Shinto: The Way of the Gods

Kasuga Mandala Reliquary Shrine, 1479, lacquered wood with colour, Muromachi period (1392-1573), 55.6 x 39.7 x 48 cm, Tokyo National Museum (in rotation two, 23 May to 30 June). This miniature shrine, said to be an architectural representation of Takemikazuchi, the kami of the first shrine at Kasuga Taisha, was meant to contain relics of the historical Buddha Shakyamuni, Takemikazuchi’s Buddhist counterpart. On the front doors are Aizen Myoo, wisdom king of passion (right) and Fudo Myoo, wisdom king of immovability (left). The side doors show the guardian kings of the four directions. The back wall inside the shrine vividly portrays a view of the landscape of Kasuga Taisha. Based on other examples, we can assume that a gem-shaped reliquary would once have been installed in the middle. Photo: TNM Image Archives

Shinto, The Way of the Gods, is Japan’s ancient belief system focused on the veneration of divine phenomena, or spirits, called kami – nature divinities of the land, sky, and waters. The essence of Shinto lies in the worship of… Continue reading