Do you know Japanese traditional festivals make gods happy?
Who are Japanese Shinto gods?
Shinto is the indigenous and unique religion of Japan without a recognized founder, which is characterized by nature worship without any bibles.
Gods are called "KAMI" in Japanese. There has been a belief that invisible "YAOROZU-NO-KAMI" (i.e., some eight millions of Japanese gods) dwell in the every living thing such as mountains, waterfalls, large rocks and large trees.
Don't be surprised! Eight millions of "KAMI" in Japan!
These natural features have been the objects to worship since ancient times in Japan.
What are the traditional Japanese Festivals?
Each region has its own god. For example, it is their local guardian living in the local mountain, a god related to a specific category like the god in Osaka for safety voyage, or brother & sister gods like three female gods enshrined in Miyajima.
Ancient people prayed the gods for good harvest in spring and appreciated them for the results in autumn. They also prayed for no natural disasters in summer.
The belief developed into the traditions to worship at shrines and appreciate the gods for the blessings by holding local festivals.
In the festivals, they carried "MIKOSHI (portable shrine), "DASHI(float decorated with various objects)", played "KAGURA", "SUMO" and had processions in the unique costume. These are all the Shinto rituals and to make the gods happy!
Is Shinto a religion for Japanese?
The above yearly events and the related daily behaviors were naturally implemented into Japanese daily lives. So, people regard Shinto as Japanese traditional customs rather than a religion these days.
In reality we put up "SHIMEKAZARI" at the entrance in New Year, go to Shrine for worship, draw "OMIKUJI (fortune teller)" and buy "OMAMORI (lucky charm)" without feeling any religion but these are the actions to welcome the God of Year.
What's the relationship with Buddhism?
Buddhism was born in India to enshrine Buddha, then came to Japan through China about 1,500 years ago whereas Shinto had already been born much earlier. Buddhism and Shinto are different in the birth, but interestingly they had been going together in the same precincts for over 1,000 years.
Shinto gods could accept Buddha as one of eight millions of Shinto gods. It's so kind of them!
They were again separated 150 years ago for a political reason when Japan governance was transferred from Samurai to the emperor. It's a long story, if you come to Hiroshima, I will provide some added details!
New "KAMI" born in the modern Japanese times
There are different types of KAMI continuously born in Japan. For example, the music back band of BABY METAL (hard rock music) is called "KAMI-band", the very exciting PS4 game is called "KAMI-ge", and the good applications for mobile phones are called "KAMI-apuri". The hands of great surgeons are called "KAMI-no-te (skilled hands).
The people and objects that have either super-special skills or super-amazing features are allowed to have the word "KAMI" on the top of their names. They are highly respected by the specific people. You can use the word of "KAMI" when talking to your Japanese friends.
So, if you have a chance to participate in Japanese festivals, please definitely ask who the god is, so that you can get the blessing.