View Full Version : Kamidana, Heart of the traditional Dojo

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Rev.K. Barrish
06-12-2008, 04:19 PM
Hello Aiki Web members,
Today we had two requests at Tsubaki Grand Shrine of America regarding Kamidana (Shinto Shrine for Dojo or home). Often people are interested in such Shrine as they really are the "heart" of the traditional Dojo. So I thought to share some information of history and meaning of Kamidana….
History of the Kamidana
The Kamidana exists to house the Ofuda (yearly symbol of Okami). Having the Kamidana/Oyashiro in your home, office or dojo generates a truly wonderful fresh feeling. Everyone can go outside in the morning, bow and clap and give thanks to Taiyo (Sun/solar progenitor) Shinto teaches us that we receive our lives from Amaterasu Omikami (Primal Amatsu Kami) and it Sarutahiko-no-Okami who teches us how to live (Primal Kunitsu Kami) When we can sincerely thank the Sun for giving/sustaining our lives we are experiencing Shinto thinking/feeling.
Amaterasu-Omikami was enshrined at the Grand Shrine of Ise in Mie prefecture. She was given sacred treasures by her father "Izanagi-no-Mikoto". These treasures where to be enshrined as Kami. The present Kamidana has a deep relationship to the Grand Shrine of Ise. The Grand Shrine of Ise or "Jingu" is in Ise city in Mie. Jingu is composed of a large number of small shrines, centered around "Kotaijingu" and "Toyouke-Daijingu"...it is the largest and most revered of all Shinto shrines in Japan. Kotaijingu (Naiku) enshrines Amaterasu-Omikami, head of all heavenly (amatsu) kami and deity of the sun. In the divine age (Kamiyo) when the heavenly grandson Ninigi-no-Mikoto descended from the Great Plain of Heaven he brought with him the great gift of rice agriculture, the gift of Amaterasu-Omikami. Toyouke-Daijingu (Geku) enshrines Toyouke-no-Okami. The deity of food as the source of life and patron Kami of those occupations responsible for providing food, clothing and dwellings. The purpose of the "O-Ise-mairi"or pilgrimage to Ise is to express gratitude for these blessings and to approach the shrine of the "solar progenitor" or parent to our solar system upon whom we depend for our lives. In the Edo period "Ise-Kou" or fraternal groups formed in every part of Japan. When a pilgramage was made to Jingu the amulet or "Oharai-taima" was taken home. These Oharai-taima were also distributed throughout Japan by the Ise-Kou or "Onshi "system. The "Daijingu-dana" or special house shrine was set up to enshrine the amulets of the Grand Shrine of Ise. This practise was the origin of todays House shrine or "Kamidana".
First, purify the site. Before setting up the Kamidana you must clean (purify) your home. Choose a site that is pure, light, quiet and high. Also it should be
where the family gathers, convenient for making food offerings to Kami, convenient for daily prayers, on the North or West wall (so Kamidana-san's doors open to the South or East) If there is a floor above the Kamidana it is best to write the word "Kumo" (sky) on a peice of paper and place it above the Kamidana so people upstairs will not be walking over the Kamidana. Please place the Kamidana just above head height on each side of the Kamidana please place evergreen banches in the special vase (sakaki tate). A special straw rope (shimenawa) with paper shapes (shide) should be above the Kamidana.
T he kamidana must have the Ofuda, or amulet (the yearly symbol of the enshrined Kami). There are many types of Ofuda as there are many shrines in Japan.
Tsubaki Grand Shrine has three types of Ofuda: Jingu Taima, the Ofuda of AMATERASU OMIKAMI (Kami of the Sun). Tsubaki Grand Shrine Ofuda of SARUTAHIKONOOKAMI ( Ancestor of all Earthly Kami and Guardian of Aikido). Tsubaki Gishi Jinja, Ofuda of AMENOUZUMENOMIKOTO (Kami of Divine movement, meditation, harmony and arts and wife of Sarutahikonookami). Each year please return your old amulets to the shrine to be purified and burned in January Koshinsatsutakiageshiki ritual and receive the new one.
Food offerings to Kami are called "Shinsen". Generally shinsen consists of rice (kome), rice wine (sake/O-miki), water (Omizu), and salt (Oshio). These should be changed daily. After you remove the food offering you may eat them (naorae). Shinsen dishes are special and can be obtained from a shrine.
After "kensen" food offering, please face the kamidana and enshrined deity, give gratitude for the gifts of life and pledge to do your utmost. Then bow
twice, clap twice and bow once again.

For those interested, Tsubaki Grand Shrine of America has many types of Kamidana available as well as Ofuda (yearly symbol of Okami), Kagami (sacred Shinto Mirror), Shinki and Ozen (food offering vessels and trays) and all associated supplies…Tsubaki Shrine staff can also travel to install Kamidana and purify Dojo. To see available Kamidana please go to www.TsubakiShrine.org and follow links to supplies and then Kamidana.
Yoroshiku onegaishimasu
Koichi Barrish
Tsubaki America Grand Shrine Senior Priest

06-12-2008, 09:37 PM
Thank you for the very interesting information!

Would you mind if I (or someone else) puts the above into the AikiWeb AikiWiki (http://www.aikiweb.com/wiki/)?


-- Jun