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Japanese Mythology

Apparently the Japanese have eight myriads of Gods and while we're not exactly sure how many that is we don't think we'll have room for them all here! The Japanese love their Gods and will nominate one to look after absolutely anything, from water and lamp posts to letterboxes and toenail clippings. Okay, the last one was pulled out of thin air. But we'll hazard a guess if you dig around you'll find one. They started gathering them early...

100 bc saw the arrival of the Yayoi and the introduction of rice, metals and a whole new religion. The Japanese were excited, obviously, because as well as absorbing Mongul and Korean Gods from the visitor's beliefs they also had to find ones for all the new spangly products. 0 A.D. saw Shinto become the national belief of Japan even though it was already a bit of a mish-mash. The emperor was simply an official for performing religious ceremonies and rituals. It was the Gods the public were really interested in.

200 A.D. The creation of Sushi ... better think of some Sushi Gods. 538 A.D. Korea despached a delegate to introduce Japan to Buddhism. Oh Joy. More Gods! 593 A.D. Prince Shokote pushes Buddhism and in 604 A.D. does a u-turn. Confucianism is now 'in'. "Confucianism? Sounds like a religion. Got any Gods? Yes? Lovely!"

712 A.D. Things look to be getting out of control as oral tradition is adding much confusion to Godly proceedings not to mention calling the Royal family's geneology into question. Emperor Temmu puts together a commitee to come up with Kojiki — the record of ancient matters. The book includes rituals, etiquette, ceremonies, rituals, folklore, traditions and, obviously, Gods.

And so it goes on. Battles, invasions, changes of emperor, civil wars, shoguns, samurai, christianity introduced... then banned, volcanos erupting and nations unified, all needed Gods. And don't think they've slowed down any. Photographers are everywhere taking snapshots of everything for possible deification. They just can't get enough.

We're pretty sure that the majority of the eight myriad of Kami, or Gods, are leaves, blades of grass, pebbles and other naturally occuring bits and bobs but amongst them are some very endearing Gods of good fortune, gift bearers and luck bringers. Then there are the Gods of the elements. And don't forget the protectors and guardians. Oh, and the planets. You get the drift.


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'INTRO' - Japanese database entry : 05 Jan 2008
Page last modified on 27 Jan 2016
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