Resource: Encyclopedia of Shinto

Photo by ajari

Do you have an interest in Shinto? Looking for a handy online reference item to check information? Check out the Encyclopedia of Shinto.

About

The Encyclopedia of Shinto in an online translation of the Shintō jiten edited by the Institute for Japanese Culture and Classics and published by Kobundo in 1994. The site offers an added dimension from the book linking video, images, illustrations, photographs and sound files.

The original Shinto jiten is considered to be the most widely used reference resource on Shinto in Japan today. The Encyclopedia of Shinto is a project under Kokugakuin University’s 21st Century Centers of Excellence Program and hopes of the “establishment of of a national learning institute for the dissemination of research on Shinto and Japanese culture” with support of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology.

Content

The Encyclopedia of Shinto is divided into 10 sections: 1. General Introduction, 2. Kami (Deities), 3. Institution and Administrative Practices, 4. Jinja (Shrines), 5. Rites and Festivals, 6. Belief and Practice, 7. Concept and Doctrines, 8. Schools, Groups, and Personalities, 9. Texts and Sources, and 10. Special Topics.

Other links include a link to all movies within the encyclopedia, Kokugakuin Digital Museum, Images of Shinto: A Beginners Pictorial Guide, Chapter Introductions in Chinese, German, French, Korean, and Russian, Articles in Translation, and a Glossary in kana and alphabetically.

Search and Navigation

The Guide to Usage section provides a good outline as to the arrangement of the Encyclopedia. It explains that the arrangement of online content follows the general topical organization of the original Shintō jiten.

Photo by ajari

Selecting any particular subcategory from the Home page leads to a page with an alphabetical listing of the entries for that subcategory. Each entry heading is accompanied with (approximately) the first fifty words of that entry’s text. After selecting an entry, a user is able to click on a speaker icon located next to the heading to hear the pronunciation of the entry. Some entries are accompanied with icons that indicate the inclusion of photographs (Shinshi for example) or videos (Kenpeishi for example) relevant to the entry.

A full-text search function allows for searches in either headings only or in headings and text. Boolean operators AND and OR are provided. When performing some search strings, I learned that exact phrase searches are not supported. Additionally, quotation marks are treated as part of the search string; using them to delimit a phrase can result in errors. Searches are performed as straight text strings and will locate strings of letters within the word itself. (A search for kami will also bring up searches that include Takamimusihi, for example.) Spaces before and after the search word will have no effect in delineating the search results either. For a searcher looking for a specific topic, utilizing the search function may be a bit cumbersome.

Observations

The original Shintō jiten is one of the most widely used general works of reference regarding Shinto in Japan today. By recreating this resource in a digital format, Kokugakuin University hopes to further growth of international research on Shinto and Japanese culture by both scholars, students, and those interested in Japan.

I encourage you to check out the Encyclopedia of Shinto and discover Japan’s unique culture!

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