The Sacred in Shintō: A Comparison and Analysis of Rudolf Otto’s Concept of the Numinous and Motoori Norinaga’s ‘Definition of Kami’ in Selected Texts of the Kojiki and the Nihon Shoki
Tesis y disertaciones académicas
Universidad de Salamanca (España)
Fecha de publicación
[EN] This essay carries out an analysis of the concept of the sacred in Shintō through Rudolf Otto's 1869-1937) concept of the numinous, presented in one of his main works, Das Heilige (1917), and Motoori Norinaga's (1730-1801) 'Definition of Kami,' a brief section in the more voluminous Kojiki-den—a text completed in 1789—in which Norinaga attempts to define the notion of kami. These two concepts are then applied to a textual analysis of selected texts of the Kojiki (712) and the Nihon Shoki (720), two of the most important classical writings of the Japanese mythological narrative. The present research begins with a preliminary section on the objectives and methodology that have been utilised throughout, followed by a section dedicated to the main elements of the subject at hand: the nature and characteristics of Shintō, summarized in Chapter 1 — On Shintō; Rudolf Otto’s concept of the numinous, on which we elaborate during Chapter 2 together with Motoori Norinaga’s ‘Definition of Kami.’ Lastly, this first section of the thesis finalizes with an analysis of the concept of kami carried out in Chapter 3, in which the concept of kami is examined through the writings of several authors and which includes a section of the concept of kami understood as mana. Then, during the second section of this essay an exhaustive textual analysis, philosophical in nature, has been performed. Thus, in Chapter 4 we briefly introduce the subject of the Kojiki and the Nihon Shoki, and then proceed to study a variety of texts from these aforementioned sources. While in Chapter 4 we analyze fragments which referred to the figures of the kami Izanagi and Izanami no Mikoto, Susa-no-wo no Mikoto, and Amaterasu, in particular the scene where Izanagi and Izami go around the Heavenly Pillar, and when Izanagi’s fear when faced with Izanami’s otherworldly appearance in the land of Yomi, together with the cycle of Susa-no-wo’s birth and divine expulsion, and his relationship with his sister Amaterasu and her hiding from the world, Chapter 5 is dedicated to the adventures and demise of Prince Yamato-takeru, the prophecies of Empress Jin-gū, and the misadventures of Emperor Yū-ryauku with the a couple of kami. Lastly, in Chapter 6 we examine the notion of the sacred in Shintō through a series of more contemporary authors, focusing of the elements of polarity and liminality, the curious relationship between the sacred and the sea and, finally, between women and sacredness. Then, in the conclusion we highlight the importance of emotion as a possible thread connecting the sacred life-force known as tama with the supernatural power of kami, and also the need of further research on the subject of the concept of the sacred in Shintō for, as the concept of kami, it is too broad to be undertaken by only one academic field.
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