Abe Clan 安倍氏: Originated in Iga Province, today’s Mie-ken, and it is one of the oldest of major Japanese clans. The Nihon Shoki tells us that it originated with a son of the legendary Emperor Kogen (273 BC- 158 BC). Legend further has it that someone by the name of Abi, related to the Iga Abe’s, resisted the first legendary Emperor Jimmu’s expansion into the Yamato plain. His failure in this resulted in the Abe Clan moving into the Mutsu and Dewa Provinces in what is now Tohoku. The clan consolidated its position there, before suffering a crushing defeat by the Minamoto Clan in the Early Nine Years' War in 1063.
Ame-no-Hohi-mikoto天穂日命: Considered to be the ancestral Kami of the Izumo clans.
Ame-no-Murakumo-no-Tsurugi (Sword of the Gathering Cloud of Heaven) 天叢雲剣: One of the Three Imperial Regalia). Ashikaga Shogunate 足利幕府: The second of Japan’s three Shogunates, established in 1336 and overthrown in 1573.
Ashikaga Takauji 足利 尊氏 (1305-1358)
Ashikaga Yoshiakira 足利 義詮 (1330-1367)
Ashikaga Yoshimitsu 足利 義満 (1358-1408)
Ashikaga Yoshimochi 足利 義持 (1386-1428)
Ashikaga Yoshikazu 足利 義量 (1407-1425)
… Ashikaga Yoshiaki 足利 義昭 (1537-1597)
Aston, William George (1841-1911): Born in Ireland, in 1864 became a student interpreter in the British Legation in Japan. In 1884 he passed the entrance exam for the British Consular Service and served in Tokyo, Kobe, and Nagasaki. He was one of the original British scholars of Japanese culture and is probably best known for his 1896 translation of the Nihongi.
Bakufu 幕府: lit. “tent government.” It is another name for the Shogunate.
Betto-ji 別当寺: lit. "temple in a separate place." During the Edo Period, when the peaceful coexistence of Shinto and Buddhism was still very much the rule, a betto-ji was a temple to which the management of a usually nearby shrine was entrusted.
Big Three Vengeful Ghosts 大三怨霊: Taira Masakado, Sugawara Michizane, and Emperor Sutoku (reigned 1123-1142).
Bosatsu (Sanskrit Bodhisattva) 菩薩: lit. "enlightenment being.” A Buddhist term indicating a person who has achieved spiritual enlightenment but defers attaining Buddhahood until all sentient beings have been saved.
Boshin War 戊辰戦争: A civil war fought in 1868-1869 between forces loyal to the Tokugawa Bakufu and disaffected samurai and others who wanted to restore power to the emperor.
Bunrei 分霊: (also read as “wakamitama.”) lit. “divide spirit.” One of the most important concepts of Shinto. The basic concept is that the spirit of a Kami from one shrine, essentially the Kami itself, can be replicated in another shrine, with no diminution of the power of the original Kami, and with the replicated Kami retaining the power of the original Kami. The actual ceremony of replicating the Kami is known as kanjō.
Central Land of Reed-Plains 葦原の中つ国
Chamberlain, Basil Hall (1850-1935): Taught at the Imperial Naval School in Tokyo from 1874 to 1882, and from 1886 was a professor of Japanese at Tokyo Imperial University. In 1882 his translation of the Kojiki was published.
Daikokuten大黒天: One of the Seven Lucky Gods.
Daimyo 大名: Feudal lords whose extensive landholdings gave them effective control of large parts of the country in the millennium prior to the Meiji Restoration.
Dannoura, Battle of 壇ノ浦の戦い: A naval battle between the Minamoto and Taira clans which took place on April 25, 1185 in the Shimonoseki Straits between Honshu and Kyushu. Resulting in complete victory for the Minamoto forces commanded by Minamoto Yoshitsune, it ended the Taira attempt to control all of Japan and paved the way for Yoshitsune’s half-brother, Yoritomo, to establish the Kamakura Shogunate shortly afterwards.
Early Nine Years' War 前九年の役: (1051-1063) A war fought in Mutsu Province in northern Japan between the Minamoto Clan acting for the imperial government and the Abe Clan (p.134) which ended in defeat for the latter. The Minamoto forces, which received support from the Kiyohara Clan (p.139) of the neighbouring Dewa Province, were commanded by Minamoto Yoriyoshi and his son Yoshiie. After the Minamoto withdrew the Kiyohara took control of Mutsu.
Ebisu 恵比寿: One of the Seven Lucky Gods and the only one of purely Japanese origin. Along with Daikokuten he is the most popular of the Seven. He seems originally to have been the Kami of fishermen and later came to be seen as bestowing good luck and prosperity. He is also identified with Kotoshiro, the son of Okuninushi.
Edo San Mori 江戸三森: lit. “The Three Edo Groves.” A group of three shrines whose names all end in “mori.” They are Karasumori Inari, Yanagimori Jinja in Chiyoda-ku, and Sugimori Jinja in Chuo-ku.
Edo Machikatakiage 江戸町方書上: Also known as
Eight Thunder Kami 八の雷神
Emishi 蝦夷: also referred to as Ebisu or Ezo. An ethnic group which populated the northeast of Japan in the region now known as Tohoku. In 774 the Yamato court began attempts to militarily subjugate the Emishi, but it was not until 811 that the court felt able to declare success.
Engi-Shiki 延喜式: A 50-volume compendium of the laws and regulations of Japan at the time of the Engi Era (901-923). Inclusion in the compendium is the true seal of antiquity for any shrine in Japan. Books 6-10 deal with shrine governance in all its aspects, particularly Shinto’s position in the Imperial structure, and books 9-10 are listings by regions of the 2,681 shrines receiving some kind of imperial designation as of 927 when the work was completed. A total of 3,121 Kami were enshrined in the 2,681 shrines.
Ennin 圓仁 Posthumous name, Jikaku Daishi, 慈覚大師. A monk of the Tendai sect. When he was 14 he entered the Tendai monastery of Enryaku-ji on Mt. Hiei. He spent the years 838-847 in T'ang China studying the doctrines of esoteric Buddhism under three different masters. During his stay in China he kept an intensive diary and on his return to Japan it was published in four volumes under the title "Record of a Pilgrimage to China in Search of the Laws." In 854 he became the third abbot of Enryaku-ji and hence of the Tendai sect.
En no Gyoja 役行者 (634-(700-707): Also, and more correctly, known as En no Ozunu; “Gyoja” means ascetic and that was his calling. He is usually considered to be the founder of Shugendo. In 1799 he was given the posthumous name of Shinpen Daibosatsu by the imperial court to celebrate the 1100th anniversary of his death. Shinpen means miracle, and reflects En no Gyoja’s reputation to work miracles based on the various strengths deriving from his strict mountain asceticism.
Five Wisdom Kings 五大明王: From esoteric Buddhism, also known as the Five Kings of Knowledge. Aizen-Myoo 愛染明王 (Sanskrit: Rāgarāja) Fudo-Myoo 不動明王 (Sanskrit: Arya Acala/ Acalanātha) Gozanze Myoo 降三世明王 (Sanskrit: Trailokyavijaya) Gundari Myoo 軍荼利明王 (Sanskrit: Amrtakundalin) Kongoyasha Myoo 金剛夜叉明王 (Sanskrit: Vajrayakṣa)
Floating Bridge of Heaven天之浮橋
Flowers of Edo 江戸の花: Actually part of a proverb “Fire and quarrels are the flowers of Edo” (火事と喧嘩は江戸の花). Living cheek by jowl in cramped wooden houses the notoriously quick-tempered inhabitants of Edo often quarrelled with each other, and the living conditions meant that fires were easily sparked off. I have seen no estimates for the number of quarrels that happened in Edo, but between 1600 and 1855 there were fifteen recognised major fires and many smaller ones. The death toll of possibly as high as 107,000 for the Great Meireki Fire makes it by far the worst of all Edo’s fires. Fatality counts were usually in the hundreds, but two fires, in 1722 and 1855, claimed over 10,000 victims, possibly as high as 14,700 and 26,000 respectively.
Fujiwara Clan: Descended from Ame-no-Koyane-no-mikoto (2-9, 5-1) through the Nakatomi Clan and was founded in 868 by Nakamori Kamatami when the 38th Emperor, Tenji, awarded him the surname "Fujiwara." The Five Regent Houses (五摂家) Konoe 近衛家 Kujo 九条家 Nijo 二条家 Ichijo 一条家 Takatsukasa 鷹司家 Individuals Hidesato 藤原秀郷 Kamatami 藤原鎌足 Masahiro藤原政平 Tokihira 藤原時平
Fujizuka 富士塚: (lit. "Fuji Mound")
Fukurokuju 福禄: One of the Seven Lucky Gods
Gongen 権現: (lit. "incarnation") Indicates the appearance of a Buddha as a native Japanese Kami dedicated to lessening the suffering of mankind, and hence an integral component of the Honji Suijaku theory.
Great Kanto Earthquake関東大地震: An earthquake which struck the Kanto plain in central Honshu at two minutes before noon on Saturday, September 1, 1923, and was probably the most destructive in the country’s earthquake-prone history. Its magnitude on the Richter scale was 7.9. In addition to the damage caused by the initial quake itself and the 2,000 or so aftershocks that followed, fires caused untold havoc. Within thirty minutes of the original quake more than 130 fires were raging in Tokyo, with more in surrounding areas, and by the time the fires had burnt themselves out on September 3 about 45% of the city is thought to have been destroyed. Around two million people were left homeless and fatalities are estimated at over 120,000. Great Meireki Fire 明暦の大火: A fire which burnt for three days from January 18 in 1657. It is estimated to have destroyed 60%-70% of Edo and caused anything from 30,000 to over 100,000 deaths: the city’s population at the time was about 300,000. Subsequent reconstruction work saw the radius of Edo centred on the castle double from 8 km to 16 km.
Great Tokyo Firebombing 東京大空襲: On March 9, 1945, 334 U.S B29 bombers dropped a total of 1,667 tons of incendiary bombs on Tokyo in the most destructive conventional air raid of WWII. Over 100,000 people were killed, with multiples of that number injured, and it is estimated 267,000 buildings were destroyed. This raid, codenamed Operation Meetinghouse, was just one part of the extended bombing of Japan, which ended with atom bombs being dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and 9 1945 respectively.
Gyōki 行基: (668-749)
Born into a wealthy family in Nara and became a monk at the age of 15. In 1704 he quit the monastic life and on going to Kyōto dedicated his life to serving the people rather than the state and the people. He quickly won the public trust but his activities led to persecution at the hands of the government, but he was later pardoned. In 745 he became the first priest to be given the rank of Daisōjō.
Haniwa 埴輪 Terracotta clay figures made for ritual use and buried with the dead as funerary objects during the Kofun period.
Imperial Court Eight Gods 宮中八神: Omiya-me-kami 大宮売神 , Takami-musubi-Kami 高産日神・Kami-musubi-Kami 神産日神, Iku-Musubi-Kami 生産日神, Taru-musubi-Kami 足産日神, Koto-shiro-nushi-Kami事代主神, Tama-tsume-musubi-Kami 玉積産日神, Miketsu-Kami 御食津神
Japan's Top Three Float Festivals 日本三大曳山祭: Kyoto's Gion Festival (祇園祭), Gifu-ken's Hida Takayama Festival (,飛騨高山祭) and Saitama-ken's Chichibu Night Festival (秩父夜祭).
Jingikan 神祇管:"Department of Divinities." Established in the eight century to oversee Shintō clergy and rituals. It was in operation until 1585, when the building housing it was demolished. It was reinstated in 1869, but abolished in 1945 by the US occupation authorites. Some of its functions were taken over by the Association of Shintō Shrines.
Jingū 神宮：a shrine closely related to the Imperial Family, usually refers to a shrine affiliated with Ise Jingū
Jingūji 神宮寺 Temples built adjacent to or in the grounds of shrines, as part of the Shinbutsu Shugo movement.
Jinja Gōshi 神社合祀令 Shrine Merger Order: Enacted in December 1906 the Shrine Merger Order was designed to merge or close shrines with the aim of having just one shrine in each town or village. Its purpose was to strengthen the organizational and financial underpinnings of Shintō and it was successful to the extent that of the 190,000 shrines registered in 1906 just 130,000 remained in 1914 and by 1926 the number had fallen to 113,000.
Jinja Honchō 神社本庁:
Jinja-meisaicho (the official Shinto shrine register authorized by the Meiji Government)
Jinshin War 壬申の乱: A war of succession fought in July and August 672 following the death of Emperor Tenji. It ended with the accession of Emperor Tenmu to the throne and the weakening of some of the clans truying to take control of the country.
Kamakura Shogunate 鎌倉幕府: The first of Japan’s three Shogunates, established in 1185 and overthrown in 1333.
Kanei-ji 寛永寺: A Tendai-sect Buddhist temple which was founded in what is now Ueno Park in 1625. Along with Zoji-ji it was one of the two Tokugawa family temples and was destroyed during the Boshin War of 1868-1869.
Kanjo 勧請 The ceremonial transfer of a divided tutelary deity to a new location.
Kiyohara Clan 清原氏 Probably founded in the eight century, descended from Prince Toneri, son of Emperor Tenmu (631-686). It was particularly strong in Dewa Province, the governorship of which was hereditary to the clan. In the Early Nine Years’ War of 1051-1063 the Kiyohara aided Minamoto Yoriyoshi in the campaign against the Abe Clan. After victory was achieved in 1063 the Kiyohara took over the governorship of Mutsu Province as well, but bitter internecine struggles between the three main branch leaders of the clan led to the outbreak of the Later Three Years’ War and the defeat of the Kiyohara by Minamoto Yoshiie. Iehira 家衡 Masahira 真衡 Narihira 成衡
Koku 石: a measure of volume, approx. 180.39 litres. One koku of rice was considered sufficient to feed one person for a year.
Kōshintō 庚申塔: A type of stone monument which originated with the Taoist Kōshin faith. They were first introduced to Japan by monks of the Tendai Buddhist sect in the late 10th century, but it was not until the early Edo period that they became the object of a popular faith. They are mostly located in shrines and temples, though many can be found by the roadside. They are often found as Massha in shrines and are often dedicated to Saruta-hiko-kami (115). The meaning of the first character of this kami's name, Saru 猿, means "monkey," and the three wise monkeys are often carved on the Kōshintō The oldest surviving one which can be reliably dated is that in the Jissoji temple in Kawaguchi-shi in Saitama-ken, it dates to 1471.
Kozuke Province 上野国: The area now known as Gunma Prefecture.
Kukai 空海 (774-835): posthumously known as Kobo Daishi 弘法大師. A buddhist monk. He studied in China from 804-806 and on his return to Japan he founded the esoteric Buddhist sect, Shingon.
Kumano Sansha 熊野三社 :lit. the Three Kumano Shrines. They are, 1) Kumano-hongu Taisha, 2) Kumano-hayatama Taisha, and, 3) Kumano-nachi-Taisha
Kumaso 熊襲: An ethnic group of Austronesian descent which populated what are now Miyazaki and Kagoshima Prefectures in southern Kyushu.
Kyuchu-yakami 宮中八神: lit. Imperial Court Eight Gods. They are Kami-musubi-Kami 神産日神, Takami-misubi-Kami・高御産日神, ・Tamatsume-musubi-Kami 玉積産日神, Iku-musubi-Kami 生産日神, Taru-musubi-Kami 足産日神, Omiya-me-Kami 大宮売神, Miketsu-Kami 御食津神, Kotoshiro-nushi-Kami.
Land of Yomi 黄泉の国
Late Hojo Clan 後北条氏: Not related to the original Hojo Clan. Its founder, Hojo Soun, adopted what was by then the illustrious name to improve his own clan's image.
Later Three-Years’ War後三年合戦: (1083-1089) After the defeat of the Abe Clan in Mutsu Province by Minamoto Yoritomo and his son Yoshiie in the Early Nine Years’ War, the Kiyohara Clan became dominant and began treating the province as their own fief. There was, however, continual infighting among different branches of the clan led by Kiyohara Masahira, Iehira and Narihira. Minamoto Yoshiie, who had become the Provincial Governor in 1083, decided to put an end to the unrest. After negotiations failed he resorted to war, which ended with the deaths in 1089 of two of the Kiyohara Clan leaders.
Love Live! ラブライブ A multimedia project featuring a group of nine schoolgirl friends who form a singing group to raise funds to prevent their school closing down. There are manga, novels, video games, movies, music recordings featuring the group and in 2016 it was the top selling media franchise in Japan, grossing over ¥8 billion.
Maneki-neko 招き猫: lit. "beckoning cat." Figures of squatting cats beckoning to people with either their left or right front paw. If it is the right paw which is beckoning it is said to be offering luck with money, if the left paw luck with people. Several places claim to be their originator, including the Imado Jinja in Tōkyō's Taitō-ku, Dōtoku Temple in Setagaya-ku, Jishōin Temple in Shinjuju-ku, and Fushimi-Inari Taisha in Kyōtō. The biggest producers of Maneki-neko are to be found in Aichi-ken. September 29 has been officially recognized as Maneki-neko Commemoration Day and on the closest weekend to that day festivals are held in various places.
Miko 巫女 Shrine maiden or assistant priestess. Originated as shamans.
Minamoto Clan 源氏: The name means "origin" or "source" and the clan was one of four that dominated Japan during the Heian Period (794-1185), the others were the Fujiwara, the Tachibana, and the Taira. The clan is also known as the Genji, the Sino-Japanese reading for Minamoto. The name derived from the practice of the emperors demoting people, including some of their own sons and daughters, from the imperial family to the nobility, usually to thin out their own families and cut expenses. The first emperor to do this was the Emperor Saga, who, having reportedly fathered 49 children by at least 30 women, was finding the imperial purse strings exceedingly tight. It seems he gave the name Minamoto to 32 of his sons.
Toru 源融 (822-895): 18th son of Emperor Saga.
Tameyoshi 源為義 (1096-1156): Grandson of Yoshiie and father of Yoshitomo (p.141). Seems to have had 19 sons by at least 16 different women. Commanded the Minamoto forces in the Hogen Rebellion of 1156 in which Yoshitomo was on the other side. (Members of the Fujiwara and Taira clans also found themselves fighting against their own relatives.) The Tameyoshi forces lost and he was beheaded on the orders of Yoshitomo.
Tsunemoto 源經基 (894–961) Founder of the Seiwa Genji branch of the Minamoto Clan. Grandson of Emperor Seiwa and the clan name of Minamoto was bestowed on him by the emperor in 961. Attained the position of Chinjufu-Shogun.
Yoriie 源 頼家 (1182-1204): First son of Yoritomo, and the second Kamakura Shogun.
Yorimasa 源頼政 (1106-1180)
Yorimitsu 源頼光 (948-1021): Along with his brother Yorinobu served as regent for the Fujiwara Clan, for whom the two brothers were essentially military enforcers.
Yorinobu 源頼信 (968-1048): He and his son, Yoriyoshi, commanded the Imperial forces in the Early Nine Years' War.
Yoritomo 源頼朝 (1147-1199): See here Yoriyoshi 源頼義 (988-1075): Son of Yorinobu, and, like his father before him, inherited the title of Chinjufu-Shogun, Commander-in-chief of the Defence of the North, from his father.
Yoshiie 源義家 (1041-1108): First son of Yoriyoshi. Popularly known as Hachimantaro, the God of War, in recognition of his exceptional military skills.
Yoshikuni 源義国 (1091-1155): Son of Yoshiie, father of Yoshishige.
Yoshishige 源義重 (1135-1202): Son of Yoshikuni. The founder of the Nitta branch of the Minamoto Clan. Also attained the office of Chinjufu-shogun, but not until over four centuries after his death in 1611. This was at the instigation of the second Tokugawa Shogun, Hidetada, as part of that clan’s attempts to claim ancestry from the Nitta.
Yoshitomo 源義朝 (1123-1160) Had a total of nine sons, the third of whom, Yoritomo, went on to become Japan's first Shogun. In the Hogen Rebellion of 1156 Yoshitomo sided with the leader of the Taira clan, Taira Kiyomori, against his own Minamoto family led by his father, Tameyoshi. After Kiyomori emerged victorious Yoshitomo was ordered to execute Tameyoshi, but refused. In 1159 Yoshitomo turned against Kiyomori and attempted to seize power in an episode called the Heiji Rebellion. He was soundly defeated, however, and escaped but was later killed while attempting to regroup in Kanto.
Yoshitsune 源義経 (1159-1189: Son of Yoshitomo. Was a brilliant military commander and won many of the victories which allowed his half-brother, Yoritomo, to consolidate power and become Japan’s first Shogun.
Nade-ushi lit. “caress cattle.” These are statues, usually bronze, of cows found at many Tenman/Tenjin Jinja where Sugawara Michizane is enshrined. They memorialise the cow said to have been pulling Michizane's coffin when he was on his way to being buried and which apparently just fell to its knees en route and refused to go any further. If one is in pain, stroking that part of the cow’s body corresponding to where you feel the pain is said to help bring relief. Alternatively, stroking its head is said to revitalize both body and spirit.
Nakatomi Clan 中臣氏 It is not known when this clan was founded, but it claims ancestry from Ame-no-Koyane (5-1, 2-9). It is said that shortly after Emperor Jimmu’s reign started in 660 BC, a Master of Ceremonies whose function was to oversee Shinto rites was appointed, and that from the eighth century the post was held by a Nakatomi family member. The clan’s position in the Shinto world resulted in them being strongly opposed to the introduction of Buddhism in Japan and one of its members, Nakatomi Kamatari, played a key role in the overthrow of the Soga Clan, strong supporters of Buddhism, and in the Taika Reforms of 645. Nikko Tosho-Gu 日光東照宮:A Toshu-Gu is any shrine in which the Kami is Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder of the Tokugawa Shogunate. The National Tosho-Gu Association has 48 such shrines registered with it. The Nikko Toshu-Gu is by far the most important of these as it houses Ieyasu’s tomb. It was constructed in 1617 and along with 102 other shrine and temple buildings in Nikko is included in the Shrines and Temples of Nikko UNESCO World Heritage site.
Oda Nobunaga 織田信長 (1534-1582): The first of Japan’s Three Great Heroes; the other two, Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu, were at one time his retainers. He was born into a minor samurai family in Owari Province, the area which is now Nagano in Aichi-ken. In 1573 he overthrew the Ashikaga Shogunate, and this is now considered to have been the beginning of the end of the Warring States Period. By early 1582 he had brought almost half of Japan under his control but in March of that year he committed seppuku rather than be captured when he was betrayed by vassals led by a retainer, Akechi Mitsuhide.
Ōsaka, Siege of大阪夏の陣: A war fought in 1615-1616 between the Tokugawa Shogunate and the Toyotomi Clan ending in the latter’s defeat and the former’s emergence as the undisputed ruler of Japan.
Ota Dokan 太田道灌 (1432-1486): Prior to becoming a Buddhist monk in 1478 he went by the name of Ota Sukenaga太田資長 . His main claim to fame is as the architect and builder of Edo Castle. He is also credited with having chosen the site of the Akasaka Hikawa Jinja. Dedicated a main hall at what is now Nezu Jinja between 1469 and 1486. The Ota Clan, which originated in Musashi Province in the fifteenth century, claims descent from Minamoto Yorimasu.
Plain of High Heaven 高天原: “Takamagahara.” The abode of the heavenly Gods, connected to Earth by the Floating Bridge of Heaven.
Revere the Emperor, Expel the Barbarians 尊皇攘夷
Russo-Japanese War 日露戦争: A war fought in 1904-1905 between the empires of Russia and Japan over colonial rivalries in Manchuria and Korea. It began with a surprise attack by Japan on the Russian fleet at Port Arthur and ended with Russia’s surrender in September 1905.
Ryo 両: Originally a measure of weight introduced from China. It became a unit of currency and in 1609 the Tokugawa Bakufu set its value at 187 grams of silver. In 1871 It was replaced by the yen and the Bank of Japan estimates its value at that time at ¥120,000-130,000 in modern currency terms.
Sanbiki no kashikoi saru 三匹の賢い猿 "The three wise monkeys." They are Mizaru (見ざる), who sees no evil; Kikazaru (聞かざる), who hears no evil; and Iwazaru (言わざる), who speaks no evil.
Seinan War 西南戦争 Also known as the Satsuma rebellion. Took place in January-September 1877 when samurai who had lost their position and status following reforms by the new Meiji government rebelled against the new government and were decisively defeated.
Sekigahara, Battle of 関ヶ原の戦い A battle which took place on October 21, 1600 and led to the establishment of the Tokugawa Shogunate. Its predecessor, the Ashikaga Shogunate, had been overthrown by Oda Nobunaga in 1573; in 1590 Toyotomi Hideyoshi defeated the Hojo Clan and thus became the de facto ruler of the country. Shortly after this he tried to realize Oda Nobunaga’s dream of conquering China and in order to clear a route to that country launched an invasion of Korea in April 1592. This failed, as did a second attempt in 1597-1598. In September of the latter year Hideyoshi died and this occasioned the withdrawal of Japanese troops from Korea. The Toyotomi clan lost much of its authority as a result of the failures in Korea, and two of Hideyoshi’s top generals were sufficiently dismayed at the situation they found on their return to Japan to switch their allegiance to Tokugawa Ieyasu. This was a significant dimunition of Toyotomi strength and contributed to its defeat at Sekigahara.
Sendaikujihongi 先代旧事本紀: More commonly referred to as the Kujiki. It was thought to be one of the oldest Japanese histories and its ten volumes begin with ancient times and end with Empress Suiko (reigned 592-628).During the mid-Edo Period some scholars successfully contended thst it was in fact an imitation of the Nihon Shoki and the Kojiki, although they did concede that Book 10, the Kokuzo-hongi, may be an authentic earlier history.
Seven Lucky Gods, The 七福神: They are Ebisu, Daikokuten, Bishamonten, Benzaiten, Hotei, Fukurokuju , and Jurojin. They are worshipped in temples as much as shrines and their origins are diverse: Daikokuten, Bishamonten and Benzaiten were originally Buddhist gods, Fukurokujů, and Jurojin come from Taoism. Hotei is the only one of the group who was an actual person, in real life a Zen priest, he died on in March 916, while Ebisu is considered to be of purely Japanese origin. Benzaiten, hailing from India, is the only female among them. They have all been recognized for a millennium or more.
Shinbutsu Bunri 神仏分離: In March 1868 the government issued the Shinbutsu Hanzenrei 神仏判然令 (lit. Distinction between Shinto and Buddhism Order). This was designed to disentangle Shinto and Buddhism and is commonly referred to as the Shinbutsu Bunri policy. Innocuous as the name of the Order may seem, it led to a lot of anti-Buddhist violence: many temples were closed, monks were forcibly defrocked and driven from their temples, temple artefacts and books were destroyed. One of the perhaps ironic side effects of the Order was its deleterious effect on Shinto theology: philosophizing along Buddhist lines was never an element of Shinto and, with what was the effective outlawing of Buddhism, shrine priests found they had so little to say to their parishioners that they were forbidden to preach and forced to restrict themselves to conducting shrine
Shinbutsu Shugo 神仏習合: The peaceful coexistence of Shinto and Buddhism prevalent until the enforcement of Shinbutsu Bunri. Shintai 神体
A detailed 266 volume topographical survey of the Musashi region published between 1809 and 1830. Musashi is the old name for the area covering most of what is now Tōkyō, Kanagawa and Saitama. "Shin-pen" means new edition and was prefixed to the name of the work to distinguish it from the earlier Fudoki described above.
Shogun 将軍 An abbreviation of Sei-I Taishogun 征夷大将軍 (Commander-in-Chief of the Expeditionary Force Against the Barbarians). Its basic meaning is military dictator, and they essentially ruled Japan from 1185 to 1868. Shogunate Government of the Shogun. Also known as Bakufu. The feudal military dictatorships which essentially controlled Japan from 1192 to 1868. There were three Shogunates; the first was the Kamakura Shogunate (1192-1333), the second the Ashikaga Shogunate (1336-1573), and the third and last the Tokugawa Shogunate, which emerged in 1600 and came to an end with the Meiji Restoration in 1868.
Shakaku Seido 社格制度: Shrine Ranking System. In July 1871 the Meiji government set up a new shrine ranking system as part of its State Shintō policy. This superseded an earlier such system and was in turn abolished by SCAP (Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers) following Japan's defeat in WWII. Sitting alone at the very top of the pyramid, and hence not considered to need an official ranking, was Ise Jingū. The three main rankings are Kansha 官社, Shosha 諸社, and Mukakusha 無格社.
Kansha 官社: Probably best translated as "Imperial Shrine." These were shrines where Imperial representatives made Kinen-sai and Niiname-sai offerings to the kami on the Emperor's behalf. Within Kansha there are two sub-divisions,
i) Kanpeisha官幣社, where the offerings came from the Imperial Household Department: 280 of the 80,000 or so of the shrines registered with the Association of Shinto Shrines are Kanpeisha.
Ii) Kokuheisha 国幣社, where the offerings came from the provincial governments. Again broadly speaking these were the Ichinomiya of the various provinces. Note that both the Kanpeisha and the Kokuheisha were divided into three rankings, Major, Medium, Minor (大, 中, 少).For the Kanpeisha there were 67 major shrines, 23 medium, and five minor.
Shosha 諸社: "General shrines," there were three rankings, Fukensha 府県社, Gōsha 郷社, and Sonsha 村社
i) Fukensha府県社: Offerings were in the name of the Fu 府 (municipal districts), Tōkyō, Kyōto, Japan's colonial holdings, and of the Prefectures県, including Hokkaidō.
ii)Gōsha 郷社: Rural district shrines"
iii)Sonsha 村社:Village shrines"
The following rankings were used prior to the Meiji Restoration in government hierarchies as well as being applied to shrines. In the case of the latter they are most commonly found in connection with Inari Jinja.
Ju-ichii従一位 “Junior First Rank”.
Shō-ichii正一位 “Highest rank”
The lowest rank (ichii) is ninth
Shosoinmonjo正倉院文書 A collection of over 10,000 texts, some dating back to the 8th century, stored in the Shosoin Shoso Repository in the Todai-ji temple in Nara.
Shugendo 修験道 A school of mountain-based ascetic training which emerged in the early Heian Period. It incorporated elements of folk beliefs, Esoteric Buddhism, Taoism, and Shinto. It was closely associated with magical practices which its devotees, known as yamabushi, engaged in in the mountains. En no Gyoja may or may not have been its founder, and it came to be associated with the Tendai and Shingon Buddhist sects.
Sino-Japanese War 日清戦争 a war fought from July 1894 to April 1895 largely in Korea between the Qing Dynasty of China and Japan over colonial dominance of that country. It ended with the Chinese side’s surrender.
Six National Histories (Rikkokushi) 六国史 These are the six earliest history books written in Japan, although the Nihon Shoki begins with the founding myths. In chronological order they are: 1) Nihon Shoki/Nihongi (Chronicles of Japan from the Earliest Times to A.D. 697) 日本書紀 (p.113) 2) Shoku Nihongi (Chronicle of Japan Continued) 続日本紀 Completed in 797, covers the years 697-791. Translations of parts of it by J. B. Snellen can be found in the Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan for 1934 and 1937. There is a more recent, 2015-2016, translation by Ross Bender in three volumes covering the years 749-770. 3) Nihon Koki (Later Chronicle of Japan) 日本後紀 Completed in 840, covers the years 792-833. 4) Shoku Nihon Koki (Later Chronicle of Japan, Continued) 続日本後紀 Completed in 869, covers the years 833 through 850. 5) Nihon Montoku Tenno Jitsuroku (Veritable Record of Emperor Montoku of Japan) 日本文徳天皇実録 Completed in 879, covers the years 850-858. Edited by Fujiwara Mototsune 6) Nihon Sandai Jitsuroku (Veritable Record of Three Generations of Emperors of Japan) 日本三代実録 Completed in 901, covers the years 858-887.
Soga Clan 蘇我氏 The origins of the clan are unclear and the first dated reference to it is 465, when Soga no Karako was part of an expeditionary force sent by the Emperor Yuryaku to chastise the Korean state of Silla. It became the most powerful clan under the leadership of Soga no Iname, (506–570), who became Grand Minister (Omi/ Oomi), probably the most important non-imperial post in the land, in 536 and retained the post for the rest of his life. He soon realized that one of the best ways he could consolidate his position was to marry his daughters off to the emperor. Two were married to the Emperor Kinmei, although they failed to produce heirs to the throne. The next clan head, Soga no Umako (551?–626), however, not only retained the Grand Minister post, but had more success in shaping the Imperial line to the clan's advantage. One of his daughters, Kitashihime, became a consort to Emperor Kinmei, and of the thirteen children she bore—seven male, six female—one became the Emperor Yomei, another the Empress Suiko. The end of the clan's domination came in 645 when the then clan head, Soga no Iruka (610–645), probably the eighth in the line, was assassinated following what I suppose could be described as familial overreach. The last of the direct line seems to have been Soga no Hatayasu, who died in 672. Soga no Hatayasu 蘇我果安 Soga no Iname 蘇我稲目 Soga no Iruka 蘇我入鹿 Soga no Karako 蘇我韓子 Soga no Umako 蘇我馬子
Tachibana Clan橘氏: Founded in 708 when Empress Genmei bestowed the name Tachibana on Agatainukai Michiyo; the latter was married to a descendant of Emperor Bidatsu (538-585) and later gave birth to Empress Komyo (701-760).
Taika Reforms 大化の改新: A set of reforms drawn up in 645 by Prince Naka no Oe, Nakatomi no Kamatari, and Emperor Kotoku following the overthrow of the Buddhism-supporting Soga Clan. They effectively began the unification of the country: although starting with land reform their main was the institutionalisation of a Confucianist governmental system throughout the country with the Yamato (Japanese) emperor at its peak appointing regional government officials. To this end many envoys were sent to China to learn as much as possible about all relevant aspects of that country’s culture.
Taira Clan 平氏: Also known as Heike, the clan was founded in 825 when the name Taira was given to Taira Takamune (平朝臣高棟), grandson of the 50th Emperor, Kammu.
Kiyomori 平清盛 (1118-1181)
Masakado 平将門 (died 940)
Sadamori 平 貞盛 (917-989)
Takamune 平高棟 (804-867)
Taketsuna平武綱 (not known)
Tokiko 平時子 (1126-1185)
Tokuko 平徳子 (1155-1214)
Yoshifumi 良文 (886-953?)
Tengyo no Ran 天慶の乱: lit. “the Tengyo Era Rebellion.” The name given to the failed 59-day rebellion against the central government led by Taira Masakado, and which led to his beheading in 940.
Tenkai 天海 (1536-1643): Also known as Nankobo Tenkai, he was a monk of the Tendai Buddhist Sect who he rose to the highest rank of the priesthood, Daisojo. His posthumous name was Jigen Daishi. He was close to Tokugawa Ieyasu and served as liaison between the Imperial Court and the Shogunate. Ieyasu gave Tenkai the privilege of deciding his, i.e. Ieyasu’s, posthumous name. The name chosen by Tenkai was Tosho Daigongen. Tenkai continued to serve Ieyasu’s two immediate successors, Hidetada and Iemitsu, and at their request established Kanei-ji, a Buddhist temple to the northeast of Edo Castle in Ueno.
Three Edo Sumo Jinja 江戸郊外三大相撲: The three shrines where approved Sumo tournaments were held in the Edo Period. They are Shibuya Hikawa Jinja, Kashima Jinja (Tokyo Shinagawa-ku), Setagaya Hachiman-Gu (Tokyo Setagaya-ku).
Three Great Edo Festivals 江戸大三祭り: Refers to the annual festivals held at Tomioka Hachiman Jinja, Kanda Jinja, and Hiei Jinja.
Three Great Heroes of Japan 三英傑: The three leaders through whose efforts Japan was unified in the last three decades of the sixteenth century. They are, in order of appearance, Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and Tokugawa Ieyasu.
Three Imperial Regalia 三種の神器: also known as the Three Divine Treasures. Amaterasu gave them to Ninigi just as he was about to descend to earth. The three items are the Yasakani-no-Magatama (the Grand String of Jewels), said to be preserved in the Imperial Palace; the Yata no Kagami (the Eight Span Mirror), the shintai at Ise Jingu; and the Ame-no-Murakumo-no-Tsurugi (Sword of the Gathering Cloud of Heaven), the shintai at Atsuta Jingu in Nagoya.
Three Musashi Province Omiya 武蔵国三大宮 1) Hikawa Jinja, Saitama-ken, Saitama-shi, Omiya-ku, Takahana-cho 1-407 2) Chichibu Jinja, Saitama-ken, Chichibu-shi, Banba-machi 1-3 3) Omiya Hachiman-Gu, Tokyo-to, Suginami-ku, Omiya 2-3-1
Three Noble Children 三貴子
Tokugawa Clan: A branch of the Minamoto clan via the Nitta Clan, and although its early history is unknown it may have descended from Emperor Seiwa. The name Tokugawa derives from a place of that name in Kozuke Province where Nitta Yoshisue, the fourth son of Minamoto Yoshishige settled. Tokugawa Ieyasu’s victory in the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600 resulted in the establishment of the Tokugawa Shogunate, of which he was the first ruler.
The Tokugawa Shoguns
Hidetada 徳川秀忠 (1579-1632),(2nd)
Iemitsu 徳川家光 (1604-1651), (3rd)
Iemochi 徳川家茂(1846-1866), (14th)
Ienari 徳川 家斉 (1787-1837), (11th)
Ienobu 徳川家宣 (1662-1712), (6th)
Iesada 徳川家定 (1824-1858), (13th)
Ietsuna 徳川家綱 (1641-1680), (4th)
Ieyasu 徳川家康 (1543-1616), (1st)
Tsunayoshi 徳川綱吉(1646-1709), (5th)
Yoshimune 徳川吉宗 (1684-1751), (8th)
Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal 東京戦争犯罪裁判所: Formally known as the International Military Tribunal for the Far East. The proceedings at which Twenty-eight Japanese military and political leaders charged with conspiracy to start and wage war (so-called "Class A" crimes), conventional war crimes ("Class B") and crimes against humanity ("Class C") were tried. The proceedings lasted from May 1946 to November 1948, and apart from one defendant who was ruled unfit to stand trial and two others who died during the course of the proceedings all defendants were found guilty on at least one count.
Toshima Clan 豊島氏/豊嶋氏 Flourished in Musashi Province’s Toshima-gun, in what is now Tokyo’s Nerima-ku. The clan’s base was Shakujii Castle until they were driven out of it by Ota Dokan in the late 1470s.
Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1537-1598) The second of Japan’s Three Great Heroes, and like Oda Nobunaga before him he was a native of Owari Province. He was the son of a poor farmer but while still young he became a foot soldier serving Nobunaga and in 1573 he was made a daimyo in charge of three districts. In 1582 he avenged his master`s death by defeating Akechi Mitsuhide, leaving him in a very strong position. The elder of Nobunaga`s two sons, Nobutada, had also been killed in the loss to Akechi, but the surviving younger son, Nobukatsu, was opposed to Hideyoshi`s rise and formed an alliance with Tokugawa Ieyasu against him. In 1584 the two forces fought a battle which ended in stalemate, but Hideyoshi quickly won Ieyasu over by sending his mother and youngest daughter as hostages. In return Ieyasu pledged allegiance to Hideyoshi, and in 1590 after Hideyoshi defeated the Hojo Clan, the sole remaining challenge to his authority, he and Ieyasu struck a deal by which the latter was given the eight Hojo-ruled provinces in Kanto in return for the submission of Ieyasu`s five provinces. He died in September 1598.
Tsubo 坪 A unit of area equivalent to 3.306 sq.m.
22 Shrines, The 二十二社: In 965 Emperor Murakami despatched imperial messengers to 16 of the leading shrines of the time to report important developments to the enshrined Kami. In 991 Emperor Ichijo added three shrines to the list. In 994 two more were added, and this was followed in 1039 by the addition of one more by Emperor Go-Suzaku. The list has been unchanged since then and of the 22 shrines 12 are in the Kyoto area, seven in Nara, one, Ise Jingu, in Mie, one in Osaka, and one in Shiga.
Watanabe Clan 渡辺氏 As with the Tokugawa Clan the Watanabe Clan was a branch of the Minamotos, but through the Saga Genji branch. It was founded by Watanabe Tsuna; his father was Minamoto Mitsuru, who was a great-grandson of Minamoto Toru, son of the Emperor Saga.
Yakushi 薬師: Sanskrit Bhaiṣajyaguru. Usually referred to as Yakushi Nyorai (薬師如来), The Buddha of Healing and Medicine.
Yamabushi 山伏 “Yama” means mountain, “bushi” to lie face down or conceal. Yamabushi practice strict mountain asceticism and they are usually associated with Shugendo.
Yasakani-no-Magatama 八尺瓊勾玉 “Grand String of Jewels.” One of the Three Imperial Regalia. Yata no Kagami
八咫鏡: “Eight Span Mirror.” One of the Three Imperial Regalia.
Yomi 黄泉; Usually translated as Hell or Hades, although rather than being seen as a place where the damned undergo eternal suffering it is viewed as the place where all dead human spirits pass the rest of time in gloom and solitude, irrespective of how they lived when they were alive.
Zojo-ji増上寺: A Jodo-shu (Pure Land) temple located in a corner of Shiba Koen near Tokyo Tower. Along with Kanei-ji in Ueno it was a Tokugawa family temple, and six of the Tokugawa Shoguns are entombed in the Taitoku-in Mausoleum in its grounds.