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Old 05-15-2004, 12:56 PM   #1
taras
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Question Dedication of Kamiza

We recently moved into a new dojo and are in process of building a new Kamiza. My Sensei asked me to find out about the dedication/consecration of Kamiza. I believe there is a ceremony or a prayer, but that is about all I know.

I would be very greatfull if anyone could direct me to any info about this. Thank you.
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Old 05-15-2004, 10:12 PM   #2
Williamross77
 
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Re: Dedication of Kamiza

this once happened in our school, it was simply the Shinto ritual of clapping three times and bowing, but repeated three times. it was performed by the visiting Godan, who had traveled quite extensively and who actually had brought the kamiza which he offered as a gift to our school. we have always been grateful and to this day we continue the shorter shinto ritual with three claps and rei but only once , in the beginning of class and once in the closing. we often do add incense to the current kamiza were we also have a pagoda and a fountain, IE elemental representations.

in Aiki
Agatsu!!
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Old 05-16-2004, 08:14 AM   #3
Fred Little
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Re: Dedication of Kamiza

kamiza = god seat [shinto usage]

shinden = god transmission (place) [shinto usage]

tokonoma = space of display [general usage]

butsudan = buddha shelf [buddhist usage]



Are you seating or enshrining gods? Or are you simply providing a physical focal point for the dojo in general and the bowing at the beginning and end of practice in particular?

It makes a big difference.

In usual circumstances, incense would not be burned before a kamiza or a shinden, though it might be used for a tokonoma in some circumstances as a matter of simple aesthetics, and would almost certainly be appropriate at a butsudan. Similarly, while flowers are often used in buddhist altars, shinto altars generally use bunches of particular greens. In the US, it is sometimes possible to find a florist selling a green sold under the name "ruscus" which is quite close to the traditional sakaki branches.

Use of incense in overtly Shinto practices seems to be an indicator of previous mixing between local practices and Buddhism, and is fairly unusual. Ditto flowers.

If your instructor's intention is to consecrate a kamiza, he should find himself a shinto priest. If he wishes to consecrate a butsudan -- which is also quite traditional in many East Asian dojo -- he should find himself an ordained buddhist priest.

But a tokonoma doesn't require professional help or signify alignment with any particular tradition; it is my view that most American dojo have tokonoma rather than kamiza or butsudan. That's just fine.

This is quite appropriate in a public dojo in a secular society. Whatever one's beliefs, one can always quite sensibly simply keep the tokonoma and the dojo clean and beautiful, forget about the sectarian intricacies, and take the attitude that whatever individual beliefs we hold, in an aikido dojo it is the sincere aikido practice that occurs before the tokonoma that is the real continuing act of consecration of significance.

Nine times out of ten, the rest is mere exoticism.

Hope this helps,

Fred Little
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Old 05-16-2004, 02:43 PM   #4
Don_Modesto
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Re: Dedication of Kamiza

Quote:
Fred Little wrote:
kamiza = god seat [shinto usage]

shinden = god transmission (place) [shinto usage]

tokonoma = space of display [general usage]

butsudan = buddha shelf [buddhist usage]
Hi, Fred. A question, if I may: Where does KAMIDANA fit in this? William Bodiford was kind enough to answer a query of mine with this: "Kamidana typically serve to establish a concrete link to a particular Shinto institution (jinja, jingu, taisha, etc.). Maintaining this link requires regular ritual performances. Training halls that do not want to maintain links to a particular shrine do not need a kamidana."

Thanks.

Don J. Modesto
St. Petersburg, Florida
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Old 05-17-2004, 01:54 AM   #5
Mark Jewkes
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Re: Dedication of Kamiza

Hi everybody

in my dojo we use the term "shomen" simply meaning "front". Centered between the Japanese and the danish flag is a shelf with pictures of O-Sensei, Nishio Sensei. Beside the shelf hangs a calligraphy of "Take Musu Aiki". I agree with Fred, that aiki dojos should be secular, avoiding conflicts for Christian, Muslim or Jewish students. After all aikido is not a religion even though it is a perfect addition to any religious practice.

regards
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Old 05-17-2004, 07:32 AM   #6
taras
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Re: Dedication of Kamiza

I am confused by all the terminology. Ours is called Kamiza, so I presume it is a Kamiza we want. We do not practice Shinto, but if this is where Kamiza comes from then no one in the dojo would have a problem honoring the tradition.

My sensei said that if we dedicate the Kamiza as it is supposed to be done, maybe Osensei will smile on our dojo. I am pretty sure none of us expects signs and wonders following the ceremony, neither will it improve our technique.

My question was: is there is recognised ceremony/prayer for dedication of a Kamiza, and if there is can someone please direct me to a source of info on the subject.

P.S. I couldn't find a Shinto priest near where I am.
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Old 05-17-2004, 01:38 PM   #7
Fred Little
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Re: Dedication of Kamiza

don:

za = sit or seat, same as suwar(u) in suwariwaza

dana = shelf

kamidana and kamiza are often used interchangably, though there are nuances of difference.

narrowly speaking, the shelf on which the shrine is placed could be regarded as the kamidana, while one might view only the place within the shrine where the consecrated objects rest as the kamiza, or one might view those objects themselves as the kamiza.

in the case of a waterfall, special rock or tree which is regarded as a holy site, kamidana doesn't strictly apply, though the natural object itself might be referred to as a "kamiza" or 'shinden"

in addition to its specific application to the shrine itself, kamiza also has the broader meaning of "seat of honor," the seat closest to central feature of a room, whether butsudan, kamidana, or tokonoma. another broader meaning might refer to the entire area immediately proximate to the central feature. so the meaning of kamiza, kamidana, and shinden are all very context dependent.

generally, as dr. bodiford notes, home shrines and the like do have an object (or objects) procured at a specific shinto shrine and/or blessed by a shinto priest, certain routine rituals are conducted to keep the shrine "alive and clean" and thereby keep the connection back to the main shrine "alive and clean."

otherwise, what we're talking about is likely to be just a little home-brew rootwork with a Japanese stylistic influence. such things may be done well or badly, with or without respect. there are lay traditions within shinto, but those practitioners grew up in a shinto cultural matrix with its own patterns of transmission, which is a rather different thing than adopting/adapting shinto practices to another cultural context with very limited knowledge and information about what is being adopted and whether or not the adaptation is appropriate. without the involvement of an priest, institutional initiate, private initiate, or self-initiated shaman/ness, setting up a shinto shrine is problematic.

for my part, i feel fairly strongly that the use of ritual texts, ritual objects, and ritual practices drawn from differing cultural backgrounds is something about which one should be rather careful, both out of respect for the root tradition, and respect for whatever potentialities they are intended to make manifest, psychologically or otherwise.

by way of comparison, consider that one might have a kitchen that has been organized and maintained according to jewish dietary law, but without the appropriate involvement of a rabbi, it's still not kosher, and it's not right to say that it is kosher.

none of the above is a comment on the sincerity of the original poster or his instructor. rather, it is intended as a gloss on the issues raised by the question. i hope that the gloss is useful to the general readership.

i have not included information on shinto in america (and thus, information in english) simply because i have no personal familiarity with the practitioners who are out there, though they're fairly few and easy to find.

hope this helps,

fred little

Last edited by Fred Little : 05-17-2004 at 01:43 PM.
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Old 05-17-2004, 02:17 PM   #8
akiy
 
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Re: Dedication of Kamiza

Quote:
Fred Little wrote:
in addition to its specific application to the shrine itself, kamiza also has the broader meaning of "seat of honor," the seat closest to central feature of a room, whether butsudan, kamidana, or tokonoma.
In this case, of course, the kanji character for "kami" is "upper" rather than "deity." (I'm sure Fred knows this -- just a footnote for those who might not...)

-- Jun

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Old 05-17-2004, 02:30 PM   #9
Don_Modesto
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Re: Dedication of Kamiza

Quote:
Jun Akiyama wrote:
In this case, of course, the kanji character for "kami" is "upper" rather than "deity." (I'm sure Fred knows this -- just a footnote for those who might not...)

-- Jun
Huh! Those pesky homonyms!

Uh! Ah...er,...

...I knew that!

Don J. Modesto
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Old 05-17-2004, 03:59 PM   #10
Fred Little
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Re: Dedication of Kamiza

Quote:
Jun Akiyama wrote:
In this case, of course, the kanji character for "kami" is "upper" rather than "deity." (I'm sure Fred knows this -- just a footnote for those who might not...)

-- Jun
Thanks for pointing that out Jun!

It's more than a footnote or a pesky homonym, actually. This is a good example to look at for one of the reasons I advise caution in adaptation of religious texts.

Historically speaking, many Japanese could not read kanji. So for those who didn't read kanji, what you have is less two words that sound alike than a meaning cluster associated with one sequence of sounds.

Or looked at another way, while a reader will quite correctly point out (as Jun has) that the two distinct meanings are DENOTED differently in writing, each DENOTATION still carries a trace of the other meaning as a CONNOTATION. Even when clearly and explicitly distinguished in writing, the implicit connection remains.

Witness my first post, sometimes even a reader will have the connotation come to mind first. And in many cases, ritual texts and tranmission scrolls are written so as to be fully intelligible only to someone who has been given the inner teachings of a -ryu or -shu, teachings which may include alternative kanji for the same "word." Professor Susan Klein has done significant work in this area in relation to the Ise Monogatari and a variety of guides to the craft of poetry in medieval Japan which goes into such questions in some detail.


On the other hand, even without such homonyms, a lot of these kinds of meaning clusters carry across cultures. Think of the emphasis on keeping the kamiza/kamidana/shinden area clean

Then compare:

"Aikido is misogi."

"Aikido is a means of aligning oneself with the kami."

with something you may have heard years before you started training in aikido:

"Cleanliness is next to godliness."

hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

Hope this helps,

Fred Little
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Old 05-24-2004, 04:52 PM   #11
Don_Modesto
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Re: Dedication of Kamiza

Quote:
Don J. Modesto wrote:
William Bodiford was kind enough to answer a query of mine with this: "Kamidana typically serve to establish a concrete link to a particular Shinto institution (jinja, jingu, taisha, etc.). Maintaining this link requires regular ritual performances. Training halls that do not want to maintain links to a particular shrine do not need a kamidana."
Sorry. This quote ought to read,

"In contemporary Japan…Kamidana serve to establish a link to a particular Shinto institution (jinja, jingu, taisha, etc.)...."

Thanks.

Don J. Modesto
St. Petersburg, Florida
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Old 08-12-2004, 06:24 PM   #12
Zasshu
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Re: Dedication of Kamiza

[quote=Fred Little]don:
for my part, i feel fairly strongly that the use of ritual texts, ritual objects, and ritual practices drawn from differing cultural backgrounds is something about which one should be rather careful, both out of respect for the root tradition, and respect for whatever potentialities they are intended to make manifest, psychologically or otherwise.

by way of comparison, consider that one might have a kitchen that has been organized and maintained according to jewish dietary law, but without the appropriate involvement of a rabbi, it's still not kosher, and it's not right to say that it is kosher.


This is me being anal.
My kitchen is perfectly kosher, and no rabbi was involved. I merely follow the laws, rituals, suggestions, and traditions in setting it up.
Kosher is defined as fit or acceptable.
While many Shinto/Buddhist rituals may require supervision to be acceptable (kosher!) many in not most things do not require a rabbi.
Marriage, circumcision , personal food preparation etc.

Gavriel
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Old 12-16-2004, 04:44 PM   #13
Zasshu
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Re: Dedication of Kamiza

Fred,

Looking back you made a really good point.
]\
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Old 12-17-2004, 02:13 PM   #14
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Dedication of Kamiza

This is the man to talk to. He is a Shinto Priest and an old friend of mine. I am sure he can help you with suggestions of what to do.

Contact: Rev. Koichi Barrish
Tsubaki Kannagara Jinjya
17720 Crooked Mile Rd. - Granite Falls, WA 98252
ph. 360-691-6389 - fax. 360-691-6389
email: Kannagara@prodigy.net

- George

George S. Ledyard
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