main buildings of shrines for true gods are simple


The other day, I saw an interesting  TV program on NHK(Japan Broadcasing Corporation) , where a panel discussion was held on Sengu(遷宮), installation of a deity in a new shrine, of the Grand Shrine of Ise by five people who were scholars and architects. In the discussion, Mr. Tetsuo Yamaori(山折哲雄), a religion scholar, said “There seem to be a variety of gods. In terms of the way of being worshiped, there are largely two types of gods. One is eternel gods that transcend life and death, and the other is personal gods that have human bodies which repeat death and rebirth.”

  • the other day 先日
  • interesting 興味深い
  • program 番組
  • discussion 討論
  • scholar  学者
  • architect 建築家
  • religion 宗教
  • a variety of A 様々なA
  • in terms of A Aの観点から
  • worship 崇拝する
  • eternal 永遠の
  • transcend 超越する
  • personal god 人格神
  • rebirth 再生

According to him, Shinto shrines where  personal gods or vengeful ghosts are worshiped tend to be majestic and splendid and the main building of the shrine is likely to be designed to be spacious enough for people to live. On the other hand, Shinto shrines whose object of worship is a mountain tend to be very plain and simple and the main building of Kasugataisha(春日大社)in Nara prefecture , for example, is as large as Mikoshi(神輿), a portable shrine, and movable. It is said that the size of the building is no problem because the holy spirit of the mountain behind it descends on the building only as necessary.

  • according to A Aによれば
  • vengeful ghost 怨霊
  • tend to~ 〜する傾向がある
  • majestic and splendid 荘厳華麗
  • be likely to~ 〜しそうである
  • be designed to~ 〜するよう設計されている
  • spacious 広々とした
  • on the other hand 一方
  • object 対象
  • plain and simple 簡素な
  • poratble 持ち運びのできる
  • movable 移動できる
  • holy 神の
  • descend 降臨する
  • as necessary  必要な時

Listening to this story, I thought “I got it.” In Izumo Taisha Shrine(出雲大社), for example, there is a huge building , but seeing it with my clairvoyance power it used to be much huger four or five years ago. How big? I feel it to be as tall as more than ten-story building.  I think It was a limitation of wooden building.  It was built with a number of pillars, each of which was made of three huge woods. Why was such a huge shrine built? Because people were afraid of a vengeful ghost.

  • I got it. なるほど
  • huge 巨大な
  • clayairvoyance 霊視
  • used to~ 以前は〜したものだった
  • feel A to be~ Aを〜であると感じる
  • ten-story 十階建ての
  • limitation 限界
  • a number of A 数多くのA
  • pillar 柱
  • be afraid of A Aを恐れている

There was a fabric of human relationships where a man with part of Ohkuninushinokami(大国主太神), an ancient god, in his soul , who ruled Western Japan, was mercilessly killed by a powerful clan who ruled Kyushu(九州)region. After the incident, there happened some evil consequences, so in order to relieve the vengeful ghost and send it back to heaven , the clan built up the huge enough shrine to reach the sky.

  • a fabric of human relationships 人間模様
  • ancient 古代の
  • soul 魂
  • rule 支配する
  • mercilessly 無慈悲に
  • powerful clan 豪族
  • region 地方
  • incident 出来事
  • evil consequence 祟り
  • in order to~ 〜するために
  • relieve  安心させる
  • send A back to B AをBに送り返す
  • enough … to~ 〜するくらい十分…な
  • reach 届く

In this way, one of the causes leading to difficulties in understanding the holy spirits lies in the fact that true gods as spirits of nature, which have never taken on human bodies, and personal gods, which were human beings and after the death were worshiped as gods, are both worshiped under the same name “god”.

  • in this way このように
  • cause 原因
  • lead to A Aをもたらす
  • lie in A Aの中にある
  • take on A Aを帯びる
  • human being  人間
  • the same A 同じA

Around the beginning of the Meiji Period, the number of members of Ise Ko(伊勢講), a group of followers of Grand Shrine of Ise, accounted for more than 80% of the whole Japanese population at that time. The main building of Grand Shrine of Ise is very small and simple compared with the size of the followers. This is because the true god resides there.

  • the Meiji Period 明治時代
  • follower 信者
  • account for A Aを占める
  • whole 全体の
  • population 人口
  • compared with A Aと比較して
  • reside 宿る



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