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Traditionally, great or sensational leaders like the Emperor could be or became kami. In Shinto, kami are not separate from nature, but are of nature, possessing positive and negative, and good and evil characteristics.
Kami is the Japanese word for a god , deity , divinity , or spirit. Although deity is the common interpretation of kami , some Shinto scholars argue that such a translation can cause a misunderstanding of the term.
Because Japanese does not normally distinguish grammatical number in nouns the singular and plural forms of nouns in Japanese are the same , it is sometimes unclear whether kami refers to a single or multiple entities.
Gender is also not implied in the word kami , and as such, it can be used to refer to either male or female.
While Shinto has no founder, no overarching doctrine, and no religious texts, the Kojiki Records of Ancient Matters , written in CE, and the Nihon Shoki Chronicles of Japan , written in CE, contain the earliest record of Japanese creation myths.
The Kojiki also includes descriptions of various kami. In the ancient traditions there were five defining characteristics of kami: . Kami are an ever-changing concept, but their presence in Japanese life has remained constant.
The kami's earliest roles were as earth-based spirits, assisting the early hunter-gatherer groups in their daily lives. They were worshipped as gods of the earth mountains and sea.
As the cultivation of rice became increasingly important and predominant in Japan, the kami's identity shifted to more sustaining roles that were directly involved in the growth of crops; roles such as rain, earth, and rice.
These rituals also became a symbol of power and strength for the early Emperors. There is a strong tradition of myth-histories in the Shinto faith; one such myth details the appearance of the first emperor, grandson of the Sun Goddess Amaterasu.
In this myth, when Amaterasu sent her grandson to earth to rule, she gave him five rice grains, which had been grown in the fields of heaven Takamagahara.
This rice made it possible for him to transform the "wilderness". The pantheon of kami, like the kami themselves, is forever changing in definition and scope.
As the needs of the people have shifted, so too have the domains and roles of the various kami. Some examples of this are related to health, such as the kami of smallpox whose role was expanded to include all contagious diseases, or the kami of boils and growths who has also come to preside over cancers and cancer treatments.
In the ancient animistic religions, kami were understood as simply the divine forces of nature. Worshippers in ancient Japan revered creations of nature which exhibited a particular beauty and power such as waterfalls , mountains, boulders, animals, trees, grasses, and even rice paddies.
They strongly believed the spirits or resident kami deserved respect. This, the first formal codification of Shinto rites and norito liturgies and prayers to survive, became the basis for all subsequent Shinto liturgical practice and efforts.
It listed all of the 2, Shinto shrines existing at the time, and the 3, official-recognized and enshrined kami. Kami are the central objects of worship for the Shinto belief.
The ancient animistic spirituality of Japan was the beginning of modern Shinto, which became a formal spiritual institution later, in an effort to preserve the traditional beliefs from the encroachment of imported religious ideas.
As a result, the nature of what can be called kami is very general and encompasses many different concepts and phenomena. Some of the objects or phenomena designated as kami are qualities of growth, fertility, and production; natural phenomena like wind and thunder ; natural objects like the sun , mountains , rivers , trees , and rocks ; some animals ; and ancestral spirits.
Included within the designation of ancestral spirits are spirits of the ancestors of the Imperial House of Japan , but also ancestors of noble families as well as the spirits of the ancestors of all people, which when they died were believed to be the guardians of their descendants.
There are other spirits designated as kami as well. For example, the guardian spirits of the land, occupations, and skills; spirits of Japanese heroes, men of outstanding deeds or virtues, and those who have contributed to civilization, culture, and human welfare; those who have died for the state or the community; [ citation needed ] and the pitiable dead.
Not only spirits superior to man can be considered kami; spirits that are considered pitiable or weak have also been considered kami in Shinto.
The concept of kami has been changed and refined since ancient times, although anything that was considered to be kami by ancient people will still be considered kami in modern Shinto.
Even within modern Shinto, there are no clearly defined criteria for what should or should not be worshipped as kami. The difference between modern Shinto and the ancient animistic religions is mainly a refinement of the kami-concept, rather than a difference in definitions.
Although the ancient designations are still adhered to, in modern Shinto many priests also consider kami to be anthropomorphic spirits, with nobility and authority.
Although these kami can be considered deities, they are not necessarily considered omnipotent or omniscient , and like the Greek Gods , they had flawed personalities and were quite capable of ignoble acts.
In the myths of Amaterasu, for example, she could see the events of the human world, but had to use divination rituals to see the future.
These classifications of kami are not considered strictly divided, due to the fluid and shifting nature of kami, but are instead held as guidelines for grouping them.
The ancestors of a particular family can also be worshipped as kami. In this sense, these kami are worshipped not because of their godly powers, but because of a distinctive quality or virtue.
These kami are celebrated regionally, and several miniature shrines hokora have been built in their honor.
In many cases, people who once lived are thus revered; an example of this is Tenjin , who was Sugawara no Michizane CE in life. Within Shinto it is believed that the nature of life is sacred because the kami began human life.
Yet people cannot perceive this divine nature, which the kami created, on their own; therefore, magokoro , or purification, is necessary in order to see the divine nature.
In order to please the kami and earn magokoro, Shinto followers are taught to uphold the four affirmations of Shinto. The first affirmation is to hold fast to tradition and the family.
Family is seen as the main mechanism by which traditions are preserved. For instance, in marriage or birth, tradition is potentially observed and passed onto future generations.
The second affirmation is to have a love of nature. Nature objects are worshipped as sacred because the kami inhabit them. Therefore, to be in contact with nature means to be in contact with the gods.
The third affirmation is to maintain physical cleanliness. Followers of Shinto take baths, wash their hands, and rinse out their mouths often.
The last affirmation is to practice matsuri , which is the worship and honor given to the kami and ancestral spirits. Shinto followers also believe that the kami are the ones who can either grant blessings or curses to a person.
Shinto believers desire to appease the evil kami to "stay on their good side", and also to please the good kami.
In addition to practicing the four affirmations daily, Shinto believers also wear omamori to aid them in remaining pure and protected.
Mamori are charms that keep the evil kami from striking a human with sickness or causing disaster to befall them.
The kami are both worshipped and respected within the religion of Shinto. The goal of life to Shinto believers is to obtain magokoro , a pure sincere heart, which can only be granted by the kami.
In the ceremony, the Emperor offers crops from the new harvest to the kami, including rice, fish, fruits, soup, and stew. The Emperor first feasts with the deities, then the guests.
Visitors to a Shinto shrine follow a purification ritual before presenting themselves to the kami. This ritual begins with hand washing and swallowing and later spitting a small amount of water in front of the shrine to purify the body, heart, and mind.
Once this is complete they turn their focus to gaining the kami's attention. The traditional method of doing this is to bow twice, clap twice and bow again, alerting the kami to their presence and desire to commune with them.
During the last bow, the supplicant offers words of gratitude and praise to the kami; if they are offering a prayer for aid they will also state their name and address.
Shinto practitioners also worship at home. She was the Heroine who died saving him, but her soul was so strongly connected to him that she was reborn into the world without her memories of anything but the Protagonist.
She leaves her life as the Messiah to travel with him and they are separated from the Chaos Hero and Law Hero. The Chaos Hero fuses himself with a demon out of his frustration to become stronger and leaves the Protagonist, deeming him 'weak'.
The Law Hero sacrifices himself while protecting the Protagonist from a powerful demon who steals his soul. Both sides race towards the completion of their plans to summon Lucifer or God to bring salvation to humanity.
Regardless of the player's choice, the Messian Cathedral is completed which summons a flood upon Tokyo, washing away everyone who wasn't in the Cathedral at the time.
Only a few Messians and Gaeans remain alive in the Cathedral and they continue to try to eradicate the other.
Again, the player has the choice of joining with the Law-aligned Messians, fighting against the demonic leaders of the Ring of Gaea; or to join the Chaos-aligned Gaeans and fight the tyrannical angelic Messian leaders.
After their initial clash, the Messians and the Gaeans find themselves locked in a stalemate, each side controlling half the Cathedral.
The upper floors are guarded by the angels Uriel , Gabriel , and Raphael , as well as the Law Hero standing before the angel Michael , the leader of the Messians.
No matter his path, the Protagonist must fight his way across both lines to confront both Michael and Asura Lord.
She was the first wife of the biblical Adam and she longs to be the Protagonist's partner. It is implied that the Protagonist and the Heroine are the reincarnations of Adam and Eve, explaining Lilith's motivations in attempting to kill the Heroine and live eternally with the Protagonist.
Near the bottom of the Cathedral, the Protagonist meets an enigmatic man, Louis Cyphre , who warns the Protagonist that the ' true enemy ' still waits.
After defeating Asura Lord at the behest of Law, Michael at the request of Chaos, or both to restore the balance, the Protagonist is teleported to the roof of the Cathedral above the clouds.
A Chaos-aligned Protagonist is congratulated by Louis Cyphre, who reveals his true form as Lucifer and vows to lead the world into a golden age of freedom.
On the Law path a messenger of God welcomes the Protagonist, and tasks him with preaching God's word so that all mankind may be welcomed into the Thousand-Year Kingdom.
A Neutral Protagonist is greeted by the figure of Taishang Laojun , a being of balance, who thanks him for his efforts on behalf of the universe, and urges that the hero build a new future for mankind, "built by neither reliance on God nor demons, but by the hands of people themselves.
The Neutral path is considered canonical by later games. With the defeat of both Asura Lord and Michael, balance has been restored to the world and the Protagonist can work to create a world where the survivors can worship freely, which leads into the prologue of Shin Megami Tensei II.
All of the playable characters from Shin Megami Tensei are nameless, requiring players to insert names themselves. Sign In Don't have an account?
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