観光 KANKOU Episode 1: Places of Kami

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Published on Nov 11, 2017
観光 KANKOU is our series on cultural experience. Many profound cultural experiences become obvious when you get the chance to be present, immersed in that culture's circumstances-- in each episode we're trying to capture some of that impression which cultural immersion can make.

In Episode 1: Place of the Kami, we're looking at the religion culture in Japan.

Shinto, the religion unique to Japan, has no foundation scripture which describes a specific cosmology for the world. Instead, Shinto is a collection of myths and practices which point out the feeling of awe and wonder as a proof that there is a world of supernatural activity in the world that often goes unnoticed. Shinto shrines are built whenever a community finds a place that reliably leaves visitors dumbstruck by natural aesthetics that seem somehow more than natural; the shrine helps remind the visitor to take note of the place and recognize the presence of a supernatural, the Kami. In the episode we visit Fushimi Inari Taisha in Kyoto, and stop at a shrine built to house a group of headstones.

Buddhism came to Japan with Confucianism, delivered by traveling Chinese scholars. The introduction of Chinese philosophy to Japan instigated the formation of Japan's first schools of thought, and drove the construction of Buddhist temples across the country. Buddhist practice became so important to Japan that during the 400 year Heian Period, scholars established a mode of Shinto which identified famous Kami in the collected Shinto myths as Bodhisattvas named in schools of Esoteric Buddhism. The scholars claimed the Esoteric Buddhist cosmology to complete Shinto as a well-rounded religion, and created a single official religion for Japan. In the episode we visit Todai-Ji Temple in Nara; Nara was once the capital of the Japanese empire, where the world's largest wooden structure was built to house the world's largest bronze Buddha.

Hope you enjoy the visit!

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