- Ise Jingu
- or Ise no jingu, Ise Daijingu. The Ise Shrine or Grand Shrine of Ise in Mie prefecture south-west of Nara by the Isuzu river. It comprises two shrine complexes; the Kotai Jingu or Naiku (Inner Shrine) of Amaterasu and the Toyouke Daijingu or Geku (Outer Shrine) which enshrines Toyouke, together with their subordinate shrines. The plain wood and reed-thatched shinmei-style main shrines at Ise have been ritually rebuilt next to each other and the kami transferred to the new shrine (shikinen sengu) on average about every twenty-one years throughout Japanese recorded history, including a gap of 100 years from 1462. According to Heian period documents such as the Engi-shiki the emperor (represented at Ise by the virgin priestess, the saio) was the sole ujiko of the Ise jingu. The naiku or inner shrine, looked after by the Arakida priestly family, tacitly had higher status as the abode of the imperial ancestor Amaterasu. However the geku was the province of the Watarai clan who from the thirteenth century became more active Shinto theorists on behalf of the outer shrine, and 'Ise Shinto' subsequently meant Watarai-type teachings which encouraged pilgrimage to Ise by ordinary people and an understanding of Ise as a shrine for everyone, not just the emperor. As private imperial support for Ise declined, popular devotion to the kami at Ise was promoted in its place by an informal but powerful body of Ise priests, the oshi, who established networks of confraternities throughout the country. In return for donations local members received talismans and amulets (see Taima) from Ise and the opportunity to visit the shrine on pilgrimage. In the Tokugawa period extraordinary mass folk pilgrimages to Ise called okage-mairi occurred at intervals, involving at their height up to four million people. Like all other shrines Ise in practice fostered Buddhist (and Confucian) ideas and practices and in 1868 there were nearly three hundred Buddhist temples around Ise though various traditional taboos against Buddhism existed, dating from the time when the saio's other-worldly 'abstinence' in the sacred precincts of Ise had included a rejection of all features of Buddhism, the religion of the worldly capital, Heian (Kyoto). For example, Buddhist priests were supposed to wear wigs rather than enter the shrine shaven-headed and certain Buddhist terms were prohibited (imi-kotoba). In the Meiji restoration several developments occurred which altered the significance of Ise. Ise was 'purified' of Buddhist influences and placed at the top of the hierarchy of shrines, while the idea of Amaterasu as the ancestor of the unbroken imperial line became central to state imperial ideology. The Watarai were transferred to the naiku and the Arakida to the geku, to subvert the notion of hereditary 'ownership' of the shrines and shortly afterwards the administration of the two shrines was combined under a centrally-appointed priesthood. After the Meiji emperor visited Ise in 1869, the first such imperial visit for a thousand years, other shrines were required to align their rites with the reformed ritual calendar (nenchu gyoji) devised for Ise and to worship Ise deities. All citizens were expected to enshrine a taima amulet of the Ise kami in their home altar; symbolically each household therefore became a branch shrine of Ise. Finally, Urata, Nagatami (1840-1893) a priest of Ise planned to establish a satellite Ise shrine (daijingu or kotai jingu) in every prefecture. About seventy such shrines were established, most of them conversions of existing sites. In the postwar period Ise retains an ambiguous character. On the one hand, it retains the role of imperial household shrine and is identified with the emperor and indirectly with the government; the prime minister customarily visits Ise with his new cabinet. Thus Ise attracts patriotic devotion, but it does not see itself as a shrine which is meant to cater for public tastes. On the other hand, because the imperial household does not have the means to support Ise (the shikinen sengu of 1993 cost around US$30m) the shrine has been since 1945 (see Shinto Directive) a self-supporting shrine like any other, financed by donations from branch shrines, visitors and supporters and therefore depending for its success on its appeal to a broad public. Because a pilgrimage visit to Ise has, under the Confucian-style influence of later Watarai Shinto, been considered an act of religious merit and spiritual benefit since the Tokugawa period, Ise jingu and shrines in the vicinity such as the Saruda-hiko jinja or the Futami okitami jinja remain a focus for popular, though by no means universal, religious devotion. Ise thus unites, or perhaps blurs the distinction between, the pre-war understanding of Shinto as a systematised national cult focusing on the divine emperor and embracing all Japanese citizens as ujiko, and the contemporary notion, enshrined in the new 1947 Constitution, of Shinto as a religion separate from the state.
A Popular Dictionary of Shinto. Brian Bocking.