500s Introduction of Buddhism (India) and Confucianism (China).
604 Seventeen Articles Constitution, Japan’s first written code of laws based on Confucianism.
700s Buddhism becomes the primary religion in Japan.
1185 Embraced by the samurai class, Zen Buddhism favours daily practice over formal rituals and seeks inner peace through meditation.
1600s The Tokugawa shogun requires everyone to register at their local temple, known as danka seido which related every household to a temple. Also, many aspects of Confucianism can now be found in bushido, the samurai code.
1800s Shinto, Japan’s oldest and native religion, reemerges under Emperor Meiji who encouraged its worship and used public funds to promote it. Shinto stressed patriotism and obedience to the emperor as a direct descendant of the Sun Goddess Ameratsu, and was of great value in centralizing the power of the new regime.
1945 End of World War II – Japanese government severs its ties between state and religion.

500s Introduction of Buddhism (India) and Confucianism (China).
604 Seventeen Articles Constitution, Japan’s first written code of laws based on Confucianism.
700s Buddhism becomes the primary religion in Japan.
1185 Embraced by the samurai class, Zen Buddhism favours daily practice over formal rituals and seeks inner peace through meditation.
1600s The Tokugawa shogun requires everyone to register at their local temple, known as danka seido which related every household to a temple. Also, many aspects of Confucianism can now be found in bushido, the samurai code.
1800s Shinto, Japan’s oldest and native religion, reemerges under Emperor Meiji who encouraged its worship and used public funds to promote it. Shinto stressed patriotism and obedience to the emperor as a direct descendant of the Sun Goddess Ameratsu, and was of great value in centralizing the power of the new regime.
1945 End of World War II – Japanese government severs its ties between state and religion.

© 2006, Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. All Rights Reserved.

Curator Barry Till speaks about the Shinto Shrine that sits in the courtyard at the AGGV. He tells how shrines are placed in outdoor settings as homes for the kami and for people to come and worship.

Welcome to the Spirituality Section. I’m Barry Till, Curator of Asian Art. Behind me is the art gallery’s Shinto Shrine. The shrine was built in Japan during the Meiji Period, around 1900. The art gallery purchased it in 1987 and moved it here. What is Shinto? It is a native Japanese religion based on nature worship. Shinto shows a love and appreciation of nature rather than a fear of its destructive powers. It has no founder, no prophet, and no absolute deity which would serve as the creator of all. It is simply based upon the concept of kami. In Japan they believe in a multitude of natural deities of such things as waterfalls, rocks, and trees – anything awe-inspiring could be singled out and called a kami. Shinto shrines are found all across Japan in beautiful settings and they serve as homes for the kami. They are usually unpainted and simple. The shrine was a place where the Japanese could come for prayer and spiritual purification. On this shrine are all sorts of fascinating carvings like a dragon, a hawk and lions. The most interesting ones are the Baku. Baku are a mythical animal which eat nightmares. When Japanese children have a nightmare they wake up and yell ‘Devour o baku!’ and the baku comes forth and eats their nightmare. The Shinto shrine can be distinguished from Buddhist temples by forked finials and ridged billets on the main roof beams. There is a large stone basin near the shrine for worshippers to wash their hands and symbolically purify themselves before prayer. Worship takes place outside the shrine and offers thanks to the kami.

Art Gallery of Greater Victoria

JAPAN
© 2006, Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. All Rights Reserved.


Learning Objectives

The following learning objectives have been created with considerable and specific reference to the Prescribed Learning Outcomes (PLOs) for various grades and subjects as outlined by the Ministry of Education for the province of British Columbia. The portions that directly reflect curricula language have been italicized. All applicable texts, websites, and other learning resources are listed in the bibliography under References.

• Students will learn about Shinto, Buddhism, and Confucianism and understand the distinction between formal religion and belief systems while noting how social, political, and religious organizations can reflect cultural taste and values. This will also allow further investigation of civilizations and their social structures in the context of their times and world views.
• Students will learn about the variety of such systems as practiced in Japan throughout history to the present day allowing them to examine the organization and evolution of religion in certain societies.


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