If on the other hand the seat of yamatai was in

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Unformatted text preview: ady been established linking this region with northern Kyushu, and Himiko, as Yamatai’s titular hegemon, was able to send missions to China on behalf of all of Wa. If, on the other hand, the seat of Yamatai was in northern Kyushu, it would suggest that Himiko’s influence probably extended over a much more limited area, possibly only northern Kyushu itself. Some of the descriptions in the Chinese dynastic histories about the customs of Wa are intriguingly similar to the practices or habits of the Japanese today. For example, the Wa people paid deference to their superiors by squatting or kneeling with both hands on the ground; they clapped their hands in worship; and they placed great store in ritual purification. Apart from such observations about worshipful clapping and ritual purification, we know little about the evolution of those religious beliefs of ancient Japan that collectively came to be called Shinto (the way of the kami or gods) to distinguish them from Buddhism, which was introduced to Japan from Korea about the middle sixth century. In Shinto we can observe a primitive religion of the sort that elsewhere in the world has been absorbed by the universal faiths but that in remote and parochial Japan has been perpetuated into modern times. The central feature The Emergence of Japanese Civilization 9 of Shinto is its belief in kami, a polytheistic host that, on the one hand, animistically inhabits nature and, on the other hand, is intimately associated with people and their most basic units of social organization, such as the family and the farming village (fig. 4). The very word kami has the connotation of “upper” or “above,” and not that of “transcendent.” Probably the most famous definition of it is the one given by the eighteenth-century scholar and Shinto revivalist Motoori Norinaga (1730– 1801): The word kami refers, in the most general sense, to all divine beings of heaven and earth that appear in the classics. More particularly, the kami are the spirits that abide in and are worshipped at the shrines. In principle human beings, birds, animals, trees, plant...
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This note was uploaded on 02/08/2013 for the course ANTH 142 taught by Professor Hans during the Spring '13 term at UBC.

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