalty, filial piety, benevolence and righteousness, are all things that exist within Shinto. The compassion and meritorious acts spoken of by the Buddhists are likewise nothing but Shinto.68

This kind of syncretism of Japanese nativism and Confucian ethics was employed in the work of popular indoctrination by other late-Tokugawa nativists as well. In turn, the basis for Ôkuni's ethical vision was linked to Amaterasu ômikami:

The divine light of Amaterasu ômikami gives rise to good alone, and inclines toward good fortune. Humans should make that divine mind their mind, disdaining beauty and giving themselves to good works, thus bearing the seed of good fortune. The good works brought forth by Amaterasu ômikami means to dedicate oneself to one's calling and give oneself to meritorious deeds. Meritorious deeds means loyalty, filial piety, and chastity.69

(By "disdaining beauty," Ôkuni here means that people should live modestly and avoid ostentation in their lives.) Ôkuni's realistically centered honkyô and hongaku was thus launched as a Shinto which focused on Amaterasu ômikami while keeping Amenominakanushi no kami hidden up the sleeve.

After the time of Hirata Atsutane, Mutobe Yoshika linked his view of the other world to faith in local tutelary kami, thus forming a linkage to popular beliefs, while Ôkuni reintroduced Confucian ethics, thus championing a Shinto that was intimately bound to the everyday lives of the people.

But centered though it was on the visible realm, Ôkuni's Shinto was not confined to everyday ethics, but was organically linked to the nationalistic perspective focused on the emperor:

In subjection to the divine mandate proclaiming the unending imperial reign, the emperor maintains the imperial dignity, the great house of the shogun takes the reins of government, encouraging the lower people to loyalty, filial piety, and chastity, and spontaneously manifesting the national polity of an emperor's vassal. The daimyô protect well their provinces, neither neglecting their outer business of military preparation nor forsaking the inner truth of loyalty, filial piety, and chastity. The lower people one and all must dedicate themselves to the occupations which they have each received, and not wrong these principles of loyalty, filial piety, and chastity, as they are our nation's own. This is the broad outline of the hongaku which I propose.70

While Ôkuni here expresses the ethical perspective of the feudal system, he also includes that vision of a new nation system centered on the emperor within the context of the political currents following the crackdown on loyalist factions in 1858. It was largely the nature of this honkyô-hongaku that allowed Tsuwano Domain, under Ôkuni's influence, to adopt a realistic response to the post-Restoration government's Shinto administration.

7. Suzuki Shigetane's View of Amenominakanushi no Kami

In 1832 at the age of twenty-one, Suzuki Shigetane(1812-1863) sent his résumé to Hirata Atsutane and was added to the roster of Hirata's disciples. At that time, Suzuki was working as an apprentice in the Osaka home of the Kônoike family. Two years later, he became a disciple of Ôkuni Takamasa when the latter moved from Edo to Osaka. Under Ôkuni's tutelage, he deepened his research into nativism, becoming "the prodigy of the Ôkuni school."71 In 1843, Ôkuni attempted to visit Hirata in Akita, but Hirata died just before his arrival, with the result that the two never met. It was from around that time that Suzuki began dedicating himself to his writings.

In 1844, Suzuki published his Koshi taigen-kô, in which he discussed the beginnings of the universe. He described the purpose of the work as being "to act as an agent of the kami to instruct the multitudes in divine things,"72 and "to attempt to preserve Hirata's spirit in this work."73 These statements indicate that Suzuki believed the interpretation of the unfolding of heaven and earth as found in the Kojiki and Nihon shoki myths possessed an extremely important significance.

Suzuki introduces the Koshi taigen-kô with the following words:

Amenominakanushi no kami, dwelling in divine serenity in the Plain of High Heaven, existed in the midst of SPACEXXXVI even before this heaven and earth were born, a marvelous, delicate, divine spirit of undifferentiated male and female principles, utterly permeating the very ends of this world. And through the virtuous power of its innate divinity, it spontaneously brought forth the original two male and female essences, called Takamimusubi no kami and Kamimusubi no kami.74

Suzuki then discusses the etymology of kami, saying that since "kami is kamu [circle and enfoldXXXVII]," when it is expressed in a single character, it can be kama [sensation, feeling] ("the spirit pervades the six spheres, with no event to which its influence fails to reach, and no thing to which it fails to respond, a meaning that well matches that of the word kami"), or kamau [to be concerned with], kama [sickle], kama [noisy], kama [cauldron], kami [deity], kami [above], kami [head, chief], kami [paper], kami [hair], kamu [chew], kame [jar] ("to fill something to fullness is equivalent to the way the divine spirit fills the universe"), kame [turtle], kamome [sea gull], and kamosu [ferment]; he claims these all come from the same meaning. Namely,

The word kami means that spirit [shinrei] which existed originally, before heaven and earth were yet born, entirely pervading the cosmos; as explicated by the master [Hirata], kami refers to Amenominakanushi no kami, and through that divine spirit, all the other kami which came into being therefter.75

In short, kami refers essentially to Amenominakanushi no kami, not in the sense of a unique personality, but as a spirit that thoroughly pervades the cosmos. It should be noted that Suzuki is viewing things from a perspective that is qualitatively different from the way in which Motoori pursued the idea of kami on the basis of his rejection of Confucianism.

Suzuki's description of kami carries on the same concept earlier suggested by Ôkuni.76 Suzuki states again,

Kami is the great original divine spirit [shinrei], which dwelt in divine quiescence in heaven since the beginningless past, utterly permeating both thing and event in a marvelous, mysterious way. And while it was in natural accord with kami nature[Glossary: kannagara] to fructify and become a spirit, that spirit existed hidden, without sound or smell, and was a term reserved for Amenominakanushi no kami alone, soverign of the entire world. In the divine age, it was ordinarily this one that was called kami, and all other kami flourished into being as a result of the division and receipt of that [first] divine spirit; it is for that reason that they were called kami.77

This interpretation is nothing more than an expression of Amenominakanushi no kami based on a reworking of Hirata and Ôkuni. Suzuki states elsewhere that "it should be realized that the meaning of `middle' [naka] is `void' [mu],"78 an expression which is once again little more than a reiteration of Ôkuni.

The influence of Hirata and Ôkuni is not limited to this one theme, but can be seen in other ways as well, throughout Suzuki's Koshi taigenkô and his other works. Despite his enthusiasm, Suzuki was here incapable of transcending his two predecessors and formulating an original body of thought.79

Suzuki succeeded in stepping beyond the influence of Hirata and Ôkuni from the period around 1850, when he wrote Norito kôgi and was preparing to write Nihon shoki-den[Glossary: nihon_shoki_den].80 As a result of growing scholarly differences in interpretation, his relations with the Hirata school had become strained, and he was censured by Atsutane's successor, Hirata Kanetane (1799-1880), finally being expelled from the school in 1858. Suzuki responded angrily, "They claimed they were `composing ancient history,' but if you ask me, it was history written by amateurs," and "Master Hirata's learning was nothing but eclecticism."81

This kind of event was good for the maturation of Suzuki's thought, but it may have also hastened his death, as it was rumored that his later assassination was the work of adherents of the Hirata school.

In Nihon shoki-den, Suzuki described his ideas regarding the etymology of kami in the following words:

The two characters for deity are read kami. Ka means the active ether (ke), which pervades all of heaven and is thus adept at producing things, while also adeptly being the place that contains them. As a result, ka is found in words like "place" (arika ) or "dwelling" (sumika). Mi is the mysterious element that takes up residence in the ether, the so-called `spirit' [tama]. And as already described above regarding the events before the division of heaven and earth, everything in this world was of immensely great and broad expanse, but Amenominakanushi no kami came into existence therein as a solitary kami, making him sovereign over all and everything throughout the farthest reaches of this world, and for which reason the name kami is used unreservedly in reference to him alone. All other deities --- even the innumerable eight-hundred myriads of divinities --- these all came into existence by being apportioned from [Amenominakanushi no kami], so no whether they be hidden deities or visible deities, they are likewise all called by the same name kami.82

By this point in time, the influence of Ôkuni and Hirata is no longer apparent. But the contents of Suzuki's concept of kami did not change. As noted earlier, kami referred essentially to Amenominakanushi no kami, not as a personalized kami, but as that spirit pervading the entire cosmos. Suzuki thus comes close to a kind of pantheism in which Amenominakanushi no kami alone is recognized as truly kami.

This kind of understanding of kami was, like Ôkuni's thought, under the influence of the most recent intellectual advances embodied in Dutch learning. It was precisely for that reason that Suzuki could so casually discard the kind of personalized interpretation of kami emphasized by Motoori and Hirata. As I noted earlier, Shizuki Tadao had stated in his Rekishô shinsho that "throughout the cosmos is a single uniform ether," and

at the stage of undiscriminated chaos, there was nothing but the original ether (). And that time before the original ether came to be was sheer nothingness. The substance of that nothingness was like pure blue glass, a crossroads for the passage of the divine ether (shinki ). . . . Therein was an immeasurably refined spirit (shinrei), and as it assembled at a single zenith, it moved, causing it to transform and produce a border of minute particles. The ether of all being was like a mist arising, evenly gathering and collecting toward this point, creating a great formless body which separated the inner and outer heavens.83

In his description of the generation of the cosmos, Suzuki understands the all-pervading ether which formed the fundamental existence of the cosmos as equivalent to the deity Amenominakanushi no kami, and explains that all phenomena were created from that original being.

In short, according to Suzuki's definition of kami, there first existed an ether (ki) which pervaded the cosmos. That ether represented the ideal of generation, or the fundamental seed of all existence, before the emergence of individual things into being; or again, it represented a space which might be thought of as the womb of the cosmos. Within that ether there existed a mysterious element called mi, and while that mi is described as being in the form of "particles" (bunshi), it has the strong overtones of a spiritual entity, making it close in significance to Leibniz' concept of the "monad." When that mi takes on concrete, material existence, it is called kami. In sum, the novelty of Suzuki's thought lies in the fact that when considering the nature of kami, he presupposed the presence of a preexistent "matter":

Gathered within the heavens, that mi was a single thing; separating, it became heaven and earth. After heaven and earth were formed, it coalesced to become all the existing things, and when it disperses it returns to the original mi, in this way making it the fundament of heaven and earth, the root origin of all existing things, the ancestor of the manifold kami, and the spirit of productivity. If so, then that mi represents the spiritual essence of [the polar opposites] water and fire which accumulate within the ether pervading the heavens, and which, coalescing, becomes earth, and from which all existing things derive their being. There is not the slightest doubt that it is all one and all the same substance. And the fact that this is the highest spirit, highest reality in the midst of the heavens is due to the great coalescing and commingling of the mysterious essence (mi) and the ether. (For this reason, to say that heaven is merely ether does not go far enough, since ether is the dwelling place of the mysterious element, and the mysterious element is the pure essence of the ether, just as I have said steadily up to this point).84

As a result, Suzuki says that "mi is the original seed (monozane) of all things in heaven and earth, and so its worth is beyond parallel."85 In this way, Suzuki's Amenominakanushi no kami pantheism displayed an aspect which could not avoid reducing all to the monistic materialism of mi.

Suzuki defined Amenominakanushi no kami in the following words:

He is the sovereign great kami who stirred up the sheer heights of heaven to the the end of the gathering clouds, forming them into space. Though there be many kami in the world, all have come into being as a result of the receipt of the spirit of this one kami. As a result, the divine feat of dividing and establishing all the eight-hundred, eight- thousand myriads of kami, and all else, can be said to be solely the virtue of this kami. The spirit of this one kami then separated into the two kami Takamimusubi no kami and Kamimusubi no kami and prompted them to their divine feat of generation. It is that immense virtue of generation that makes these two kami worthy of the title ancestral deity, both of heaven and earth, and of all the other kami, as you will understand from my description below.86

Here, Takamimusubi no kami and Kamimusubi no kami are described as kami embodying the generative function of Amenominakanushi no kami, and thus ancestral deities responsible for producing all things in heaven and earth. The relationship of these kami is then described in the following words:

As one example that comes to mind, Amenominakanushi no kami is like a person who builds and maintains a theater, while these two [Takamimusubi no kami and Kamimusubi no kami] are like the dancers. The theater represents their [external] form (teiXXXVIII ), but it is not provided for the purpose of the pleasure of the audience; in the same way, Amenominakanushi no kami's presence is so deeply subtle and mysterious that human word and thought fail to do it justice, but from the perspective of those dancing there, the design and workings of the stage may appear as something beyond their ken, so those lower in status pay respect [to the stage builder].87

This simile alone cannot transmit the entire image of Amenomi-nakanushi no kami, but it allows us to see that the kami is attributed not only with the concept of "ether" (ki), but also with the spatial sense of what might be called a cosmic womb. This sense is similar to Shiba Kôkan's comparison of space to a glass jar in Waran tensetsu:

The emptiness of the heavens is not empty. The blueness of the heavens is the color of sky. The heavens are certainly not themselves endowed with color; but they are pervaded throughout with the ether. Earth is also ether. The ancients said, diminish earth by one foot and you will increase heaven by one foot. Clouds are formed as the water vapor from earth ascends, and reflect the sun's light in the five colors. Heaven is like a vase of glass, filled inside with ether. 88

Suzuki conceived of these three kami of creation and the other "hidden body" kamiXXXIX as an impersonal existence, a "mysterious essence" (mi) that filled the universe. In contrast, he considered the first personal deities to be Izanagi no mikoto and Izanami no mikoto. Ôkuni likewise considered the three kami of creation to be impersonal, but he was not so consistent as Suzuki:

I have said that the first kami in this world existed as spirit (mitama) alone, and since it is a theory which I began, some people wonder whether it is proper. But there is a limit to what can be done with a body, and a limit to what can come into being. So since the kami which established these heavens and earth engaged in the divine work of generation through the activity of spirit alone, it was the "hidden-bodies" of the three kami mentioned above who fashioned these heavens and earth solidly, with the result that this lofty, grand and extensive divine work was brought to completion. When interacting with other kami following the establishment of heaven and earth, however, they conferred with the others in the form of visible bodies, although one like Amenominakanushi no kami was not subject even to that, so that in the end his appearance remained invisible.89

Takashina Shigeaya understood90 Suzuki's view of Amenominaka-nushi no kami to be "sole supreme deity of the universe."91 But while including characteristics of theistic pantheism, Suzuki's theory adds the additional component of polytheism, wherein Amenominakanushi no kami's all-pervading "mysterious element" (mi: the pantheistic aspect), makes its concrete phenomenal appearance as the polytheistic "eight-million myriads" of deities. As a result, elements of monotheism, polytheism, and pantheism are intermixed in the multifaceted appearance of Amenominakanushi, rendering the deity, on the contrary, even more abstract. While Amenominakanushi no kami may thus form the "matter" of all existence, his significance as a "soverign ruler" who commands the universe is attenuated.

Further, when Amenominakanushi's relationship to Amaterasu ômikami is considered, it becomes impossible to view it as the "sole supreme deity of the universe":

The name Amenominaka ("midst of heaven") means the "heavenly" [ame no] "mysterious element" [mi] "becoming" [na] "place" [ka].XL This does not mean merely one place in the center of heaven, since it is a term referring indiscriminately to everything in the universe. But in the midst of where it arose and at which point it stopped, the sun later came into being, and it goes without saying that it exists there as well. Accordingly, from the time that the sun kami [i.e., Amaterasu] came into being and had dominion over the Plain of High Heaven, the sun kami should be called the visible body of that kami,XLI and that kami should be called the hidden body of the sun kami, so that it is impossible to distinguish the two, as is evident also from the liturgy for the Spring Festival at the Grand Shrine.92

Amaterasu ômikami came into being and had dominion over heaven, but her domain was not only over the heavens above; in the chapter regarding the birth of the four deities, it states, "The resplendent lustre of this child shone throughout all the six quarters."XLII In this way, the magnificent light of Her body illuminated all the universe, so that She was given the great name Amaterasu ômikami. When this Great Kami hid away in the rock cave, the entire world was thrown into such perpetual darkness that one would think that the heavens had indeed been made just for Her sake; from that we should know that it is here that the divine virtue of Amenominakanushi no mikoto is embodied. How awesome it is! 93

This kind of interpretation of Amaterasu ômikami does not appear out of place as a part of Shinto theory, but when one considers the fact that Suzuki has introduced Western astronomical knowledge in the attempt to reestablish his theory, it is not inappropriate to observe that he has used the scientific understanding of astronomy as an underpinning for his religious theory, for example by things like the fact that the solar system is a structure centered on the sun. For example, specialists in Dutch learning made statements like, "The great lights and small lights,XLIII in all their movements and turnings, are entirely the result of the sun's force. It is for this reason that the sun is lord of the universe,"94 or "When the ether of space presses upon the ether of the earth, the two ethers come together, thus giving rise to wind. Heaven and earth thus together produce a great motive force within the ether, and this is enveloped by the atmosphere. Its source is the sun alone. Saturn, Jupiter, Mercury and Venus are all produced out of the fiery ether of the sun, and for this reason, fire is chief among the kami."95

Based on this kind of reasoning, Suzuki rendered Amenominakanushi no kami abstract, and came instead to emphasize Amaterasu ômikami. Amenominakanushi no kami was depersonalized in both Suzuki's and Ôkuni's systems, becoming a being distantly abstracted from everyday faith, relegated once again to the status of deity existing only in philological interpretation. In turn, the existence of Amaterasu ômikami was enhanced, coming to play the role of a more familiar sovereign kami.

8. Suzuki Masayuki's View of Amenominakanushi no Kami

Suzuki Masayuki (1837-1871) was born in the province of Shimôsa [parts of present-day Chiba and Ibaragi Prefectures], an area with numerous disciples of Hirata Atsutane. Haga Noboru describes the Hirata school's relationship to local agricultural village issues of this region by saying that the local nativists Miyauchi YoshinagaXLIV and Miyaoi YasuoLV

searched for a way of rescuing the poverty-stricken small holders who were trapped in the villages. They became disciples of Hirata and worked to expand the school, but with the aim of nurturing and guiding village welfare and local government. . . . What is emphasized is an encouragement of the villagers' own frugality and diligence. They said that the office of the village headman responsible for that nurturing and guidance was a weighty one, and they attempted to legitimate it by reference to the honorable commission of authority extending from the emperor, to shogun, to domainal lord, to the domainal officers down to the village headman. In other words, they devoted all their energies to finding a way to legitimate nurturing guidance that would contribute to the villages' own self-welfare.96

Suzuki himself was unavoidably caught up in the issues confronting this kind of region. The villages were burdened with issues ranging from exhaustion of resources to farmers' poverty, corruption, village desertion, abortion, infanticide, falling population, prostitution and gambling. Suzuki pointed out concrete measures for stabilizing civil government in works like Minsei yôron ["The essentials of civil government"], Chiansaku ["Policies for civil order"] and Hotô anminroku ["Catching thieves and civil safety"]. In Chiansaku, he makes the following claim:

It is land that produces wealth, and it is the farmers who exploit the power of the land to produce the foundation for wealth. As a result, land and farmers form the fundament of wealth. But at present, this fundamental principle has been greatly disrupted, so that there are the rich, but the realm as a whole is poor; even though there is land, if there are no farmers, the land's power is not exploited. Even if there are farmers, if there is no land, the people's power is not exploited. When the power of land and people are not exploited, harvests are meager, and when harvests are meager, how can the world possibly avoid poverty? At present, there is no scarcity of land in the realm, and no insufficiency of births. But it may be that there are too few farmers, and this is the source of the realm's distress. This all results because no laws are established to prevent inequity becoming as it is. Then, again, since no laws are established regarding the way wealth is used, the gap between rich and poor grows wider, until the inequality is like the gulf between heaven and earth. With this, the rich grow steadily richer, and the poor grow steadily poorer, with the result that the realm naturally falls into distress. If so, anyone wishing to aim for the wealth of the nation must establish laws regarding both the production of wealth and the use of wealth; thereXLVI can be no correction of immorality without eliminating depraved actions.97

For Suzuki, this kind of gap between village rich and poor --- and the disruption of morals associated with it --- were situated at the foun-dation of his thought, and he struggled to find concrete policies and a systematic discipline of learning that would help to rectify those problems. He asked, "Fundamentally, what is a `way'? It is not what the world calls the `Buddhist Way,' or the `Confucian Way' --- nor any of those other so-called Ways, foreign and pagan, but that awesome Way of Generation broadly undertaken by the heavenly kami in the Plain of High Heaven; this is the Way."98 In this statement, Suzuki presupposes the existence of a "Way of Generation" (seisei no michi) that will enrich the people and nation. He discusses the "great origin" (ômoto) of this way of generation in his Tsukisakaki. There, he describes the relationship between generation and the heavenly kami who supervise the way of generation:

The term "heavenly kami" refers to the four deities Amenominakanushi no kami, Takamimusubi no kami, Kamimusubi no kami, and Amaterasu ômikami. The term can be used to refer to them collectively, or to one or two separately. The way of generation broadly undertaken by the heavenly kami means the generating of all things, causing them to flourish, prosper, and thrive. The meaning of this can be understood by reading the material which follows. "Way" means the operation of the spirit or mind which performs these things.99

In short, the way of generation is the operation of giving birth to all things with life, nurturing them, causing them to flourish, and bringing them to completion. It is this generation which comprises the root of life and the source of wealth, with the result that it forms the foundation for agriculture and the basis for the people's livelihood. The way of generation thus lies at the core of Suzuki's worldview, and his logic is assembled as a system wherein everything issues from that point. Amenominakanushi no kami and the other deities are likewise given meaning based on that structure. The heavenly kami with jurisdiction over the way of generation are discussed in the following way:

Amenominakanushi no kami: this kami is the great original master of generation; he existed in the great void even before heaven and earth came to be, and both the two gods of production [musubi] and all the other things existing in heaven and earth came into being as the result of the activity of the mind of this great kami. Only, the fact that his virtuous acts do not appear in the ancient writings is due to the fact that he engaged the gods of production (musubi no kami) to undertake visible things, while he himself took charge of invisible things.100

Takamimusubi no kami: this kami, together with Kamimusubi no kami, has charge of the agency of generation, bringing all things in heaven and earth into being. It is not entirely correct, however, to think that all things come into being by virtue of this kami`s productive spirit (musubi) alone, since Amenominakanushi no kami prompted this [activity] in the invisible realm.101

Amaterasu ômikami: This kami came into being from the lustration of Izanagi no ôkami, and taking the place of her father Izanagi, she undertakes the ritual administration (matsurigoto) of generation in the Plain of High Heaven, together with the great kami of production [musubi no ôkami]; now, the fact that all things truly flourish under the shower of her noble light, and that they would perish without it, makes clear how magnificent the virtue of her power, and throughout every countryXLVII there is no one and no thing not beholden to her great beneficence.102

In short, Amenominakanushi no kami supervises the great source of generation, Takamimusubi no kami and Kamimusubi no kami oversee the function of giving life to all things in heaven and earth, and Amaterasu ômikami is given supervision of the ritual administration of generation. Muraoka Tsunetsugu claimed that Suzuki's thought suggests "the perception of an ultimate principle in Amenominakanushi no kami" and an intellect which attempted to make that perception the foundation for a view of the world and humanity, and thus that his theoretical formation shows strong evidence of the influence of Christianity.103

Itô Tasaburô likewise states that Suzuki's thought, characterized by the

Shinto concept of Amenominakanushi no kami as sole absolute heavenly deity, the worship of its spirit, and the emperor as offspring of the heavenly kami, together with his view of life and death whereby one could amass good works and thus ascend to heaven after death to be granted a life of ease by the heavenly kami, and without which one would suffer torments in the land of Yomi, certainly seems to be under the influence of Christian doctrines.104

It cannot be denied that Suzuki's thought includes the concept of Amenominakanushi no kami as a sovereign kami, but it must not be overlooked that he insists on four heavenly kami, not just one. His emphasis on heavenly kami does not indicate the intellectual system of an absolute monotheistic deity. With regard to Amaterasu he adds,

As a result, Amaterasu ômikami is not lord of heaven, but in place of her father the great kami, she constantly supervises the business of generation together with the great kami of production [musubi no ôkami]. . . . Only, it is appropriate to consider her as the most revered of the heavenly kami.105

As a result, Suzuki denies Amaterasu ômikami the status of "heavenly lord," but it must be remembered that that denial is not made in order to immediately invoke Amenominakanushi as sole kami. While the majority of Shinto thought is supported by beliefs focused on Amaterasu ômikami, Suzuki viewed Amaterasu as one of those kami in charge of the way of generation, and in order to emphasize this point, he did not recognize her status as lord of heaven. Just as the way of generation involves the work of giving birth to all things, nurturing them, making them flourish, and bringing them to perfection, each kami is given its respective role in the process. Amenominakanushi no kami was given charge over the great origins of generation, while Takamimusubi no kami and Kamimusubi no kami had supervision over the function of giving birth to all things in heaven and earth, and Amaterasu ômikami had charge of the ritual administration [matsurigoto] of generation. This organization was not a conceptual system converging on a single kami, but a system of generation and development supporting a world of concrete diversity:

the heavenly kami [amatsukami[Glossary: amatsukami]] refer, first of all, to the four deities Amenominakanushi no kami, Takamimusubi no kami, Kamimusubi no kami and Amaterasu ômikami. Among all the eight-hundred myriads of kami, these are of paramount reverence. The foundation of heaven and earth, the foundation of all existing things, the foundation of the true way, all originate with these heavenly kami; likewise, the fact the people today live in peace and delight is entirely thanks to these heavenly kami. The general outline of that process is as follows: first, a person is alive because a spirit dwells in the body; if one then asks from whence that spirit comes, it comes from the heavenly kami. The spirit thus makes its home in the body, but the nourishing of that body is entirely due to its receipt of the divine light of Amaterasu ôkami.106

In this way, the insistence that Amaterasu is not lord of heaven does not reduce to the claim that Amenominakanushi no kami alone is sovereign kami. Instead, it can be linked to the claim that supervision of the way of generation is the work of the overall totality of "heavenly kami" --- in their simultaneous integration and division of labor.

During his last year of life, Suzuki was appointed as a propagandist (senkyôshiXLVIII) and undertook the role of enlightening the people. Around that time he was asked to explain his mission, and he composed a long poem (chôka) called "Long Poem Read In Response to a Person's Asking the Nature of Mission Work." As introduced by Itô Shirô, this poem includes the following words:

The Country of Japan is land of the kami;
Its people are all offspring of the kami.
Amaterasu, that divine eye of heaven,
Is great lord of the people;
Life and death are both
In accord with the mind of the kami.
Engraved in spirit,
To my utter depths,
I serve the great lord [emperor].
Father and mother
Must not be disobeyed
The blessings of wife and child,
Brothers, sisters, and relatives
Must not be forsaken,
Nor the affinity of one's fellows.
If life lasts for one-hundred years,
May I be granted good and ill,
In accordance with the acts of
The Great Kami.107

This poem reveals the same sequence of generation found in the Tsukisakaki, namely, descending from the three kami of creation, to Amaterasu ômikami, to emperor, and to parents. According to Suzuki, the Way of generation functioned only as a result of the division of labor between the four kami, emperor, and parents; his thought did not claim Amenominakanushi no kami to be sufficient alone.108

If the issue is the one of Christian influence on Suzuki's thought, the concept of a ruling deity is likely less important than the issue of ethics. As noted earlier in Itô Tasaburô's statement, we should pay attention to the idea that the destination of one's soul after death is decided by the good or ill of one's actions. Hirata Atsutane's thought contained a similar element, but statements like the following, suggesting that morality originates in the heavenly kami, make Suzuki appear even more Christian than Atsutane: "The Way of generation begins from the way of the lord and subject, parent and child, husband and wife, elder and younger brother, and friend and friend, even to eating and drinking, and to the conjugal relations between man and woman. Each and every one are the way granted us by the heavenly kami, and the way to be accepted and undertaken by the soul."109 In the same way, Suzuki affirms that "Humanism [the way of man] is the so-called heavenly kami`s way of generation, namely, the principle of lord and subject, parent and child, husband and wife, elder and younger brother, and friend and friend."110

Suzuki's need to ascribe the origin of ethics to the heavenly kami was because the way of generation and the way of man were equivalent in value. His way of generation included not only the visible world, but the unseen world as well, not as a blind urge, but as a natural law and the order of society. The fact that grass and trees wither and people die is "not because life is destroyed, but because it is fulfilled."111 Each and every thing in existence is a part of the process of generation. In short, Suzuki believed that "generation" could not possible be without order; order was of the essence of generation. It was for this reason that the foundation for moral value was imputed to the highest, heavenly kami with super-vision over the process of generation.

For Motoori and Hirata, the deity Amenominakanushi no kami may have been the root of existence, but it was not the origin of moral values and the Way. Their later interpreters viewed Ameno-minakanushi no kami as an impersonal existence, with the result that the origin of values was linked to Amaterasu ômikami. It was at that point that Suzuki directly linked the issue of value to Amenominakanushi no kami.

The issue of to what degree the kami are relevant to our everyday lives cannot be separated from the issue of the root source of values. Even Motoori, who disliked the kind of "Way" promoted by Confucian ethics, did not claim there was no Way. Hirata preached a kind of thought involving afterworldly retribution and reward, and related it to the concept of good and evil. Mutobe Yoshika created a structure in which both visible and unseen worlds were reduced monistically to Ôkuninushi no kami, and made it the source of values. Ôkuni Takamasa separated the realms of the visible and unseen, and by restricting himself to the issue of the visible realm, was able to consolidate everyday ethics in Amaterasu ômikami. Suzuki Masayuki expounded the Way of generation, and assigned the origin of morality in both visible and unseen worlds to the heavenly kami, saying that morality was something endowed by the heavenly kami. By stating that the way of generation comprehended all of existence in both the visible and unseen worlds, the heavenly kami were transformed into sovereign deities and accorded the status of beings directly linked to our everyday human lives. Linking ethics directly to the existence of the heavenly kami, Suzuki attempted to use that formulation as theoretic legitimation for a reformation of village life.

Basically, the social reform movement based on the deities of production (musubi) grew steadily stronger as a result of the penetration of nativism to the countryside, together with the experience of the Tempo famine (1833-1836) and peasant uprisings during the period.112 The popularization of nativism brought about a re-strengthening of social ethical norms. Just as Suzuki Shigetane's Yotsugigusa proclaimed the sanctity of life and expressed deep distress at the practice of abortion and infanticide engaged in by peasants, many other nativists like Miyaoi Yasuo and Satô Nobuhiro[Glossary: sato_nobuhiro] (1769-1850) similarly proclaimed a message linking social reform policies to the deities of production.

That the musubi no kami were deities of production had been emphasized since the time of Motoori, but it was Suzuki Masayuki who gave those deities the status of First Principle in the movement toward reform of the real world. The heavenly kami (tenshin) were not monotheistic deities, but when they were raised to the position of wellspring of ethics, they came to take on an appearance resembling the god of Christianity. But there is no sure evidence that that resemblance was, in Itô Tasaburô's words, the result of "influence from Christian doctrines." In any event, Suzuki's "way of generation" can be called a system of order and values with a core composed of the heavenly kami.

Suzuki's greatest weakness, however, was his failure to theorize his way of generation in such a way as to create a structure that would expand to encompass all kami besides the four heavenly kami. Suzuki's thought would no doubt have gained depth had he known the work of Mutobe Yoshika. This is not to agree with Mutobe's attempt to link the kami of production to local tutelary deities (ubusunakami) through the medium of Ôkuninushi no kami, but had Suzuki been able to incorporate beliefs in local tutelaries --- or had he been aware that a fellow resident of Shimôsa and Hirata follower named Miyauchi Yoshinaga had proposed "world renewal" (yonaoshi) based on tutelary deity beliefs113 --- he might have succeeded at producing a more systematic body of theory.

It is not well known what kind of attitude Suzuki took vis-à-vis local beliefs, but Shimôsa Province had a strong current of popular faith in the Katori[Glossary: katori_jingu] and Kashima[Glossary: kashima_jingu] shrines, and many residents were also devotees of the temple Shinshôji at Mount Narita. If more emphasis had been given to this kind of local religious faith and belief in village tutelaries, it might have been possible to suggest a theology that played a more realistic role in a theory of social reform. By limiting his view to the heavenly kami with Amaterasu ômikami hiding in the wings, it was impossible for him to incorporate the indigenous beliefs of the local peasants, making it difficult for them to directly experience the way of generation.

Suzuki was thirty-two years old at the time of the Meiji Restoration, and the next year, he moved to Tokyo to take up an appointment as professor at the newly established national university (daigakkô). It is regrettable that he lost his life just one and one-half years later at the age of thirty-five, just when his thought should have begun showing its maturity.

9. Conclusion

In this paper, I have discussed the ways in which Japanese nativists of the late Tokugawa period understood Amenominaka-nushi no kami, in conjunction as well with the ways in which that understanding was related to their views of Amaterasu ômikami and Ôkuninushi no kami. I shall leave to another occasion a discussion of how concepts of Amenominakanushi no kami ran through the "Movement for the Dissemination of the Great Teaching"XLIX in the first years of Meiji.

In brief, Motoori Norinaga perceived the importance of the three kami of creation, and emphasized the generation of all things through the musubi no kami. Hattori Nakatsune linked the Kojiki episode of the unfolding of heaven and earth to the creation of the cosmos, while Tsurumine Shigenobu projected the mythic process of time onto the dimension of space, resulting in the relativization of Amaterasu ômikami. Hirata Atsutane then proposed a cosmology dominated by Amenominakanushi no kami, one which included all beings within the universe, and comprehended the visible and unseen realms in a monistic way. Mutobe Yoshika reinterpreted the Kojiki`s unfolding of heaven and earth to refer to the creation not of the entire universe, but only of the solar system, thus limiting the activity of the kami to this earth alone, and suggesting a theology centered on the unseen realm dominated by Ôkuninushi no kami. Ôkuninushi no kami thus came to supplant Amenominakanushi no kami as sovereign deity.

On the other hand, Ôkuni Takamasa did not approve of speaking of the unseen realm; by limiting his discourse to the visible world alone, Amenominakanushi no kami became an omnipresent existence, and was understood as having characteristics that that overlapped with those of Amaterasu ômikami. A structure was becoming more explicit in which the visible and unseen realms would come to represent a relation of conflict between Amaterasu ômikami and Ôkuninushi no kami. By the time of Suzuki Shigetane, Amenominakanushi no kami had become a pantheistic entity, and just as the sun is at the center of the solar system, Amaterasu ômikami came to take on the characteristics of a preeminent kami. Suzuki Masayuki opposed making Amaterasu ômikami into a sovereign kami, and suggested instead a theory in which Amaterasu ômikami was one of the kami of generation, together with Amenominakanushi no kami, Takamimusubi no kami and Kamimusubi no kami.

In sum, the perception of Amenominakanushi no kami by late-Tokugawa nativists differs considerably, depending on the indivi-dual. This was, in part, a manifestation of the great latitude possible within the discipline of National Learning, but no fixed position was reached even among Hirata and his followers. In any event, the nature of Amenominakanushi no kami became the point of depar-ture for the nativists, and central pillar for their thought.

In reality, it may be that Watanabe Ikarimaru[Glossary: watanabe_ikarimaru] (1836-1915) should have been included in this study, since he was said to champion a Christian view of Amenominakanushi no kami. I did not include him since his works Shin Tenshukyô setsuryaku [A true synopsis of Christianity], and Amenominakanushi no kami kô [Thoughts on Amenominakanushi no kami] were written in the post-Restoration period. To add just a few comments concerning him, Watanabe stated that "this Amenominakanushi no kami is the universe's true lord of creation, and as such, he is the original ancestor (mototsu mioya) of the eight-hundred myriads of kami and all existence, making it needless to say that his name has been great since the unfolding of heaven and earth."114 While this appears to be an eminently Christian kind of claim, Watanabe develops a non-Christian view of kami in the subsequent passages, where he makes the statements, "The spirit of the Great Kami is like smoke and flame, pervading the universe, resulting in an ambiguity of rough spirit and gentle spirit that makes it impossible to separate the two with certainty," and "If so, then the creation of the kami of disorder [magakami] is likewise a manifestation of the breadth of the divine virtue, and not something to be so unremittingly condemned."115 As a result, Watanabe's treatment of Amenominakanushi no kami can be considered little more than an extension of the nativist theories I have discussed in this paper. In short, Watanabe's thought was neither a mere reversal of the labels, "Christian god" and "Amenominakanushi no kami," nor was it a kind of Shinto based on syncretism with Christianity.

In any event, while the nativists of the late-Tokugawa period emphasized Amenominakanushi no kami, the content of that concept was different from the Christian idea of an absolute, monotheistic god, since it was particularly important for them not to reject the polytheistic world of the myths in the Kojiki and Nihon shoki. For that reason, the most we can do is admit resemblances along the lines of their use of Confucian concepts in explanation, or to note that their promotion of pantheism may have bolstered monotheistic trains of thought.

In subsequent years, early Meiji-period Shintoists and nativists had little choice but to give their efforts to indoctrinating the common people and adapting to real society, so it may have been only natural that they reverted from Amenominakanushi no kami to a faith centered on Amaterasu ômikami. It was only after Japan felt the influence of German idealism that Amenominakanushi no kami came to the fore once again.


1 Ebisawa Arimichi, "Kokugaku ni okeru Tenshukyôgaku sesshu", Nanban gakutô no kenkyû, rev. ed. (Tokyo: Sôbunsha, 1978), 427.

2 Ishida Ichirô, Kami to Nihon bunka (Tokyo: Perikansha, 1983), 149-150.

3 See my "Kirisutokyô no juyô to kokugaku", Nihon bunkaron e no sekkin (Tokyo: Nihon Daigaku Seishin Bunka Kenkyûsho, 1994).

4 Motoori Norinaga, "Ise nikû sakitake no ben", Motoori Norinaga zenshû,, 9 vols. (Chikuma Shobô, 1968), 8:480-481.

5 Ibid, 483-484.

6 It must be remembered that Motoori bases his theory on the fact of temporal succession.

7 Motoori Norinaga, "Kojikiden", Motoori Norinaga zenshû, 9:129-130. In subsequent quotations, I have generally omitted Motoori's original interlinear notes.

8 Motoori Norinaga, "Kojikiden," 127.

9 In the introduction to Sandaikô, Hattori criticizes the fallacious theories of Confucianism and Buddhism while also remarking on the academics of "the people in the countries of the far West," demonstrating his attempt to defend the correctness of the "ancient legends of imperial Japan."

10 Tsurumine Shigenobu, "Amenomihashira"(Shintô Taikei Hensankai, 1988), 31-32.

11 Tsurumine Shigenobu, "Kyûri wakumon" in Fujiwara Noboru, Tsurumine Shigenobu no kisoteki kenkyû (Ôfûsha, 1973), 289.

12 Tsurumine Shigenobu, "Chôko kyûrisetsu"

13 Tsurumine Shigenobu, "Amenomihashira kôshô" Shintô taikei: ronsetsu 27, shoke Shintô 1, 40.

14 See Fujiwara Noboru, Tsurumine Shigenobu no kisoteki kenkyû, 115.

15 Tsurumine Shigenobu, "Kyûri wakumon," 285.

16 Nagata Gûtoku, "Hirata Atsutane" (Shôkabô, 1905), 2:1051.

17 Hirata Atsutane, "Koshiden", Shinshû Hirata Atsutane zenshû (Meicho Shuppan, 1977), 1:99-100.

18 Even granting the numerous problems in Honkyô gaihen, it treated the episode of the unfolding of heaven and earth as a structurally illustrated prototype. Since the same structure is explicated in Shinpai shikai , there should be no issue in assuming that it represents Hirata's understanding. See my "Kirisutokyô no juyô to kokugaku."

19 Hirata Atsutane, "Honkyô gaihen", Shinshû Hirata Atsutane zenshû, 7:6.

20 Hirata Atsutane, "Tamanomihashira[Glossary: tamano_mihashira]", Hirata Atsutane, Ban Nobutomo, Ôkuni Takamasa. Nihon shisô taikei vol. 50 (Iwanami Shoten, 1973), 54.

21 Hirata Atsutane, "Koshiden," Shinshû Hirata Atsutane zenshû, 1:369.

22 Hirata Atsutane, "Tama no mihashira," 108.

23 Ibid, 112.

24 It is necessary to remember that Hirata's cosmology of the world to come, in which the present world is the "provisional world" (kari no yo) and the hidden world is the "original world" or "genuine world" (mototsu yo), is something to be considered only on the level of the human soul; the expression "original world" refers to a world hidden from the present life, and not the world of the kami or the "Plain of High Heaven." See Hirata's "Yûken-ben"

25 Shintô jinmei jiten (Jinja Shinpôsha, 1986), 289.

26 Mutobe Yoshika, "Ken'yû junkôron", Shintô sôsho (Jingû Kyôin, 1896), 3:11-12.

27. Ibid, 13.

28 Mutobe Yoshika, "Ubusunasha kodenshô kôgi", Yamato sôshi (1889), 16-17.

29 Mutobe Yoshika, "Ken'yû junkôron," Shintô sôsho, 4:18.

30 Mutobe Yoshika, Ubusunasha kodenshô (Kishôdô, 1873), Leaf 7.

31. Mutobe Yoshika, "Ken'yû junkôron," 16.

32. Mutobe Yoshika, "Ubusunasha kodenshô kôgi," 34-35.

33 Hirata Atsutane, "Koshiden," 93.

34 Mutobe Yoshika, "Ken'yû junkôron," 39.

35 Part 2 of Ken'yû junkôron offers the following examples: "Ôkuninushi no ôkami, of Japan's Divine Palace headquarters, is called in Chinese Jôtei Taiitsu," (25); "What is called Kôten Jôtei is merely the great kami of the otherworld"; "To indicate this Great Kami [Ôkuninushi no kami], terms such as Jôtei, Tentei, Taitei , or again Taijô-kun and Taijô-shinkun and various others were used" (40); "In the works of Taoism, terms like Tenshi Genson, or Genshi Tennô, Genshi Tenson, have all been thought to be references to Musubi no ôkami, likewise Taitei, Jôtei, Tentei and Shinnô, Tennô Tentei or merely Tennô, or Taijôkun, Taijô Dôkun, and many other names besides. In Confucian writings, terms like Kôten-Kôdo Jôtei, or just Ten were used, and while it might not be impossible to think of these as references to Musubi no ôkami, in fact they were virtually all names for the Great Kami of the otherworld." (42). Passages like this make it clear what kind of status Mutobe was attempting to attribute to Ôkuninushi.

36 Motoori Norinaga, "Kojikiden,", Motoori Norinaga zenshû, 9:291. Hirata likewise passes on Motoori's theory in his "Koshiden" Part 7, 371.

37 For example, as part of the "Movement to Disseminate the Great Teaching" (Taikyô Senpu Undô) in early Meiji, Yano Harumichi's work was abbreviated in the form of a textbook on the other world called Zen'aku ôhô-ron [Treatise on retribution for good and evil]. Muraoka Tsunetsugu comments on this work by saying, "It was entirely about judgment in the afterlife, but it displayed a tendency to portray the essence of Shinto as a religion of the afterlife, and attempted to have people recognize that the ruler of the other world, Ôkuninushi no kami, was naturally superior to the other kami. As a result, it was pregnant with the potential to generate momentous doubts regarding the relationship of Ôkuninushi to the kami of creation. And that, on the contrary, was the sure result of Christian influence on the Hirata school of Shinto," ("Meiji Ishin no kyôka tôsei to Hirata Shintô", Zoku Nihon shisôshi kenkyû, 343-344. The claim that Ôkuninushi no kami was superior to other kami was not Hirata's, but Mutobe's.

38 Hirata Atsutane, "Koshiden," 111.

39 Hirata Atsutane, "Koshiden gaihen", Shinshû Hirata Atsutane zenshû, 7:202.

40 While Mutobe lived during the Edo period, he managed to possess an egalitarian perspective. Regarding the lowest discriminated social classes, he stated, "Since they do not make marriage with the ordinary peasants, they eventually came to be viewed as another species. But when speaking from the standpoint of a clan tutelary deity, they are the same humans as we, so they cannot be excluded from the compassion [of the tutelary deity]. . . . since even such as these are not excluded from the blessings of Musubi no kami, even more so for the rest" ("Ubusunasha kodenshô kôgi" 8-9). Rather than whether or not he had any knowledge of the humanitarian spirit of Christianity, this viewpoint was an inevitable result of the fact that his system of deities possessed an identical structure.

41 Sakamoto Ken'ichi, Ôkuni Takamasa (Shintô Bunkakai, 1971), 39.

42 Ôkuni Takamasa, "Koden tsûkai", Ôkuni Takamasa zenshû, 6:213.

43 Ibid, 107.

44 Ôkuni Takamasa, "Sankyô itchi-ben", Ôkuni Takamasa zenshû, 4:209.

45 Ôkuni Takamasa, "Gyojû mondô", Ôkuni Takamasa zenshû, 1:111-112.

46 Ôkuni Takamasa, "Hongaku kyoyô", Ôkuni Takamasa zenshû, 1:21.

47 Ôkuni Takamasa, "Koden tsûkai," 61-62.

48 Ibit, 62.

49 Ibid, 67.

50 Ibid, 68.

51 Ibid, 78.

52 Ôkuni Takamasa, "Konpaku-ben", Ôkuni Takamasa zenshû, 4:213.

53 Ôkuni Takamasa, "Koden tsûkai," 34.

54 Ibid, 79.

55 Ibid, 279.

56 Shizuki Tadao, "Rekishô shinsho", Tenmon, butsuri-gakkka no shizen-kan, Vol 2. Nihon tetsugaku zensho, 9:68.

57 ibid, 148.

58 Ôkuni Takamasa, "Koden tsûkai," 26.

59 Ôkuni Takamasa, "Kôroku", Ôkuni Takamasa zenshû, 3:330.

60 Ôkuni Takamasa, "Naobi no mitama hochû" , Ôkuni Takamasa zenshû, 2:100.

61 Ibid 92.

62 Ôkuni Takamasa, "Shinshinkôbô-ron" Ôkuni Takamasa zenshû, 3:213.

63 Ôkuni Takamasa, "Hongaku kyoyô," 65.

64 Ôkuni Takamasa, "Tenchi shinjin meigi-kô", Ôkuni Takamasa zenshû, 3:415.

65 Ôkuni Takamasa, "Sekijubutsu", Ôkuni Takamasa zenshû, 4:196.

66 Ôkuni Takamasa, "Tenchi shinjin meigi-kô," 407-408.

67 Ôkuni Takamasa, "Bunbu kyojitsu-ron", Ôkuni Takamasa zenshû, 1:152.

68 Ôkuni Takamasa, "Sankyô itchi-ben," 210.

69 Ôkuni Takamasa, "Naobi no mitama hochû," 191.

70 Ôkuni Takamasa, "Hongaku kyoyô," 6.

71 Tani Seigo, Suzuki Shigetane no kenkyû (Shintôshi Gakkai, 1968), 39.

72 Suzuki Shigetane, "Kamiyo no masagoto, Suzuki Shigetane kôgaku ronsan (Tosho Shuppan, 1944), 471.

73 Tani Seigo, Suzuki Shigetane no kenkyû, 47.

74 Suzuki Shigetane, "Koshi taigenkô", Suzuki Shigetane kôgaku ronsan, 615. In following quotations from this work I have eliminated interlinear notes as appropriate.

75 Ibid, 621.

76 See Ôkuni Takamasa, "Koden tsûkai," Part 1.

77 Suzuki Shigetane, "Koshi taigen zusetsu" Suzuki Shigetane kôgaku ronsan, 429-430.

78 Ibid, 435.

79 His work also includes criticisms of Hirata and Ôkuni. For example, he criticizes Hirata's claim (in Sekiken taikoden) that Amenominakanushi no kami dwelled in the "Purple Palace," stating instead that the true dwelling was the "lesser palace of the sun" ("Koshi taigenkô," 623). But Suzuki nonetheless failed to become independent of his two predecessors.

80 Tani Seigo, Suzuki Shigetane no kenkyû, 197.

81 Ibid, 63, 73.

82 Suzuki Shigetane, "Nihon shoki-den", Suzuki Shigetane zenshû (Suzuki Shigetane Sensei Gakutoku Ken'yô-kai, 1937, 1:38.

83 Shizuki Tadao, "Rekishô shinsho," 200.

84 Suzuki Shigetane, "Nihon shoki-den," 139.

85 Ibid, 140.

86 Ibid, 138.

87 Ibid, 147.

88 Shiba Kôkan, "Waran tensetsu" Yôgaku, Part 1. Nihon shisô taikei, vol. 64, 455.

89 Suzuki Shigetane, "Nihon shoki-den," 125.

90 This interpretation is also possible from such expressions as "Heaven [tenchû ] is the hidden body of Amenominakanushi no kami, and its mysterious aspect [mi] and spirit [tama] are that deity's possession alone; from it all heaven and earth came into existence, and the various kami came into being, and this too, was due to that kami`s marvelous beneficence" (Suzuki Shigetane, "Nihon shoki-den," 7).

91 Suzuki Shigetane-shû. Kokugaku Taikei, vol. 2 (Chiheisha, 1944), 61.

92 Suzuki Shigetane, "Nihon shoki-den," 142.

93 Ibid, 167.

94 Shizuki, "Rekishô shinsho," 141.

95 Shiba Kôkan, "Waran tensetsu," 481.

96 Haga Noboru, "Bakumatsu henkaku-ki ni okeru kokugakusha no undô to ronri" Kokugaku undô no shisô. Nihon shisô taikei, vol. 51 (Iwanami shoten, 1971), 676-677.

97 Suzuki Masayuki, "Chiansaku", in Kinsei chihô keizai shiryô, ed. Ono Takeo, 5:153-154.

98 Suzuki Masayuki, "Tsukisakaki", Shintô taikei: ronsetsu 27, shoke Shintô 1, 333.

99 Ibid, 333.

100 Ibid 359-360.

101 Ibid, 360-361.

102 Ibid, 374-377.

103 Muraoka Tsunetsugu, "Nôson no unda ichi kokugakusha Suzuki Masayuki", rev. ed. (Iwanami Shoten, 1940), 379.

104 Itô Tasaburô, "Bakumatsu kokugaku no ichi hôkô", Kinseishi no kenkyû, vol 2 (Yoshikawa Kôbunkan, 1982), 125.

105 Suzuki Masayuki, "Tsukisakaki," 377.

106 Suzuki Masayuki, "Chiansaku," 147.

107 Itô Shirô, Suzuki Masayuki kenkyû, (Aoki Shoten, 1972), 51.

108 If this point is not kept in mind, misunderstandings may result, hiding the continuity between late-Tokugawa and post-Restoration intellectual history. For example, based on the fact that Suzuki taught primarily about Amaterasu ômikami in his post-Restoration sermons, Katsurajima Nobuhiro has stated that "Suzuki's thought itself had become worn out" (see Bakumatsu minshû shisô no kenkyû [Bunrikaku, 1992], 137).

109 Suzuki Masayuki, "Tsukisakaki," 335-336.

110 Ibid, 349.

111 Ibid, 406.

112 See Haga Noboru, "Bakumatsu henkaku-ki ni okeru kokugakusha no undô to ronri."

113 See Miyauchi Yoshinaga, "Tôyama biko", Kokugaku undô no shisô. Nihon shisô taikei, vol. 51 (Iwanami Shoten, 1973).

114 Watanabe Ikarimaru, Amenominakanushi no kami kô (Kanshûsha, 1872), Leaf 1.

115 Ibid, Leaf 20.

Translator's Notes

I. Originally published as "Bakumatsu kokugaku ni okeru Amenominakanushi no kami-kan", with appended English title, "Studies on Amenominakanushinokami by Japanese Classical Scholars during the Late Tokugawa Shogunate Period," Nihon Daigaku Seishin Bunka Kenkyûjo kiyô [Bulletin of the Culture Research Institute, Nihon University], 25 (March, 1994), 47-93.

II. Japanese National Learning or "nativism."

III. Hakkô ichiu[Glossary: hakko_ichiu]. A Chinese expression used as part of State Shinto to signify the entire world united under the single canopy of Japanese-led universal brotherhood.

IV. Hirata never met Motoori while the latter was alive, but claimed to have met the master in a dream.

V. The Taikyô Senpu Undô, which officially began with the issuance (January 3, 1870) of the "Imperial Rescript for the Dissemination of the Great Teaching" represents one of the early-Meiji attempts to establish a version of Shinto as a national religion.

VI. The Shintô gobusho ("Five books of Shinto," "Shinto Pentateuch," etc.) are medieval works authored by Watarai priests at the Outer Shrine (Gekû) of Ise, in which the status of the Outer Shrine is argued in distinction to that of the Inner Shrine (Naikû).

VII. The obvious intimation being that deities worshiped at such betsugû are lesser in status.

VIII. The chronicles of the divine age (jindaiki ) are those early chapters of the Nihon shoki dealing with the earliest mythological period; the chronicles of Jinmu (Jinmuki) are likewise those parts of the Nihon shoki dealing with the reign of legendary emperor Jinmu.

IX. Kamurogi and kamuromi were epithets of respect referring to ancestral deities, although the precise significance and range of reference differs depending on the commentator involved; Motoori believed it refered solely to imperial ancestral deities.

X. Hattori states that the Kojiki brings up the subject of the underworld of Yomi without explicitly describing its creation. While admitting it to be his own conjecture, Hattori solves the problem by assuming that Yomi was created from the remainder of the protozoan land which was like "floating oil." To write Yomi, Hattori uses the character izumi, which is the second character in Yomi as normally found. Hattori, however, states that he has merely borrowed the Chinese character as a device, and that no special significance should be placed on it. The association of Yomi with the moon is reinforced by the fact that the deity Tsukuyomi no mikoto was assigned to rule over it. See Sandaikô , in Motoori Norinaga zenshû [The complete works of Motoori Norinaga], Vol. 10 (Chikuma Shobô), 302.

XI. During Japan's three centuries of isolation in the Edo period, the Dutch settlement at Nagasaki was virtually the only source of knowledge of developments in the West. The scientific knowledge provided through this contact came to be known as "Dutch learning."

XII. As Tsurumine explains below, the expression "three kami of creation" [zôka sanshin] is a collective term referring to Amenominakanushi no kami, Takamimusubi no kami, and Kamimimusubi no kami, the first three kami to appear at the beginning of the Kojiki.

XIII. Musubi means to coalesce, join, bind together, and by extension, to "bring something into being." Musubi is not creation ab nihilo, however; the preexistence of some material is assumed. In this context, Tsurumine is speaking of the collectively action of both deities of creative power, Takamimusubi no kami and Kamimusubi no kami.

XIV. Hoshi, a word that can refer to either planets or stars.

XV. Akanesashi amateru kuni. Quoted in an imperial rescript of 849 in the Zoku Nihon goki. Akanesashi means "gold-shine" while amateru means "heavenly illumined," refers to the sun deity, Amaterasu.

XVI. Literally, the "root tiedown point" (motozuna) ; the point at which the main pulling ropes are attached.

XVII. ihozuna chizuna: lit, "five hundred hawsers, one-thousand hawsers."

XVIII. Tenchi banbutsu daigenkôsoshin ari. While tenchi means literally heaven and earth, it is used by extension to mean the universe or nature as well.

XIX. Referring to the debate between adherents of Ise and Izumo in 1880 regarding which kami were to be installed in the shrine of the Great Teaching Academy within the Shinto Office. See Shigeyoshi Murakami, Japanese Religion in the Modern Century, H. Byron Earhart, translator. University of Tokyo Press, 1980, 42. Also Shintô jiten, Inoue Nobutaka, et al., eds., (Kôbundô, 1994) s.v. "Shintô jimukyoku".

XX. The expression kamigoto, is found in the Nihon shoki, in that passage where Ôkuninushi gives up control over the Central Land of Reed Plains (Japan); Takamimusubi no kami tells Ôkuninushi, "Let my grandchild have charge over the public matters over which you had charge, and we shall let you have rule over kamigoto." Aston translates this kamigoto as "divine affairs," but it may be literally rendered as "affairs of the unseen realm." See W.G. Aston, translator, Nihongi: Chronicles of Japan from the Earliest Times to A.D. 697. Tokyo: Charles E. Tuttle, (1924) 1972, 80.

XXI. Shibikyû (Ch. z[latin small letter i with breve]wêigông was a term taken from Chinese astrological thought, referring to that group of constellations encircling the north star, and believed to be the home of the Heavenly Emperor (tentei).

XXII. In Chinese thought, Shifu or shikyû was the "purple palace" forming the home of the deities. As Mutobe notes, it was also called shibikyû (see previous note), or shikyû (Ch. z[latin small letter i with breve]gông), or shibi tengû (Ch. z[latin small letter i with breve]wêi tiengông).

XXIII. See below, note XXXI.

XXIV. Honkyô or mototsu oshie was Ôkuni's term for the "basic" or "fundamental" teaching, alternately, interpreted as meaning "Japan teaching," in contrast to imported Confucian and Buddhist theories. Hongaku in turn was the study of this original teaching. Ôkuni's concept of an original, fundamental teaching before the import of foreign ideas was as a kind of naive faith or implicit knowledge that could not be the subject of doubt or argument.

XXV. That is, the two characters for tenshu ( and) are found within Amenominakanushi no kami.

XXVI. Amenominakanushi no kami means the "kami who is master of the middle (naka) of heaven."

XXVII. Ôkuni here coins a word using the two characters naka (middle) and tokoro "place." He pronounces them together as naka, but attempts by the neologism to suggest a word that combines all three of the meanings he has related, a feat difficult to duplicate in English. I have used the word "middleness" merely as an place-holder to indicate the general idea.

XXVIII. These three are merely inflections of the classical verb nashi (modern form nai), indicating the negative "not to be" or "there is not."

XXIX. Mu wa chû nari. Chû wa mu nari. Ôkuni here uses the Chinese (on'yomi) readings of the characters for naka and nashi.

XXX. Ôkuni uses the Chinese term, tentei.

XXXI. Ôkuni here engages in another enigmatic etymological discussion, interweaving Chinese characters, the Sino-Japanese and Japanese (on and kun) readings for those characters, and plays on similar homophonic characters.

Usually found written as, nazuki can mean "brain," but Ôkuni here substitutes the characters which mean "middle-attach" (naka + tsuki). The character tsuki is also read fu, and suggests a connection with Hirata's earlier expression honpu , translated as "headquarters" or "head ministry," but which can alternately be read motozuki to mean "base-attachment," or "foundation," and thus forming the background for a contrast with the "middle-attachment" of nazuki.

The claim that Izumo is the divine world's "headquarters" is possible for Ôkuni, since an ancient Japanese tradition has it that all the deities throughout Japan meet in council at Izumo during the tenth lunar month.

XXXII. "Matter" (shitsu) also means "quality," and here can be taken to mean the unique character or "quality" of an existing thing, produced by the particles or molecules ostensibly forming the most basic level at which matter is constituted. For example, a molecule of water could be called the lowest level at which the "quality" or "personality" of water as matter would be expressed.

XXXIII. Ôkuni here uses characters normally read bunrei[Glossary: bunrei] (a spirit that is apportioned from a previously existing deity, and usually made independent in a separate shrine), but he here gives them the unusual reading sakimitama; sakimitama is, in turn, usually written as, and its meaning in the mythology is not entirely clear, although Shinto dictionaries suggest that it, together with kushimitama are expressions of the function of the "gentle spirit" (nigimitama) which, together with the "rough spirit" (aramitama[Glossary: aramitama]) form the two halves of a kami. Only one reference to sakimitama exists in the Kojiki and Nihongi; Aston translates it as "guardian spirit"; see Nihongi, I:61.

XXXIV. Another name for Takamimusubi no kami.

XXXV. As indicated by the table on page 148, some people believed that the land of Yomi was in the moon, just as the Plain of High Heaven was supposed to exist within the sun.

XXXVI. The text here displays a circle with the interlinear kana gloss "ame", a word usually translated as "heaven" or "the heavens," and apparently used here to refer to what would today be called the "universe" or "interstellar space."

XXXVII. This etymological discussion is virtually impossible to sustain in translation, since it depends on Suzuki's claim that the meaning of kami can be unpacked on the basis of homophonic associations with otherwise unrelated Sino-Japanese characters. I have been unable to find the two characters represented used in this combination elsewhere, although from the subsequent discussion it appears he may mean for the two to signify the universal and all-pervading nature of divinity. The first character can be read kaeru, and means to turn around or return. The second character can be read muragaru and means to assemble or gather together. For the subsequent characters, Suzuki makes tenuous associations with their "literal" meanings and ostensible etymological linkages to the word kami.

As a verb, the phonetic kamu can be used to represent verbs meaning "chew," "ferment," or to "blow the nose." The rest of the discussion continues by assembling other characters that can feasibly be read as kan, kamu or kama or kami, etc.

XXXVIII. It appears that sono tei here is meant to refer to the exterior appearance of the "dancers" Musubi no kami, but other interpretations are possible. The resulting translation is tentative.

XXXIX. See page 149 for Tsurumine's comments about the three "hidden kami."

XL. Once again, Suzuki is engaging in word play, adopting homophonic Sino-Japanese characters to express his desired meaning. The characters he adopts here for amenominaka are.

XLI. Here, "that kami" refers to Amenominakanushi.

XLII. See Aston, Nihongi, I:18.

XLIII. Taiyô and shôyô. Unclear, but apparently a reference to the planets. In general, the are defined as including the sun, moon, and five major planets; if the "great light" and "small light" were mentioned alone, one would surmise the sun and moon were meant. The statement here, however, claims that the taiyô and shôyô are under the influence of the sun.

XLIV. 1789-1843. A priest at the shrine Chôshi Shinmeisha.

--- Author.

XLV. 1799-1858, Headman of Matsuzawa Village in Katori-gun. --- Author.

XLVI. A trope, indicating that the two policies he advocates are interdependent, or that it is useless to advocate an abstract rule without legislating the concrete behavior attending it.

XLVII. Or "throughout the country."

XLVIII. The Office of Propaganda (Senkyôshi) was established in 1869 within the Department of Shinto in hopes of combating the spread of Christianity and to help inculcate the goals of the restored imperial government. The office and its activities were largely unsuccessful, however, and were replaced by the more broadly based "instructors" (kyôdôshoku[Glossary: kyodoshoku]) program in 1873.

XLIX. Taikyô Senpu Undô, a movement primarily aimed at combating the spread of Christianity by inculcating the state's version of Shinto ethics (called the "Great Way in Accord with the Kami" [Kannagara[Glossary: kannagara] no taidô]) through Japanese society. Officially inaugurated by the Imperial Rescript for the Dissemination of the Great Teaching, issued in the first month (lunar), 1870, the movement involved the appointment first of Shinto propagandists (senkyôshi) and later of voluntary "religious instructors" (kyôdôshoku). The program was not greatly successful, however, as indicated by the abolishment of the government training institute Daikyôin already in 1875; the program continued in name until being officially abandoned in 1884.

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