Journeys into Japanese Culture, the 'Underwater Pyramid' and Oahspe

There are sections below that use coloured lettering. These are usually summaries of lengthy Wikipedia pages. The different colours distinguish different topics. The sections that use black lettering are the parts I wrote myself, including emails to the Oahspe egroup while in Japan. These are the more relevant areas to read if you’re more interested in purely my personal experiences and impressions of Japan.

    Contents :-

  1. Introductory Background
  2. Email sent to Dr. Kimura in Japan from Australia
  3. Crazed spirit
  4. Bear story
  5. A little about Hokkaido
  6. Stone circles in Japan
  7. Northern, Central, and Western Honshu in a week.
  8. Meeting with Dr Kimura
  9. Early Names of Japan
  10. Wa, the oldest recorded name of Japan
  11. Historical evidence for the existence of Wa
  12. Yamadai, Yamato and Nara - the Yayoi period
  13. Dragons and Mirrors
  14. Yonaguni
  15. Utsuro Bune Ancient Japanese UFO sighting
  16. Nirai-kanai and the Holy Women of Kudaka Island
  17. Additional Discoveries and Excerpts
  18. Ishigaki, Iriomote and Taketomi Jima
  19. The three-fold whirl
  20. Inseparability from individuality?
  21. Duality, the cloud of illusion
  22. Japanese Creation Legends
  23. Misogi harae and the mystery of musubi
  24. Kagami, Susanoo no mikoto and Confucianism
  25. Amami Oshima and Yakushima
  26. Takachiho and the Sun Goddess cave
  27. Kyshu, Shikoku, Izumo and Kyoto on a 5 day Rail Pass
  28. Tokushima, 88 Sacred Temples, Iya Valley and Koya-san Nara
  29. What Oahspe has to say about Buddhism
  30. Osaka and Nara
  31. Kofun, Tumuli and the Mound Builders
  32. Kyoto, and the Mystifying Bamboo Groves
  33. Oomoto, and sensei Masamichi Tanaka
  34. The Prophecies of Onisaburo Deguchi regarding a sunken continent
  35. Conclusion


Introductory Background
The enigmatic structure, described by some as 'pyramid-like', at Iseki Point, Yonaguni island, Japan, the so-called 'Yonaguni Monument' was discovered in 1985 by dive tour operator, Kihachiro Aratake. The Morien Institute take the view that, following the dramatic series of rises in sea-levels that marked the ending of the last Ice Age, it is inevitable that more and more evidence of ancient civilisation will be discovered on the continental shelves, and in the shallow seas, around the world.
Now the Yonaguni Monument is just one of a number of underwater megalithic structures in a 'complex' stretching for many hundreds of miles northeast of Taiwan. As the sea-levels rose at the end of the last Ice Age, the dry land that was once between the Chinese mainland and Japan was inundated.
At a conference in Japan Japanese geologists and archæologists argued that the sunken pyramid structure has been found to be man-made. It reported that:
It appears to be a construction made of wide terraces, ramps and large steps. However, American geologists have contended that the structure is not manmade, but a natural formation. Japanese scientists have documented marks on the stones that indicate that they were hewn. Not only that, the tools used in this process have been found in the area, and carvings have been discovered. A small stairway carved into the rocks appears to render the theory that this is a natural formation implausible.
Presumably, they were referring to Dr. Robert M. Schoch, a geologist who has dived the structure a number of times since 1997, and whose comments seem to have been misunderstood by some academics, while also being dismissed by Atlantis-seekers.
Dr Schoch comments in 1999 were:
"We should also consider the possibility that the Yonaguni Monument is fundamentally a natural structure that was utilized, enhanced, and modified by humans in ancient times."
This type of activity seems to have been widely used in ancient times all over the archaic world, and has become known as 'terra-forming' - nature suggests a shape, and human hands modify it for perhaps ritual purposes, or for practical ones.
The problem with all of this for western scientists is that it implies that an unknown eastern culture had developed a high degree of organization thousands of years before the earliest western civilizations. Geologically, the Yonaguni pyramid sank into the ocean at the end of the last ice age, around ten thousand years ago. Some western geologists have theorized that, if it is manmade, it must have risen from the sea in more recent times, and been carved then. However, the discovery of other, similar structures beneath the sea of Japan was also announced at the conference. If these prove to be similar to the Yonaguni pyramid they may rewrite the history of early man.
Studies of the structures, such as that conducted over the past ten years by Professor Masaaki Kimura, a marine geologist at the Department of Physics and Earth Sciences at the University of the Ryukyus, Okinawa, were responsible for initiating the debate that currently rages about the Yonaguni 'monument'. In September 1997 Dr Schoch dived on the structure for the first time. He had been invited there by Graham Hancock, who was then researching "Heaven's Mirror", filming for a series of TV programmes.
Whilst there, Dr Schoch debated the structure, and the local geology of nearby Yonaguni Island, with Professor Kimura.
The controversy that had developed over the next few years was covered in The Japan Times on July 19 2000, which also reported on the ancient myths and legends of the Okinawa region:
"In Okinawan folklore, there are tales of traditional gods and a land of the gods called Nirai-Kanai, an unknown faraway land from where happiness is brought. Kimura said the Yonaguni Monument may have been built to serve a similar deity."
Structures have been recently discovered underwater off other Japanese islands such as Chatan and Kerama, and walls, and possibly ancient roads, have been discovered in the Straits of Taiwan, about 20 - 30 feet underwater between the island of Taiwan and mainland China ...

Email sent to Dr. Kimura in Japan from Australia before leaving (maybe 19th May 2009)

Dear Professor Kimura,
I am an Australian member of an American based group who study an unusual scripture which makes some interesting claims regarding Japan, and has implications for the Yonaguni monument. The 1881 A.D. channelled book called Oahspe says the word Japan [Ja-Pan], signifies "Relict of the Continent of Pan", the Submerged Continent. There is a map of the continent “Pan” given in the book.
I have a website where you can see it.

http://www.angelfire.com/planet/pp0/pan.html

I used Photoshop to superimpose this map of Pan on the Tharp Map, and other maps, further into the website.

This quote from Oahspe says:

The fleet of two ships carried to the north was named Yista, which in the Whaga [Pan] tongue was Zha'Pan, which is the same country that is to this day called Japan, signifying Relict of the Continent of Pan, for it lay to the north, where the land was cleaved in twain.
This is from one of the many relevant quotes I have listed in the following section (see this link)

http://www.angelfire.com/planet/pp0/pan.html#Color

A quick glance through this book does not do justice to the wisdom it contains. In fact most would think it was fiction, or a Mormon book. Having studied this book for over 30 years I can say it’s not of any known religion, and does not favour any particular one of them, yet is essence of all of them.

http://www.angelfire.com/in2/oahspe3/oindex.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oahspe

I am not a professional in this field, having only a mechanical engineering degree, so I’m hoping that by hearing some of your insights, having a Japanese understanding of culture and religion, as well as a deep understanding of the geology of Japan’s Ocean Floor, you might be able to shed light on the mystery that Japan holds for the world, and confirm this revelation that I have for so long believed in.
I will be travelling to Japan in late May in order to join with a youth gathering in Hokkaido. It will be nearby Nioi #13 stone circle, Biratori, Hokkaido, a sacred place for the indigenous Ainu people. There must be a reason for them to have this interest, which I share, in ancient peoples and sacred places.

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/japancaravan/

Then I will be looking around Japan for any cultural evidence that might confirm the clues given in Oahspe, such as:

Japanese names of rites and ceremonies.
Japanese names of land and water, and the firmament above, and the ships that plough the water.
Sounds that man makes in the throat and without the tongue and lips.
Rememberance of the flood.
The sign of the crescent and the triangle.
The preserving of the four days of the change of the moon as sacred days.

and others that I have included in the quotes given in my website at that section. This will be difficult for me because I’ve never been to Japan and don’t speak Japanese. Also, from what I’ve learnt so far, Japan has changed completely from what Oahspe said of it in its earliest culture. I struggle even to find any clues in Shinto. But I’m hoping to maybe learn from you things that people ignore. Please let me know of any advice you may have.
There are many more chapters in Oahspe about ancient Japanese history that give reasons why Japan has changed so much from its early culture.
I will be pleased to meet with you in Okinawa if you want to know more about this book.

Yours sincerely
Paul Perov
Melbourne, Australia

Re: Interesting claims regarding Japan, with implications for the Yonaguni monument

Thursday, 21 May, 2009 12:47 PM
I am in Hokkaido. Just got this reply from the professor.

Dear Paul,

Thank you for your mail. It is very interested for me. Since 21 May, I stay in Okinawa. If you have time, please call me.

Masaaki Kimura, Dr
Professor emeritus, University of the Ryukyus

Re: Proof of continent of Pan

Jun 3, 2009
Last night I gave a long talk to many interested rainbow family inside the main Tipi. ... starting with the Asu (Ainu means Man/humanity) .. thru to the interaction with Spirits and creation of Ihin ... to the flood, and explanation of Ja-Pan with maps and extracts from my website.
Some good feedback.
With Japanese translation, they grasped the concept of the tree of knowlege of good and evil .. to some extent, with some difficulty.

Crazed spirit

Ainu
Elders at Akan
I went twice to Ainu rituals. The first one was at a small slightly touristy, but obscure Ainu settlement. They performed it in their grass roofed lodge that had no walls. The women were at one end, the men at the other. A young male priest led the men in the actual ritual, but an overweight old shaman woman took charge of the supernatural parts. I now know that some things have been taken from Shinto. A few feet outside were poles with wooden shavings streaming down their sides. These sticks are called inau (singular) and nusa (plural). They treated these with great reverence and seemed to involve them in the ritual. They were attached to a fence leading up to their small shrine which I could see from inside. A priveleged few, one selected from our group, could go up to them for some reason, probably for the same reason as that of other shrines and temples I visited around Japan.
The ritual went for maybe an hour, with the shaman woman having things to say in between. They uttered prayers and made many food offerings. It ended with libations of rice beer served in lacquarware libation bowls resting on small unique types of lacquarware platforms. They passed them around, ritually sprinkling some saki with a special flat tool in the bowl to the three directions, front and sides, expecting us to do the same. I didn’t drink, and refrained gracefully.
The old lady made out images in the smoke of the fire and said a lot in Japanese. There was a photo handed around of a light in the smoke that appeared like an angel, or Jesus. They indulged in imagining things that the shaman was saying about the smoke. I didn’t understand anything of what was said in Japanese, but my rainbow companions, 20 or 30 of us, a little more that the Ainu, could, as the Ainu language was spoken only by one old man there … the one who got drunk in the end. They shared the food offerings with us, some of which I could eat since my friends told me it was vegan. Then it was over.

The next time it took place in the ancient Ainu cemetery somewhere else. We began with clearing the weeds and laying out plastic on which the same things took place as last time. There were the same streamered pole gods, some old and decaying in the cemetery where the deceased were buried. But most of the cemetery was Japanese, and there was to be a protest to protect what was left of the original Ainu burial ground. The Ainu have a political movement which has gained rights and secured a place in history for these subjugated and mistreated indigenous people. I read about it in a book Mr.Mizutani, our rainbow connection to these Ainu folk, gave me to read. Its been a long struggle that has resulted in them now being noticed around the world.
As the ritual preceded the same large shaman woman began calling, I believe, on the world of spirit. One of her experienced mediums gave the appearance of being entranced and having a spirit speak through her, but it was not significant. Then one of ours, a young eccentric boisterous, spontaneous, musical man began to be possessed. This lasted a while, but the activity ended and we again shared a meal. I was near him, talking to him, asking him what I could eat, and he was normal.
Ainu museum at Akan

The Ainu museum at Akan
Then the young male priest began a minor offering at a grave. I and a few others walked over to watch. The same person, who also came over, began to get possessed in front of my eyes and get unruly. I tried to calm him down gently, but his eyes glared with anger and began to get uncontrollable. The priest grabbed him and turned him over and began hitting his back with some special sticks, but he was kicking, moving violently, yelling and fluids were coming from his nose and mouth. Eventually we had to go and were told to leave him behind so that the Shaman, who has a lot of experience with such things, could work on him.

Jun 3, 2009
Yesterday I came back from an Ainu ritual. One of our rainbow group got possesed by a crazed spirit and didnt come back with us because he was moving violently, yelling and fluids coming from his nose and mouth. The Shaman is working with him.

Bear story

After the Rainbow gathering I went to Daisetsuzan National Park. I got off the bus at Tenninkyo Onsen and found my way to the trail head. I crossed over the barrier that put my intended walk off limits. Just before dark I reached the giant cliffs at the top of the gorge. It took hours just to zigzag straight up to the top. I had seen tracks of what I took to be deer, and dismissed the thought that it might be a bear. At the gathering Koji spoke of Ainu who didn’t walk in the forest because of bears. Koji called them grizzly’s, but the National Park calls them Brown bears. He said just in that year (5 months) 6 people had already been killed by them.
Before I went to sleep I thought about what I could do if it was a bear, and concluded that I was completely defenceless. I was relieved to find everything was normal the next morning. But after an hour I found out why they blocked the path. The snow had covered up the track. After a frantic effort I found it again, but lost it again, with things getting worse. I saw in the distance electricity pylons and took the gamble that they could only lead to my destination. So tramping through the snow I was nearing them when I heard sudden feet stamping with such thuds that the ground seemed to shake.
I stopped dead still, and so did it. It could only be a bear.
It was a long minute of two before I took the next step and moved on by, but before I got out of sight I glimpsed the bear and was relieved that it didn’t follow.
I got to the pylons and was relieved to find a cleared walkable path under them, so kept going. There was no way I could leave the path now. Either side was snow and bushes. But I heard a sound and before I knew it came face to face with the bear coming towards me. We were maybe 20 feet apart, maybe double that. I somehow didn’t see his full body, but clearly remember staring eye to eye, seeing his eyes become confused, and rolling around. He turned head, his body followed and ran back down the path. It was too quick for fear to set in, and I paused a while, and moved on in the same direction as the bear, since I had no alternative. Eventually I saw his tracks move into the bush and that was the last I saw of it. In fact it wasn’t till the next day that I became relaxed enough to contemplate the great fear of what I actually went through. But at the moment I was still desperate to find my way. Eventually I found out I was right. The power lines came to Asahidake Onsen, where I washed in a luke warm stream after a difficult cross country manoeuvre. The young ranger was serious, but friendly, so I couldn’t resist telling him the story. He said it was being so still that saved my life. Had I have run the bear would have attacked. Finding that all the walks were similarly snowed in I cancelled any further plans of going overland to Sounkyo Onsen. Instead I had to go back to Ashikawa to get there.

Hi Koji,
I went to the mountains of Hokkaido. Came eye to eye with a grizzley bear. After staring into each others eyes for a few moments the bear flinched first, turned around and ran back. I could only go in the same direction, since there was only one path. But I saw his tracks eventually lead into the snowy wilderness. Lucky to be alive.
It was Black, huge, fully grown and when it stomped the ground thundered.
How did the other Koji survive the ainu ritual possession? Is he alright? did he come back to the gathering? I'm about to go to the Okinawa islands. Dr Kimura is still looking forward to seeing me in Okinawa.

Rainbow love

A little about Hokkaido

Ainu tourist lane Ainu women in costume
Ainu tourist lane at night
Much of Hokkaido is not wild and rugged as I had expected, but hilly, and newly settled Japanese country communities with bitumen roads and plain modern houses .. very monotonous and not worth seeing. But the national parks are quite spectacular with lofty Alpine peaks, gorges and waterfalls. They become blazing with colour in autumn, which I did not see at that time.

I went to the touristy Ainu settlement in the outskirts of Akan city. The street is full of Ainu trinkets, some Ainu clothing and carvings, and Ainu food, which vegans are not interested in. There is a daily performance which is worth seeing. It demonstrates a need to practice rites and ceremonies. They were very elegant and unifying for the ainu culture, a statement of identity which Japanese recognise. It is a source of dicipline without which they might be only thieves, drunkards and beggars. These require the knowlege of a whole tribal lifestyle to enact. The weaving of traditional costume for one example. There are clips of what I saw here (wait for the top picture to download). Also two museums. They place an emphasis on owl images which is confusing until you find out that Chikap Kamui is the Ainu kamui (god) of owls and the land.
Kamui are similar to kami. Kamui are numerous; some are delineated and named, such as Kamui Fuchi the hearth goddess, while others are not. Kamui often have very specific associations — for instance, there is a kamui of the undertow. Personified deities of Ainu mythology often have the term Kamui applied as part of their names. The Ainu had no writing system of their own, and much of Ainu mythology was passed down as oral history in the form of kamui yukar (deity epics), long verses traditionally recounted by singers at a gathering.
Like De'yuas, Kandakoro Kamui is kamui of the sky. He is the prime originator of Ainu mythology, responsible either directly or indirectly for the creation of all things. He is not presented as a supreme being but a background figure: while his presence was necessary for the creation of the world, he plays only a small part in subsequent events, often as a mediator. He is considered the overseer and master of the sky, much as Chikap Kamui is the overseer of the land. He appointed Moshirikara Kamui to shape the earth, preparing it for inhabitation by humankind. Since mortals are more intersted in what they can sense, the creator plays a lesser role.

I havent seen any Ainu that are caucasian looking. They are, as Koji said, more like a Japanese version of native Americans.

Jomon pit house

Jomon pit house, Kushiro marsh
While at the Kushiro Shitsugen National Park I came across these reconstructed pit houses. They are a little off the beaten track. The oldest piece of wood used in Jomon construction (Yokoo site in Oita prefecture) is dated to 10,000 years ago. The 3.8 meter-long piece of wood (had six circular joint holes in it about 3 centimeters in diameter and) is thought to be a roof beam from a house built on stilts.

I have since found out about stone circles in Japan. The most well-known stone circle in Japan, along with the Oyu circle is Oshiyoro in Otaru, Hokkaido. It has an oval shape 33m × 22m and a small circle inside.. There are other ones too. The Morimachi stone circle is located in the Washinoki Ruins No. 5, on a hill about 40 kilometers north of Hakodate. The monument consists of three circles of stones and is the largest in Hokkaido. The outermost circle's diameter is 34-37 meters. It is smaller than that of the Oyu stone circle in Kazuno, Akita Prefecture, which has a diameter of about 48 meters. About 530 stones were used to make the outer, middle and inner circle (four meters in diameter).

Stone circles in Japan

Ceremonial stone circles first appeared at the beginning of Jomon era (ca 10,000 BC - ca 300 BC). Hundreds of stone circles and stone features have cropped up all over Japan. A stone circle from the Early Jomon period was found at the Wappara site in Nagano prefecture. It consisted of upright long stones arranged in a circular pattern. Elaborate stone circles were found at several sites in the Chubu region from the Middle Jomon era and archaeologists have discovered extremely large numbers in Hokkaido and northern Tohoku from the Late and Final Jomon era.

Nonakado stone circle (east)

Nonakado stone circle
Some of the stone circles that were built by the Jomon people appear to have been monuments that were aligned to certain celestial bodies. Experts suggest that they had an annual calendar based on the seasons and perhaps the waxing and waning of the moon. It is likely that such a calendar was used to help them congregate to trade at a location and at specific time of the year.
The Kanayama megaliths are comprised of 3 main megalith sites. The rising sun at the summer solstice illuminates the first site, in way that is similar to the Heel Stone of the Stonehenge. At the third megalith site, the rising sun of the winter solstice illuminates the site.
The 4,000 year old Oyu stone circle ruins site comprises of two large circles and a number of other stone structures and ruins. The Nonakado is 42 m in diameter while the Manza is 48 m. To construct the two circles, rocks were carried from the Akuya River, about five kilometres away east of the site. Artefacts including bowls, urns, charms and tools have also been excavated from the site.


Nonakado stone circle The “sundial” stone circle (left) consists of a large upright stone in the center of a small stone cluster that had long stones placed in a radiating pattern.

Examples include the Oyu site in Akita prefecture where two large sundial stone circles named the Manza and Nonakado Stone Circles were found. Rocks had to be carried 5 to 7 kilometers from the Akuya River east of the Oyu site to construct the two stone circles.
The other kind of stone circle consists of stones arranged in circular or square patterns. One example is the Komakino site in Aomori prefecture where a large stone circle made of three concentric rings was excavated. The Morimachi stone circle, Washinoki ruins, near Hakodate city, Hokkaido, has three circles and is about 37 m in diameter and is one of the largest stone circles.
Stone circles are often located at a site usually a mountain location from which the sunset or stars such as Polaris could be viewed at the time of the equinox or solstice. Some scholars think that some of the stone circles were designed and used for social and religious rites marked by or coordinated by some kind of astronomical calendar.
Some of the stone circles in Japan have alignments that are useful for calendrical reckonings, and are noted to be similar to that found at the Stonehenge in England but that the stones are usually shorter. For example, it has been observed that the place of the sunrise over Mount Tsukuba on the morning of the winter solstice was marked by extending a line from the central marker of the stone circle at the Terano Higashi Site of Totigi.
There are also scholars who think the chosen locations of the stone circles for sightings of the heavenly stars showed the Jomon people’s sense of awe of celestial phenomena, the worship of celestial beings, or a world view, or perhaps was evidence of a nature worship such as of sacred mountains. Others think the sites were burial marker sites or cemeteries since burial pits or graves have been excavated under some of the stone circles or near them.
Many stone circles are located in places where no pit dwellings have been found. This suggests that the Jomon gathered at the stone circles only for ritual gatherings at an appointed time. It is likely, with so very many stone features of different kinds and spanning thousands of years, that the Jomon stone circles were used for various purposes at the different locations by different Jomon tribes.
The style of the stone circles are thought to be unique to Japan and to have been developed independently of other regions in East Asia because the stone features elsewhere are very different.

On 11th June 2009 Paul Perov wrote:

Dear Dr Masaaki Kimura,
I have left Hokkaido and now soon in Tokyo. I can be in Okinawa in maybe 2 weeks or more.
Thank you for your invitation. I will ring you in Okinawa. I look forward to having much interesting conversation.

Paul Perov

Re: Interesting claims regarding Japan, with implications for the Yonaguni monument

To: "Paul Perov"
13 June, 2009
Dear Mr. Paul Perov,

It is my pleasure to see you in Okinawa. I wait for your mail.

Masaaki Kimura, Dr
Director of Marine Science and Culture Heritage Research Association, NPO

Northern, Central, and Western Honshu in a week.

Gojuto Pagoda I activated my 7 day Japan rail pass and in one day went from Kushiro to Sendai, taking a brief look at the Sapporo Ainu museum, and seeing the southern volcanoes of Hokkaido from the train along the way. The next day (day 2) I was on Haguro-san, one of the holy mountains of Dewa Sanzan. The mountains have been worshipped for centuries by yambushi, Shugendo followers. Hearn calls them exorcisers
I followed a man in yambushi attire leading a group of Japanes into the Saikan lodge where I watched a video about the ascetic, mountain-dwelling sect that "seeks oneness with kami". Shugendo, which means "the path of training and testing" was founded 1300 years ago. It is considered as the foundation of Vajrayana in Japan. Vajrayana of Shugendo (shugen mikkyo) teaches "the mountain is considered as the supernatural mandala." It incorporates teachings from Koshinto, Buddhism and other Eastern philosophies including folk animism. The focus of shugendo is the development of spiritual experience and power. After the Shugendo lineage there are Tendai and Shingon lineages.
Afterwards I walked down the stone steps lined with ancient cedars. At the bottom I came across the 14th century 5 storey Pagoda shown right.
The Gojuto Pagoda, near the base of Mount Haguro
Travelling on quickly, since I only had one week of unlimited travel on the JR shinkansen, I moved on along the Sea of Japan coastline to Nigata, reaching Nagano late at night. I awoke early at dawn (day 3) and walked to the Zenkoji temple to find the morning service about to begin. I listened in awe to the disciplined and orderly procedure, dwelling at the core of its spirit. The early-morning blessing ceremony was given by a high priest and also a high priestess. Zenko-ji was founded before Buddhism in Japan was split into several different sects, so it currently belongs to both the Tendai and Jodo Shu schools of Buddhism.

Tendai
Tendai is a descendant of the Chinese Tiantai or Lotus Sutra school. The founder of the movement in China, T'ien-t'ai Chih-i (538-597) provided a religious framework suited to adapt to other cultures, to evolve new practices, and to universalize Buddhism.
The Tiantai teaching was first brought to Japan by Jianzhen (Jp: Ganjin) in the middle of the 8th century, but was not widely accepted. In 805, the Japanese monk Saicho returned from China with new Tiantai texts and made the temple that he had built on Mt. Hiei, Enryakuji (on the NE outskirts of Kyoto), a center for the study and practice of what became Japanese Tendai.
In 804, Emperor Kammu sent the intrepid monk Kukai to the Tang Dynasty capital at Chang'an (present-day Xi'an) to retrieve the latest Buddhist knowledge. Kukai absorbed the Vajrayana thinking and synthesized a version which he took back with him to Japan, where he founded the Shingon school.
What Saicho transmitted from China was not exclusively Tiantai, but also included Zen, esoteric Mikkyo, and Vinaya School elements. Tendai flourished under the patronage of the imperial family and nobility in Japan, particularly the Fujiwara clan; in 794, the Imperial capital was moved to Kyoto. Tendai Buddhism became the dominant form of main-stream Buddhism in Japan for many years, and gave rise to most of the developments in later Japanese Buddhism. Nichiren, Honen, Shinran, and Dogen—all famous thinkers in non-Tendai schools of Japanese Buddhism—were all initially trained as Tendai monks.
Tendai is rooted in the ideas fundamental to Mahayana Buddhism, that Buddha-hood, the capability to attain enlightenment, is intrinsic in all things, and that the phenomenal world, the world of our experiences, is an expression of Dharma. Our differentiated experiences are born of the Tendai claim that each and every sense phenomenon just as it is 'is' the expression of Dharma. For Tendai, the ultimate expression of Dharma is the Lotus Sutra. The fleeting nature of all sense experiences, existence and experience of all unenlightened beings is equivalent and undistinguishable from the teachings of the Lotus Sutra. With the introduction of esoteric ritual (Mikkyo, later named Taimitsu by Ennin) the chanting Mantras, maintaining Mudras, or performing certain meditations, made one able to see that the sense experiences are the teachings of Buddha, and to have faith that one is inherently an enlightened being who can attain enlightnenment within this body.
The origins of Taimitsu are found in China, similar to the lineage that Kukai encountered in his visit to China during the Tang Dynasty, and Saicho's disciples were encouraged to study under Kukai. As a result, Tendai esoteric ritual bears much in common with the Vajrayana tradition of Shingon Buddhist ritual, though the doctrines may differ somewhat. Though Buddhist doctrine held that one should not concern oneself with any religious practice save the pursuit of enlightenment, Tendai allowed reconciliation with Shinto, and its heavenly pantheon of Japanese gods and myriad spirits associated with places, shrines or objects. Priests of the Tendai sect argued that Kami are simply representations of the truth of universal buddha-hood that descend into the world to help and teach mankind. But while Buddhas represent the possibility of attaining enlightentment, Kami are manifest representations of the universal buddha-hood. Therefore, they exemplify the ultimate truth that all things are inherently enlightened and that it is possible for a person of sufficient religious faculties to attain enlightenment instantly within this very body. Those Kami that Shinto regards as violent or antagonistic to mankind are considered as supernatural beings that reject dharma and have not attained enlightenment.
The fundamental teaching of Buddhism that one must shed away worldly attachments and desires in order to attain enlightenment created a conflict with the culture of every society into which Buddhism was introduced. The shedding of worldly pleasures and attachments would require that poetry, literature, and visual arts be discarded. By claiming that the phenomenal world is not distinct from Dharma, Tendai doctrine allowed for the reconciliation of beauty and aesthetics with Buddhist teachings. Contemplation of the arts, provided that it is done in the context of Tendai doctrine, is simply contemplation of Dharma.

Jodo shu
Jodo shu (The Pure Land School) is a branch of Pure Land Buddhism derived from the teachings of the Japanese ex-Tendai monk Honen. It was established in 1175 and is the most widely practiced branch of Buddhism in Japan, along with Jodo Shinshu.
Honen was born in 1133. Honen was initiated into his uncle's monastery at the age of 9. From then on, Honen lived his life as a monk, and eventually studied at the famous monastery of Mount Hiei. Honen became dissatisfied with the Tendai Buddhist teachings. Influenced by the writings of Shan-tao, Honen devoted himself solely to Amitabha (Amida) Buddha, as expressed through the nembutsu.
Honen gathered disciples from all walks of life, and developed a large following, notably women, who had been excluded from serious Buddhist practice up to this point. Jodo Shu is heavily influenced by the idea of the Age of Dharma Decline. This concept is that over time society becomes so corrupt, that people can no longer effectively put the teachings of the Buddha into practice anymore. The Jodo Shu school was founded near the end of the Heian Period when Buddhism in Japan had become deeply involved in political schemes, and some in Japan saw monks flaunting wealth and power. Honen sought to provide people a simple Buddhist practice in a degenerate age: Devotion to Amida Buddha as expressed in the nembutsu. Through Amida's compassion, a being may be reborn in the Pure Land (Sukhavati in Sanskrit).
Repetition of the nembutsu derives from the Primal Vow of Amida Buddha. However, in addition to this, practitioners are encouraged to engage in observing the Five Precepts, meditation, the chanting of sutras and other good conduct. There is no strict rule on this. The Larger Sutra of Immeasurable Life is the central scripture for Jodo Shu, and the foundation of the belief in the Primal Vow of Amida. The Contemplation Sutra and the Amitabha Sutra (The Smaller Sutra of Immeasurable Life) are also important.
The main branch of Jodo Shu is 'Chinzei'. Other disciples of Honen branched off into a number of other sects. The Seizan branch, structured the Buddhist teachings into a hierarchy with the nembutsu at the top. Ryukan taught that faith in Amida Buddha mattered, not so much the actual practice of the nembutsu. Kosai taught the idea that a single recitation of the nembutsu was all that was necessary. Chosai felt that all practices in Buddhism would lead to birth in the Pure Land. Awanosuke is credited with the double-stranded rosary, or juzu. The Jodo Shinshu sect diverges doctrinally, but is heavily influenced by Honen. In Jodo Shinshu, Honen is considered the Seventh Patriarch.

A couple of months later, at the end of my journey, when I stayed in the mountains of Kyoto, I would come down and mediatate in the main temple at Chion-in, the highest temple of Jodo shu. There was a liberty that allowed the spirit essence of the sactuary pass through me, and a feeling there was a oneness towards all members of the social order, but I didnt know if this prevailed in practice.

After Nagano I went to see my first castle at Matsumoto and took the slow local train north enough to see the snow capped mountains of the Japan Alps. Then I visited Tokyo for the afternoon, seeing the lights of the Ginza as night fell, then taking the shinkansen to sleep on the river bank near Nikko.
Next morning (day 4) I toured the temple complex, which consisted of the temple buildings of Rinno-ji, established in 766 by the Tendai Buddhist monk, Shodo; and the Futarasan Shinto Shrine.
Afterwards I went back to Tokyo for the day, visiting the Akihabara electronics town, Tokyo's oldest temple, Senso-ji, in Asakusa, formerly associated with the Tendai sect, but independent after World War II. It was dedicated to the bodhisattva Kannon (also known as Guan Yin or the Goddess of Mercy, who originated from the male bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, known in Tibet as Chenrezig, who is said to be incarnated in the Dalai Lama).
Then moved on to the Meiji-jingu, a featureless, but modestly grand shrine situated in a natural gardens, from where I detoured to the relatively close, 'only' vegan resturant in Japan, the Pure cafe, where I had a real vegan meal. This was a relief since that was the first meal I ate since leaving the rainbow gathering. As a rule for vegans, all prepared food has fish sauce in it at least, unless you can speak Japanese and ask for sure. So up till then I was living on raw tofu and soba, soy power mixed with water as a drink, raw barley flour mixed with water (an ascetic monk delicacy), and other things that were visually recognised as vegan.
After that I sped off again to sleep in the forest at Kamakura. Next morning (day 5) an early morning walker made himself my guide and showed me some of the shrines. I didnt see the Daibutsu.
I took the shinkansen to Nagoya, saw the Kusakabe heritage house at Takayama, went up to the Sea of Japan coastline round to Kanazawa from where I journey south right down to near the vicinity of Ise to sleep the night.
The ordinary town of Ise (day 6) becomes intensely beautiful upon reaching either of the Ise Jingu separate shrine complexes of Naiku and Geku because the region around the shrines consists of the Ise-Shima National Park.

Ise Grand Shrine (Ise Jingu) is a Shinto shrine dedicated to goddess Amaterasu-omikami. The Inner Shrine, Naiku is dedicated to Amaterasu-omikami. The Outer Shrine, Geku is dedicated to Toyouke no omikami, the deity of agriculture and industry.
The Naiku shrine is arguably one of Shinto's holiest and most important sites. The High Priest or Priestess of Ise Shrine must come from the Japanese Imperial Family, and is responsible for watching over the Shrine.
The official name of the main shrine of Naiku is Kotaijingu, the place of worship of Amaterasu. It is said to hold the Sacred Mirror, one of three sacred items given to the first emperor by the gods. According to the Nihon Shoki, around 2,000 years ago the divine Yamatohime-no-mikoto, daughter of the Emperor Suinin, set out from Mt. Miwa in modern Nara Prefecture in search of a permanent location to worship Amaterasu, wandering for 20 years. Her search eventually brought her to Ise, where she is said to have established Naiku after hearing the voice of Amaterasu saying "(Ise) is a secluded and pleasant land. In this land I wish to dwell." Before Yamatohime's journey, Amaterasu had been worshiped at the Imperial residence in Yamato.
Besides the traditional establishment date of 4 BC, other dates of the 3rd and 5th centuries have been put forward for the establishment of Naiku and Geku respectively. The first shrine building at Naiku was erected by Emperor Temmu (678-686), with the first ceremonial rebuilding being carried out by his wife, Empress Jito, in 692.
From the late 7th century until the 14th century, the role of High Priestess of Ise Shrine was carried out by a female member of the Japanese Imperial Family, known as a Saio. According to the Man'yoshu the first Saio to serve at the shrine was princess Okunohime-miko, daughter of Emperor Temmu, during the Asuka period. The Saio system ended during the turmoil of the Nambokucho Period.
During the Empire of Japan period, and the establishment of State Shinto, the position of High Priest of the Ise Shrine was fulfilled by the reigning Emperor, so Emperors Meiji, Taisho and Showa all played the role of High Priest during their reigns. Since the disestablishment of State Shinto during the Occupation of Japan, the offices of high priest and most sacred priestess have been held by former members of the imperial family or their descendants. The current High Priest of the shrine is a great grandson of the Meiji Emperor.

The shrine buildings are dismantled and new ones built on an adjacent site to exacting specifications every 20 years at exorbitant expense, so that the buildings will be forever new and forever ancient and original. It is part of the belief of the death and renewal of nature and the impermanence of all things (wabi-sabi) as a way of passing building techniques from one generation to the next. The present buildings, dating from 1993, are the 61st iteration to date and are scheduled for rebuilding in 2013.
In the lead-up to the rebuilding of the shrines, a number of festivals are held. The Okihiki Festival is held in the spring over two consecutive years and involves people from surrounding towns dragging huge wooden logs through the streets of Ise to Naiku and Geku. In the lead-up to the 2013 rebuilding, the Okihiki festival was held in 2006 and 2007. A year after the completion of the Okihiki festival, carpenters begin preparing the wood for its eventual use in the Shrine.
The first important ceremony is the Kinensai, where prayers are offered for a bountiful harvest. The most important festival is the Kannamesai Festival. Held in October each year, this ritual makes offerings of the first harvest of crops for the season to Amaterasu. An imperial envoy carries the offering of rice harvested by the Emperor himself to Ise, as well as five-coloured silk cloth and other materials, called heihaku. Other ceremonies and festivals are held throughout the year to celebrate new year, the foundation of Japan, past emperors, purification rituals for priests and court musicians, good sake fermentation and for the Emperor's birthday. There are also daily food offerings to the shrine kami held both in the mornings and evenings.

I headed for Himeji castle, but the quickest way was by gooing back to Nagoya and catching a Shinkansen. Before the day ended I visited the Hiroshima, then sped on, leaving Honshu, to Kyushu, sleeping on the beach at Beppo.
I caught the early morning train to Yufuin (day 7), then backtracked to see the Stone Buddhas at Usuki, then took the painfully slow train down the Pacific ocean coast to Aoshima. When I walked out to closely inspect these rock formations referred to as the 'Ogre's Washboard' I concluded for a while that someone had cemented the seeming multitudes of plates together, until I couldnt see why. It boggles the imagination how something like this is naturally formed, and why.
I arrived in Kagoshima at about midnight, and that was the end of my rail pass. Really amazing I could fit all these places from Kushiro, Hokkaido to Kagoshima, Kyushu into one week. I was worn out and dirty, and went to sleep in a paddock next to the station. Finally I could slow down and let the days go by.

Emblem of Kagoshima

Emblem of Kagoshima

I got cleaned up and refreshed the next morning on the island of the volcano Sakurajima, just a short ferry ride away, spending the day there. Returning to Kagoshima, I was surprised to learn that the Jesuit, St Francis Xavier had visited there in 1549. The St. Xavier church is a reminder of the first Christians who came to Japan. Mon of Shimazu clan
Mon (family crest) of Shimazu clan
Kagoshima was the center of the territory of the Shimazu clan of samurai for many centuries. It served as the political center for the semi-independent vassal kingdom of Ryukyu. Shimazu Tadatsune organized the Shimazu invasion of the Ryukyu Kingdom in 1609. He became the first Japanese to rule over the Ryukyu Kingdom.

I bought a ferry ticket which gives you seven days to stop off in any island that they stop at, so I stopped off on Tokunoshima, Okinoerabu-jima, Yoronto and got off at northern Okinawa. But the islands south of Okinawa is where the real tropical feeling lies, with thick rainforest and coral reef in the surrounding asure waters.

Meeting with Dr Kimura

Jun 23, 2009 ... Naha, Okinawa
Dr Kimura received me with so much of the grace, gentleness and respect that is alive here in Japan from one end to the other, in young and old. Our two or three hours of discussion was amiable and intense. Though he perceived much of what I said, language was a difficulty.
He had a study bungalow at the side of his house where, before a large screen fast computer, there was no problem bringing up my large 'Pan' website, and the online Oahspe.
Covering some of the Oahspe basics in order to understand the "Flood" story was difficult, but his interest was piqued by my Churchward quotes and related Oahspe symbol. I later saw in his book (Japanese only, see below) that he draws much from Churchward.
That Churchward had quoted Oahspe, John Ballou and 138 ships (see Churchward's Belief, and Oahspe) was reason enough for his increasing interest in Oahspe.
Before I arrived he made a rough map of his own, with Churchward's Mu, Oahspe's Pan, and a much smaller circle in the Japan Area, explaining that he calculated this area from what historical and geological info he could get. He mentioned something about the first Chinese emperor, Qin, but language and time prevented me from finding out what he meant. Qin was believed to have an underground musoleum (something the Dr. mentioned) where he was to gain immortality (in vain). There were a few things I learned. I asked him how the modern word 'Japan' could mean 'relic of Pan', since the word Nippon (Japanese native name for Japan) didnt mean much to me. He explained Nippon is two words 'Nih' .. the "Land of the Rising Sun", and 'pong', meaning that which is fundumental.
At the time I took this combination to mean Pan, the original land of the dawn of man, and told him this made sense to me for the first time.
According to Oahspe man's primordial language was Se’moin, also known as Panic, from the name Pan. There is a tablet shown giving symbols of the original words, the first pictograms. The first one is a horizontal line with the sound of Ah, representing the earth, but an equivalent sound for the same symbol is also given as "Pan" meaning "the foundation", or "the ground". So the second Chinese character in the word Ni-pon certainly has the same meaning as Pan in Oahspe. I understand that Kanji is largely interpretation of symbols, so I expect that the first character of Ni, meaning "sun", was originally interpreted as the dawn of the light of man. Strangely, the Algonquin [Native American] word "Wh'ah" is also equivalent to Ah and Pan. This is strange because Dr Kimura had also told me that "Wa" is the oldest name for Japan. This is verified at this website.

His book, which I have, is called "A New Theory of Mu" by "Kimura Masaaki".
There is a picture of the cover of his other book inside which is called "Underwater Pyramids of Mu", and he gives references to his previous books "Major magmatic activity as a key to predicting large earthquakes along the Sagami Trough, Japan" and "Discovery of Submarine pyramids off Yonaguni in Japan" (2001), ... and Churchward's five books regarding Mu.
The other references are in Japanese. There is a picture of Teotequacan Mexican pyramid, Ankor Wat, Easter Island, and many graphs with Japanese labels, a picture of what looks to be the Qin emperor, near a map of what appears to be his version of the expansion of civilisation ... the interest here being arrows pointing to Japan both from the Ham/Europa, Shem, and Jaffeth areas and also Guatama. Also many diagrams of evidence supporting his man made 'pyramid' theory.
I pointed out that the lands of Ham, Shem, and Jaffeth of Oahspe were names in the Noah story of the Bible. He also has much about the Okinawa 'rosetta stone' with diagrams of its symbols.

Early Names of Japan

55. The fleet of two ships carried to the north was named Yista, which in the Whaga tongue was Zha'Pan, which is the same country that is to this day called Japan, signifying Relict of the Continent of Pan, for it lay to the north, where the land was cleaved in twain.

The Lords’ First Book Ch. I of Oahspe

The ancient name of Whaga could possibly still be existent in the names Wōguó/Wakoku [lit. "Japan country"] which is an old Chinese/Japanese name of Japan.

The Japanese name for Japan is written in Japanese using the two kanji characters (nichi) which means "day" or "sun" and (hon) which means "origin", "base" or "root" . Both readings come from the on'yomi (a Japanese approximation of the Chinese pronunciation of the character). Hon often changes in compounds of it to 'bon' or 'pon' because h, b and p are closely related sounds in Japanese. Therefore there are two possible pronunciations for 日本: Nihon or Nippon. You can hear Nippon pronounced here, and Nihon pronounced here. While both pronunciations are correct, Nippon is frequently preferred for official purposes.
The compound meaning of the two characters can become "original day" to signify where the first day of man began (ie on the now sunken continent of Pan), but the accepted meaning is 'sun-origin', "where the sun originates", or sunrise. It can be translated as the "Land of the Rising Sun". Because Japan lies to the east of China, where this word is said to have originated, it is believed that 'sun-origin' refers to the land in the east where the sun rises.

Wo, in Kaishu, Clerical and Seal scripts

Wo, in Kaishu, Clerical and Seal scripts (top to bottom).
The Twenty Four Histories is a collection of Chinese historical books covering a period from 3000 BC to the Ming Dynasty in the 17th century. It is considered an authoritative source of traditional Chinese history. One of the earliest four books of these is the Sanguó Zhì 三國志 translated as 'Records of Three Kingdoms'. It is the official historical text on the period of Three Kingdoms covering 189-280 AD, that was written by the Chinese Historian Chen Shou (233–297 AD). It contains 65 volumes which are broken into three books, the Book of (Cao) Wei, Shu and Wu.
The Wei-chih (or Wei Zhi), the Book of Wei (in Japanese called the Books of the Kingdom of Gi) , has a volume called the Chronicles of Wa [or Gishi Wajinden in Japanese] - an account of the people of Wa, that describes the life and culture of the eastern barbarians (or dwarfs), written by Chinju [Chen Shou] in the Year 285. This is the first account of the people of Japan in the annals of history. An English translation can be seen here

Before Japan had relations with China, it was known as Hi no moto, which means "source of the sun" and Yamato.
The ancient Chinese called Japan "Wō" (the Japanese say Wa). This is the Chinese character for Wō and Wa . It was a name early China used to refer to an ethnic group living in Japan around the time of the Three Kingdoms Period. Because the character originally used to transcribe the ethnonym Wa means "dwarf" in Chinese, and taken to be derogatory by Japanese, a different character, , which means "harmony", came to be used in Japan. Later this character was adopted in Japan to refer to the country itself, often combined with the character , literally meaning "Great", to write the pre-existing name Yamato 大和 (as in 大清帝國 Great Qing Empire, and 大英帝國 Great British Empire). However, the pronunciation Yamato cannot be formed from the sounds of its constituent characters. It refers to a place in Japan. When 'hi no moto' was written in kanji, it was given the characters . In time, these characters began to be read using pseudo-Chinese readings, first Nippon and later Nihon.

Nippon appeared in history only at the end of the 7th century. Old Book of Tang, one of the Twenty-Four Histories, stated that the Japanese envoy disliked his country's name Woguo 倭國 [compare Woguo with Whaga], and changed it to Nippon (日本) or "Origin of the Sun". Another 8th-century chronicle, True Meaning of Shiji, however, states that the Chinese Empress Wu Zetian ordered a Japanese envoy to change the country's name to Nippon.
Cipangu located on the 1492 Martin Behaim globe

Cipangu located on the 1492 Martin Behaim globe.
The English word for Japan came to the West from early trade routes. The early Mandarin Chinese or possibly Wu Chinese word for Japan was recorded by Marco Polo as Cipangu. The modern Shanghainese (a Wu Chinese dialect) pronunciation of characters (Japan) is still Zeppen [compare Zeppen with Zha'Pan]. The old Malay word for Japan, Jepang was borrowed from a Chinese language, and this Malay word was encountered by Portuguese traders in Malacca in the 16th century. It is thought the Portuguese traders were the first to bring the word to Europe. It was first recorded in English in 1577 spelled Giapan.
From the Meiji Restoration until the end of World War II, the full title of Japan was 大日本帝國 Dai Nippon Teikoku or Great Empire of Japan). More poetically, another name for the empire was "Empire of the Sun". The official name of nation now is Nippon/Nihon koku (日本国), literally "Country of Japan".
Linguists believe "Japan"derives in part from the Portuguese recording of the early Mandarin Chinese or Wu Chinese word for Japan: Cipan (), which literally translates to "country of sun origin". Guó is Chinese for "realm" or "kingdom", so it could alternatively be rendered as "Japan-guó".
Cipangu was first mentioned in Europe in the accounts of the travels of Marco Polo. It appears for the first time on a European map with the Fra Mauro map in 1457, although it appears much earlier on Chinese and Korean maps such as the Kangnido.

Wa, the oldest recorded name of Japan

Japanese Wa (, "Japan, Japanese", from Chinese Wō ), is the oldest recorded name of Japan. Chinese, Korean, and Japanese scribes regularly wrote Wa or Yamato with the Chinese character 倭 until the 8th century, when the Japanese found fault with it, replacing it with , "harmony, peace, balance".

The Japanese endonym Wa 倭 (Japan) derives from the Chinese exonym Wō 倭 (Japan, Japanese). The Chinese character 倭 combines the 人 or 亻 (human, person) radical and a wei 委 (bend) phonetic. This wei phonetic element depicts hé 禾 (grain) over nu 女 (woman), which can be semantically analyzed as:
"bent, crooked; fall down, reject; send out, delegate – to bend like a 女 woman working with the 禾 grain."
The oldest written forms of 倭 are in Seal script, and it has not been identified in Bronzeware script or Oracle bone script.

Most characters written with this wei 委 phonetic are pronounced wei in Standard Mandarin:
wèi Cao Wei (one of the dynasties of China)      wēi ("motion" radical) "serpentine; winding, curving" [in wēiyí 逶迤 "winding (road, river)"]
wěi ("plant" radical) "wilt; wither"                        wěi ("sickness" radical) "atrophy; paralysis; impotence"     
wèi ("food" radical) "feed (animals)"                    wěi ("speech" radical) "shirk; shift blame (onto others)"     

The unusual Wō "Japan" pronunciation of this wei phonetic element compares with:
("foot" radical) "strain; sprain (sinew or muscle)"      wǒ ("woman" radical) "beautiful" [in wǒtuo 婑媠 "beautiful; pretty"]

A third pronunciation is found in the reading of ǎi ("arrow" radical) "dwarf, short; low; inferior"

Nara period Japanese scholars believed that Chinese character for Wō 倭 "Japan", which they used to write "Wa" or "Yamato", was graphically pejorative in denoting 委 "bent down" 亻 "people". Around 757 AD, Japan officially changed its endonym from Wa 倭 to Wa 和 "harmony; peace; sum; total". This replacement Chinese character hé 和 combines a hé 禾 "grain" phonetic (also seen in 倭) and the "mouth" radical 口.
Not long after the Japanese began using 倭 to write Wa ~ Yamato 'Japan', they realized its 'dwarf; bent back' connotation. The chosen replacement wa 和 'harmony; peace' had the same Japanese wa pronunciation as 倭 'dwarf', and - most importantly - it was semantically flattering. The notion that Japanese culture is based upon wa 和 'harmony' has become an article of faith among Japanese and Japanologists.

In Chinese, the character 倭 can be pronounced wēi "winding", wǒ "an ancient hairstyle", or Wō "Japan".
The first two pronunciations are restricted to Classical Chinese bisyllabic words.
Wēi 倭 occurs in wēichí 遲 "winding; sinuous; circuitous; meandering", which has numerous variants including wēiyí 逶迤 and 委蛇.
The oldest recorded usage of 倭 is the Shi Jing description of a wēichí 遲 "winding; serpentine; tortuous" road; using wēituó 委佗 "compliant; bending, pliable; graceful".
Wǒ 倭 occurs in wǒduòjì 墮髻 "a woman's hairstyle with a bun, popular during the Han Dynasty".

The third pronunciation Wō 倭 "Japan; Japanese" is more productive than the first two, as evident in Chinese names for "Japanese" things.

Wōkòu 寇 "Japanese pirates"
wōqi 漆 "Japanese lacquerware"
wōdao 刀 "Japanese sword"
wōgua 瓜 (lit. "Japanese melon") "pumpkin; squash"
wōhéma 河馬 "pygmy hippopotamus"
wōzhu 豬 "pygmy hog"
wōhúhóu 狐猴 "dwarf lemur"

Chinese historical texts recorded an ancient people residing in the Japanese archipelago (perhaps Kyushu), named something like Wâ 倭.
The Japanese first-person pronoun for "my; our" is waga . Compare this with Whaga.
Interpretations for Wâ "Japanese" were put into variations on two etymologies: "behaviorally 'submissive' or physically 'short'.
The first "submissive; obedient" explanation began with the Shuowen Jiezi dictionary (121 AD). It defines as shùnmào 順皃 "obedient/submissive/docile appearance" and graphically explains the "person; human' radical with a wei 委 "bent" phonetic.
Conceivably, when Chinese first met Japanese they transcribed Wa as 'bent back' signifying 'compliant' bowing/obeisance. Bowing is noted in early historical references to Japan.
Koji Nakayama interprets wēi 逶 "winding" as "very far away" and euphemistically translates Wo 倭 as "separated from the continent."

The second etymology of wō 倭 meaning "dwarf; short person" has possible cognates in ai 矮 "short person; midget, dwarf; low", wō 踒 "strain; sprain; bent legs", and wò 臥 "lie down; crouch; sit (animals and birds)".
Early Chinese dynastic histories refer to a Zhurúguó 侏儒國 "pygmy/dwarf country" located south of Japan, associated with possibly Okinawa Island or the Ryukyu Islands. Carr cites the historical precedence of construing Wa as "submissive people" and the "Country of Dwarfs" legend as evidence that the "little people" etymology was a secondary development.

The Japanese 'Ryu' character means dragon. Therefore Ryu-kyu means nine dragons.

Okina=big                 Wa=ring                 Therefore Okina-Wa means 'big ring'
Half of the Western language dictionaries note that Chinese Wo 倭 "Japanese" means "little person; dwarf", while most Chinese-Chinese definitions overlook the graphic slur with "ancient name for Japan" definitions. The explicitly racist "dwarf" description is found more often in Occidental language dictionaries than in Oriental ones. The historically more accurate, and ethnically less insulting, "subservient; compliant" type is limited to Chinese-Japanese and Chinese-German dictionaries. The "derogatory" notation occurs most often among Japanese and European language dictionaries. The least edifying "(old name for) Japan" type definitions are found twice more often in Chinese-Chinese than in Chinese-Japanese dictionaries, and three times more than in Western ones.

Historical evidence for the existence of Wa

Possibly the earliest record of Wō occurs in the Shan Hai Jing, 山海經 dating from maybe 300 BC to 250 AD. The Haineibei jing, or "Classic of Regions within the North Seas" chapter includes Wō 倭 among foreign places both real (Gojoseon was an ancient Korean kingdom) and legendary, saying:

Kai Land is south of Chü Yen and north of . Wo belongs to Yen. Ch’ao-hsien [Choson, Korea] is east of Lieh Yang, south of Hai Pei [sea north] Mountain. Lieh Yang belongs to Yen.

Nakagawa notes Zhuyan refers to the (ca. 1000-222 BCE) kingdom of Yan (state), which had a "possible tributary relationship" with "Wo (dwarfs), Japan was first known by this name".
The Han Shu (Book of Han ca. 82 AD) 漢書 covers the Former Han Dynasty (206 BC-24 AD) period. It records that:

Beyond Lo-lang in the sea, there are the people of Wo. They comprise more than one hundred communities #27138;浪海中有人分爲百餘國 It is reported that they have maintained intercourse with China through tributaries and envoys.

Emperor Wu of Han established this Korean Lelang Commandery in 108 BCE.

The Wei Zhi 魏志 (Records of Wei, ca. 297 AD), covers history of the Cao Wei kingdom (220-265 AD). The Encounters with Eastern Barbarians 東夷伝 section describes the Worén 倭人 (Japanese) based upon detailed reports from Chinese envoys to Japan. It contains the first records of Yamataikoku, shamaness Queen Himiko, and other Japanese historical topics.

人在帯方東南大海之中依山爲國邑舊百餘國漢時有朝見者今使早譯所通三十國]
The people of Wa dwell in the middle of the ocean on the mountainous islands southeast of [the prefecture] of Tai-fang. They formerly comprised more than one hundred communities. During the Han dynasty, [Wa envoys] appeared at the Court; today, thirty of their communities maintain intercourse [with us] through envoys and scribes.

This Wei Zhi context describes sailing from Korea to Wa and around the Japanese archipelago saying:

A hundred li to the south [about 35 km], one reaches the country of Nu 奴國. Here there are more than twenty thousand households.

It is suggested that this ancient Núguó 奴國 (lit. "slave country"), Japanese Nakoku 奴国, was located near present-day Hakata in Kyushu. Once Fukuoka was two seperate towns, the lordly Fukuoka castle, and the area for common folks, Hakata, across the river, but they merged eventually.

The golden Imperial Seal of China granted to the King of Wa

The golden Imperial Seal of China said to have been granted to the "King of Wa" by Emperor Guangwu of Han.
Nakoku (奴国, na no kuni?) was a state located around Fukuoka on Kyushu, from the 1st to early 3rd centuries. According to the Book of Later Han, in 57 AD, Emperor Guangwu of Han granted Nakoku an imperial seal made of gold. This gold seal was discovered in 1784 by an Edo period farmer on the island of Shikanoshima (Hakata Bay), thus helping to verify the existence of Nakoku (Nu/Na country) which was otherwise known only from the ancient chronicles.

The seal bears the inscription 漢委奴國王 The characters represent:
Han 漢      wa (withouth the "person" radical) 委       nu/na - slave 奴       koku - country 國       kan - sovereign/king 王

Chinese character for Wo or Wa, formed by the

Chinese character for Wō or Wa, formed by the "person" radical 亻and a wěi or wa 委 phonetic element
This is usually translated as "Han [vassal?] King of the Wa country Nu", or kan no wa no na no koku-o, King of the Japanese country of Na of Han.

A reference is found in the Gishiwajinden (魏志人伝, Records of Wei: Biography of the Wa people), a portion of the Chinese Records of the Three Kingdoms, to the continued existence of Nakoku in the 3rd century.

The Wei Zhi continues saying some 12,000 li [about 4,200 km] to the south of Wa is Gounúguó 狗奴國 (lit. "dog slave country") [Japanese Kunakoku], which is identified with the Kumaso tribe that lived around Higo and Osumi Provinces in southern Kyushu. Beyond that,

Over one thousand li [about 350 km] to the east of the Queen's land, there are more countries of the same race as the people of Wa. To the south, there is the island of the dwarfs 侏儒國 where the people are three or four feet tall. This is over 4,000 li [about 1,400 km] distant from the Queen's land. Then there is the land of the naked men, as well of the black-teethed people. These places can be reached by boat if one travels southeast for a year.

A tattooed Haniwa statue, 4th-6th century

A tattooed Haniwa statue, 4th-6th century, Kamiyasaku Tomb, Fukushima Prefecture.
One Wei Zhi passage relates Wa tattooing with legendary King Shao Kang of the Xia Dynasty.

Men great and small, all tattoo their faces and decorate their bodies with designs. From olden times envoys who visited the Chinese Court called themselves "grandees" 大夫. A son of the ruler, Shao-k'ang of Hsia, when he was enfeoffed as lord of K'uai-chi, cut his hair and decorated his body with designs in order to avoid the attack of serpents and dragons. The Wa, who are fond of diving into the water to get fish and shells, also decorated their bodies in order to keep away large fish and waterfowl. Later, however, the designs became merely ornamental.

"Grandees" translates as Chinese dàfu 大夫 (lit. "great man") "senior official; statesman" (cf. modern dàifu 大夫 "physician; doctor"), which mistranslates Japanese imperial taifu 大夫 "5th-rank courtier; head of administrative department; grand tutor" (the Nihongi records that the envoy Imoko was a taifu).

A second Wei history, the Weilüe 魏略 "Brief account of the Wei dynasty" (ca. 239-265 AD) is no longer extant, but some sections (including descriptions of the Roman Empire) are quoted in the 429 AD San Guo Zhi commentary by Pei Songzhi. He quotes the Weilüe that "Wō people call themselves posterity of Tàibó" 倭人自謂太伯之後. Taibo was the uncle of King Wen of Zhou, who ceded the throne to his nephew and founded the ancient state of Wu (585-473 BCE). The Records of the Grand Historian has a section titled 吳太伯世家 "Wu Taibo's Noble Family", and his shrine is located in present day Wuxi. Researchers have noted cultural similarities between the ancient Wu state and Wō Japan including ritual tooth-pulling, back child carriers, and tattooing (represented with red paint on Japanese Haniwa statues).

The Hou Han Shu 後漢書 "Book of Later/Eastern Han" (ca. 432 AD) covers the Later Han Dynasty (25-220 AD) period, but was not compiled until two centuries later. The Wōrén 倭人 "Japanese" are included under the 東夷伝 "Encounters with Eastern Barbarians" section.

The Wa dwell on mountainous islands southeast of Han [Korea] in the middle of the ocean, forming more than one hundred communities 倭人在帯方東南大海之中依山爲國邑舊百餘國. From the time of the overthrow of Chao-hsien [northern Korea] by Emperor Wu (BC 140-87), nearly thirty of these communities have held intercourse with the Han court by envoys or scribes. Each community has its king, whose office is hereditary. The King of Great Wa resides in the country of Yamadai 邪馬台国.

This Hou Han Shu account of Japan contains some historical details not found in the Wei Zhi.

In … [57 AD], the Wa country Nu 倭奴國 sent an envoy with tribute who called himself ta-fu 大夫. This country is located in the southern extremity of the Wa country. Kuang-wu bestowed on him a seal. In [107 AD], during the reign of An-ti (107-125), the King of Wa presented one hundred sixty slaves, making at the same time a request for an imperial audience.

The Song Shu 宋書 "Book of Song" (488 AD) covers the brief history of the Liu Song Dynasty (420-479 AD). Under the "Eastern and Southern Barbarians" 夷蠻 section, Japan is called Woguó 國 [compare this to Whaga], Japanese Wakoku, and said to be located off Goguryeo. In contrast with the earlier histories that describe the Wa as a 人 "people", this Song history describes them as a 國 "country".

The country of Wa is in the midst of the great ocean, southeast of Koguryo. From generation to generation, [the Wa people] carry out their duty of bringing tribute. 國在高驪東南大海中世修貢職 In … [421 AD], the first Emperor said in a rescript: "Ts'an of Wa sends tribute from a distance of tens of thousands of li. The fact that he is loyal, though so far away, deserves appreciation. Let him, therefore, be granted rank and title.

This "King of Wa and General Who Maintains Peace in the East" 安東大將軍王 title was given to succeeding kings, and in 451 the Emperor additionally entitled the Wa king with five Korean countries as "General Who Maintains Peace in the East Commanding with Battle-Ax All Military Affairs in the Six Countries of Wa, Silla, Imna, Kala, Chin-han and Moku-han." The Song Shu gives detailed accounts of relations with Japan, indicating that the Wa kings valued their political legitimization from the Chinese emperors.

The Liang Shu 梁書 "Book of Liang" (635 AD) , which covers history of the Liang Dynasty (502-557), records the Buddhist monk Hui Shen's trip to Wa and the legendary Fusang. It refers to Japan as Wo 倭 (without "people" or "country" suffixation) under the Dongyi "Eastern Barbarians" section, and begins with the Taibo legend.

The Wa call themselves posterity of Tàibó. According to custom, the people are all tattooed. Their territory is over 12,000 li [4200 km] from our Daifang, approximately east of Guiji (modern Shaoxing). One must travel an incredible distance to get there.
者自云太伯之後俗皆文身去帶方萬二千餘里大抵在會稽之東相去絶遠

Later texts repeat this myth of Japanese descent from Taibo. The 1084 AD Chinese universal history Zizhi Tongjian 資治通鑑 speculates, "The present-day Japan is also said to be posterity of Tàibó of Wu; perhaps when Wu was destroyed, [a member of] a collateral branch of the royal family disappeared at sea and became Wo." [今日本又云吳太伯之後蓋吳亡其支庶入海為].

Baekje and Silla, of the Three Kingdoms of Korea

Baekje, Silla and Kaya Kingdoms of Korea
The Sui Shu 隋書 "Book of Sui" (636 AD) records the history of the Sui Dynasty (581-618) when China was reunified. Woguó/Wakoku is entered under "Eastern Barbarians", and said to be located off of Baekje and Silla, two of the Three Kingdoms of Korea.

Wa-kuo is situated in the middle of the great ocean southeast of Paekche and Silla, three thousand li away by water and land. The people dwell on mountainous islands. 國在百濟新羅東南水陸三千里於大海之中依山島而居 During the Wei dynasty, over thirty countries [of Wa-kuo], each of which boasted a king, held intercourse with China. These barbarians do not know how to measure distance by li and estimate it by days. Their domain is five month's journey from east to west, and three months' from north to south; and the sea lies on all sides. The land is high in the east and low in the west.

In 607 AD, the Sui Shu records that "King Tarishihoko" (a mistake for Empress Suiko) sent an envoy, Buddhist monks, and tribute to Emperor Yang. Her official message is quoted using the word Tianzi 天子 "Son of Heaven; Chinese Emperor".

"The Son of Heaven in the land where the sun rises addresses a letter to the Son of Heaven in the land where the sun sets. We hope you are in good health." When the Emperor saw this letter, he was displeased and told the chief official of foreign affairs that this letter from the barbarians was discourteous, and that such a letter should not again be brought to his attention.

In 608, the Emperor dispatched Pei Ching as envoy to Wa, and he returned with a Japanese delegation.

The Japanese Nihongi [Nihon Shoki] also records these imperial envoys of 607 and 608, but with a differing Sino-Japanese historical perspective. It records more details, such as naming the envoy Imoko Wono no Omi and translator Kuratsukuri no Fukuri, but not the offensive Chinese translation. According to the Nihongi, when Imoko returned from China, he apologized to Suiko for losing Yang's letter because Korean men "searched me and took it from me." When the Empress received Pei, he presented a proclamation contrasting Chinese Huángdì 皇帝 "Emperor" with Wowáng 王 "Wa King", "The Emperor 皇帝 greets the Sovereign of Wa 王." According to the Nihongi, Suiko gave Pei a different version of the imperial letter, contrasting Japanese Tenno 天皇 "Japanese Emperor" and Kotei 皇帝 "Emperor" (Chinese tianhuáng and huángdì) instead of using "Son of Heaven".

The Emperor 天皇 of the East respectfully addresses the Emperor 皇帝 of the West. Your Envoy, P'ei Shih-ch'ing, Official Entertainer of the Department of foreign receptions, and his suite, having arrived here, my long-harbored cares were dissolved. This last month of autumn is somewhat chilly. How is Your Majesty? We trust well. We are in our usual health.

The 797 AD Shoku Nihongi history said that this 607 AD Japanese mission to China first objected to writing Wa with the Chinese character 倭.

"Wono no Imoko, the Envoy who visited China, (proposed to) alter this term into Nippon, but the Sui Emperor ignored his reasons and would not allow it. The term Nippon was first used in the period … 618-626 AD." Another Chinese authority gives 670 AD as the date when Nippon began to be officially used in China.

Sihai Huayi Zongtu, a 16th century Chinese world map

The island of Wa (probably modern Kyushu) is depicted below the island of Japan (日本國) and above the island of Greater Ryukyu (大琉球) on the right-hand side of this 16th century Chinese world map, the Sihai Huayi Zongtu.
The custom of writing "Japan" as Wa 倭 ended during the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD). Japanese scribes coined the name Nihon or Nippon 日本 circa 608-645 AD and replaced Wa 倭 with a more flattering Wa 和 "harmony; peace" around 756-757 AD. The linguistic change is recorded in two official Tang histories.
The Tang shu "Book of Tang" 唐書 (945 AD) has the oldest Chinese reference to Rìben 日本. The "Eastern Barbarian" section lists both Wakoku 国 and Nipponkoku 日本国, giving three explanations: Nippon is an alternate name for Wa, or the Japanese disliked Wakoku because it was "inelegant; coarse" 不雅, or Nippon was once a small part of the old Wakoku.
The Xin Tang Shu 新唐書 "New Book of Tang" (1050 AD) which has a Riben 日本 heading for Japan under the "Eastern Barbarians", gives more details.

Japan in former times was called Wa-nu. It is 14,000 li [4,900 km] distant from our capital, situated to the southeast of Silla in the middle of the ocean. It is five months' journey to cross Japan from east to west, and a three month's journey from south to north.
日本古奴也去京師萬四千里直新羅東南在海中島而居東西五月行南北三月行

Regarding the change in autonyms, the Xin Tang Shu says.

In … 670 AD, an embassy came to the Court [from Japan] to offer congratulations on the conquest of Koguro. Around this time, the Japanese who had studied Chinese came to dislike the name Wa and changed it to Nippon. According to the words of the (Japanese) envoy himself, that name was chosen because the country was so close to where the sun rises.
後稍習夏音惡名更號日本使者自言國近日所出以為名
Some say, (on the other hand), that Japan was a small country which had been subjugated by the Wa, and that the latter took over its name. As this envoy was not truthful, doubt still remains.
或雲日本乃小國為所並故冒其號使者不以情故疑焉
[The envoy] was, besides, boastful, and he said that the domains of his country were many thousands of square li and extended to the ocean on the south and on the west. In the northeast, he said, the country was bordered by mountain ranges beyond which lay the land of the hairy men.

Subsequent Chinese histories refer to Japan as Rìben 日本 and only mention Wō 倭 as an old name.

The earliest Korean reference to Japanese Wa (Korean Wae) is the Gwanggaeto Stele (414 AD) that was erected to honor King Gwanggaeto the Great of Goguryeo (r. 391-413 AD). This memorial stele, which has the oldest usage of Wakō 寇 "Japanese pirates", records Wa or Wae as a military ally of Baekje in their battles with Goguryeo and Silla.

Wae denoted both the southern Koreans and people who lived on the southwest Japanese islands, the same Kaya people who had ruled both regions in ancient times. Wae did not denote Japan alone, as was the case later.

"It is generally thought that these Wae were from the archipelago," write Lewis and Sesay (2002), "but we as yet have no conclusive evidence concerning their origins."

An archipelago is a chain or cluster of islands that are formed tectonically. The Japanese archipelago, which forms the country of Japan, consists of more than 3000 islands, including the four main islands of Hokkaido, Honshu Shikoku and Kyushu.

Yamadai, Yamato and Nara - the Yayoi period

The Yayoi period of Japan was from 500 BC to 300 AD. It followed the Jomon period (14,000 BC to 500 BC) and its culture flourished from southern Kyushu to northern Honshu. The earliest archaeological sites are Itazuke site or Nabata site in the northern part of Kyushu. A new study discovered that carbonized remains on pottery and wooden stakes dated back to 900 BC–800 BC.

Yayoi jar

Yayoi jar 1st-3rd century, excavated in Kugahara, Ota, Tokyo
The earliest archaeological evidence of the Yayoi is found on northern Kyushu. Yayoi culture quickly spread to the main island of Honshu mixing with native Jomon culture. Yayoi pottery was simply decorated, and produced on a potter's wheel, as opposed to Jomon pottery, which was produced by hand. Yayoi craft specialists made bronze ceremonial bells, mirrors, and weapons. By the 1st century AD, Yayoi farmers began using iron agricultural tools and weapons. They wove cloth textiles, lived in permanent farming villages and constructed buildings of wood and stone. They also accumulated wealth through land ownership and the storage of grain. Yayoi chiefs in some parts of Kyushu appear to have sponsored, and politically manipulated, trade in bronze and other prestige objects. This was possible due to the introduction of an irrigated, wet-rice culture from the Yangtze estuary in southern China via the Ryukyu islands or Korean peninsula.
Direct comparisons between Jomon and Yayoi skeletons show that the Jomon tended to be shorter, with relatively longer forearms and lower legs, more wide-set eyes, shorter and wider faces, and much more pronounced facial topography. They also have strikingly raised browridges, noses, and nose bridges. Yayoi people, on the other hand, averaged an inch or two taller, with close-set eyes, high and narrow faces, and flat browridges and noses. By the Kofun period, almost all skeletons excavated in Japan, except those of the Ainu and prehistoric Okinawans, resemble those of modern day Japanese. The modern Japanese are believed to be descendants of the immigrants mixed with the indigenous Jomon people, while the Ainu are believed to be relatively purer descendants of the Jomon people, with some intermingling of genes from Nivkhs and from Yayoi immigrants.
Archaeologists compared Yayoi remains found in Japan's Yamaguchi and Fukuoka prefectures with those from early Han Dynasty (202 BC-8) in China's coastal Jiangsu province, and found many similarities between the skulls and limbs of Yayoi people and the Jiangsu remains. Korean influence also existed. Yayoi pottery, burial mounds, and food preservation were discovered to be very similar to the pottery of southern Korea.
The rapid increase of four million people in Japan between the Jomon and Yayoi periods cannot be explained by migration alone. It is likely that rice cultivation and its subsequent deification allowed for mass population increase. There is archaeological evidence that there was an influx of farmers from the continent to Japan that absorbed or overwhelmed the native hunter-gatherer population.
Yayoi pottery show the influence of Jomon ceramics. Yayoi used chipped stone and bone tools, bracelets made from shells, and lacquer skills for vessels and lived in the same kind of pit-type or circular dwellings as that of the Jomon .
Early Chinese historians described Wa as a land of hundreds of scattered tribal communities, not the unified land with a 700-year tradition as laid out in the Nihon Shoki, which dates the foundation of the country at 660 BC. Archaeological evidences suggest that conflicts between settlements broke out in the period. Many excavated settlements were moated or built at the tops of hills. Headless buried human bones were discovered in Yoshinogari.
Third century Chinese sources reported that the Wa people lived on raw fish, vegetables, and rice served on bamboo and wooden trays, clapped their hands in worship (something still done in Shinto shrines today), and built earthen grave mounds. They also maintained vassal-master relations, collected taxes, had provincial granaries and markets, and observed mourning. Society was characterized by violent struggles.
According to the Wei Zhi, Himiko assumed the throne of Wa, as a spiritual leader, after the large civil war. Her younger brother carried out practical affairs of state, which included diplomatic relations with the court of the Chinese Kingdom of Wei. When asked of their origins by the Wei embassy, the people of Wa claimed to be descendants of the Grand Count Tàibó of Wu, a historic figure of the Wu Kingdom around the Yangtze Delta of China.

Yamataikoku 邪馬台国 was an ancient country in Wa (Japan) during the late Yayoi period. The Sanguo Zhi first records Yamataikoku 邪馬臺國, or Yamaichikoku 邪馬壹國 as the domain of shaman Queen Himiko. While historians disagree over the location of Yamatai, linguists concur that the name was an early form of Japanese Yamato 大和.
Chinese classic texts began recording Yamatai (邪馬臺) in the 3rd century AD, and Japanese classic texts began recording Yamato (大倭) around the 7th. After Japanese scribes changed Wa "Japan" to Wa 和 "harmony; peace" in the mid 8th century AD, Yamatai became a historical term and Yamato (大和) became the name for "Yamato Province" (in present-day Nara Prefecture) and generally for "Japan". The Wei Zhi first mentions the country Yamatai:

Going south by water for twenty days, one comes to the country of Toma. Then going toward the south, one arrives at the country of Yamadai, where a Queen holds her court. [This journey] takes ten days by water and one month by land. Among the officials there are the ikima and, next in rank, the mimasho. There are probably more than seventy thousands households.

The Wei Zhi also records that in 238 AD, Queen Himiko sent an envoy to the court of Wei emperor Cao Rui.

We confer upon you the title 'Queen of Wa Friendly to Wei', together with the decoration of the gold seal with purple ribbon … As a special gift, we bestow upon you three pieces of blue brocade with interwoven characters, five pieces of tapestry with delicate floral designs, fifty lengths of white silk, eight taels of gold, two swords five feet long, one hundred bronze mirrors, and fifty catties each of jade and of red beads ...

The Hou Han Shu (後漢書 "Book of Eastern Han", 432 AD) says the Wa kings lived in the country of Yamadai 邪馬台國.

The Wa dwell on mountainous islands southeast of Han [Korea] in the middle of the ocean, forming more than one hundred communities. From the time of the overthrow of Chao-hsien [northern Korea] by Emperor Wu (140-87 BC), nearly thirty of these communities have held intercourse with the Han court by envoys or scribes. Each community has its king, whose office is hereditary. The King of Great Wa resides in the country of Yamadai.

The Sui Shu (隋書 "Book of Sui", 636 AD ) records changing the capital's name from Yamadai Chinese Yemodui 邪摩堆 to Yamato 大和).

Wa-kuo is situated in the middle of the great ocean southeast of Paekche and Silla, three thousand li [1050 km] away by water and land. The people dwell on mountainous islands ... The capital is Yamato, known in the Wei history as Yamadai. The old records say that it is altogether twelve thousand li [4200 km] distant from the borders of Lo-lang and Tai-fang prefectures, and is situated east of K'uai-chi and close to Tan-erh.

These ancient place names refer to the Korean kingdoms of Baekje and Silla, and the Chinese commanderies at Lelang, Daifang, Kuaiji (present-day Zhejiang province), and Dan'er (present-day Hainan).

Oyashima (Eight Great Islands)

The Kojiki (古事記 "Records of Ancient Matters", 712 AD) is the oldest extant book in Japanese. The "Birth of the Eight Islands" section phonetically transcribes Yamato as what would be Standard Mandarin "Yemadeng" 夜麻登.
The Kojiki records the Shintoist creation myth that the god Izanagi and the goddess Izanami gave birth to the "Eight Great Islands" (Ōyashima (大八州) of Japan, the last of which was Yamato.

Next they gave birth to Great-Yamato-the-Luxuriant-Island-of-the-Dragon-Fly, another name for which is Heavenly-August-Sky-Luxuriant-Dragon-Fly-Lord-Youth. The name of "Land-of-the-Eight-Great-Islands" therefore originated in these eight islands having been born first.

This poetic name "Island of the Dragon-fly" is associated with legendary Emperor Jimmu.

The Nihon Shoki (日本書紀 "Chronicles of Japan" 720 AD) writes Japanese Yamato with the Chinese characters Yemadeng (耶麻騰). In this version of the Eight Great Islands myth, Yamato is born second instead of eighth.

Now when the time of birth arrived, first of all the island of Ahaji was reckoned as the placenta, and their minds took no pleasure in it. Therefore it received the name of Ahaji no Shima. Next there was produced the island of Oho-yamato no Toyo-aki-tsu-shima.

The translator notes literal meanings of Oho-yamato "Great Yamato" and Toyo-aki-tsu-shima "Rich-harvest-of-island".

Modern Japanese Yamato (大和) descends from Old Japanese Yamatö. There were two vocalic types within the eight vowels of Nara period Old Japanese (a, i, ï, u, e, ë, o, and ö, see Jōdai Tokushu Kanazukai), which merged into the five Modern ones (a, i, u, e, and o).
During the Kofun period when kanji were first used in Japan, Yamatö was written with the ateji 倭 for Wa "Japan". During the Asuka period when Japanese place names were standardized into two-character compounds, Yamato was changed to 大倭 with a 大 "big; great" prefix. Following the 757 AD graphic substitution of 和 for 倭, it was written 大和 "great harmony," using the Classical Chinese expression dáhè 大和
The early Japanese texts above give three transcriptions of Yamato: 夜麻登 (Kojiki), 耶麻騰 (Nihon Shoki), and 山跡 (Man'yōshū).
During the Wei period, dai was one of their most sacred words, implying a religious-political sanctuary or the emperor's palace.

Two possible sites for the location of Yamataikoku and the identity of Queen Himiko are in the Saga Prefecture and Makimuku in Nara Prefecture. A debate originated from a puzzling account of the itinerary from Korea to Yamatai in Wei-shu. The northern Kyushu theory doubts the description of distance and the central Kinki theory the direction. General consensus centers around either northern Kyūshū or the Kinki region of central Honshū. As Himiko died, a large mound was built, with a diameter of about 100 bu (1 bu = 1.45 m). Buried together were about 100 male and female servants. Some scholars assume the Hashihaka kofun in Makimuku was the tomb of Himiko.

bronze mirror

Bronze mirror excavated in Tsubai-otsukayama kofun, Yamashiro, Kyoto
In 1989, archeologists discovered a giant Yayoi-era complex at the Yoshinogari site in Saga Prefecture. They excavated 33 bronze mirrors from this site. The Wei Zhi records presenting "one hundred bronze mirrors" to Queen Himiko. Some scholars interpret Yoshinogari as evidence for the Kyūshū Theory, but many others support the Kinki Theory based on Yoshinogari clay vessels and the early development of Kofun.

Yoshinogari dates to between the 3rd century BC and the 3rd century AD, however, recent absolute dating methods have shown that the earliest Yayoi component of Yoshinogari dates to before 400 BC. In the Middle Yayoi period a mounded burial was constructed on the northern end of the low hill. Five of six jar burials in the centre of the mounded burial contained cylindrical jade-like glass ornaments from China and bronze daggers from the Korean peninsula. The mounded burial is located in an area away from the majority of burials.

Yoshinogari Dwellings

An area of the Middle Yayoi settlement seems to have been dedicated to the casting of bronze implements due to the number of moulds were found. In the same area, pottery that was common in coastal Korea during the same period was excavated there as well.

These youtubes are worth watching:
h424YayoiYoshinogari
Yoshinogari

Dragons and Mirrors

Jun 30, 2009 ... before leaving Okinawa for Ishigaki Island
In reading a recent Japan Times in the Naha, Okinawa library it said Mr Kyoguku was appointed chief priest at the Yasukini shrine. He and his predecessor Mr Nambu, both members of the Kazoku peerage (abolished in 1947), had never served as priests before.
Mr Tsukube, who died in 1978, had refused to enshrine class-A war criminals. Mr Matsudaure, known for his right wing views on history, enshrined them.
In the book “The Essence of Shinto” by Motohisa Yamakage it is explained that before the Meiji restoration in 1868 there was never a national or state Shinto. Ko-Shinto, the early form previous to Buddhist and Taoist influence, was never organized. Each village had an organization for its festivals and each powerful shrine had an organization for its rituals, but still they acted as an independent entity. Therefore there was no Shinto organizational at a social or national level.
National Shinto was eliminated after WWII. Jinja honcho, or shrine Shinto remains today.

1. Ko Shinto
2. Shugo Shinto (Buddhist influence)
3. Yoshida Shinto (Taoist yin-yang)
4. Shirakawa Shinto (handed down to priest family of the Great Shrine (Taishu), such as the shrines at Ise, Kamo, Izumo, Usa, Mungaka etc).
5. Jinja honcho, or shrine Shinto

I visited the most venerated shrine at Ise. Following a tradition begun in 690 AD the shrine buildings are replaced every 20 years with exact imitations, according to ancient techniques – no nails, only wooden dowels and interlocking joints. Upon completion the enshrined goshintai (kami symbols) are transferred in nocturnal ceremonies (Shikin Sengu) on the occasion of the Sengo No Gi (transfer) ceremony.
In the past I found no justifiable meaning for Kami. Kami and Shinto always has a label of animism, and someone looking for the truth would immediately dismiss it.

Yesterday I encountered a group of Christians whose teacher claimed years of religious study in this subject, yet belittled Shinto as the worship of ancestors, not the true One God. That very day it became clear that there is a creator in Shinto who is acceptable to me, which I communicated to them.

esak

The sign of esak
The sign of Esak in the Se’moin tablet of Oahspe represents the cosmos, referring to it, like the New Testament and Greek philosophers, as the all "world", which includes the sun, moon, earth, stars, and all the skies. The same refers to the Hindu (Poit) word "Oh'm" (skies), and the Sanskrit "Jagat" to indicate 'beyond measure'. It is similar to the sign of 'corpor'.

The whole universe, the All, is represented by a circle called Daikanu, 'universe of the Great Circle' or 'Big Circle of the Universe'.
[dai=base, stand, pedestal, also age, dynasty, generation, eternal]
Like in animism, Shinto looks for the spirit within each living thing, but also sees the origin and source of these 'many' in One Spirit (ichi-rei). Ancient (Koshinto) and modern (Yamakage, Omoto) Shinto recognise there is One Spirit. Since ichirei is the Oneness of the origin, source and spirit of the All it is called Daigenrai, the Great Original Spirit, "original kami", "universal organic body" or "creator kami of the universe".
Yamakage teaches the “Big Circle of the Universe” is a current of whirling spirits springing out of Daigenrai. In this spiritual current, individuals with identity are sparks of energy, which are also “manifested as a vortex”. We are a child-spirit (bunrei) of this “core Spirit”.

Wakemitama is the child-spirit (bunrei) of Daigenrai.
"Wake" means "reason, cause, ground"
"mi" means "divine"
"tama" means "spirit"

So wakemitama may mean "spirit of divine reason".

Naohinomitama is the original pure upright spirit, the Wakemitama of kami within you, the “Great Original Spirit” dwelling within us. The syllables Nao-hi-no-mi-tama represent nao (straight), hi (sun), tama (spirit). To nurture the bud of Wakemitama, the child spirit, is to become kami (highest spiritual essence or Shen in Chinese).

The Omoto co-founder Onisaburo Deguchi teaches that :
"Kami is the spirit which pervades the entire universe, and man is the focus of the workings of heaven and earth. When Kami and man become one, infinite power will become manifest. Observing the true form of heaven and earth, we see the substance of the true Kami. Seeing the unerring activities of all things, we see the energy of the true Kami. Recognizing the essential nature of living beings, we see the spirit of the true Kami."
Deguchi teaches that "The Great Original Spirit is the primordial form of the Great Original Deity of the Universe" [This is not necessarily the Oahspe view, which maintains that Jehovih is first and last, alpha and omega in biblical terms, eternal perfection in the midst of past present and future].

Yamakage says he is given the name Amenominakanushi no kami, and is the central kami for everything, that is, the entire circle of the whole circle of the universe (Daikanu). He is the fountainhead kami, first in the divine lineage. Ceremony, prayer and dedications of food offerings express that we owe our life and sustaining life energy to this great source of nature (Kami) [nushi=master, god].

Deguchi teaches that :
This Supreme Deity [ie the Great Original Deity of the Universe] is called the True God or the Master Deity of the Universe.
You shall love and respect this Great August Deity as your True Father or True Mother, chanting the Godhead as Ame-no-mi-naka-nushi-no-oh-kami (The Great Deity Master-of-the-August-Center-of-Heaven) or Oh-kunitokotachi-no-ohokami (The Universe-Eternally-Standing-Great-Deity).

It appears that the exegesis of both Deguchi and Yamakage is derived from the Kojiki (Records Of Ancient Matters) and Nihon Shoki (Nihongi), which in turn have a Taoist influence. The Kojiki tells us the first god was Ame-no-mi-naka-nushi-no-kami:

Now when chaos had begun to condense, but force [movement] and form were not yet manifest, and there was nought named, nought done, who could know its shape? Nevertheless Heaven and Earth first parted, and the Three Deities [Ame-no-mi-naka-nushi-no-kami, Taka-mi-musu-bi-no-kami, Kami-musu-bi-no-kami] performed the commencement of creation; the Passive and Active Essences [Yin and Yang of Chinese philosophy] then developed, and the Two Spirits [creatrix and creator Izanami and Izanagi] became the ancestors of all things.

Ame-no-mi-naka-nushi-no-kami = Master-of-the August-Centre-of-Heaven
         Taka-mi-musu-bi-no-kami  = High-August-Producing-Wondrous-Deity
              Kami-musu-bi-no-kami  =          Divine-Producing-Wondrous-Deity

The Nihon Shoki says the first god was Kuni-toko-tachi no Mikoto:

Of old, Heaven and Earth were not yet separated, and the In and Yo not yet divided. They formed a chaotic mass like an egg which was of obscurely defined limits and contained germs.
The purer and clearer part was thinly drawn out, and formed Heaven, while the heavier and grosser element settled down and became Earth.
The finer element easily became a united body, but the consolidation of the heavy and gross element was accomplished with difficulty.
Heaven was therefore formed first, and Earth was established subsequently.
Thereafter divine beings were produced between them.
Hence it is said that when the world began to be created, the soil of which lands were composed floated about in a manner which might be compared to the floating of a fish sporting on the surface of the water.

At this time a certain thing was produced between Heaven and Earth. It was in form like a reed-shoot. Now this became transformed into a God, and was called Kuni-toko-tachi no Mikoto. Next there was Kuni no sa-tsuchi no Mikoto, and next Toyo-kumu-nu no Mikoto, in all three deities.

. Then further on it says:

In one writing it is said: "When Heaven and Earth began, there were deities produced together, whose names were, first, Kuni-no-toko-tachi no Mikoto, and next Kuni no satsuchi no Mikoto." It is further stated: "The names of the gods which were produced in the Plain of High Heaven were Ama no mi-naka-nushi no Mikoto, next Taka-mi-musubi no Mikoto, next Kami-mi-musubi no Mikoto."

Yamakage interprets:

Amenominakanushi no kami becomes two –
Takamimusubi no kami, the positive – the source of all exterior manifestation, and
Kamimusubi no kami, negative action, the source of all inner, interior phenomena.

[The Japanese characters for “taka” means manifestation, and “kamu” means subtle, deep, hidden, invisible]
In Yamakage Shinto these are like Yin and Yang of Daoism. When 'take' (yang) and 'kamu' (yin) unite they form the essential core that is “Mi” ... “an original source point separates into two to create all things”
Ame-no-mi-nakanushi no kami is interpreted as “ame”=honorary title, “mi”=honorific word, nakanushi=adjective and kami as the main word. But Moto Yamakage suggests that we should interpret this “mi” as the main word and all others as modifiers. Mi is the most sacred name expressing the source and essence of life.
[c.f Ame-no-mi-naka-nushi-no-kami = Master-of-the August-Centre-of-Heaven]

These three kami are called kami of the three-fold whirl, or Amatsu uzu-uzushi yatsuagi no ameno mi-oya no o-kami
The syllables in this word, Ama-tsu uzu-uzushi ya-tsuagi no ame-no mi-oya no o-kami, mean

ama=heaven,    tsu=of,    uzu-uzushi=whirling, volute, spiral,    ya=eight, in all directions, the whole universe
tsuagi=link, connect, tie,    no=of    mi-oya=parent,    o-kami=great kami

putting this in order

heaven--of--whirling/volute/spiral--eight/in all directions/the whole universe--link/connect/tie--of--honorary title--of--parent--of--great kami

One wonders if this is the Japanese body, mind and spirit:

the universal heaven of the honorary great kami, whose body is the whirling spiral universe – omnidirectional, manifest in the eight directions and is tied to, or mirrors its parent.

Yamakage is a trusted Ko-Shinto family serving successive emperors. The 75th successor, Yamakage Kazuhira (1751-1810) used the hereditary esoteric knowledge and added Yoshida Shinto, Suika Shinto and other schools to ancient Ko-Shinto to create the Yamakage Shinto. Motohisa Yamakage is the 79th successor.

Yonaguni

Jul 6, 2009 ... upon returning to Ishigaki
As Yonaguni came into view from the boat its distinct shape captivated me. From a view travelling west towards the island, the northern cliffs appear comparatively small to the high cliffs on the south side, that overlook the ocean. These high cliffs were the ones I had to somehow get down, to snorkel the ruins alone ...
Sitting at Japan's westernmost point, with Taiwan across the sea to the west and down below the annual marlin festival is happening, I reflect on my experience. Tomorrow I return to Ishigaki Island.

My Yonaguni encounter included viewing the underwater ruins in the submersible, diving, and snorkelling them. I also inspected the ancient graveyard, which does have burial sites similar to the style of the underwater structure, and the Sanninudai structure that has similar stepped and "right-angled" structure above sea level to that found at the underwater ruins. Mr Kihachiro Aratake, who discovered the ruins, was contacted by Dr Kimura while I was with him in Okinawa, so I knew I would have some chance of seeing the ruins even when I did not have a diving licence. I got picked up at the ferry terminal and next day was in the submersible with a large host of Japanese tourists, and Aratake was at the helm speaking through earphones in Japanese, all the way to the ruins. Though clangy and crude, the submersible does give a good close-up view of the ruins.
When we got back I decided to take the gamble to scuba dive. Having had problems with my ears I was concerned I wouldn’t pass the preliminaries. Later that afternoon I was told I could make the dive tomorrow.

Layout of the Yonuguni "pyramid" features
z The next day I did the shallow dive ok, and in the afternoon I was joined by a group of divers. Aratake didn’t speak a lot of English, but with the help of the others I explained to him I had contacted Dr Kimura through the internet and explained that he was interested in my website about a sunken continent, and he knew I was the person who was with Dr Kimura in Okinawa a couple of weeks ago.
The Arch Gate
The Arch gate I did the ten meter dive for another 30 minutes which was ok, then the boat went on to the ruins. I jumped off the back of the boat with my guide, followed by the rest. We swam through the "Arch Gate" (see photo, left) in single file. Dr Kimura had publically said "There are stone fences surrounding the loop road. The entrance to the loop road seems to be an arch-gate the height of which is 1.7 m and the width is 1 m." It is at the west side of the ruins. It is said that the two roundish big stones on both sides are artificially stacked. The narrow tunnel-shaped passage fits only one person at a time. The arch shaped gate compares to castles (Gusuku) of the Ryukyu Dynasty age. The "castle" gate opens up to the twin pillars (Nimai Iwa).
The Twin Pillars
Twin Pillars I noticed they were not quite parallel. The two huge rectangular rocks, height of about 7m and a thickness of 1m, weigh more than 1000kg and stand vertically close to each other. One gets the impression that they were the result of a splitting. One would think that this is easily geologically proven. But the rocks are thought to have accidentally fallen into place. Otherwise they must have intetionally been carefully cut and placed there.
A "loop road" which Dr Kimura belieives is man-made, continues to a "main terrace" from Nimaiiwa, and it surrounds the pyramid structure. The widest part is 15 m and the typical part is 6 m wide. The depth is 27m and it has "drain" at the both sides of the road. Strangely, there are no fallen stones on the road.
Main terrace
Main terrace We then entered the main terrace (see photo, left) in the deep blue water. This was the place where one certainly feels that you were in an underwater man-made city. This is at 100m off of Arakawabana, at a depth of 20m. A slot of about 30 cm wide and about 50 cm deep is cut in a straight line on both sides of the stepped "main terrace”. The end of this slot connects with a drain.
The turtle rock
The turtle rock We moved on to the upper terrace and the "turtle rock" (see photo, right). This appears to be a relief of a giant turtle carved out of the rock at the eastern side of the structure. Japanese school children are familiar with the Okinawan fable of Urashima Taro, the gentle fisherman who saved a young turtle from bullies and released it into the ocean, only to be visited by a 'giant turtle' who thanked him then gave him a ride beneath the sea to a magical kingdom. This fable is thought to be a folk memory of the turtle rock. Dr. Kimura says the fable is related to this kind of turtle. Turtles may grow to about 1.5 m long.
We then inspected a drain or channel, the "cemetery" and the "cross", and spent a while inside a large round hole, being watched by schools of google-eyed fish along the way. I cant say for sure whether it was the "hole of the pillar". There are many things which cannot be regarded as having been made from the corrosion of a natural waves, like the "pool" structure depressed in a triangle, called "triangle pool". The holes in this huge structure occur only here. The pieces of stone that should have fallen into the hole seem to have been removed by someone. There are two holes that are almost the same size, with a ditch between them. One theory says the two holes were holes for pillars.
Dr Kimura said about the "triangle pool": The shape of the depression seems to be a triangle. It resembles a 'Kaa' that is an artificial spring for drinking water at Gusuku Castle of ancient Okinawa. The gusuku means a castle including a temple in ancient Okinawa.
Before you knew it the 30 minutes was finished. I was not satisfied..

Sanninudai structure Sanninudai structure Next day I walked to the Sanninudai structure (see photos both sides). San-ninu Dai, a few kilometers from Iseki Point, where the Yonaguni "pyramid" is submerged, is a cliff arranged like a stairway. It forms a natural observation tower from which to view the strange rock formation. The typical rock is a rock reef. It had suffered a landslide and was off limits, but no one was around, so I stepped over the barbed wire. It was easy to get sceptical about the "ruins" because Sanninudai has natural steps that lead from near the top of the cliff down into the water, with the same, sometimes "right-angled" corners and steps as at Iseki Point. Sceptics who insist the submarine ruins are a natural thing see them as the same as the form of this San-ninu Dai, which sinks into the sea. Professor Kimura indicates that there is a trace of them being man made. They have the same stratum. San-ninu Dai is said to have characters etched in the cliff (see bottom left photo). James Hurtak, an American linguist, said that they may be Phoenician characters. Phoenicians had a custom to etch characters in the high place of a cliff. Hurtak was the author of "The Keys of Enoch", which I believe is a fraud.

San-ninu Dai characters etched in the cliff I walked further on up the road for another hour or two to the much higher cliffs that overlook the ruins. It was hard to look over the edge due to a barricade of prickly pandanus trees. I broke my way through and eventually found a way with long grass which made it possible to descend down a virtually vertical drop of the high cliff face, terrifying to even look down from. But the long grass was deeply rooted, and held me firmly during my descent. As I got closer to the bottom things got easier, and I reacher the boulders at the water's edge.
I had to snorkel around the cliff face to get nearer to the ruins, as waves crashed against it. Having been gashed against the rocks in Hawai once before, I took great caution. Much was only knee deep, with deep breaks in between. My confidence increased and I went further out to sea until I reached the end, where there was the 24 meter drop to the bottom, and many terraces, though I could not identify any places. The fish alone were spectacular to watch. I was totally captivated as I followed the edge of the terrace wall to the end. Then I realised I was being swept along by a current out to sea, and panicked a little. I knew of dangerous strong currents that lurked at this point.
But I didn’t need to, as an inner voice was saying, as after some time I managed to gain on it and swim back to a quieter, safer area (with no flippers), where I continued snorkelling, but could not find where the scuba dive took place.
Before I left the rocky shoreline I could see a line of round holes in a rock (up to about one inch diameter) similar to some of the evidence that was presented as man made. There is a shell fish that makes them, even in a row. Going up the cliff was easier, save for almost getting lost. There was only one way back I knew of. I was glad to be alive when I reached the top. The next morning I thought how, beyond my fears, there was a compelling, reassuring urge to make me go on, getting me to take care ...

The sun is going down, the waves crash majestically below as the last full colours light up the landscape. The sun goes down; I mark the spot with a stone and go down to the festival, being delighted to arrive when the traditional dances began. That night, I marked where the north was, and in the morning where the sun rose. The sun rises north of east and sets north of west.

Re: Yonaguni

Jul 8, 2009
--- In oahspe@yahoogroups.com, susan martinez wrote:

> > paul > thanks so much for sharing your wonderful adventures with us, adventures in kosmon, to be sure. one feels there is an even stronger "current" keeping you safe, but please take care anyway.

Thanks Poosh,

Yes, thats the current that sustains me.

> if it ever happens that you get some insight on why the yonaguni story took 8 years to hit the US, please let us know.

I used to think Robert Scoch was slowing the momentum towards recognition of the Yonaguni monument as a major shift in cultural and historical understanding, but now I agree with his caution. Theres more to find out before I can be convinced myself, now, even though, like West, Scoch, Hancock etc., its still the find I want to believe in. I know Dr Kimura and the Japanese scientific community are ahead of the rest in confirming it as being partially man-made, though I'm yet to be able to translate his reaserch which gives the clinching scientific evidence for this.
This could be why it took 8 years to hit the US.
I watched a DVD Aratake had, maybe produced by the discovery channel. Pretty interesting. Lots of useful detail was discussed.

--- In oahspe@yahoogroups.com, susan martinez wrote:

> intuitively, i believe they are! after all, oahspe has hinted that these signs will show up in kosmon.

Heres some extra info that support your belief:

While I was visiting the "peoples library", which turned out to be a folk museum, in the town where Mr Aratake has his diving shop, I noticed the book "Diving Survey Report" by Dr Kimura. This could be the same as "Discovery of Submarine pyramids off Yonaguni in Japan" (2001), mentioned earlier. It had some English pages in it, so I quickly took some notes as follows:

Near the "underwater ruins" were found underwater caves with stalactites and stalagmites in them. This process can take place only on land.
[This proves the area was once above the sea, but doesnt prove the "underwater ruins" are man-made.]
Lao-Tsi wrote of a mysterious cluster of islands in his "Book of Resshi".
He recorded the Okinawa story of Urashima Taro, who visited a castle beneath the sea on the back of a turtle god.
[This youtube gives a romaticised animation.]
On the Northern part of the island there is an oral memory that "long, long ago an island sank". On the southwest part is a traditional belief, or religion (Niraikanai), and in that tradition a story is told of an ancient continent that sank beneath the sea.

On Yonaguni island, there is a fearful legend that all the people on the island died suddenly long ago. Ikema Nae, Yonaguni Ethnic Reference Library Director (the kind woman in the "peoples library") said about the "Legend of Fire and Rain":
Then, long ago, the sky over this island became red suddenly, a bad man appeared and began to attack people. After that, the rain of fire and the tsunami rolled on every place of the island and the island sank. Moreover, when people in the island were crying out and were offering a prayer to God, it is said that they heard God's voice,“ You will be saved if you run into a hole called Donadaabu”. The legend is that people who escaped at Donadaabu were saved. This has a parallel with Atlantis and Mu continents that sink, and this legend a very strange phenomenon in Okinawa that doesn’t have a volcano.

Utsuro Bune Ancient Japanese UFO sighting
This compelling UFO sighting has a strong parallel to the Okinawan story of Urashima Taro.
According to this youtube link called Utsuro Bune Ancient Japanese UFO sighting, the legend of Utsuro Bune is about a mysterious alien woman who arrived from the bottom of the Pacific in a round craft like vessel. In Japanese writings was a description of a bowl-like ship that arrived on a beach called Hiratono Hama. Professor Kazuo Tanaka re-opened the investigation in 1997, asking “Did an encounter of the third kind occur on a Japanese beach in 1803-11? In the early 1800’s Japan suddenly saw a bounty of Utsuro Bune drawings all by different artist in different parts of the country each one telling the exact same story. Japan was completely closed to the outside world until 1857.
Here is a website with good photos.

The Iwase Bunko Depository library has a record known as the Hyouryuukishuu translated to the ‘Tales of Castaways’. The document was printed during the late Edo period which modern fans of the paranormal understand this vessel to be the ‘Edo-period UFO’. The evidence recorded tells the tales of Japanese mariners who find themselves in unfamiliar nations after becoming lost in the ocean, as well as castaway visitors washed shorewards on the seashores of Japan. To the Japanese public, who during this period had existed living in a extended time of national seclusion, these unusual stories must have appeared extremely sensational.
Together with these tales is the report of a damaged ship with a extremely mystifying form. According to the record, this large craft washed shorewards at Harashagahama. The specifications of the craft, specified as 3 meters tall by 5 meters in width, had been built from red sandalwood and metal and was equipped with openings of glass or crystal. The mystifying characters of an unfamiliar writing system were discovered etched inside the craft. Aboard the wandering vessel was a delicately decorated young lady with pale face and red eyebrows and locks. She was assessed to be amid Eighteen and Twenty years of age. Considering that she uttered an unfamiliar language, those that chanced upon her were incapable of determining from where she came. In her arms, she grasped a basic timber case that looked to be of great importance to her, as she would permit nobody to approach it.

The Submarine Ruins off Yonaguni
In 1986, what looked like archeological artifacts were found lying in the seabed off Yonaguni Island. They have since then been under investigation by the Submarine Research Group of the University of the Ryukyus headed by Professor Masaaki Kimura. Despite controversy over the ruins' authenticity, Professor Kimura maintains in his latest book, Diving Survey Report for Submarine Ruins Off Yonaguni, Japan, that there are many indications of human involvement, such as:

Traces of marks that show that human beings worked the stone. There are holes made by wedge-like tools called kusabi in many locations.
Around the outside of the loop road there is a row of neatly stacked rocks as a stone wall, each rock about twice the size of a person, in a straight line.
There are traces carved along the roadway that humans conducted some form of repairs.
The structure is continuous from under the water to land, and evidence of the use of fire is present.
Stone tools are among the artifacts found under water and on land.
Stone tablets with carving that appears to be letters or symbols, such as what we know as the plus mark "+" and a "v" shape were retrieved from under water.
From the waters nearby, stone tools have been retrieved. Two are for known purposes that we can recognize, the majority are not.
At the bottom of the sea, a relief carving of an animal figure was discovered on a huge stone.
In two locations, tools that were conceivably used by people who lived there, such as tools struck from stone have turned up.
Dr Kimura has said: "We recovered several pieces of stone tools. Typical ones are adzes. They are not polished. Their age is estimated as up to 10 thousand years old."
Inscribed into San'ninu-dai, there is a large relief carving of a bird.
Suppose that the castle-like main structure in the ruins is acknowledged as a submerged artifact, what significance would that recognition have? Human history, the history of civilization, would probably have to be rewritten to account for the existence of stone constructions of that large a scale in East Asia 10,000 years ago.
Professor Kimura speculates that the ruins might have been part of a greater Pacific civilization like that of the legendary Continent of Mu although he is skeptical about the Continent's existence itself from a geological standpoint.

Nirai-kanai and the Holy Women of Kudaka Island
Okinawan awe of the sea is thought to arouse their belief of a paradise called the “Niraikanai”. It is said that many blessings come to earth from this paradise. Festivals which welcome a god of Niraikanai are carried out in Okinawan villages in summer when it becomes June in the lunar calendar. In the Yaeyama Islands they hold a rice festival to pray for the fertility of grain. Many “Miroku Gods” appear. The Miroku God is welcomed as a bringer of happiness.
In the Haterumajima island, there is a myth of a paradise called the “Paipathiroma“ very far in the south from the island. The “Pai” means “South”, the “Pathiroma” means the “Hateruma”. In short, it becomes the “Hateruma”. This “Paipathiroma” is an island of which people had visions. In fact, there are some records that some villagers left this island for the paradise “Paipathiroma” because they couldn't endure the severe tax.

From the Japan Times July 17, 2000:
When the gods arrived by boat at the Okinawan islands during the fourth and ninth months of the Chinese calendar, they first set foot on the shores of Ishiki Beach, say residents of Kudaka Island. Far from the shore, beyond the far-reaching shallows, white waves break in what looks like a ring around the island. Beyond lies the deep blue expanse of the sea, and farther out is where the sun rises. Hana Nishime, 75, points out to the sea. "Nira-hara," she says. In other parts of Okinawa, they call it "Nirai-kanai," the faraway utopia where gods live and all things begin.
Like other "utaki," sacred places throughout Okinawa where the gods are thought to alight, no "torii," (shrine gate) is thought necessary to mark either Ishiki Beach or the nearby clearing where prayers are offered. These places still preserve beliefs and rites that were once held by the ancient Japanese. The most holy are strictly off-limits for men. The only human sounds are the low, incessant chanting of a "yuta" (spiritual counselor claiming the ability to sense the will of the spirits) offering prayers on behalf of a client.
Speak to a yuta and you soon learn to see the gods in the trees, in the kitchen stove, in ancestors and in the foam on the waves. They have no distinction between Shinto and Buddhism. And serving the gods, many of whom are demanding and jealous, is a dangerous undertaking. Yutas fall ill if they make light of what they sense. They undergo a period of intense personal suffering and are released only after they recognize their calling and declare themselves. A history of disdain and criticism by intellectuals and acts prohibited the practice of yutas, dating from 1673, 1732, 1831 and 1900. In 1938, as part of efforts by the government to encourage cultural uniformity throughout Japan, there was a reward for anybody who reported a yuta to authorities. Yutas stand in front of a grave and can tell the living whether the dead are pleased or sad. People believe that the world that can't be seen is closely intertwined with the world of the living.
But while animism remains deeply rooted in Okinawan culture many of the larger religious rites and institutions are on the verge of extinction. The roots of the organization of holy women, or "noro" reach long before they were organized into an official network of seers during the Ryukyu era (1429-1879). The noro system, a hierarchical network headed by the king's sisters, was established in 15th century to pray for safe passage of ships. Powerful enough to force the resignation of kings, noro once attended battles, guided kings and presided over festivities during peace.

In Yonaguni many festivals are still carried out 46 times per year. Life on this island is deeply and closely connected with faith. August in the lunar calendar is the beginning of the year for festivals, and next June is the end of that year. Some festivals are dedicated to a God of water, in some they wish for children's health, or they refuse to eat meat for 25 days from October in the lunar calendar. They pray to their Holy lands, and Gods of mythology, who are protected by women priestesses called Tsukasa. On the day of the festival, villagers welcome God from the Holy land with a Tsukasa who serves God, and after praying to God for a fruitful coming year, they send God off again.

Additional Discoveries and Excerpts

Various Okinawan Scripts
Various Okinawan Scripts The “Old Ryukyu” is one of the works by Iha Fuyu. (1876~1947). Mr. Iha, who had come home to the unjust treatment of the Okinawan people under Satsuma Clan rule, and the Meiji Government, learnt the “Omoro Soshi” in order to know the history, language and folklore of Okinawa. “Old Ryukyu” is about the song of a detached island, including the history of Okinawa and language and the “Omoro”.
The Omoro Soshi is a compilation of 1,144 ancient poems and songs from Okinawa and the Amami Islands, collected into 22 volumes. The poetry extends from the 12th century, but most if not all are believed to derive from far earlier traditions, as a result of their language, style, and content. The poems contained in the compilation vary, but follow a general pattern of celebrating famous heroes of the past, from poets and warriors to kings and voyagers. A few are love poems. They range from two verses to forty, some making extensive use of rhyme and couplet structures.
Soshi means a written work. Iha Fuyu traced 'Omoro' to words associated with oracles and divine songs.
The omoro are said to be the predecessors in Ryukyuan culture to music, dance, and literature; they incorporate all three of these. Only after centuries of development, and influence from China, Japan, and various South Seas cultures, did distinct traditions of music, dance, and literature develop. Outside of what might be reconstructed from the Omoro Soshi, no record survives of earlier forms of Ryukyuan music and dance.
Though reflective of ancient folk traditions, the poetry also reflects the intricate links the Ryukyus enjoyed with other nearby states. Many of the Ryukyuan islands, largely culturally and linguistically isolated, are mentioned, along with various locations in Japan, China, Southeast Asia, and the South Seas.
The Omoro Soshi was first compiled in 1532, and again in 1613 and 1623, as part of attempts by the royal government to help secure their cultural or spiritual legitimacy and power. The first compilation came just after the reign of Sho Shin, who consolidated, centralized, and reformed the government, and the second came just after Ryukyu became a direct vassal to Satsuma. Only a small handful of scholars have studied the documents in any significant depth. Thorough analysis has been able to yield elements of a foundation of understanding of ancient governance, social structures, and folk religion.
Kikaijima Island is located on the east side of Amami oshima. It is in the cultural sphere of the Rykyu Kingdom, and there are many common points in the culture with Okinawa. The old culture was not lost here. A book called “Tokisoushi”, used by the shaman called Yuta in fortune-telling, had a calendar and an outlook about the universe. But in the 18th century Yuta was oppressed, and this Soushi was burnt. Iha-Fyu started a legend that “there was a script in Okinawa such as the “Ryukyuushidouki” before the current scripts of China and Japan. According to a record by Arai Hakuseki and a scholar in China, the history of the script goes back to the Gen period of the 14th century.
The “Ryukyu Shintoki” or Ryukyu Sinto Diary is a record from which we can know traditional religion and faith before the Shimazu Clan’s rule in Ryukyu. Taichushonin, who brought the Jodo shu (Pure Land Buddhism) to Ryukyu wrote it during his stay of three years from 1603 to 1606. It is the oldest book 'written about Ryukyu Shinto. It consists of five volumes and discusses creation, various aspects of a God appearance, the Tametomo legend, the Meikarusi legend and the augur of seven companies of the avatar faith.
Irosetsuden is a collection of legends written as an outside volume of the “Kyuyou”, the authentic history of Ryukyu. Iro is a talk spoken and handed down by the Iro. There are legends covering a wide range from Kunigami in the north to Yonaguni in the south. The contents cover the Gusuku, the origin of the Ontake, the tradition, various religious service, and a patrimony similar to the legends in China and Japan. Many legends were handed down.

Kaida Characters In addition to the characters on the rock face at San-ninu Dai, the (not very understandable) Okinawa prefecture website mentions another feature, found underwater near a cave close to the Yonaguni monument, that looks more like an image (left side of photo on right). The character is engraved on a big reef rock in the sea bed 20 meters below the surface of the sea about 1 kilometer away from the cave called the “palace of light” in the western part of the Yonaguni remains. The design looks like a dog, with legs and body and a head on the left side. When a ray of the sun shines through a hole in the “Palace of light” submarine cav, the ray is flickered by wave motion, and it drifts around there as if it were an aurora.
This image is also described in terms of a writing character due to its similarity with an ancient Okinawan writing character called Kaida (right side of photo on right). Kaida Characters are a picture writing used in Yonaguni passed on from long ago. It is said that in the past, officers used it for illiterate islanders for calculating quantity for taxation purposes, which then spilled over into daily life. Kaida Characters were used before elementary schools were established in the Meiji era.

Rosetta Stone of Okinawa (left), its other side (below, right), and other Okinawa tablets (above, right)
Indian clay tablet compared to the Fuente Magna bowl Rosetta stone of Okinawa There is a similarity of these finds to a clay tablet (right, bottom inset) found in the Gulf of Cambay, India, which appeared like a Harrapan-type civilisation but dated back to 7500 BC. The earliest discovered human civilisations in the subcontinent are the sites of the Harrapan and Indus Valley communities, which date back to 2500 BC.
The Fuente Magna bowl found near the ancient Tiahuanacu ruins, Bolivia has what looks like Sumerian writing on it (right), and also some characters of proto-Sumerian (circled). These are similar to the Yonaguni character, but mirrored due to changes in the order of reading.

Indian clay tablet compared to the Sumerian style writing on the Fuente Magna bowl of Tiahuanacu
These characters can also be found on tablets found on Okinawa, the largest of which is called the Rosetta stone of Okinawa (left). There is no known culture associated with it. There are 12 slate palettes of this kind, found in Kadena-cho and Hokutan-cho now.

Glozel tablets The so-called Glozel tablets, found in France have characters similar to the characters from Yonaguni and Okinawa. The three tablets (right) differ.

The Yonaguni/Okinawa characters appear to be older than 7500 BC if one looks at their development. The possible relation between the Yonaguni/Okinawa writing, the Indian clay tablet, the finds at Peru, and the Phoenician leads to the conclusion that this is evidence pointing to a common cultural origin.

Ushiishi artefact
The Ushiishi artefact (left) was found of six meters below the surface of the sea near remains. It looks like a figure of the cow.




There is a submarine artefact called the "slate palette", from the sea of Yonaguni, which is incised with a character (left). There is some evidence that it was shaped by being scraped away evenly and cut into at rights. A sign of the cross was made and a V-line incised on it. It is made of a grainy shale about 25 centimeters square and 2 centimeters thick, and on it there are two holes. This slate palette was examined by 11 researchers such as archaeologists and biologists. According to that report, the line and the holes can't be thought of as being traced by a living thing such as a seashell. Most of the researchers agree that it should be regarded as an artefact because the trace appears to be manmade.

chipped stone tool
Dr Kimura found traces of human evidence on August 1996 at the submarine limestone cave in Beto. A chipped stone tool (right) was found at the end of the hall at the back of the limestone cave. Professor Kato Shinpei, an archaeologist, said the wedged stone tool and the chopping tool must have been man made.

Ishibutai
The feature on the left is named Ishibutai, (English: the Stage), and was found under water near the land based statue called Tachigami (or Tachigami-iwa), some kilometers east along the coast from Iseki point, where the monument is located. In fact, this feature is the second most famous one from Yonaguni. The Okinawa website mentions the feature at the right edge of the right part of the V-shaped backside as looking like a Moai statue, as known from Easter Island. Tachigamiiwa is a ruins point in the Pacific Ocean. It was the place of faith for people in ancient times.


Sekihi Iwa line of holes This feature (left) called the Sekihi Iwa, or protection wall, is also located close to the Tachigami-iwa. It is a huge, regularly shaped, rectangular block with a length of more than 10m. On the bottom some 40-50 cm from the block runs a straight line of some 70 holes extending towards the Ishibutai. It was thought that the holes were the trace of sea urchins. But the expert of masonry Mr. Kotaro Maza concluded that "the trace of slotwedge under water" marks (describing the line of holes between Ishibutai and Sekihi Iwa) are wedge holes made in order to cut the rocks. Picture 3 shows how this could be done (he also concluded it could also be done using wooden tools). The possibility that the slotwedge construction method was also used for the construction of the monument was resolved by investigations from 1998 to 1999. The (not very understandable) Okinawan website also mentions finding this construction method at several places on the islands (Hikawa Beach at the southern coast of Yonaguni, etc).

At the end of 2002 underwater features were discoverd near the island of Penghu, in the Taiwan Straights. The first picture shows what looks like a stone wall. It lies at a depth of about 25 to 30 meters, and is said to be one of several examples, some of them stretching about 100 meters, and being about 1 meter high and 0.5 meter thick and to be constructed from round stones. The possibility of the remains being artificial is considerably higher if one realizes that Taiwan is very close to Yonaguni, whose underwater ruins are certainly artificial and lie at about the same depth, i.e. were above water at the same geological age.

Tom Moya Reef in the Kerama Islands has a point called the “Centre Circle” This is one stone at the center with some huge stones surrounding the stone. The height of stone at the center is 3 meters and is about 3 meters in diameter next to the hexagonal pole. The surrounding stones have various forms but the height of them is the same. The space between stones is arranged in order extends radially like a passage. Going down the road there is another center circle. The composition of the base stone and the stone circle on top is different indicating that this was carried here from somewhere artificially.

There is a rock which was composed in a huge plain where a castle wall rises up on the west side of Tom Moya Reef. In the center of that, a straight road of 2 meters wide continues. In some places, there are traces that the stairs were built up, and it is a different aspect completely from the seabed like the surrounding nature.

In the Ryukyu Islands, 300 Gusukus are distributed. The word Gusuku, in Okinawa, often means a castle, a Holy land or a tomb. Generally, it is built on a hill, and many of them have some stone curbs and castle walls. Gusuku began to be built about 13th century. After about the middle of the 15th century, it is said that these “Gusuku” group were completed. There is what appears to be a “Gusuku” which sinks in the seabed of Okinawa's main island.

There is a 20-30 meter long rock at the seabed of 30 meters deep at a distance of about 300 meters from Fudennsaki in the southwest of Awakunijima Island. In 1989, a local diver found 7 holes which is open to the surface of the rock. Every hole looks like a perfect circle, and it resembles the form of a well. The hole is about 3 meters in diameter, which is dug to 4 to 5 meters. In the side, some slots run vertically. On Awkunijima Island, which doesn't have much rain, they had used a stone jar to collect rain water. This indicates that the holes are of the time when it was on land.

Near the rock which has 7 holes at a distance of about 100 meters from the Fudensaki there is a rock like a castle wall which is about 20 meters high, rises from the seabed. The surface has a trace like accumulated cutting stones.

s The Ryukyu Arc The Ryukyu Arc was a part of the continent about 2 million years ago. The Ryukyu Islands repeated violent crustal change whenever an ice age came around, which repeated the unheaval and sinking. We call the continent that once existed from Kyushu to the Chinese Continent the “Ryukyu Koriku”. The Ryukyu Koriku” began to sink under the sea some 20 thousand years ago.

The present form of the Ryukyu Islands resulted from repeated large and intense diastrophism. A submarine limestone cave was discovered on the sea bed of Hedomisaki (Hedo), Kumejima Island, at the northern edge of Okinawa. The entrance is at 10 meters deep, and the limestone cave has beautiful limestone formations on the upper and lower sides, then the cave continues in the back to no less than 40 meters deep, where it is covered with sand thought to be from the diastrophism. This would mean that during the last ice age, 10 thousand years ago, the water surface was more than 100 meters lower than at present to allow these limestone formations to develop. More amazingly, some stonewares were discovered within the limestone cave, indicating that this stoneware had exsited about 9 thousand to 7 thousand years ago. Then a submarine limestone cave was discovered near Hikawa, Yonaguni, also.



Ishigaki, Iriomote and Taketomi Jima

I made a friend who ran the Moondra cafe in Ishigaki city where I could get a vegan meal. He spoke good English and gave me advice on how I could do the "challenging cross-island trail, which cuts through Iriomote Island’s interior to Ohara in the south". I had no guide book, but he said it could be done. I took the ferry to Iriomote, and soon I was walking the beaches until I reached the bridge across the wide Urauchi-gawa (river) where the boats take you to the waterfalls and swimming holes, and for the few, the trailhead of the cross-island trail. They wouldn’t allow me to do it alone. It was illegal I found out. After trying to lie my way through, they rang the police who, to my surprise allowed me to do it if I contacted them when I got through. There had been many missing persons, even recently, lost forever on this dangerous trail.
It was raining while the tourist boat ploughed through the muddy water by the mangroves. We got dropped off at the end to be picked up later, all but me . It was a beautiful easy long walk to the waterfall area. The scene opened up to deep rock pools and lakes of pure clear water surrounded by lush delicate rainforest. The walking got a lot harder when I journeyed beyond this delightful area upon reaching the trailhead. The path was so narrow it was barely visible, and led thru impenetrable jungle along slippery muddy drops where you could hardly get a footing. It rained every few minutes, and it was not as nice as the touristy path. There was nowhere even to sit, so after some hours of this, just before dark I was relieved to find a clearing, and camped for the night beside the river. The going had been extremely slow, and I had little food, though I was carrying my heavy backpack. Next morning the going was no easier. This time I had to carry a branch with which to brush away huge cobwebs that barred my way. Occasionally I didn’t see one, and a very big spider could be crawling on me. Didn’t know if they were dangerous or not, but since they were encountered literally every five feet for the next few kilometres, I got used to them. The 20 km or so trail was divided into markers, and I knew that to battle and sweat for hours to get to where I was took about 2-3 hours per km. I'd hardly gotten anywhere yet. But eventually it lead higher up into the gorge, beyond the constant rain, spiders and slippery treacherous trail, to more drier, less rainforesty wider track, and my pace tripled.
I came to a grand opening where the trail met and crossed the river. It was a pure blue lake, where I went for a delightful swim. Crossing the river I followed it further into the mountains, and found a spot to sleep on the sand that night. The next day was far simpler, and made it through to Ohara, enjoying the grand vistas along the way down the dirt road. I caught the ferry to Taketomi Jima and slept on the beach there in peace reflecting on my ordeal.
Taketomi turned out more interesting than I thought, instilled with a proud ancestral heritage that it promoted and still practices. Here the culture unique to the Ryukyu Islands was alive, and the social order observed the festivals and initiations that held the community together throughout the centuries.
Returning to ishigaki, I now went to the other side of the island to discover beautiful wide beaches (Yonehara beach) with not so many people. There was also a beautiful palm forest not far away on the mountain slopes. If one ventured into the water perhaps half a kilometre offshore with snorkelling gear, you would come to the edge where the bottom drops off into the spectacular deep blue. Along the edge are wonderfully coloured hard corals, almost as good as that in the Red Sea and the Great Barrier Reef. Besides what I saw at Yonaguni (which didn’t have coral) this was the only time when I snorkelled live coral with tropical fish (though other islands had smaller, fewer tropical fish). After a few days I moved on, pausing at the bright blue magnificent Kabira bay.

The three-fold whirl

Jul 15, 2009 ... after returning to Ishigaki from Iriomote and Taketomi Jima
Tomoe Dr Kimura mentioned a symbol like the yin and yang, but three-fold. I cant remember why he mentioned it, but I have seen this symbol in many places, including Dewa Sanzan, as a symbol to represent the three holy pilgrimage mountains there, and at the Shuri castle, as a family crest symbol used on lacquarware.
A tomoe is a Japanese swirl shape that resembles a comma or a magatama. It is a common design element in Japanese family emblems (kamon) and in triplicate whorls known as mitsu tomoe. One mitsu tomoe variant, the Hidari Gomon, is the traditional symbol of Okinawa. The tomoe is similar in design to the Korean sam-taegeuk, Tibetan Gankyil or Chinese yin/yang symbols. The Basque lauburu and some forms of the Celtic spiral triskele resemble small groups of tomoe.
The mitsudomoe is created from three joined tomoe. Some view the mitsudomoe as representative of the threefold division (Man, Earth, & Sky) at the heart of the Shinto religion. Originally, it was associated with the Shinto war deity Hachiman, and through that was adopted by the samurai as their traditional symbol. The mitsudomoe has been used in Japanese family crests (kamon) and corporate logos, and is a traditional symbol of Okinawa. Jeju-do's flag has a mitsudomoe on it, as did the Ryukyu Kingdom's flags.
This youtube says the decorative element on the ceramic roof tile end plate is a Tomoe water pattern and the three elements swirling about indicate swirling water, a whirlpool or an eddy, and thats a very old image in asia, symbolic of water and common in archetecture because in those days there was a belief that water symbols could act as a protection against fire. This doesnt explain its symmetrical, geometrical pattern, nor its whirlpool interpretation. If that were the case a 'bucket of water' symbol would be more effective.
A triskelion is a symbol consisting of three interlocked spirals, or three bent human legs, or any similar symbol with three protrusions and a threefold rotational symmetry. A triskelion is the symbol of Brittany, the Isle of Man and Sicily The triskelion symbol appears on Mycenaean vessels and on coinage in Lycia. It appears as a heraldic emblem on warriors' shields depicted on Greek pottery. Celtic influences in Anatolia, epitomized by the Gauls who invaded and settled Galatia, are noted by those who theorize a Celtic origin for the triskelion.
The Celtic symbol of three conjoined spirals may have had triple significance similar to the imagery that lies behind the triskelion. The triple spiral motif is a Neolithic symbol in Western Europe. It is carved into the rock of a stone lozenge near the main entrance of the prehistoric Newgrange monument in Ireland. A variant of the symbol is also found, carved into the wall in the inner chamber of the passage tomb.

threeFoldSwirl

Symbols of triplicity from left to right:
Neolithic triple spiral.
Celtic Spiral triskele and Trinitarian symbol.
Tibetan Buddhist gankyil
Estonian Triskelion (12th or 13th century)
Basque lauburu
Japanese mitsudomoe
Flag of the Ryukyu Islands (1875-1879).

The lauburu or Basque cross has four comma-shaped heads similar to the Japanese tomoe. Lau buru means "four heads", "four ends" or "four summits" in Basque.
The Basque intellectual Imanol Mujica said the heads signify spirit, life, consciousness, and form. It was found in old stelas. Around the end of the 16th century, the round swastika appears abundantly as a Basque decorative element, in wooden chests or tombs, perhaps as another form of the cross. Many Basque homes and shops display the symbol over the doorway as a sort of talisman.
Some say that what produces the distinctive round heads is the wake created by the rotation of the cross, representing the elements and universe of energy.

The Gankyil is a symbol and ritual tool in Tibetan Buddhism. It is symbolic of primordial energy, the energetic signature of the trikaya, and represents the central unity and indivisibility of all the doctrinal trinities of Dzogchen. The gankyil is the inner wheel of the Dharmacakra of the Vajrayana Ashtamangala path of Buddhism.
The energetic potency (wisdom or shakti) of the Snow Lion is expressed in the attribute of the gankyil that the Snow Lion keeps in eternal play.
The Snow Lion is a celestial animal of Tibet. It resides in the East and represents unconditional cheerfulness, a mind free of doubt, clear and precise. It has a beauty and dignity resulting from a body and mind that are synchronized. The Snow Lion has a youthful, vibrant energy of goodness and a natural sense of delight. It is one of the Four Dignities.
Gankyil (Sanskrit: ananda-chakra, pronounced "ganshee"), is formed from the words dga' ("joy, bliss") and 'khyil ("swirling, circle, coil, a place where water flows"). Thus, it may be rendered into English as "bliss-whirling" or "wheel of joy". The Gankyil represents the interdependence of all the groups of three in the Dzogchen teaching. Dzogchen, Supercompleteness, the highest path to enlightenment, is a central teaching of the Nyingma school. The Madhyamaka teachings on emptiness are fundamental to Dzogchen practices.

Bhagavan Kalacakra

Bhagavan Kalacakra
Dzogchen, the Great Perfection, is the self-perfected indivisibility of the primordial state, the natural condition of the mind, so it has a non-dual symbol. The structure of Dzogchen teachings is always in groups of three – such as base, path and fruit – but although they are divided in this way their indivisibility is emphasised by symbols such as the ga’kyil. In the center of the summit of Mt Meru, there is the inner sixteen petal lotus of the Bhagavan Kalacakra, which constitutes the bliss (ananda) cakra of the cosmic body.
The gakyil is depicted in a similar form to the ancient Chinese yin-yang symbol, but its swirling central hub is usually composed of either three or four sections. The wheel of joy is commonly depicted at the central hub of the dharmachakra, where its three or four swirls may represent the Three Jewels and victory over the three poisons, or the Four Noble Truths and the four directions. In the Dzogchen tradition the three swirls of the gakyil primarily symbolize the trinity of the base, path, and fruit.
The gankyil is the energetic signature of the Trikaya, realised through the transmutation of the Three poisons (greed, hatred, and delusion) and therefore in the Bhavachakra the Gankyil is an aniconic depiction of the snake, boar and fowl. The Gankyil is the inner wheel of the Vajrayana Dharmacakra.

The Gankyil is symbolic of the doctrine of:
Trikaya: Nirmanakaya, sambhogakaya and dharmakaya
The interdependence of the Three Vajras: body, voice and mind.
The Triple Gem: The Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. These are called the Mirror of the Dharma and help attain the true "mind like a mirror".
The triunic continuua of 'sound, light and rays' [heart, 'mind'-wheel; throat, 'voice'-wheel; head, 'body'-wheel.]
Energetic emergence: infinite and formless, thoughtform of "the eye of the mind", or the transpersonal imaginal manifestation, manifestation of the energy of the individual, as apparently an 'external' world.

The three-fold symbol mentioned by Dr Kimura might also symbolise the previously mentioned kami [Amenominakanushi, Takamimusubi and Kamimusubi] of the three-fold whirl, or Amatsu uzu-uzushi yatsuagi no ameno mi-oya no o-kami (also called "Daigenrai", the Great Original Spirit). These are three in one, like the triangle. They are known as "jisshin" (real Kami) since they are the true reality. They are not personifications.

Oahspe tells us science can discover the chemistry of life, but life is unfathomable. Shinto tells us you have been manifested in this world as one spirit, the spiritual light of which dwells in the core of our "spirit-soul".
Musubi means to unite or to bind together. In the "Chronicles of Japan" (Nihonshoki) the meaning of each written character of this word is "generate-spirit", and in the "Kojki" the meaning is "generate-nestle-sun". Two kami of the three-fold whirl, Takamimusubi no kami and Kamimusubi no kami have names ending with "musubi". This indicates the deep spiritual meaning of the word - transformation, sudden birth, as in "koke musa", literally "moss-grow", which describes the sudden emergence of moss on rock surface, something maybe akin to the appearance of life in semu.
Hi (as "bi" in musubi) means "fire" and "spirit", the source of life. [A phonetic rule changes "hi" to "bi"]
Therefore musubi signifies the proliferation of life and spirit.
Musubi (or unification) of man and woman also entails the procreation of life and "spirit-soul" (rei-kon), and so children are called musuko (boy) and musume (girl). Musubi can also apply to an individual "spirit-soul" as being the work a person does to generate, transform and develop Naohinomitama (the innermost pure spirit) for growth and strength of spirit.
So the two kami of musuhi [musubi] of the three-fold whirl combine to generate the essential core that is "Mi", the source and essence of life.
Rei-kon (spirit-soul) has eight different senses (meanings).

1) Mi, the most sacred name.
2) Hi/Bi, the character means "fire", "sun", "spirit" etc., something essential for sustaining and energising life. Musu-bi (hi=bi) means creation and development (seisei kaiku, birth and growth, transformation and development) of life.
3) Chi/Ki/Ke is the spirit-soul of the nature kami, which is highly sacred and equal to "mi" and "hi", as can be seen in the words Kukunchi no kami (tree kami), and kagutsuchi no kami (fire kami).
[Qigong involves the circulation of qi (chi) energy. In Japan, the word qi is written ki, and is related to the practice of Rei-ki.]
4) Tama is the spirit-soul dwelling in humans or animals.
5) Mono is a title for the spirit-soul of anything that is not pure spirit, as in monoke, bad vibration released from wicked thought or spirit.
6) Kami is the hidden spirit-soul, unseen and has a sacred and awe inspiring effect.
7) Mikoto is the ancient name for kami. The characters mean "life-reverence".
[Koto=words and language, worldly events. Mikoto is someone who receives words or messages about events (koto) from the divine (mi). The title mikoto (mikkyo in esoteric Buddhism) is used for kami who have the status and character of a human being and who acts in this world. The character for kami represents the lighting flash coming down from heaven (sky), so it is more correct that kami should only refer to heavenly kami (tenjin/tenshin). So it is an aberration to use the kami title for a human being acting in this world. Mikado=emperor.]
8) Nushi is a principle, major spirit-soul which has much of the sacred power of "mi", "hi" and "chi".

The highest unseen realm is Takamanohara (Takamagahara), literally "High Heaven's Plain" but often translated as the "High Plain of Heaven". It is the dwelling place of the Kami. It is believed to be connected to the Earth by the bridge Ama-no uki-hashi (the "Floating Bridge of Heaven"). In Shinto worship, the kami are invited to leave Takama-ga-hara and enter a shrine or some other purified place.
Unlike the Buddhist belief that humans can reach Nirvana, Shinto believes that humans and ancestral spirits cannot enter Takamanohara immediately. It is the abode of kami (=etheria) and requires first the attainment of kami.
The spirit of Mi, the divine virgin spirit, the stainless mirror, the source and essence of life, born of Takamimusubi no kami and Kamimusubi no kami (the creative musubi kami), pours forth into the natural world via hi/bi, chi or spirit, fire and energetic essence, and gives life to "the world after death", the "eternal land" or "land of root" (tokoyonokuni or nenokuni), "world of roots, source of life" (ni-rai-kanai), the "hidden world" (kaku riyo), and the "underworld", the "land of the dead" (Yominokuni, Hades).
The amatsu kami reside in Takamanohara, and Kunitsu kami are active closer to earth. In the Great Purification words (oharai no kotoba) its is said when the heavenly prayer words are chanted (amatsu norito), amatsu kami will listen after pushing the heavenly rock door open, cutting through [smote] the eight-fold thick cloud in heaven. Kunitsu kami will listen after clearing the mist at the high ridges and mountains.

In Shinto Amaterasu omikami is looked upon as the principle kami. She is the sun-kami and connected with the legendary founder of the imperial family.
Recent academic theory says peoples coming into Japan from the northern route took Amenominakanushi no kami to be supreme, while those from the southern route took Amaterasu omikami to be supreme. The mythologies of the Kojiki and Nihonshoki are a compromise or fusion of these two cultures. Since the sun is taken as the source of all life, and the most visible reflection of the creator kami, and the emperors family who unified ancient Japan worshipped Amaterasu omikami, she became the principle kami.

Inseparability from individuality?

Sun Jul 19, 2009 ... just before leaving Ishigaki and returning to Okinawa
Shinto is not nature worship, like some forms of pantheism. It worships the source of nature which is called kami. Through our finite perception and standpoint, nature appears divided in the diversity of the phenomenal universe.
So like in animism, Shinto looks for the spirit within each living thing, but also sees its origin and source in One Spirit (ichi-rei). Since ichirei is the Oneness of the origin, source and spirit of the All it is called Daigenrai, (the Great Original Spirit), and "creator kami of the universe".
Within every human being there resides naohinomitama, which literally translated from the three written characters means "straight" (nao), "fire or sun" (hi), and "tama" (spirit).

"Hino-de" is sunrise
"Hino-iri" is sunset
"Hino-ke" are sparks
"Hino-te" is a tongue of fire

Naohinomitama is the "original, pure and upright spirit", the "spark of divine light" the "offspring of kami" emerging out of the "creator kami of the universe". It has great wisdom.
This spirit has the same quality as kami, but on an infinitesimally small scale.
Yamakage says " this wakemitama (or bunrei), the child spirit of kami, like the single metaphysical entity of a monad, is akin to the bud of a plant. It is the task of humans to nurture that bud so as to eventually become kami [pure, original spirit].
A song (goshinka) in Yamakage says:

"From the creating spirit of heaven and earth I have received the soul by which I am who I am".

Yamakage says "Naohinomitama is wakemitama of Daigenrai". It also says "all forms of life are a child-spirit of the original kami (daigenrai). This child-spirit, or core-spirit, is Naohinomitama. But Oahspe teaches that only the human spirit can rise to the "spirit of divine reason" (if this is what Wakemitama is).

There was a difference between the Yakamage Shinto master and a European philosopher about the "divided" (ie., the individual) soul. The European said man's spirit is part of the energy of the whole, but has its own distinct identity. The master said "if man's soul is part of the universal spirit, but has a distinct identity, the divided spirit can not have the same qualities as the original spirit, and moreover, original spirit cannot be divided. He gave a parallel of a tree and a seed. There is no sudden transformation of the seed into a tree, yet there is always a continuity between the two distinct forms. In this way a divided soul is not distinct from the original soul. Citing Hindu philosophy the European explained that Brahman or Atman does not have the same capacity for growth as attributed to them by Shinto.
The master explained, Man is not another self [aspect] of Deity. There is a continuity between the divided [individual] spirit and the original spirit.

So if the core-spirit is the same as the One original spirit, why does a child become a Man, an egg become a bird and a seed become a tree? What is this One spirit out of whose blueprint all things become what they are, yet identical and common to all?

Any answers?
Here's an old one, similar to Gnosticism, and Greek mythology.

Yamakage explains: "The first chapter of the Kojiki contains the origin of (Japanese) history, still shrouded in mythology. It mentions the coming into existence of three creator kami who created and transformed themselves to bring forth various kami, all of whom are child-spirits of these three creators. These also transformed and generated their own child-spirits. These further transformed and generated all the phenomena of the universe. From this chain of procreation it is inferred that humans, animals, plants and all natural matter are in essence offspring of the great original kami of the universe, or, everything ultimately comes into existence as a child-spirit of the original kami. The meaning of ceremony, prayer offerings and dedications of food expresses the awareness that "we owe our life and sustaining energy to the great source of nature."

Whether we get our spirit in turn from a chain of being [which is unclear], or directly from Jehovih, as Oahspe teaches, we should still also practice similar prayers and dedications to the great source of nature, Jehovih.

Daigenrai is the three-fold whirl. Its symbol is a circle called Daikanu, the seen and unseen universe of the Great Circle, or Big Circle of the Universe.
Within the circle are three spiral arms joined at the center, so they are three in one, like the triangle. Amenominakanushi no kami is One, who becomes Two, comprising three in one.
Jehovih is at once the All, represented by a circle, yet is creator represented as one of three in the triangle, which symbolises His inseparability from individuality [divisibility] and substance, as two sides of one coin.

In Kasmir Saivism, Cit (consciousness) is the One reality. Matter is not separated from consciousness, but rather identical to it. There is no gap between God and the world. The world is not an illusion (as in Advaita Vedanta), rather the perception of duality is the illusion.
Since many Nyingma teachings reduce 'voidness' to 'absence' and therefore 'nihilism', identifying absolute truth with such an absence would not account for the manifestation of Awakening, or even for the manifestation of phenomena. Therefore they explain voidness as lying in the absence of mental constructs, that is inherent in the essence of mind in which space and awareness are indivisible, and define absolute truth as consisting in the indivisibility of emptiness and appearances, or of emptiness and awareness.
According to Madhyamika all phenomena are empty of "self nature" or "essence", meaning that they have no intrinsic, independent reality apart from the causes and conditions from which they arise. Our ultimate nature is said to be pure, all-encompassing, primordial, naturally occurring timeless awareness. This "intrinsic awareness" has no form of its own and yet is capable of perceiving, experiencing, reflecting, or expressing all form. It does so without being affected by those forms in any ultimate, permanent way. The analogy given by Dzogchen masters is that one's nature is like a mirror which reflects with complete openness but is not affected by the reflections, or like a crystal ball that takes on the colour of the material on which it is placed without itself being changed. It is an "effulgence", an "all-pervading fullness" a "space that is aware". When an individual is able to maintain the dzogchen state continually, he no longer experiences dukkha, or feelings of discontent, tension and anxiety in everyday life.

Duality, the cloud of illusion

Jul 25, 2009 ... Naze, on the island of Amami Oshima, a few days before the eclipse

The inseparability of the creator from individuality [divisibility] and substance, which I mentioned in my last message, has a parallel in Koshinto.
Oahspe speaks of the external world that can be in conflict with our internal being. Yamakage classifies this external world into four souls (shin-kon, soul-four). Heres some words that convey the meaning of Shi/Shin/Jin (Shen in Chinese).

dair-shi-rei (great-kami-spirit)
shin-rei (kami-spirit)
shin-rei-kai (kami-spirit-world)
rei-kai (spirit-world)
shin-kai (kami-world)
shin-to (kami-way)

The Koshinto philosophy of ichirei shikon (one spirit four souls) has more in common with the pagan concept of the four elements than Oahspe, but has this useful clarification. Naohinomitama is the child-spirit "coming out of daigenrai" (the great original spirit).
Our body-mind, or what in Yamakage would be the four souls:

gross (earth)
magical (air)
happy (fire)
harmony (water)

surrounds the spark of Jehovih within us, our soul (naohinomitama), and "are what daigenrai has created, made grown, transformed and developed" (seisei kaiku, the creation process). Our body-mind (external world-world of impressions) can become "disturbed and unfocused", in conflict with naohinomitama ["also called 'true self' (shinga)"], the "kami inside", and we "cannot proceed upward on the path of renovating, maintaining, generating (or creating) and cultivating - the path that leads to self-realisation as kami". There becomes a duality, a separation of pure and impure (true-self and ego-self) and we can't hear the voice of this true self, which becomes shrouded by a cloud of illusion.
These can be united ("become one body like the front and back of a coin" - "kami and human spiritually become One") through silent listening and spiritual practices, lending to the saying "the ancestors and I are one", as "one body".

Harking back to the tree and seed analogy and the individual/unity paradox, which I mentioned in my last message, I quote:

"I am a child-spirit (wakemitama) coming out of the same one spirit (ichirei) changing and moving toward kami.
I am one scene of an endless, continuous life history in the eternal universe.
My ancestors who bore me are also the children of kami, and they also received naohinomitama from daigenrai as I did.
I have inherited my body, culture, and knowledge.
Seisei kaiku is representd within 'I'.
I live in the flow of this eternity.
Everything is 'I' and the source of life is One.
All the manifest universe is interconnected; part of the web of life.
Any phenomena manifested in me is meaningful and nurtures me, and moves me towards kami, and so every manifestation in the cosmos is a manifestation of me"
.

Japanese Creation Legends

In Japanese Shinto, Kotoamatsukami (lit: distinguishing heavenly kami) is the collective name for the first powers which came into existence at the time of the creation of the universe. They were born in Takamagahara, the world of Heaven at the time of the creation, as Amenominakanushi (Central master), Takamimusubi (High creation), Kamimusubi (Divine creation), and a bit later Umashiashikabihikoji (Energy) and Amenotokotachi (Heaven). These forces then became gods and goddesses, the tenzai shoshin (heavenly kami) - Ame no minakanushi no kami; Takami-musubi no ôkami; Kamimusubi no ôkami; Umashiashikabihikoji no kami; Ame no Tokotachi no kami; Kuni no Tokotachi no kami; Toyokumono no kami; Uhijini no mikoto; Suhijini no kami; Tsunokuhi no kami; Ikukuhi no kami; Ôtonoji no kami; Ôtonobe no kami; Omodaru no kami; Kashikone no kami; Izanagi no kami; Izanami no kami; and Amaterasu ômikami

Amenominakanushi was the first kami to come into being in the Plain of Heaven as a "solitary kami" (hitorigami). He was acknowledged as one of the zoka sanshin ("three kami of creation") and one of the five kotoamatsukami ("separate heavenly deities"). He is found at the very beginning of the Kojiki. Amenominakanushi was chief kami of the seven major stars of the constellation Ursa Major. As a result of this influence, Amenominakanushi was made a central deity at the Daikyoin in the early Meiji period.
Kunitokotachi is one of the two gods born from "something like a reed that arose from the soil" when the earth was chaotic. Kunitokotachi is described as a hitorigami and genderless in Kojiki while as a male god in Nihonshoki. Yoshida Kanetomo, the founder of the Yoshida Shinto sect, identified Kunitokotachi with Amenominakanushi and regarded him as the primordial god of the Universe.
Hitorigami are kami which came into being alone, as opposed to those which came into being as male-female pairs. According to the Kojiki, this group included the "three deities of creation" and the "separate heavenly kami." They are described as hiding themselves away once they achieved awareness. Most are said to have been created from the "male essence" and, as such, are male in gender. Two hitorigami, Kunitokotachi and Amenominakanushi, summoned the divine pair of Izanagi and Izanami into being and charged them with creating the first land in the swirling salt-water that existed below the heavens.

Hierarchy of Kami, the Tenzai Shoshin (heavenly kami)

  Sequence of Kami Explanation
1. Amenominakanushi Central master. Central Kami for everything, ie., the entire circle of the universe.
2. Takamimusuhi High creation. Positive action - the source of all exterior manifestation.
3. Kamimusuhi Divine creation. Negative action - the source of all inner, interior phenomena.
    The above are the three Deities of Creation
4. Umashiashikabihikoji Energy. The generating energy of heaven which descends to earth
5. Amenotokotachi Heaven. Place for expressions in heaven
    All the above are Kotoamatsukami
6. Kunitokotachi Place for expressions on earth. Born from "something like a reed that arose from the soil".
7. Toyokumonu The generating energy of earth which ascends to heaven
8. Uijini  
9. Suijini  
10. Tsunugui  
11. Ikugui These 8 Kami (8-15) are involved in completion of earthly lives
12. Outonoji  
13. Outonobe  
14. Omodaru  
15. Ayakashikone  
16. Izanagi These two Kami are earthly creators in contrast to the heavenly creators.
17. Izanami They are children given birth by Kami of heaven and who have become parents on earth. They are the first descendants from heaven.
18. Amaterasu This Kami is a manifestation of Amenominakanushi

The first gods Kunitokotachi and Amenominakanushi summoned two divine beings into existence, the male Izanagi and the female Izanami, and charged them with creating the first land. To help them do this, Izanagi and Izanami were given a heavenly spear decorated with jewels. The two deities then went to the bridge between heaven and earth, Ame-no-ukihashi ("floating bridge of heaven"), and churned the sea below with the spear. When drops of salty water fell from the spear, Onogoroshima ("self-forming island") was created. They descended from the bridge of heaven and made their home on the island.
Eventually they wished to be mated, so they built a pillar called Ame-no-mihashira ("pillar of heaven"; the mi- is an honorific prefix) and around it they built a palace. Izanagi and Izanami circled the pillar in opposite directions and, when they met on the other side, Izanami spoke first in greeting. Izanagi didn't think that this was the proper thing to do, but they mated anyhow. They had two children, Hiruko ("leech-child") and Awashima ("faint island"), but they were born deformed and are not considered deities.
They put the children into a boat and set them out to sea, then petitioned the other gods for an answer as to what they did wrong. They were told that the male deity should have spoken first in greeting during the marriage ceremony. So Izanagi and Izanami went around the pillar again, this time Izanagi speaking first when they meet, and their marriage was finally successful.
From their union were born the oyashima, or the "great eight islands" of the Japanese chain:

Awaji                                Iyo (later Shikoku)                                  Ogi                 
Tsukusi (later Kyushu)                  Iki                                               Tsushima
Sado                                Yamato (later Honshu)

Note that Hokkaido, Chishima and Okinawa were not part of Japan in ancient times.
They bore six more islands and many deities. Izanami died giving birth to the child Kagu-Tsuchi (incarnation of fire) or Ho-Masubi (causer of fire). She was then buried on Mt. Hiba, at the border of the old provinces of Izumo and Hoki, near modern-day Yasugi of Shimane Prefecture. So angry was Izanagi at the death of his wife that he killed the newborn child, thereby creating dozens of deities.

Izanagi is a deity born of the seven divine generations in Japanese mythology and Shintoism, and is referred to as roughly translated in the Kojiki as "male-who-invites" or Izanagi-no-mikoto. He and his spouse Izanami bore many islands, deities and forefathers of Japan. Izanami-no-Mikoto (meaning "she who invites") is a goddess of both creation and death, as well as the former wife of the god Izanagi-no-Mikoto. She is also referred to as Izanami-no-kami.
When Izanami died in childbirth, Izanagi tried (but failed) to retrieve her from Yomi (the underworld). In the cleansing rite after his return, he begot Amaterasu (the sun goddess) from his left eye, Tsukuyomi (the moon god) from his right eye and Susanoo (tempest or storm god) from his nose.
The story of Izanagi and Izanami has close parallels to the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, but it also has a major difference.
Izanagi-no-Mikoto lamented the death of Izanami-no-Mikoto and undertook a journey to Yomi ("the shadowy land of the dead"). Quickly, he searched for Izanami-no-Mikoto and found her. At first, Izanagi-no-Mikoto could not see her at all for the shadows hid her appearance well. Nevertheless, he asked her to return with him. Izanami-no-Mikoto spat out at him, informing Izanagi-no-Mikoto that he was too late. She had already eaten the food of the underworld and was now one with the land of the dead. She could no longer return to the living.
Izanagi-no-Mikoto was shocked at this news but he refused to give in to her wishes of being left to the dark embrace of Yomi. While Izanami-no-Mikoto was sleeping, he took the comb that bound his long hair and set it alight as a torch. Under the sudden burst of light, he saw the horrid form of the once beautiful and graceful Izanami-no-Mikoto. She was now a rotting form of flesh with maggots and foul creatures running over her ravaged body.
Crying out loud, Izanagi-no-Mikoto could no longer control his fear and started to run, intending to return to the living and abandon his death-ridden wife. Izanami-no-Mikoto woke up shrieking and indignant and chased after him. Wild shikome (foul women) also hunted for the frightened Izanagi-no-Mikoto, instructed by Izanami-no-Mikoto to bring him back.
Izanagi-no-Mikoto burst out of the entrance and quickly pushed a boulder in the mouth of the entrance of Yomi. Izanami-no-Mikoto screamed from behind this impenetrable barricade and told Izanagi-no-Mikoto that if he left her she would destroy 1,000 residents of the living every day. He furiously replied he would give life to 1,500.

In Japanese mythology, Susano’o is the brother of Amaterasu, the goddess of the sun, and of Tsukuyomi, the god of the moon. The oldest sources for Susano’o myths are the ca. 680 CE Kojiki and ca. 720 CE Nihon Shoki. They tell of a long-standing rivalry between Susano’o and his sister. When he was to leave Heaven by orders of Izanagi, he went to bid his sister goodbye. Amaterasu was suspicious, but when Susano’o proposed a challenge to prove his sincerity, she accepted. Each of them took an object of the other's and from it birthed gods and goddesses. Amaterasu birthed three women from Susano’o's sword while he birthed five men from her necklace. Claiming the gods were hers because they were born of her necklace, and the goddesses were his, he decided that he has won the challenge, as his item produced women. The two were content for a time, but Susano’o, the Storm God, became restless and went on a rampage destroying his sister's rice fields, hurled a flayed pony at her loom, and killed one of her attendants in a fit of rage. Amaterasu, who was in fury and grief, hid inside the Ama-no-Iwato ("heavenly rock cave"), thus effectively hiding the sun for a long period of time.

Misogi harae and the mystery of musubi

Jul 25, 2009
Motohisa Yamakage says the word yominokuni (hades) has a strong sense of Asian origin. Its literal meaning is the "underworld of the dead". The visit to hades by Izanagi no mikoto seems to be influenced by Chinese Taoism. In ancient China we find deep underground tombs, and in Okinawa there are cave burial customs that suggest a conciousness of a world below.
This could be why Dr Kimura was making a connection of the Qin emperor's underground tomb, and his possible cultural migration idea from China to Okinawa with the origin of the underwater ruins. I have since found out that the picture in Dr Kimura' book is indeed of the Qin emperor.

Izanagi no kami and Izanami no kami, the two earthly creators, in contrast to the heavenly creators, are children given birth by kami of heaven, and who have become parents on earth. They are the first descendants from heaven. Yamakage Shinto says Amaterasu omikami is a manifestation of Amenominakanushi no kami. Another version tells of Izanagi no Mikoto doing misogi (purification), and throwing away garments, each representing a return to his true self. Then through musubi he bore Amaterasu, Tsukuyomi, and Susanoo.

The story of "misogi harae" is found in the Kojiki.
Izanagi no mikoto grieved for the passing of his wife Izanami so much that he visited Hades (yomi no kuni). She was so badly transformed that he cried out in disgust. She chased him, but he escaped and then practiced misogi at Odo of Tachibana at Himuka in Tsukushi (an unknown ancient place at the mouth of a river and ocean), in order to cleanse himself from the impurities of Hades. Then many kami were born.
Misogi is "the ritual at the heart of Shinto ceremony", carried out primarily in summer, but also at the mid autumn harvest festival and mid-winter (solstice) prayer festival. It took place when Saigu (or Itsuki no miya) is opened at Ise, or when Saiin is opened at the Kamo Shrine.
Saigu is the pure shrine at Ise.
Izanagi and Izanami shared intercourse of Mito (mito no maguwai is coition) which resulted in the birth of many kami offspring. [The characters mean mi(zu)=water and to=door, mito is therefore the merging of two waters]. Since many kami were born after the misogi practiced by Izanagi no mikoto, this suggests intercourse or rebirth. The story contains a hidden meaning. When Izanagi no mikoto arrived at the place for misigi he threw away various things he carried and wore. Each time, a kami was born.

1) He nailed his walking stick to the ground, symbolising the completion of a long journey (the stick symbolises the journey of life, and nailing it symbolises the journey's conclusion).
2) He removed his sash and Michi no naga chiha no kami was born. The removal of his sash symbolises the sense of contented awareness. Michi=road, naga=long
3) He removed his mo (pants cover) and Tokiokashi no kami was born (the kami who puts down time). The removal of his mo symbolises the lifting of the world of illusion. (Mo=relativity of time).
4) He removed his upper cloth and Wazurainoushi no kami was born. The removal of his upper cloth symbolises the release of the center of worries.
5) He removed his fundoshi (loin cloth) and Michimata no kami (the kami of the forked road) was born. The removal of his fundoshi symbolises the freedom from doubt and vacillation when encountering life's forked roads. The groin represents the forked road.
6) He removed his crown and Akiguinoushi no kami (the kami who is tired of biting) was born. With the removal of his crown he declared he is tired of biting into power, status and priveleges.
7) He removed his armbands and Okizakaru no kami (the kami who is deeply attached and steps aside) was born. The removal of his armbands symbolises his disowning of those who clung, his vassels and hangers-on. With this he graduated from illusion which is the deeper meaning of misogi.
8) He rinsed his body with water and Yasomagatsuhi no kami (the kami who causes disasters) was born. He is an unclean kami; His emergence symbolises the explusion of dirt.
9) He removed his ... and Kannaabi no kami (the kami for divine correction) was born.
10) When he cleansed his lower body at the bottom, middle and surface of the water .... were born. These kami and princes are related to the power of cleansing.

In this way Izanagi no mikoto returned to his true self. Afterwards he underwent a spiritual cleansing, and through the mystery of musubi he bore three noble children.

1) Amaterasu omikami the sun
2) Tsukuyomi no mikoto, the moon
3) Susanoo no mikoto, the wind

The characters of the text literally mean "three pillars (columns) of noble children. The Japanses word for "pillar" is sometimes a synonym for kami.
Since many kami were born after the misogi practiced by Izanagi no mikoto, this suggests intercourse or rebirth. According to the dictionary musu means to tie, to knot, to produce, form, make.
Musubi means to "unite", or "bind together". Musubi signifies the proliferation of life and spirit. Musubi of man and woman also entails the procreation of life and "spirit-soul" (rei-kon). In this case musubi means "generative". It is related to two of the creator "musubi" kami of the three-fold whirl.

1) Amaterasu omikami represents the spiritual creativity and means, the realisation of justice and fairness of heart, and opening of oneself to becoming spiritually clean, bright, right and honest.
2) Tsukuyomi no mikoto represents the mental and psychological creativity.
3) Susanoo no mikoto represents the physical act of creation (a healthy body which can act woth courage and composure).

In short body, mind and spirit; or wind/earth, moon sun.

Yatano kagami is the mirror and one of the three imperial regalia. It symbolises the sun, and also the relection of the image of kami. It therefore represents Amaterasu omikami.

Kagami, Susanoo no mikoto and Confucianism

Jul 25, 2009
The mirror (kagami) is put in the innermost part of the sanctuary. It is a precious treasure and is like a tool reflecting the image of kami.
It is also the symbol of the sun, and [taken to be] the source of all life, and the symbol of spiritual light when the kami manifests itself in this world.
For some, kagami represents the shining look, or body. In either case it is the bright, shining, radient light body reflecting the spirit of kami, but not representing kami in a material form. It is an abstract symbol, not an image or idol. A goshintai represents shinrei.
In original Shinto, kami neither resides in buildings nor goshintai. People sensed the dwelling place of kami in beautiful rocks and mountains, and considered a branch of the evergreen tree, Sakaki, to be a yorishiro (spiritual antenna) for kami.
Katashiro (body of kami) is usually represented by a mirror. Its spiritual vibration permeates the surrounding area.
A paper, or wooden card on which the name of a kami is written, is kept in the household shrine.
There is a version of evil against good represented by Susanoo no mikoto against Amaterasu omikami. The most pernicious of crimes, offences thought to be destructive of agriculture, were seen as a raging victory of Susanoo no mikoto against his sister Amaterasu omikami.
Confucianism is called in Japan, Japan's unofficial third religion after Buddhism and Shinto. With only one Confucian shrine (by Chinese in 1893) in Nagasaki, and the Yushima Seido Confucian learning center in Tokyo, there is not much evidence for this that I'm aware of.
The Japanese social and moral structure and family values, the devotion to hard work, and the submission to concerns of group rather than the individual is said to be Confucian. In the Shuri castle in Naha, Okinawa, on the wall of the Usasuica, of the Seidan, the main hall and center of political and ceremonial activities involving the king, was a picture of Confucius.
Yakamage saya "Confucianism is in effect the fountainhead of Japanese ideas of decorum".
One autor said:
Prince Shotoku (574-622) was the first Japanese person to understand Buddhism, saying, "the world is false, Buddha alone is true". This was the first concept of world negation in Japan. Prince Shotoku issued a document known as 17-Article of the Constitution. "Its moral precepts are largely Confucian, somewhat influenced by ideas of the Legalists [those who opposed Confucianism in the time of the burning of the books], a school of thought in China which held that social order depended not on Confucian ethical precepts but on the development and application of a body of law."
But for his ultimate source of legitimacy, Shotoku turned to Buddhist teachings.

Confucianism (Rújia) was developed from the teachings of Confucius (Kong Fuzi, or K'ung-fu-tzu, lit. "Master Kong", 551–479 BC). Cultures influenced by Confucianism include China, Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam and Singapore. Japan was influenced by Confucianism in a different way. Confucianism stresses the importance of education for moral development of the individual so that the state can be governed by moral virtue rather than by the use of coercive laws.

Lead the people with administrative injunctions and put them in their place with penal law, and they will avoid punishments but will be without a sense of shame. Lead them with excellence and put them in their place through roles and ritual practices, and in addition to developing a sense of shame, they will order themselves harmoniously.
Analects II, 3
The above quotation explains a difference between legalism and ritualism. Translations from the 17th century to the present have varied widely. Comparison of these many sources is needed for a true "general consensus" of what message Confucius meant to imply. Confucius argued that under law, external authorities administer punishments after illegal actions, so people generally behave well without understanding reasons why they should; whereas with ritual, patterns of behavior are internalized and exert their influence before actions are taken, so people behave properly because they fear shame and want to avoid losing face. In this sense, "rite" (li) is an ideal form of social norm.
The Chinese character for "rites", or "ritual", previously had the religious meaning of "sacrifice". Its Confucian meaning ranges from politeness and propriety to the understanding of each person's correct place in society. Externally, ritual is used to distinguish between people; their usage allows people to know at all times who is the younger and who the elder, who is the guest and who the host and so forth. Internally, rites indicate to people their duty amongst others and what to expect from them.
Internalization is the main process in ritual. Formalized behavior becomes progressively internalized, desires are channeled and personal cultivation becomes the mark of social correctness. Though this idea conflicts with the common saying that "the cowl does not make the monk," in Confucianism sincerity is what enables behavior to be absorbed by individuals. Obeying ritual with sincerity makes ritual the most powerful way to cultivate oneself:

Respectfulness, without the Rites, becomes laborious bustle; carefulness, without the Rites, become timidity; boldness, without the Rites, becomes insubordination; straightforwardness, without the Rites, becomes rudeness.
Analects VIII, 2
Ritual can be seen as a means to find the balance between opposing qualities that might otherwise lead to conflict. It divides people into categories, and builds hierarchical relationships through protocols and ceremonies, assigning everyone a place in society and a proper form of behavior. Music, which played a significant role in Confucius' life, transcends such boundaries and "unifies the hearts".
Although the Analects heavily promote the rites, Confucius himself often behaved other than in accord with them. Later, more rigid ritualists forgot that ritual is "more than presents of jade and silk" (XVII, 12), and strayed from their master's position.
In Confucianism the term "ritual" (li) was soon extended to include secular ceremonial behavior, and eventually referred also to the propriety or politeness which colors everyday life. Rituals were codified and treated as a comprehensive system of norms. Confucius himself tried to revive the etiquette of earlier dynasties. After his death, people regarded him as a great authority on ritual behaviors.
In Confucianism, the acts of everyday life are considered ritual. Rituals are not necessarily regimented or arbitrary practices, but the routines that people often engage in, knowingly or unknowingly, during the normal course of their lives. Shaping the rituals in a way that leads to a content and healthy society, and to content and healthy people, is one purpose of Confucian philosophy.

To govern by virtue, let us compare it to the North Star: it stays in its place, while the myriad stars wait upon it.
Analects II, 1
Another key Confucian concept is that in order to govern others one must first govern oneself. When developed sufficiently, the king's personal virtue spreads beneficent influence throughout the kingdom. By being the "calm center" around which the kingdom turns, the king allows everything to function smoothly and avoids having to tamper with the individual parts of the whole. Early Chinese shamans believed the king was the axle between the sky, human beings, and the Earth. The very Chinese character for "king" 王 shows the three levels of the universe, united by a single line.
In teaching, there should be no distinction of classes.
Analects XV, 39
Although Confucius claimed he was only transmitting ancient knowledge (see Analects VII, 1) Voltaire and H. G. Creel point to the revolutionary idea of replacing nobility of blood with nobility of virtue. A virtuous plebeian who cultivates his qualities can be a "gentleman", while a shameless son of the king is only a "small man". That he admitted students of different classes as disciples is a clear demonstration that he fought against the feudal structures that defined pre-imperial Chinese society.
Another new idea, that of meritocracy, led to the introduction of the Imperial examination system in China. This system allowed anyone who passed an examination to become a government officer. The system seems to have been started in 165 BC, when certain candidates for public office were called to the Chinese capital for examination of their moral excellence by the emperor. Over the following centuries the system grew until finally almost anyone who wished to become an official had to prove his worth by passing written government examinations.
His achievement was the setting up of a school that produced statesmen with a strong sense of patriotism and duty, known as Rujia [rú, meaning "scholar"]. During the Warring States Period and the early Han Dynasty Confucianism was promoted by the emperor. Since then Confucianism has been used as a kind of "state religion", with authoritarianism, a kind of legitimism, paternalism, and submission to authority used as political tools to rule China. Most Chinese emperors used a mix of Legalism and Confucianism as their ruling doctrine, often with the latter embellishing the former.

Relationships are central to Confucianism. Particular duties arise from one's particular situation in relation to others. The individual stands simultaneously in several different relationships with different people: as a junior in relation to parents and elders, and as a senior in relation to younger siblings, students, and others. While juniors are considered in Confucianism to owe their seniors reverence, seniors also have duties of benevolence and concern toward juniors. This theme of mutuality is prevalent in East Asian cultures even to this day. Social harmony—the great goal of Confucianism—therefore results in part from every individual knowing his or her place in the social order, and playing his or her part well.
"Filial piety" (xiào) is considered among the greatest of virtues and must be shown towards both the living and the dead (including even remote ancestors). The term "filial" (meaning "of a child") characterizes the respect that a child should show to his parents. This was extended to five:

Ruler to Subject
Father to Son
Husband to Wife
Elder Brother to Younger Brother
Friend to Friend

Specific duties were prescribed to each of the participants in these sets of relationships. Such duties were also extended to the dead, where the living stood as sons to their deceased family. This led to the veneration of ancestors. In time filial piety was also built into the Chinese legal system: a criminal would be punished more harshly if the culprit had committed the crime against a parent.
The Book of Filial Piety is attributed to Confucius and his son but almost certainly written in the 3rd century BC. The Analects, the main source of the Confucianism of Confucius, actually has little to say on the matter of filial piety and some sources believe the concept was focused on later thinkers as a response to Mohism.
Loyalty (zhong) is the equivalent of filial piety on a different plane. Like filial piety, however, loyalty was often subverted by the autocratic regimes of China. Confucius had advocated a sensitivity to the realpolitik of the class relations in his time; he did not propose that "might makes right", but that a superior who had received the "Mandate of Heaven" should be obeyed because of his moral rectitude. In later ages, however, emphasis was placed more on the obligations of the ruled to the ruler, and less on the ruler's obligations to the ruled.
Loyalty was also an extension of one's duties to friends, family, and spouse. Loyalty to one's family came first, then to one's spouse, then to one's ruler, and lastly to one's friends. Loyalty was considered one of the greater human virtues. Confucius also realized that loyalty and filial piety can potentially conflict.
Confucius was concerned with people's individual development, which he maintained took place within the context of human relationships. Ritual and filial piety are indeed the ways in which one should act towards others, but from an underlying attitude of humaneness. Confucius' concept of humaneness (rén) is probably best expressed in the Confucian version of the Ethic of reciprocity, or the Golden Rule: "do not do unto others what you would not have them do unto you."
Confucius never stated whether man was born good or evil, noting that 'By nature men are similar; by practice men are wide apart'.
Rén also has a political dimension. If the ruler lacks rén, Confucianism holds, it will be difficult if not impossible for his subjects to behave humanely. Rén is the basis of Confucian political theory: it presupposes an autocratic ruler to refrain from acting inhumanely towards his subjects. An inhumane ruler runs the risk of losing the "Mandate of Heaven", the right to rule. A ruler lacking such a mandate need not be obeyed. But a ruler who reigns humanely and takes care of the people is to be obeyed strictly, for the benevolence of his dominion shows that he has been mandated by heaven. Confucius himself had little to say on the will of the people, but his leading follower Mencius did state on one occasion that the people's opinion on certain weighty matters should be considered.
Confucianism exhorts all people to strive for the ideal of a "gentleman" or "perfect man" (junzi, or "lord's child"). A succinct description of the "perfect man" is one who "combines the qualities of saint, scholar, and gentleman." Elitism was bound up with the concept, and gentlemen were expected to act as moral guides to the rest of society. They were to:

cultivate themselves morally;
show filial piety and loyalty where these are due;
cultivate humanity, or benevolence.
The opposite of the Junzi was the Xiaorén (small person), the petty in mind and heart, narrowly self-interested, greedy, superficial, or materialistic.

Confucius believed that social disorder often stemmed from failure to perceive, understand, and deal with reality. Xun Zi chapter (22) "On the Rectification of Names" claims the ancient sage-kings chose names (míng) that directly corresponded with actualities (shí), but later generations confused terminology, coined new nomenclature, and thus could no longer distinguish right from wrong.
The works of Confucius were translated into European languages through Jesuit scholars stationed in China. Father Prospero Intorcetta published the life and works of Confucius into Latin in 1687. Deists and other philosophical groups of the Enlightenment were interested in the integration of the system of morality of Confucius into Western civilization.
Confucianism is reluctant to employ laws. In a society where relationships are considered more important than laws, if no other power forces government officers to take the common interest into consideration, corruption and nepotism may arise. In Confucian political philosophy, law is necessary, but statesmen should lay more importance on morals.
Confucianism is criticized for not providing a means to control and reduce corruption and nepotism itself. Another problem is that if children are always to listen and to respect parents and grandparents wishes, then it would be hard for them to progress in what they want to think and believe in. As progress is only to be in a cycle of parents listening to grandparents, children listening to parents, then it can't change.
If children are always to obey, respect and listen to their parents then it would not be up to the children to decide what they wish to do with their lives in the future but their parents. This is a loss of freedom for the young individual. In China, women were treated as second class citizens (for around 1500 years till the end of Qing), because Confucius thought that all wives should listen to their husbands and in doing so keep social harmony. Since the communists took the country in 1949, women have had the rights to attend school, get a job and have as much rights as a man.

Amami Oshima and Yakushima

Jomon Sugi
The Jomon Sugi cedar is at least 2,000 years old
After flying into Naha, Okinawa I immediately tried to book the ferry to Kagoshima, but it was booked out due to the eclipse. In the end I got through, but couldn’t stop long enough to see the eclipse in Amami Oshima, and had to journey on to Kagoshima.
Having seen all the islands on the way to Okinawa except for Amami Oshima, I stayed there for a couple of days, a few days before the eclipse. It’s a beautiful island, with coral reefs and mangrove swaps, and a tribal bond, mystique and tradition as in Taketomi Jima. I travelled to the other side of the island to snorkel, but it was disappointing. I wasn’t interested in seeing the overpriced Amami Oshima eclipse festival. Doof is not for me. So it suited me to try to see the eclipse at Yakushima instead. Yakushima is the most beautiful island I saw in the southern islands of Japan, with its contrast of jaggered mountains, waterfalls, rivers, beaches and hot springs. The eclipse was a non event. Because of unrelenting clouds, all we experienced was an eerie mid-day darkness.
I went to Anbo and caught a bus to where I could begin walking the Jomon Sugi trail. The forest just kept getting more delicate and harmonious. I saw monkeys and deer along the old truck track, which reached almost to Wilson stump, where the steeper ascent begins. The small crowd at the old Jomon Sugi (a giant Japanese cedar) was in awe, including me. I moved on a little down the track to contemplate the scene, and was joined by some mbira players who brought their instruments to perform for the occasion. Most people don’t venture beyond the Jomon Sugi, but I got as close as a couple of km from the Miyanoura dake summit, from where I could see the spectacular panoramic view, and experience how the local yambushi ascetics feel when they do their sacred pilgimage there. I took a different trail on the way back, over the high mountain pass that went through the magical Princess Mononoke forest and national park on the other side from where I could catch a bus back to the Miyanoura port.

Takachiho and the Sun Goddess cave

Ame-no-Iwato Cave I purchased a 'seishun juhachi kippu' 5 day rail pass in Kagoshima and caught a train to Nobeoka. Each day didn't need to be consecutive, so it lasted me over my last few weeks. Next morning I hitched to Takachiho. In Japanese mythology Susanoo, the Japanese god of the seas, drove Amaterasu into Ame-no-Iwato. This caused the sun to hide for a long period of time. Ama-no-Iwato literally means "The cave of the sun god" of "heavenly rock cave". The cave is on the opposite side of lush green bank of the beautiful river, where the Ama-no-Iwato shrine is, near Takachiho. This is also the land to where Ninigi-no-Mikoto descended from the heavens, sent by Amaterasu, the sun goddess.
Amaterasu Omikami, one of the principal Shinto deities, is described in the Kojiki as the sun goddess who was born from Izanagi-no-Mikoto's left eye as he purified himself in a river, and she went on to become the ruler of the Higher Celestial Plain (Takamagahara). Amaterasu, means "(that which) illuminates Heaven". She is also said to be directly linked in lineage to the Imperial Household of Japan and the Emperor, who are considered descendants of the kami themselves.
Ame-no-Iwato Cave, Takachiho
In the Kojiki, Amaterasu Omikami is described as the goddess from which all light emanates and is often referred to as the sun goddess because of her warmth and compassion for the people who worshipped her. Some other myths state that Amaterasu Omikami was born from water.
The Kojiki myth says that for a while, everything among the three revered gods was peaceful and all of the world ran smoothly. One day, Susanoo-no-Mikoto went on a drunken rampage. Amaterasu Omikami was angered and in protest she sealed herself shut in the Heavenly Cave with a giant rock. As a result, the world was consumed with darkness. Without her, everything began to wither and die. Countless Kami gathered in front of her cave and devised a way to lure her out. They all sat around the cave and set up a mirror across from the entrance. Ame-no-Uzume, the voluptuous goddess of merriment turned over a wash-tub and began a sensual dance, tapping the beat on the tub. She exposed her breasts and lifted her skirts as she danced. All of the gods made a great noise of yelling and cheering and laughing. Amaterasu peeked out to see what the noise was about. She asked the nearest god what was going on and he replied that there was a new goddess. When Amaterasu asked where she was, he pointed to the mirror.
The Omikami had never seen herself before and when she caught her reflection, she stared at the radiance of her own form. When she was out of the way, Tajikara-O shut the rock behind her. Having lured her out of the cave, the gods convinced her to go back into the Celestial Plain and all life began to grow again and become strong in her light.
Later she sent her grandson Ninigi-no-Mikoto (son of Ame no Oshihomimi no Mikoto) to pacify Japan: his great-grandson became the first emperor, Emperor Jimmu. He had three celestial gifts, a sacred sword (Kusanagi), jewel (Yasakani no magatama), and mirror (Yata no kagami) that became the Japanese imperial regalia.These three gifts signify that the emperor is the descendant of Amaterasu herself. The account of Ninigi no Mikoto being sent to earth appears in the Nihon Shoki. Amaterasu is credited with inventing the cultivation of rice and wheat, use of silkworms and weaving with a loom. Kukai, the founder of the Shingon Buddhist sect linked Amaterasu with Dainichi Nyorai, a central manifestation of the Buddha, whose name is literally "Great Sun Buddha". Thus Amaterasu Omikami is held as an divine Emanation of Buddha Vairocana.
Her most important shrine, the Grand Shrine of Ise, is torn down and rebuilt every 20 years. In that shrine she is represented as a mirror, one of the three Japanese imperial regalia. The Ise Shrine is said to be the home of Amaterasu Omikami. She is celebrated every July 17 with street processions all over the country. Festivities on December 21, the winter solstice, celebrate her coming out of the cave.
There are differences between the description of the goddess in Kojiki and that in Nihon Shoki. First is the story of her birth. In Kojiki, she was born after Izanagi-no-Mikoto failed to retrieve Izanami-no-Mikoto from Yomi. However, in the Nihon Shoki, Izanagi-no-Mikoto and Izanami-no-Mikoto, who was still alive, together decided to create the supreme deity to reign over the world, and gave birth to Amaterasu.

Aso Jinja

I managed to hitch from Takachiho to Mount Aso, the largest active volcano in Japan. The central cone group of Aso consists of five peaks. The crater of Mt. Naka, the west side, accessible by road, contains an active volcano which continuously emits smoke and has occasional eruptions. Peering into the crater when the steam clouds part, ones sees the emerald green boiling water that fills it.

Aso Jinja I learned of the fire ritual that happens in March at Aso Jinja (Aso shrine) by watching the film at the Aso volcanic museum, just near this crater. There was another ritual shown involving green stalks of rice thrown onto the portable shrines as they paraded through the village streets. But I had no knowledge of the most sacred day of the year.
The English speaking woman at the local information center, who had told me she was a participant in the local indigenous community, gave sufficient directions to find my way to Aso Jinja (at Ichinomiya), but apparently with-held what was about to unfold. I arrived in the rain in the afternoon, and hearing drums, walked faster.
There were women in white robes, and a large crowd at the shrine. They were throwing rice stalks, just like in the film, onto the portable shrines, but things were winding down and the portable shrines were being put back into the Jinja. I asked two Japanese ladies what was going on. Fortunately they were tourists and could speak English. They told me they had been there all day, and the event had begun with a Shinto ceremony followed by the parading of the shrines throughout the town, which now had come to an end. It was indeed the most sacred day of the year (28/7/09), and I was about to experience my first Shinto ceremony.
The shrine bearers and devotees crowed into the front of the shrine. I was in the middle listening to the singing. It was in vowel sounds, rather than words, perfectly in tune, no harmony. I heard only male voices, there were few females. This lasted 15-30 minutes. Then everyone left except the priests, musicians, and me, except for a handful of onlookers. By the time the ceremony took place the courtyard was mostly empty. A priest came, returning a few idols and crest symbols on posts. These were placed at the side of the shrine. At the center was the head (painted red) of a heifer idol. It kindled memories of the golden calf scene, or the defiling of the Jerusalem temple by the Seleucids during the Maccabeean revolt. The other two idols; white faced human gods, were placed on other side. I remembered that Buddhists idolised an Ox connected to a silly legend, but this might have been different.
According to my guide book, the Aso Jinja is dedicated to the 12 gods of the mountain. The locals worship Taka-dake, the volcano god, as the supreme god of Kyushu. I assume this was the heifer idol.
There was a beautiful brief burst of wooden flute and drum out of the midst of the silence, something I later learned is common to other more orthodox Shinto practices. Then the chief priest dressed in crimson attire and a black Shinto hat rose and chanted from a scroll in a pious tone reminiscent of any orthodox Christian priest. The difference was that this reading was brief, and he sat down and a less senior priest dressed in a different colour completed the formalities. There was another burst of music and it was over. I walked out of the deserted shrine thru the rare ‘mon’ (gate) into the adjacent lane. For a vegan it was unpleasant stroll through the various roasted meat stalls, something I was accustomed to seeing at temples of idols around the world. I thought how tight knit and bound this community was to their deep-seated form of unity, giving its folk a time of fervent communion suited to their rural lifestyle based spiritual needs, and a break from the mundane world; and how established their (perhaps superstitious) concept of order was, in serving to keep their tribe together as an entity, in contrast to the alternative possibility of being scattered individuals who cannot unite for a common purpose.
I now know this festival is called the Onda Matsuri (rice field work pantomime) and it occurs on July 28 and 29. On the day of the festival, a procession of nearly one hundred attendants, beginning with a person wearing a mask of the kami, Sarutahiko, followed by saotome (rice planting women), fourteen unari (young women) carrying rice chests, lion dancers (shishi), dengaku, field laborers, oxen, and four sacred palanquins (shin'yo), proceeds to the first temporary shrine and ceremonially present offerings of food and norito. Then a ritual rice planting occurs and the procession moves to the second temporary shrine. In the evening, the procession returns to the main shrine where all of the shrines are ceremonially visited and another ritualized rice-planting is held in the shrine grounds.
Many matsuri (festivals) throughout Japan originated from Shinto rites, which included thanksgiving prayers often of food, valuables and purification rituals. On such occasions rites may be held for water purification (misogi) and confinement in shrines for devotional purposes, the procession of a sacred palanquin or of boats, a ceremonial feast, a lion dance (shishi mai), and a rice-planting festival (o-taue matsuri).

Sarutahiko Sarutahiko is the god of crossroads, pathways, and surmounting obstacles. He stands seven fathoms tall, with a massive beard and a jeweled spear. Holy light shines from his eyes, mouth, and posterior. Sarutahiko is the chief of the earthly kami and the husband of Ama-no-Uzume no Mikoto, the goddess of mirth, dancing, wifery, and health. He guards the bridge that links the heavens and the earth. When Ninigi no Mikoto, the August Grandson of Amaterasu Ohmikami, was preparing to descend to the earth and take possession of it, his scouts found that one earthly god remained rebellious and would not submit to Ninigi's rule. This was Sarutahiko, and as he guarded the Bridge of Heaven, Ninigi could not descend until the giant god swore fealty to him.
The gods of heaven called council and asked for a volunteer to subdue Sarutahiko. None of the male deities volunteered, so Ama-no-Uzume stated that she would go. Being the bold and independent sort, she removed her arms from the sleeves of her kimono and let the robe drop to her waist, leaving her breasts exposed [a similar tactic as for Amaterasu]. She descended to earth and found Sarutahiko walking along a path. He was surprised to see a half-naked goddess walking towards him, arms akimbo, with a very stern look on her face.
Having gotten his attention, Ama-no-Uzume insisted that he swear fealty to Ninigi and to Amaterasu, his grandmother. So impressed was Sarutahiko by the goddess' boldness that he immediately obeyed the command and at the same time asked her to be his wife. The two lived out their days and were entombed at the site of what is now Tsubaki Dai Jinja in Mie Prefecture, Japan. The shrine has been in continual operation for more than 2000 years, and was given its current name by Emperor Nintoku, the son of Ojin.

Kyshu, Izumo, Shikoku and Kyoto on a 5 day Rail Pass

I caught the first early morning train to Kumamoto, quickly moving on through Fukuoka, and left Kyushu, reaching Izumo on the northern side of Western Honshu late at night on the slow local trains. Though out of my way, it was worth paying a visit to Izumo Taisha (or Izumo Oyashiro), the Izumo shrine. It is the 2nd most revered shrine, after Ise. It enshrines O-Kuninushi-no-okami.
The Izumo Taisha is now enclosed within a protective building. But it costs nothing to get a ticket and go in provided you are correctly dressed. In a conversation with a polite young shrine devotee I asked about Yamakage. He was aware, and was respectful of it. In the course of my enquiry about seniority of kami, the kami of the three-fold whirl and the significance of O-Kuninushi-no-okami, I asked who, in all Japan, has authority to interpret Shinto doctrine, or kami seniority above all others. I was surprised to learn that his heart-felt loyalty and devotion was to the emperor. I said, the queen of England would not be considered the most capable person of interpreting religious doctrine in England. Why would the emperor? This did not deter him. I could sense his young deeply cultivated dedication that kept heart centered in the path he had chosen.

In ‘Glimpses of Japan’ (1894) by Lafcadio Hearn (1850-1904) we learn that the sacred name of Japan, Shinkoku, or ‘country of the gods’ was the land of Izumo.
“Hither, from the blue plain of High Heaven first came to dwell a while the earth makers Izanagi and Izanami, the parents of gods and men”. Somewhere of the border of this land Izanami was buried. Out of this land and into the realm of the dead Izanagi followed after her (as written in the Kojiki, the most ancient book extant, in the archaic tongue of Japan, and the most sacred scripture of Shinto).
[In an Oahspean interpretation this would mean that Izumo is an unseen realm of the lower heavens, below which is the earth itself, where earthbound spirits dwell]. Hearn adds, “the myth is more weird than the descent of Ishtar.”
A similar myth is of the 'Torrent mist princess', daughter of the world of shadows, she who loved the master of the great land (O-Kuninushi) and followed him out of the place of ghosts to be his wife.
“As Izumo is the province of the gods and place of the childhood of the race who worship Izanagi and Izanami, so is ‘Kitzuki of Izumo’ the city of the gods, with its immemorial temple, the earliest home of the ancient Shinto faith”.
Hearn narrates romantically, how he was the first foreigner to meet with Senke Takanori, the kokuzo (spiritual governor) of Kitzuki, to whom "none may speak save on bended knee”. The Takanori family trace back their descent to the goddess of the sun. He was the 81st pontiff of Kitzuki, with his lineage traced back 65 generations of kokuzo, and further, 16 generations of earthly deities to Ama-terasu, and her brother Susanoo-no-mikato.
The Tenshi-Sama (Son of Heaven) stands as mediator “between his people and the sun”. Hearn says worshipful reverence paid to Mikado (emperor) was paid to a dream, a name rather than to a person or reality, for the Tenshi-Sama was ever invisible as a deity “divinely retired”, and in popular belief no man could look upon his face and live. Invisibility and mystery enhanced the divine legend of Mikado. But kukuzo received almost equal devotion. From remote times there have been two branches of the same family that claim ancestral right to the office of kukuzo, the rival houses of Senke and Kitajima. The government favoured the former, but appointed Kitajima to be vice-kukuzo (a temporal title), the emperor’s deputy to Kitzuki, who is appointed to worship the deity in the emperors stead.
Kuni no miyatsuko (Kokuzo) were officials in ancient Japan at the time of the Yamato court. They were in charge of provinces. Kuni no miyatsuko had vast powers and were local lords appointed by the Yamato court. Kuni no miyatsuko as rulers were abolished during the Taika reforms, and provinces were reorganized under the ritsuryo system. Kuni no miyatsuko were appointed gunshi, whereas provinces became ruled by kokushi. The post remained after the Taika reforms, but the Kuni no miyatsuko were now in charge of spiritual and religious affairs.
Senke Takanori claimed that the ‘Oha-yashiro’ (Izumo oyashiro) was first built by the order of the goddess of the sun, when deities alone existed. It was rebuilt in the time of Emperor Sui-nin, and again in the time of Empress Sai-mei, which is the same building existing today. The Oyashiro was rebuilt 28 times every 61 years. In the 4th year of Tai-ei-sama, Amako Tsune Hisa committed charge to Buddhists, to the outrage of tradition. Things were restored by Moro Mototsugo.

In the name O-Kuninushi-no-okami, kuni means country, nation, and Ka-nushi is a Shinto priest. The English handout I received at the shrine tells me O-Kuninushi-no-okami appears to be an individual, unrelated god to Amaterasu. But he is brought within the ideology by having been given the status of “creator of all things under the heavens”, saviour and protector of the natural way of all things”, cultivator of land, developer of the nation, bringer of agriculture and farming, and medicine. Most significantly he is “En-musubi”, the creator and arranger of relationships, and god of all-encompassing boundless love, mercy and brotherhood.
The Izumo region is known as the ‘realm of the gods’ and the land of mythology. After OKuninushi created the land he presented it to Amaterasu-omikami, the parent goddess of the Japanese people, and went into seclusion.
OKuninushi, master-of-the-great-land, is one of the most ancient divinities of Japan, but is confounded with Daikoku, god of wealth (who is depicted seated on bales of rice, holding a red sun against his breast, and a mallet). His son Koto-shiro-nushi-no-kami is confounded with Ebishu, who is patron of labour (depicted holding a tai-fish).
Hearn mentions 800 myriad of kami in the plain of High Heaven. Of these, 3132 dwell in the provinces of land, enshrined in 2861 shrines. The tenth month was called “no god month”, because the deities leave to assemble at Kitzuki in Izumo. Hearn recalls that serpents come to the land from the sea and coil on the sambo (table of the gods) to announce their coming. The dragon king sends messengers to the shrines of Izanagi and Izanami, the parents of gods and men.
A little serpent, called the august dragon serpent, is sent by the dragon king. The sea darkens and rises and roars before the coming of Ryu-ja-sama, messenger of Ryugu-jo (palace of dragons). The messenger is also called Hakaju, a white serpent with the face of a man, with white brows and a crown, also a servant of Benten, goddess of love and beauty. This legend has been identified with Hindu beings, having been introduced by Buddhism. It is also a serpent-like fish caught by fishermen.
Hearn saw a carved relief of “winged dragons rising from a storm-whirl of waters, or descending into it”. The whirls of the eddying water, and crests of the billowing, stood out in hoops and curlings of grey wood.
Ryujin (dragon god), also known as Owatatsumi, was the tutelary deity of the sea in Japanese mythology. This Japanese dragon symbolized the power of the ocean, had a large mouth, and was able to transform into a human shape. Ryujin lived in Ryugu-jo, his palace under the sea built out of red and white coral, from where he controlled the tides with magical tide jewels. Ryujin was the father of the beautiful goddess Otohime who married the hunter prince Hoori. The first Emperor of Japan, Emperor Jimmu, is said to have been a grandson of Otohime and Hoori's. Thus, Ryujin is an ancestor of the Japanese imperial dynasty. According to legend, the Empress Jingu was able to carry out her attack into Korea with the help of Ryujin's tide jewels. An annual festival at the Yasaka Shrine called Gion Matsuri celebrates this legend. Ryujin shinko (dragon god faith) is a form of Shinto religious belief that worships dragons as water kami. It is connected with agricultural rituals, rain prayers, and the success of fishermen. In legend, Urashima Taro visited Ryugu-jo for seven days.

Tokushima, 88 Sacred Temples, Iya Valley, Koya-san and Nara
Early next morning I stopped in Matsue and saw where Hearn had lived. It was by the moat of the castle. Then passed down through the Western Honshu interior to Okayama and crossed the extensive bridge spanning to Shikoku just before dark, managing to glimpse some of the wonderful islands of the inland sea. I reached Tokushima late at night. The Awa Odori Kaikan, near the chair lift, was interesting to see the next morning, and I stayed to participate in the cute Awaodori dance performance.
In the afternoon I moved on to Bandou, where the 88 Sacred Temples pilgrimage begins, and began walking through the towns, villages, farms, bamboo groves and forests, following the ever elusive markers (I had no map). I managed to visit the first 5 temples. Having had enough of the endless Buddha idols and Buddhist temples after two days on the pilgrimage trail I left for the more wild and beautiful Iya Valley. This was far more spectacular, with clear blue water and beautiful forest appearing through the gorge as the train wound its way through. I got out at Oboke, crossed the bridge and found a way to get down into the gorge and go for a swim in the pure rushing water in time to get another train to Kotohira and hike up the stone steps, flanked by stalls all the way to the top of Kompirasan and witness the view.

Still moving on, I was again in Western Honshu, passing through Kobe, Osaka and Wakayama to sleep at Hashimoto, at the foothills of the Koyasan mountains. Next morning I took the cable car up to the Koya-san monastic complex, the headquarters of the Shingon school of Esoteric Buddhism.
Koya-san was thick with tourists, but there was nevertheless a quality to be discovered. There was tranquillity among the stately cedars in the Oku-no-in cemetery. This was the only place I could sit quietly and still and peacefully meditate. The many historical temples conveyed the legend of Kukai. But it wore off and I moved on the Osaka and Nara in two days.

Kukai, also known posthumously as Kobo-Daishi, 774–835, was a Japanese monk, scholar, poet, and artist, founder of the Shingon or "True Word" school of Buddhism. Kukai was a calligrapher, engineer, and is said to have invented kana, the syllabary in which, in combination with Chinese characters (kanji) the Japanese language is written (although this claim has not been proven). His religious writings, some fifty works, expound the esoteric Shingon doctrine. He was born in Shikoku during a period of political turmoil with Emperor Kammu seeking to consolidate his power and to extend his realm, while moving the capital of Japan from Nara ultimately to Heian (modern-day Kyoto).
Biographies of Kukai suggest that he became disillusioned with his Confucian studies, but developed a strong interest in Buddhist studies instead. Around the age of 22, Kukai was introduced to Buddhist practice involving chanting the mantra of the Bodhisattva Akasagarbha (Kokuzo). During this period Kukai frequently sought out isolated mountain regions where he chanted the Akasagarbha mantra relentlessly. At age 24 he published his first major literary work, Sango Shiiki, in which he quotes from an extensive list of sources, including the classics of Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism. The Nara temples, with their extensive libraries, possessed these texts.
During this period in Japanese history, the central government closely regulated Buddhism. Ascetics and independent monks, like Kukai, were frequently banned and lived outside the law, but still wandered the countryside or from temple to temple. During this period Kukai had a dream, in which a man appeared and told him that the Mahavairocana Sutra is the scripture which contained the doctrine Kukai was seeking. Though Kukai managed to obtain a copy he found the translated portion of the sutra was very cryptic. Because Kukai could find no one who could elucidate the text for him, he went to China to study the text there. Kukai took part in a government-sponsored expedition to China. Scholars are unsure why Kukai was selected to take part in an official mission to China, given his background as a private, not state-sponsored, monk.
The expedition included four ships, with Kukai on the first ship, while another famous monk, Saicho was on the second ship. During a storm, the third ship turned back, while the fourth ship was lost at sea. Kukai's ship arrived weeks later in the province of Fujian and its passengers were denied entry to the port while the ship was impounded. Kukai, being fluent in Chinese, wrote a letter to the governor of the province explaining their situation. The governor allowed the ship to dock, and the party was asked to proceed to the capital of Chang'an (present day Xi'an), the seat of power of the Tang Dynasty.
After further delays, the Tang court granted Kukai a place in the Ximingsi temple where his study of Chinese Buddhism began in earnest as well as studies of Sanskrit with the Gandharan pandit Prajña. Kukai met Master Hui-kuo the man who would initiate him into the esoteric Buddhism tradition at Changan's Qinglong Monastery. Huiguo came from a lineage of Buddhist masters, famed for translating Sanskrit texts into Chinese, including the Mahavairocana Sutra. In a few months he was to receive the final initiation, and become a master of the esoteric lineage. Kukai arrived back in Japan with a large number of esoteric texts.
Kukai's return from China was eclipsed by Saicho, the founder of the Tendai school. Saicho had already had esoteric rites officially recognised by the court as an integral part of Tendai, and had already performed the abhisheka, or initiatory ritual, for the court by the time Kukai returned to Japan. With Emperor Kammu's death, Saicho's fortunes began to wane. Saicho requested that Kukai give him the introductory initiation, which Kukai agreed to do. He also granted a second-level initiation upon Saicho, but refused to bestow the final initiation (which would have qualified Saicho as a master of esoteric Buddhism) because Saicho had not completed the required studies, leading to a falling out between the two that was not resolved.
In 810 Kukai emerged as a public figure when he was appointed administrative head of Todai-ji, the central temple in Nara. With the public initiation ceremonies for Saicho and others at Takaosan in 812, Kukai became the acknowledged master of esoteric Buddhism in Japan. He set about organizing his disciples into an order - making them responsible for administration, maintenance and construction at the temple, as well as for monastic discipline.
In 816, Emperor Saga accepted Kukai's request to establish a mountain retreat at Mount Koya as a retreat from worldly affairs. The ground was consecrated with rituals lasting seven days, but he could not stay as he had received an imperial order to act as advisor to the secretary of state, and he therefore entrusted the project to a senior disciple. Kukai's vision was that Mt. Koya was to become a representation of the two mandalas that form the basis of Shingon Buddhism: the central plateau as the Womb Realm mandala, with the peaks surrounding the area as petals of a lotus; and located in the centre of this would be the Diamond Realm mandala in the form of a temple which he named Kongobu-ji (Diamond Peak Temple). At the center of the temple complex sits an enormous statue of Mahavairocana Buddha who is the personification of Ultimate Reality.
When Emperor Kammu had moved the capital in 784, he had not permitted the powerful Buddhists from the temples of Nara to follow him. He did commission two new temples: To-ji (Eastern Temple) and Sai-ji (Western Temple) which flanked the road at southern entrance to the city, protecting the capital from evil influences.

The To-ji Temple is situated near Kyto railway station. Most of its present buildings date back to the 17th cent.

Emperor Saga asked Kukai, experienced in public works projects, to take over To-ji and finish the building project. Saga gave Kukai free rein, enabling him to make To-ji the first Esoteric Buddhist centre in Kyoto. An imperial decree gave Kukai exclusive use of To-ji for the Shingon School, which set a new precedent in an environment where previously temples had been open to all forms of Buddhism. Kukai open his School of Arts and Sciences, open to all regardless of social rank. This was in contrast to the only other school in the capital which was only open to members of the aristocracy. The school taught Taoism and Confucianism, in addition to Buddhism, and provided free meals to the pupils. The latter was essential because the poor could not afford to live and attend the school without it. The school closed ten years after Kukai's death, when it was sold in order to purchase some rice fields for supporting monastic affairs.

Shingon
Shingon Buddhism is the other extant major branch of Vajrayana Buddhism along with Tibetan Buddhism. It is often called "Japanese Esoteric Buddhism". The word shingon is the Japanese reading of the kanji for the Chinese word zhenyán, literally meaning "true words", which in turn is the Chinese translation of the Sanskrit word mantra.
The Shingon includes practices known in Japan as Mikkyo, which are similar in concept to those in Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhism. The lineage for Shingon Buddhism differs from that of Tibetan Vajrayana, having emerged from India and Central Asia (via China) and is based on earlier versions of the Indian texts than the Tibetan lineage. Shingon shares material with Tibetan Buddhism–-such as the esoteric sutras (called Tantras in Tibetan Buddhism) and mandalas – but the actual practices are not related. The school mostly died out or was merged into other schools in China towards the end of the Tang Dynasty but flourished in Japan. Shingon is one of the few remaining branches of Buddhism that continues to use the siddham script of the Sanskrit language.
Shingon arose in Japan's Heian period (794-1185) when Kukai went to China in 804 and studied tantric practices in Xian and returned with many texts and art works. In time, he developed his own synthesis of esoteric practice and doctrine, centered on the universal Buddha Vairocana (Mahavairocana Tathagata).
Shingon enjoyed immense popularity during the Heian Period, and contributed to art and literature, and influenced other communities, such as the Tendai sect on Mt. Hiei. Its emphasis on ritual found support in the Kyoto nobility, particularly the Fujiwara clan. This favor allotted Shingon several politically powerful temples in the capital, where rituals for the imperial family and nation were regularly performed. Many of these temples such as Toji and Daigoji in the South of Kyoto and Jingoji and Ninnaji in the Northwest became ritual centers establishing their own particular ritual lineages.
Like the Tendai School that branched into the Jodo, Zen and Nichiren Schools in the Kamakura period, Shingon divided into two branches: Kogi Shingon (Old) and Shingi Shingon (New). This schism arose out of a political dispute.
The teachings of Shingon are based on esoteric Vajrayana texts, the Mahavairocana Sutra and the Vajrasekhara Sutra (Diamond Crown Sutra). These two mystical teachings are shown in the main two mandalas of Shingon, namely, the Womb Realm (Taizokai) mandala and the Diamond Realm (Kongo Kai) mandala. Vajrayana Buddhism is concerned with the ritual and meditative practices leading to enlightenment. According to Shingon, enlightenment is not a distant, foreign reality that can take aeons to approach but a real possibility within this very life, based on the spiritual potential of every living being, known generally as Buddha-nature. If cultivated, this luminous nature manifests as innate wisdom. With the help of a genuine teacher and through properly training the body, speech, and mind, we can reclaim and liberate this enlightened capacity for the benefit of ourselves and others.
Kukai also systematized and categorised the teachings he inherited into ten stages or levels of spiritual realisation. He wrote at length on the difference between exoteric (both mainstream Buddhism and Mahayana) and esoteric (Vajrayana) Buddhism. The differences between exoteric and esoteric can be summarised as:
Esoteric teachings are preached by the Dharmakaya Buddha which Kukai identifies with Mahavairocana. Exoteric teachings are preached by the Nirmanakaya Buddha, also known as Gautama Buddha, or one of the Sambhoghakaya Buddhas.
Exoteric Buddhism holds that the ultimate state of Buddhahood is ineffable, and that nothing can be said of it. Esoteric Buddhism holds that while nothing can be said of it verbally, it is readily communicated via esoteric rituals which involve the use of mantras, mudras, and mandalas. Kukai held that exoteric doctrines were merely provisional, skillful means (upaya) on the part of the Buddhas to help beings according to their capacity to understand the Truth. The esoteric doctrines by comparison are the Truth itself, and are a direct communication of the "inner experience of the Dharmakaya's enlightenment".
Kukai held, along with the Huayan (Jp. Kegon) school that all phenomena could be expressed as 'letters' in a 'World-text'. Mantra, mudra, and mandala are special because they constitute the 'language' through which the Dharmakaya (i.e. Reality itself) communicates. Although portrayed through the use of anthropomorphic metaphors, Shingon does not see the Dharmakaya Buddha as a god, or creator. The Dharmakaya is in fact a symbol for the true nature of things which is impermanent and empty of any essence. The teachings were passed from Mahavairocana.
In Shingon, Mahavairocana Tathagata is the universal or primordial Buddha that is the basis of all phenomena, present in each and all of them, and not existing independently or externally to them. The goal of Shingon is the realization that one's nature is identical with Mahavairocana, a goal that is achieved through initiation (for ordained followers), meditation and esoteric ritual practices. This realization depends on receiving the secret doctrine of Shingon, transmitted orally to initiates by the school's masters. Body, speech, and mind participate simultaneously in the subsequent process of revealing one's nature: the body through devotional gestures (mudra) and the use of ritual instruments, speech through sacred formulas (mantra), and mind through meditation.
Shingon places special emphasis on the Thirteen Buddhas, a grouping of various Buddhas and boddhisattvas, including Amitabha Buddha (Amida Nyorai), Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva (Kannon), Maitreya Bodhisattva (Miroku) and Shakyamuni Buddha (Shaka Nyorai).
One feature that Shingon shares in common with the other school of Esoteric Buddhism (Tendai) is the use of seed-syllables or bija along with anthropomorphic and symbolic representations, to express Buddhist deities in their mandalas. There are four types of mandalas:

Maha-mandala (anthropomorphic representation)
Seed-syllable mandala or dharma-mandala
Samaya-mandala (representations of the vows of the deities in the form of articles they hold or their mudras)
Karma-mandala (representing the activities of the deities in the three-dimensional form of statues, etc)

An ancient Indian Sanskrit syllabary script known as siddham is used to write mantras. A core meditative practice of Shingon is ajikan, "Meditating on the Letter 'A'", which uses the siddham letter representing that sound as a. Other Shingon meditations are "full moon" visualization, "visualization of the five elements arrayed in the body" and "series of five meditations to attain Buddhahood".
The essence of Shingon Mantrayana practice is to experience Reality by emulating the inner realization of the Dharmakaya through the meditative ritual use of mantra, mudra and visualization of mandala (ie. the three mysteries). All Shingon followers gradually develop a teacher-student relationship, whereby a teacher learns the disposition of the student and teaches practices accordingly. For lay practitioners, there is no initiation ceremony beyond the Kechien Kanjo, which is normally offered only at Mt. Koya, but is not required. In the case of disciples wishing to ordain as priests, the process is more complex and requires initiations in various mandalas, rituals and so on. In either case, the stress is on finding a qualified and willing mentor who will guide you through Shingon practice at a gradual pace. Esoteric Buddhism is also practiced, in the Japanese Tendai School founded at around the same time as the Shingon School in the early 9th century (Heian period). The term used there is Mikkyo. Branches of Shingon I visited are Toji, in Kyoto and Koyasan.

Vajrasattva

Tibetan Vajrasattva holds the vajra in his right hand and a bell in his left hand.
Mahavairocana Tantra
The Mahavairocana Tantra is an important Vajrayana Buddhist text. In Japan where it is known as the Mahavairocana Sutra, it is one of two central texts in the Shingon school, along with the Vajrasekhara Sutra. The Mahavairocana Tantra is the first true Buddhist tantra, the earliest comprehensive manual of tantric Buddhism. It was probably composed in the 6th to mid 7th century, probably in north-eastern India. The Mahavairocana Tantra consists of three primary mandalas corresponding to the body, speech and mind of Mahavairocana, as well as preliminary practices and initiation rituals.
The sutra begins in a timeless setting of Mahavairocana Buddha's palace (symbolizing all of existence), with a dialogue between Mahavairocana Buddha and his disciple Vajrasattva, who has led a host of bodhisattvas to visit Vairocana Buddha and learn the Dharma. Vajrasattva inquires about the cause, goal and foundation of all-embracing wisdom, which leads to a philosophical discourse by Mahavairocana Buddha, with emphasis on the relationship between form and emptiness. The audience cannot comprehend the teaching, so the Buddha demonstrates through the use mandala. Vajrasattva then questions why rituals and objects are needed if the truth is beyond form. Vairocana replies that these are expedient means to bring practitioners to experience awakening more readily.
There are three chapters on the mandala of the Body Mystery with detailed instruction on the laying out of the mandala and the abhisekha ritual. This mandala is also known as the Mandala of the Womb Realm, three chapters on the mandala of the Speech Mystery, and five chapters on the mandala of the Mind Mystery. Five chapters include the six Homa rites. Chapter 2 of the sutra contains four precepts, called the samaya:
Not to abandon the true Dharma
Not to deviate from one's own enlightened mind
Not to be reserved in sharing with others the Buddhist teachings
Not to bring harm to any sentient beings
The Mahavairocana Tantra does not trace its lineage to Shakyamuni Buddha, the founder of Buddhism. Instead it comes directly from Mahavairocana. The lineage then being, according to the Shingon tradition:
Vajrasattva, the disciple of Mahavairocana Buddha in this sutra.
Nagarjuna received the Mahavairocana Tantra text directly from Vajrasattva inside an iron stupa in South India.
Nagabodhi, Nagarjuna's disciple
Vajrabodhi, an Indian monk famous for translating esoteric rituals into Chinese language
Amoghavajra, Vajrabodhi's famous disciple, and expert in esoteric practices
Hui-kuo, a Chinese esoteric master Kukai, founder of Shingon Buddhism in Japan.

Within the vision of the Mahavairocana Sutra, the state of bodhi (Awakening/Enlightenment) is seen as naturally inherent to the mind - the mind's natural and pure state (as in Dzogchen and Tathagatagarbha) - and is viewed as the perceptual sphere of non-duality, where all false distinctions between a perceiving subject and perceived objects are lifted and the true state of things (non-duality) is revealed. This is also the understanding of Enlightenment found in Yogacara Buddhism. To achieve this vision of non-duality, it is necessary to recognise one's own mind. Knowing your mind 'as it truly is' means that you are to know the inherent natural state of the mind by eliminating the split into a subject and objects which normally occurs in the world and is wrongly thought to be real. This corresponds to the Yogacara definition ... that emptiness (sunyata) is the absence of this imaginary split. Suchness (tathata) is the intrinsic nature (svabhava) of the mind which is Enlightenment (bodhi-citta). Since Awareness (jnana) is non-dual, Suchness-Awareness is not so much the Awareness of Suchness, but the Awareness which is Suchness. This Suchness-Awareness or Perfect Enlightenment is Mahavairocana [the Primal Buddha, uncreated and forever existent]. In other words, the mind in its intrinsic nature is Mahavairocana, whom one "becomes" (or vice-versa) when one is perfectly enlightened. ”
In this sense, even emptiness needs to be transcended, to the extent that it is not a vacuous emptiness, but the expanse of the mind of Buddha, Buddhic Awareness and Buddha-realms, all of which know of no beginning and no arising. The mind is primordially unborn and unarisen. The natural state of mind is the Tathagata's inherent Awareness and the all-pervasiver Body of Vairocana with all the manifested Buddha realms. Emptiness is not mere inert nothingness but is precisely the unlocalised locus where Vairocana resides. Vajrapani salutes the Buddha Vairocana with the following words:

I salute you who are bodhicitta [Awakened Mind]!
I salute you who are the source of Enlightenment! ... I bow to you who reside in emptiness!

Here Vairocana comes across as a human-like entity that gives a discourse to heavenly beings, even as an angel - a passed over spirit - speculating on his self existence. He is being identified with the inherent, aware, primordial state, the suchness existing within the emptiness. This becomes one and the same person and body in Vairocana, thus he is identified as the uncreated Primal Buddha. When Hindus speak of an entity not born of woman, ie., uncreated, this can only refer to the original creator and source of all beings and creation. But Buddhism rejects the notion of a creator. Has not Vairocana now assumed that role?
Becoming one with this suchness is not the same as originally being it.
The entity portrays himself as a personification of enlightenment, the expanse of the perfect mind, the void, or what I interpret as the Holy Ghost, and declares this to be Vairocana himself. Perhaps these are indeed hidden qualities of the sought after unknown primordial originator/creator, in part. Had not there been a religious suppression of knowledge in those days, we could have suspected that Vairocana was discoursing on a much older idea of self-realisation, which formerly referred to the incomprehensible Great Spirit, the All-Soul, All-Person not in the image of a man, nor a mere principle. The Buddhist version has omitted this part. But records of this are no longer around, save traces in the Vedas, which themselves have been corrupted.
It is easy to see through the speculation that Vairocana is the uncreated Primal Buddha. Oahspe would have it that there are yet higher gods in Nirvana than Vairocana, who themselves worship a yet higher incomprehensible primordial All-Person, who is far more to them than a state. On the path to the truth we regularly meet those who say "you are the Buddha", an "aspect of God" without going to the core, leaving them to one day gasp for another anthropomorphized Vairocana-like substitute for the eternal.
Perhaps "Mahavairocana Buddha's palace" is Haractu, the "Buddhist heavenly kingdom, the All Highest Heaven of Heavens" and Kabalactes is the fallen Lord who took the name Buddha, and 'Mahavairocana' is only an elaborate identity styled by Kabalactes' officer Yima. And maybe Yima has taken the alias 'Vajrasattva' (Diamond Mind). [See What Oahspe has to say about Buddhism for the explanation]
Because Kabalactes plagiarised the wisdom of Sakaya, and even took the name, Sakaya Muni [Sakyamuni], we must seek out in Vajrayana esoteric knowledge that which leads us to truth, and reject that which leads us into idolism, and slavery to a self-asserted God that had turned human faith "expediently" towards his own glory by revising the ancient "rituals and objects" to serve himself.

The Vajrasekhara Sutra is an important Buddhist tantra used in the Vajrayana, particularly Shingon. The sutra begins with Mahavairocana Buddha preaching the Dharma to a great host of Bodhisattvas, including Vajrasattva, in the Buddhist heaven of Akanishta. As he preaches the Dharma, Prince Sarvarthasiddhi, the esoteric name of the Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, is meditating under the Bodhi Tree. Enlightenment is imminent, but the Prince has still not attained it because he is still attached in some small way to his forsaken ascetic practices. Despairing over his inability to find Enlightenment, he is visited by Buddhist figures who were just now learning the Dharma from Mahavairocana.
These same deities proceed to teach him a more direct path to Enlightenment through esoteric ritual. The sutra then details the rituals used to actualize the Dharma. This sutra also introduces the Diamond Realm Mandala as a focus for meditative practices, and its use in the abhiseka ritual of initiation. As the prince has now experienced Enlightenment, he ascends to Mount Sumeru and constructs the Diamond Realm Mandala and initiates and converts the bodhisattvas gathered there, one by one, into esoteric deities who constitute the Mandala.
In esoteric ritual, the teacher of the esoteric Buddhism assumes the role of the Prince who constructs the Mandala, while the master and student repeat specific mantras in a form of dialogue. The new initiates are blindfolded, and are asked to toss a flower upon a mandala that is constructed. Where the flower lands helps decide which Buddhist figure the student should devote themselves to. The student's blindfold is removed and a vajra is placed in hand.

In Vajrayana Buddhism, the Diamond Realm is a metaphysical space inhabited by the Five Wisdom (Dhyani) Buddhas. The Diamond Realm Mandala is based on the Vajrasekhara Sutra. The Diamond Realm along with the Womb Realm Mandala forms the Mandala of the Two Realms, which form the core of Shingon rituals, including the initiation or abhiseka ritual. In traditional Shingon halls, the Diamond Realm Mandala is hung on the west wall symbolizing the final realization of Mahavairocana Buddha. The Womb Realm Mandala is hung on the east wall, symbolizing the young stage of Mahavairocana Buddha.

The Five Dhyani (Wisdom) Buddhas (Dhyani Skt. for "concentration"), are representations of the five qualities of the Buddha. They are a later development, based on the Yogacara elaboration of concepts concerning the jñana of the Buddhas, of the Trikaya ("three body") theory, which posits three "bodies" of the Buddha.

Diamond Realm MandalaThe Wisdom Buddhas, products of the Adi (primordial) buddha, are all aspects of the dharmakaya or "reality-body", which embodies the principle of enlightenment. Initially Aksobhya and Amitabha Buddhas represented wisdom and compassion respectively. A further distinction embodied the aspects of power, or activity, and the aspect of beauty, or spiritual riches. In the early Mahayana Sutra of Golden Light the figures are named Dundubishvara, and Ratnaketu, but over time their names changed to become Amoghasiddhi, and Ratnasambhava. The central figure came to be called Vairocana. When represented in a Vairocana mandala, the Buddhas are arranged like this:

Akshobhya
(east)
Amoghasiddhi
(north)
Vairocana
(principal deity/ meditator)
RatnasambhavaRatnasa
(south)
Amitabha
(west)

Akshobhya transforms anger into a clear, mirror-like wisdom. A knowledge of what is real, and what is illusion, or a mere reflection of actual reality. The mirror is mind itself - clear like the sky, empty yet luminous. Holding all the images of space and time, yet untouched by them. He represents the eternal mind, and the Vajra family is connected with reason and intellect. Its brilliance illuminates the darkness of ignorance, its sharpness cuts through confusion. With this, we see things as they are, impartially and unaffectedly. A mirror will reflect both a red rose or a bloody dagger just as they are. Akshobhya’s blue color is linked to the color of water, which has the capacity to act as a clear mirror.
Akshobhya makes the bhumisparsha mudra (earth touching gesture, a gesture of resolve). His emblem is the vajra, symbolising the essential qualities of enlightenment - strength, power, energy of the thunderbolt, and the brilliance, purity, and indestructibility of a diamond. Vajrasattva sits to the East near Akshobhya Buddha.

Vairocana (also Mahavairocana) is the embodiment of Dharmakaya, and can be seen as the universal aspect of the historical Gautama Buddha. He is also the embodiment of shunyata or Emptiness [Holy Ghost]. Vairocana in Tibetan is called ‘Namnang' (the illuminator) and in Japanese Vairocana (Dainichi) translates as "Great Sun". Francis Xavier used Dainichi, the Japanese name for Vairocana, to designate the Christian God. As Xavier learned more he substituted the term Deusu, which he derived from Deus.
Vairocana Buddha is first introduced in the Brahma Net Sutra:
Now, I, Vairocana Buddha am sitting atop a lotus pedestal; On thousand flowers surrounding me are a thousand Sakyamuni Buddhas. Each flower supports a hundred million worlds; in each world a Sakyamuni Buddha appears. All are seated beneath a Bodhi-tree, all simultaneously attain Buddhahood. All these innumerable Buddhas have Vairocana as their original body.”
In Japanese Buddhism, Vairocana was gradually superseded as an object of reverence by Amitabha, due to the popularity of Pure Land Buddhism. Vairocana's legacy still remains in the Todai-ji temple and in Shingon.
Vairocana displays the Dharmacakra (Wheel of Dharma) mudra, his emblem is the golden or solar wheel. This symbolizes when he preached the first sermon after his Enlightenment in the Deer Park at Sarnath. While Amitabha Buddha is seen as a personification of Compassion Vairocana is often seen as a personification of Wisdom. Vairocana is said to be the sum of all the Dhyani Buddhas and combines all their qualities. Borobudur was dedicated to Vairocana, performing Dharmachakra mudra, flanked by Avalokitesvara and Vajrapani.

Amitabha is a celestial buddha of Mahayana. Amitabha is the principal buddha in the Pure Land sect. Amita ( infinite) and abha (light) is translatable as "Infinite Light". Pure Land Buddhism seems to have first become popular in northwest India/Pakistan and Afghanistan, from where it spread to Central Asia and China. Through his efforts, Amitabha created the "Pure Land" (Japanese: jodo) called Sukhavati (possessing happiness), or Dewachen (Tibetan) [hence the Devachanic Plane of Theosophy]. In Tibetan Vajrayana, Amitabha is considered one of the Five Dhyani Buddhas. His consort is a feminine form of Avalokiteshvara and the precursor of Guan Yin. His two main disciples (as had Shakyamuni) are Vajrapani and Avalokiteshvara, the former to his left and the latter to his right. Panchen Lamas are considered to be incarnations of Amitabha.
It can be difficult to distinguish Amitabha from Sakyamuni, as both are portrayed as possessing all the attributes of a buddha. Amitabha can often be distinguished by his mudra: depicted displaying the meditation mudra (thumbs touching and fingers together, while the earth-touching mudra (right hand pointed downward over the right leg, palm inward) is reserved for Sakyamuni. He can also be seen holding a lotus in his hands while displaying the meditation mudra. When standing, Amitabha is often shown with his left arm bare and extended downward with thumb and forefinger touching, with his right hand facing outward also with thumb and forefinger touching. His unique emblem is the lotus, thus associated with gentleness, openness, and purity.

The Womb Realm (Skt. garbhakosa-dhatu) is the metaphysical space inhabited by the Five Wisdom Kings. The Womb Realm is based on the Mahavairocana Sutra. The name of the mandala derives from the sutra, where it is said that Mahavairocana Buddha revealed the mandala's secret teachings to his disciple Vajrasattva from his "womb of compassion". In other translations, the term matrix realm or Matrix Mandala are used.

The Avatamsaka Sutra (Japanese: Kegon Kyo) or Flower Garland Sutra, is an influential Mahayana Sutra of East Asian Buddhism. This text describes a cosmos of infinite realms upon realms, mutually containing each other. The vision expressed was the foundation for the creation of the Huayan school of Chinese Buddhism, which was characterized by a philosophy of interpenetration. Huayan is known as Kegon in Japan. The sutra was written in stages, beginning from at least 500 years after the death of the Buddha. The sutra has not survived in Sanskrit. The sutra, among the largest in the Buddhist canon, contains 40 chapters of overarching themes:

The interdependency of all phenomena (dharmas).
The progression of the Buddhist path to full Enlightenment, or Buddhahood.

Chapter 26, the Dasabhumika Sutra or Sutra of the Ten Stages details the ten stages of development a bodhisattva must undergo to attain supreme enlightenment. The last chapter, the Gandavyuha Sutra, details the journey of the youth Sudhana, who undertakes a pilgrimage at the behest of the bodhisattva Manjushri. Sudhana encounters The Tower of Maitreya, which along with Indra's net is one of the most startling metaphors for the infinite.

In the middle of the great tower... he saw the billion-world universe... and everywhere there was Sudhana at his feet... Thus Sudhana saw Maitreya's practices of... transcendence over countless eons (kalpa), from each of the squares of the check board wall... In the same way Sudhana... saw the whole supernal manifestation, was perfectly aware it, understood it, contemplated it, used it as a means, beheld it, and saw himself there.

The Gandavyhua suggests that with a subtle shift of perspective we may come to see that the enlightenment that the pilgrim so fervently sought was not only with him at every stage of his journey, but before it began as well — that enlightenment is not something to be gained, but "something" the pilgrim never departed from.
The final master that Sudhana visits is the Bodhisattva Samantabhadra (Universal Worthy), who teaches him that wisdom only exists for the sake of putting it into practice; that it is only good insofar as it benefits all living beings. When this done, the world of the Gandavyuha (ceases) to be a mystery, a realm devoid of form and corporeality, for now it overlaps this earthly world; no, it becomes that "Thou art it" and there is a perfect fusion of the two.

Indra's net (also Indra's jewels or pearls) is a metaphor used to illustrate the concepts of emptiness, dependent origination, and interpenetration in Buddhist philosophy. It was developed by the Mahayana school in the 3rd century scriptures of the Avatamsaka Sutra, and later by the Chinese Huayan school between the 6th and 8th century. Buddhist concepts of interpenetration hold that all phenomena are intimately connected; Indra's net symbolizes a universe where infinitely repeated mutual relations exist between all members of the universe. This idea is communicated in the image of the interconnectedness of the universe as seen in the net of the Vedic god Indra, whose net hangs over his palace on Mount Meru, the axis mundi of Vedic cosmology and mythology. Indra's net has a multifaceted jewel at each vertex, and each jewel is reflected in all of the other jewels.

"Imagine a multidimensional spider's web in the early morning covered with dew drops. And every dew drop contains the reflection of all the other dew drops. And, in each reflected dew drop, the reflections of all the other dew drops in that reflection. And so ad infinitum. That is the Buddhist conception of the universe in an image."

Alan Watts
“Far away in the heavenly abode of the great god Indra, there is a wonderful net which has been hung by some cunning artificer in such a manner that it stretches out infintely in all directions. In accordance with the extravagant tastes of deities, the artificer has hung a single glittering jewel in each "eye" of the net, and since the net itself is infinite in dimension, the jewels are infinite in number. There hang the jewels, glittering like stars in the first magnitude, a wonderful sight to behold. If we now arbitrarily select one of these jewels for inspection and look closely at it, we will discover that in its polished surface there are reflected all the other jewels in the net, infinite in number. Not only that, but each of the jewels reflected in this one jewel is also reflecting all the other jewels, so that there is an infinite reflecting process occurring."
Francis Harold Cook, The Jewel Net of Indra

Kegon is the name of the Japanese transmission of the Huayan school of Chinese Buddhism. Huayan studies were founded in Japan when, in 736, the scholar-priest Roben invited Shinsho (Jap: Shinjo) to give lectures on the Avatamsaka Sutra at what is now Todai-ji. Kegon later combined its doctrines with those of Vajrayana.
The Huayan school is a tradition of Mahayana philosophy. It is based on the Sanskrit Flower Garland Sutra (crowning glory of profound understanding). The doctrines of the Huayan school ended up having profound impact on the philosophical attitudes of all of East Asian Buddhism. Established during the end of the Sui and beginning of Tang dynasties (c. 600-700 C.E.), it centered on the philosophy of mutual containment and interpenetration of all phenomena; that one thing contains all things in existence, and that all things contain one.
Truth (reality) is understood as encompassing and interpenetrating falsehood (illusion), and vice versa Good is understood as encompassing and interpenetrating evil
Similarly, all mind-made distinctions are understood as "collapsing" in the enlightened understanding of emptiness.
Since a phenomenon originates dependently, it is empty of own-being. Therefore it is not itself, and phenomenal form is empty and nonexistent. When one understands that origination is without self-nature, then there is no origination.
Any empty phenomenon is an expression of, and the medium for, the ultimate truth of emptiness. The union of opposites effected here is the identity between conditioned, relative reality and the ultimate truth of suchness. "When the great wisdom of perfect clarity gazes upon a minute hair, the universal sea of nature, the true source, is clearly manifest."
When the ultimate truth of emptiness becomes manifest to the viewer, each phenomenon is paradoxically perceived as interpenetrating with and containing all others.
In each and every hair [of the lion] there is the golden lion. All of the lions contained in each and every hair simultaneously and suddenly penetrate into one hair. Therefore, within each and every hair there are unlimited lions.
These paradoxes originate in the tension between conventional truth and ultimate truth.
The school suffered severely during the Buddhist purge of 841-845, initiated by Emperor Wuzong, never to recover its former strength. Nonetheless, its profound metaphysics, such as that of the Four Dharmadhatu of interpenetration, had a deep impact on surviving East Asian schools.

Dharmadhatu was originally found in the Avatamsaka-sutra and was fully developed by the Hua-yen school into a systematic doctrine.
Dharmadhatu (Sanskrit) may be defined as the 'dimension', 'realm' or 'sphere' (dhatu) of Dharma and denotes the collective 'one-taste' of Dharmata/Tathata (thusness, suchness, being 'in the moment'). In Mahayana, it means "realm of phenomena", "realm of Truth" and of the noumenon, where Tathata (Reality "as-it-is"), emptiness, dependent co-arising and the unconditioned, uncreated, perfect and eternal Buddha are one. Dharmadhatu is defined as: "The ‘realm of phenomena;’ the suchness in which emptiness and dependent origination are inseparable. The nature of mind and phenomena which lies beyond arising, dwelling and ceasing. The ground for buddhahood, nirvana, purity, and permanence. It is the purified mind in its natural state, free of the obscuration rendered by dualism; as well as the essence-quality or nature of mind, the fundamental ground of consciousness of the trikaya accessed via the mindstream.
To an entity that has realised their buddha-dhatu or essential buddha-nature, dharmadhatu is also referred to as the dharmakaya (body of Dharma) of that entity. Dharmadhatu has a nonlinear, holistic essence-quality, unbounded by space and time. All dharmas in the past, present and future are all together in the Dharmadhatu. Bodhicitta (or heartmind) is the medium through which dharmadhatu is perceived and realised. The Five Wisdoms
1. Dharmadhatu wisdom 2. Mirror-like wisdom 3. Equality wisdom 4. Discriminating wisdom 5. All-accomplishing wisdom
In the Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutra, the Buddha states of himself that he is the "boundless Dharmadhatu" - the Totality itself.

Todai-ji is a Buddhist temple complex in Nara. Its Great Buddha Hall (largest wooden building in the world) houses the world's largest statue of the Buddha Vairocana (Daibutsu). The temple also serves as the headquarters of the Kegon school.
During the Tenpyo era Emperor Shomu issued an edict in 741 to promote the construction of provincial temples throughout the nation. Todai-ji was appointed as the Provincial temple of Yamato Province and the head of all the provincial temples. With the alleged coup d'état in 729, an outbreak of smallpox around 735–737, worsened by consecutive years of poor crops, then followed by a rebellion in 740, the country was in a chaotic position. Emperor Shomu had been forced to move the capital four times, indicating the level of instability .
Todai-ji served as the central administrative temple for the provincial temples for the six Buddhist schools in Japan at the time: the Hosso, Kegon, Jojitsu, Sanron, Ritsu and Kusha.
Japanese Buddhism during this time still maintained the lineage of the Vinaya (discipline) and all officially licensed monks had to take their ordination under the Vinaya at Todai-ji. In 754, ordination was given by Ganjin, who arrived after crossing the sea from China to former Emperor Shomu. Later Buddhist monks, including Kukai and Saicho took their ordination here as well. Kukai's administration of the Sogo, additional ordination ceremonies were added, including ordination of the Bodhisattva Precepts from the Brahma Net Sutra and the esoteric Precepts, or Samaya, from Kukai's newly established Shingon school.
As the center of power in Japanese Buddhism shifted away from Nara to Mount Hiei and the Tendai sect, Todai-ji's role in maintaining authority declined as well. The Vinaya lineage also died out, thus no more ordination ceremonies take place at Todai-ji. The Buddha was completed in 751.

What Oahspe has to say about Buddhism

This section is given as an explanation for the comment I made regarding Mahavairocana in the Mahavairocana Tantra section.

Oahspe includes a record of events in heaven and on earth that reveals the way all significant ancient and modern religions came about, in addition to its answer to the mysteries of life and creation. I will give quotes to build up the picture of how Buddhism came to be. For some background:
There are three creations. Spiritual (etherea or nirvana, the most subtle, which lies beyond the heavens), atmospherean (intermediate, heavenly, 'spirit world' or 'the firmament') and corporeal (material). Only etherea permeates all existence. The earth is surrounded by its much vaster unseen heavens, which travel together with the earth through space. These are inhabited by spirits of the dead. The earth bound spirits (who crave things of the body and ego) remain on the earth or in the lower realms. They can be raised in purity, wisdom and love to inhabit higher realms. The Spirit world influences mortals to darkness or light, unknown to them. Like attracts like, and after death the soul goes to what it yearned for during life.
Oahspe speaks of mortals, angels, gods, goddesses and Jehovih. Spirits of mortals that have died are termed angels. Gods are angels that are raised in wisdom and power. The creator of all these is Jehovih. Only He is unborn, sum and substance of All.
The word 'God' can be used, in a certain sense, as another word for Jehovih, but Oahspe usually uses it to refer to the god of heaven and earth, a title conferred upon the wisest and best angel who is crowed by a higher Etherean authority. He is commissioned to raise up all angels below him to become as fellow gods and goddesses, of grades suitable to enter the subtle realms of Nirvana, which it also describes. So now here are some quotes. The setting is when a great darkness began affecting the heavens, just as climate change is causing havoc on earth recently. This phenomena caused the organised heavens to loose faith and unity, while the evil gods like Baal and Ashtaroth gained advantage:

1. And Lords and high officers, whose heavenly places had fallen, came to Paradise saying:
Since we have been faithful in all things, and dutiful servants to Jehovih, what have we gained? Our kingdoms and high places have fallen to pieces through no fault of our own. Indeed, our angels have gone off into anarchy ...
8. In groups they assembled in places of their own, and began to philosophize on the ways of heaven and earth.
9. And they became accustomed to meeting regularly in three places in hada: in Haractu, over Vind‘yu
[India], in Eta-shong, over Chine‘ya [China], and in Hapsendi, over Egupt [Egypt]. And these became like great heavenly cities, because of the congregating of the angels of heaven, which continued for many years.
10. Now, finally they resolved to organize each one of these three places, each to be under a distinct head, and to unite the three heads into one confederacy, with the whole to be dedicated to the service of Jehovih. Thus was founded the Confederacy of the Holy Ghost. And by acclamation, three angels were raised to the three capitals, namely: Kabalactes, of Haractu; Ennochissa, of Eta-shong; and Looeamong, of Hapsendi. And each and every one of the three took the title, Son of the Holy Ghost. All three had been Lords, and were high in grade.
14. Such, then, was the established confederacy ... And it differed from all other confederacies, because its members all professed to serve Jehovih. And it required of all its people an oath of allegiance to Jehovih, but under the name, Holy Ghost, for they denied His Person as such.

God‘s Book of Eskra Ch 13
1. There came to Paradise, one Taenas, a messenger from the so-called Holy Confederacy ... he said:
As you say: Behold the All Person, so do we not say; but we say: Behold the all expanse; it is only a shadow, a ghost.
And for convenience‘ sake, we name it, Holy Ghost ...
God said: And by what authority, if they inquire of you?
26. Taenas said: By authority of the Holy Ghost, and the Father (the Confederacy), and by the Son, that is, each and every Lord of the Confederacy.
27. For we shall teach mortals and angels that all things are by law; and the word, law, shall take the place of the term, Great Spirit, or Jehovih ...
God said: ...
30. For you will be forced to provide a worshipful head for mortals and angels. And it will come to pass, your three heavenly places will become known on earth and in heaven as the Triune Gods, or Trinity!
31. And the people will worship an imaginary figure of three parts, Father, Son and Holy Ghost. And this will become their idol; and he will be accredited with love, anger, jealousy, favoritism, war and destruction.
32. Because you say: Give punishment to the wicked, you open the door of all evil. For he who has a quarrel with his neighbor, will accuse him as deserving punishment. Those who are in darkness, and being mighty, will fall upon the weak, and slay them.
33. A quarrel will ensue in your three heavenly kingdoms, and you will become as three false Gods. And since you do not profess the All Person, each of you three Gods will be forced to announce himself as such.
34. For the rule applies to all men and to all angels, that those who deny an All Highest Person in the Creator, become establishers of idolatry to themselves.
35. You have said: We shall leave mortals and angels to worship whom they will. Well, then, is it not well to worship Baal? And Dagon? And Ashtaroth? And yet, these Gods make slaves of their subjects, who worship them.
36. Taenas said: No, they are evil Gods. We will deliver their slaves into freedom.
37. God said: Who is master, and who is slave? ...
38. Because you proclaim liberty as your chief object, you will entice the unlearned, the truant, the idle, and the lazy; for all these claim their weaknesses to be the boon of liberty.
39. It shall come to pass, in the far-distant future, your kingdoms will be made up of the lowest grades. And they will pull you all down from your present high resolves; and you will become tyrants and evil Gods yourselves, and meet the fate of all your predecessors.
40. The earth and its heavens were given into my keeping, for the resurrection of all the inhabitants; but I have neither commission nor desire to accomplish dominion by violence. Because you have withdrawn from my kingdoms, it is an act of your own.
41. ... though your course seems evil in my sight, yet it will be proven in the distant future, that Jehovih will appropriate your labors to an ultimate good.
God‘s Book of Eskra Ch 18 The meaning and origin of the term, Holy Ghost
Sakaya, mentioned in the passage below, is the real historical mystic of Buddhism, though he had nothing to do with the founding of Buddhism. He is described in Oahspe as having been under the inspiration of the True God of heaven and earth, not the triune gods. Yet his popular reverence and wisdom could not be outshone by the Triune god Kabalactes, and so Sakaya’s wisdom and accomplishment was assimilated into Triune doctrine for what was to become the Buddhist cause.
The same falsehood was also later done of the so-called Jesus. Oahspe teaches that the real historical person's name was Joshu, and that he was stoned to death. But the Triunes brought forward their cause through many saviours, some of whom were crucified martyrs, whose deaths they had orchestrated. Buddhist scriptures, and the Gospels, then, are a compilation of truth, doctrine, legends and mythology arranged into an advanced religious agenda which served, as the original conception fell from grace and was lost sight of, to divert religious belief from the true, higher understanding of a universal creator to a false finite local God in the image of a man.

18. Kabalactes ... summoned Yima ... and spoke saying:
19. Because my wisdom has triumphed in heaven and earth, I now take to myself a new name, BUDAH. And my heavenly place, my city and my heavens shall be known from this time forward, forever, as Haractu, the Buddhist heavenly kingdom, the All Highest Heaven of Heavens!
20. You, Yima, shall ... establish me as the Buddha. You shall establish my name on the earth by fire and sword, and by blood and death.
21. And you shall find a way to teach mortals, that I was Sakaya, and Sakaya was and is the Buddha, Son of the Triune, Son of the Holy Ghost.
22. Jehovih had said: Behold the time will come to both Gods and men who deny My All Person, when they will espouse even falsehood for the sake of their own selfish ends.
24. Jehovih spoke to God, saying: Behold, he commands himself to be called Buddha. Now I say to you, allow this also to be, neither accuse him before heaven or earth of his falsehood.
25. Instead, from now on, you shall also call him Buddha, signifying All Knowledge, for it is his choice. 26. So it came to pass from this time onward, Kabalactes was called Buddha in heaven. And his angel hosts under Yima, who descended to the earth, inspired mortals both through the oracles and by direct contact, to call Sakaya, Buddha, and Buddha, Sakaya. And in not many generations, mortals forgot that they were two persons; but they accredited all things of the spirit to Buddha, and all things of the flesh to Sakaya, although the whole matter was false in fact.
27. Thus it came to pass, that the followers of Buddha professed peace (because of Sakaya‘s doctrines), but practiced war and conquest (because of the false Buddha‘s doctrines), setting out to establish Buddhism in Vind‘yu by blood, carnage and destruction.
28. Jehovih said to God: Even this you shall suffer them to do. For in this they will lay the foundation for the final overthrow of this false God, Buddha. For of their own accord they will put aside the Trinity, retaining Buddha and the Holy Ghost. Yes, they will ultimately teach that Buddha is itself only a principle, and that the Holy Ghost is only as nothing. They will say: War for Buddha, and you shall attain Buddha, which shall be followed by Nirvana, which they will also call nothing.

God‘s Book of Eskra Ch 39
54. God said: My testimonies were previously with Abraham, Brahma and Moses, and I did not speak of Kriste nor of the Holy Ghost, I spoke of God and of the I AM ...
57 Jehovih said: Had I weakened since the time of Moses, that I need to incarnate Myself, in order to make man understand Me?
Jehovih said: Behold, I created; and I am sufficient for all men.
In the ancient days, man worshipped all the spirits of the dead, and I cut him short, giving him many Gods; and, again, I cut him short, and gave him three Gods, and then, three Gods in one.
This day, I cut him short of all, except his Creator.
God‘s Book of Eskra Ch 48
2. When you first established your Holy Confederacy, behold, you professed to be in the service of Jehovih, and that your confederation was to raise up sons and daughters for the etherean heavens.
3. But even before you had completed your organization, you modified the name, Jehovih, signifying the All Person, to the name, Holy Ghost, signifying no person, but a principle only.
4. Thus, at the very outset, you prepared your kingdoms without distinctive purpose, and without resurrection guided toward unity:
5. For, to declare that all things are not parts and principles comprising one universal All, is to found a base for discord.
6. (Like players, when each one turns away from the tune, playing a strain on his own account.)
7. While at the same time, what you declared of Jehovih will also be declared of you; as you denied His Person, substituting that which was void and like an incomprehensible state, so shall the same judgment come upon you all.
8. As you put away Jehovih, so will mortals put you away.
9. As you declare the Creator to be merely a principle, a nonentity, without sense or unity of purpose, so shall mortals declare the same about all of you.
10. They will say: Behold, Brahma is not a person, merely a principle; Buddha is not a person, merely a principle; Kriste is not a person, merely a principle; God-Gabriel is not a person, merely a principle.
11. Because you labored to pull down Jehovih‘s name, behold, the names that you falsely assumed, will be pulled down, and cast out also, both on earth and in heaven.
12. Because you have sought to confine in Jehovih‘s firmament the spirits that rise up from the earth, your kingdoms are falling lower and lower.
13. Because you sought to confine the talents of mortals to your sacred books, your sacred books have become worthless before Jehovih.
14. Mortals, as well as angels, will repudiate you and your books.
God‘s Book of Eskra Ch 57 God prophesies to the four false Gods

Osaka and Nara
I went on a half day walk of Osaka, stopping at the Green Earth vegetarian restaurant for a vegan lunch, and the castle with its huge park and mote, then bought a ticket to Nara.
One can still find wilderness right on the edge of Nara city if one goes beyond the Kasuga Shrine. As part of the lantern festival, which was on when I arrived, this shrine held rituals and offerings which I was priveleged to see, early in the morning. I was captivated by the Shinto rituals, which involved costumed dancers, musicians and an entourage of priests that led the devotees to another shrine up the track to perform a similar ritual again. By wandering through the shrine complex I gathered that it was a mini-university for initiates into this path, as I could hear students and musicians practicing singing and learning to play traditional instruments as I passed by.

While I toured the Todai-ji temple in Nara I copied some of the English translation explanation given for the lotus pedestal designs. The Daibutsu (the statue of Buddha Vairocana) sits atop a lotus pedestal. The full version is as follows:
"The petals of the lotus pedestal on which the Great Buddha Vairocana is seated are incised in the hairline engraving with identical designs, dating from the Nara period (8th cent.), which depict the "Lotus-Matrix World-System" (Skt.Padma-garbha-loka-dhatu; Jp.Rengezo sekai). Each petal is divided into two main parts. The upper half depicts a seated Tathagata in the center who is expounding the Dharma and flanked on each side by a group of eleven Bodhisattvas, with both groups arranged symmetrically. In the lower half there are twenty-six horizontal lines with small Buddha images-images and palaces arrayed between them, and below these there are seven pairs of lotus petals, each consisting of one petal turned upwards and the other facing downwards. The upward-turned petals are engraved with mountain ranges, palaces, and so on, and also an iverted trapezium, which contains a small Sakyamuni traid and the heads of four animals.
Stated simply, this complex design may be described as a pictorial representation of the religious world view set forth in the Avatamsaka-sutra (Jp.Kegon-kyou). The Avatamsaka-sutra describes the state attained by Sakyamuni when, after six years of austerities, he had a momentous religious experience and became a Buddha of unbounded expanse. According to this sutra, Sakyamuni "emitted one thousand million light rays, illuminating the entire trichiliocosm, and made manifest one thousand million Jambudvipas.... one thousand million Mt.Sumerus, one thousand million Trayastrimsa Heavens.... and everything in this world." The lower half of the depiction of the Lotus-Matrix World-System shows the trichilicosm illuminated by Sakyamuni, with the seven pairs of lotus petals along the bottom each representing a world-system centered on Mt.Sumeru, which includes Jambudvipa, the world inhabited by human beings, in the shape of an inverse trapezium, and in the Avatamsaka-sutra this is called a "small world system". The number 'seven' here represents infinity, and these seven pairs of petals thus indicate that the trichilcosm is composed of an infinite number of these small world-system. In this manner the Avatamsaka-sutra describes how not only individual human beings, but all existents are infinitely interconnected and act upon one another while completely enveloped in the light of the Buddha Vairocana.

Kofun, Tumuli and the Mound Builders
The 'Lonely Planet' mentioned kofun sites around Nara. Tumuli (mounds of earth and stones raised over a grave) have interested me because of the reference to ‘mound builders’ in Oahspe. According to Oahspe the mound builders were Ihins, ie., the first race to have a spirit capable of life after death. Asu (Adam), the first earthly race (hence, made from clay as mythology suggests) had life but not a self-conscience spirit, ie., purely an earthly (clay), animal-man. The account of Adam and Eve refers to the union of certain fallen angels with Asu, the resulting offspring was Man (Ihins ie., those begotten of both heaven and earth, capable of being taught spiritual things). This could only happen during an antediluvian era (about 80,000 years ago) at a suitable time and environment for angels to come and partake of the first fruits of mortality and immortality.

10. To the tree I gave life; to man I gave life and spirit also. And the spirit I made was separate from the corporeal life.
11. Out of se‘mu
[possibly the earliest fossils called stromatolites, which are mats of blue-green algae, are evidence for se‘mu] I made man, and man was only like a tree, but dwelling in ha‘k (darkness); and I called him Asu.
12. I looked over the wide heavens that I had made, and I saw countless millions of spirits of the dead, who had lived and died on other corporeal worlds before the earth was made.
13. I spoke in the firmament, and My voice reached to the uttermost places. And there came in answer to the sounds of My voice, myriads of angels from the roadway in heaven, where the earth travels. I said to them, Behold! I have created a new world; come and enjoy it. Yes, you shall learn from it how it was with other worlds in ages past.
14. There alighted upon the new earth millions of angels from heaven; but many of them had never fulfilled a corporeal life, having died in infancy, and these angels did not comprehend procreation or corporeal life.
15. And I said, go and deliver Asu from darkness, for he shall also rise in spirit to inherit My etherean worlds.
16. And now the earth was in the latter days of se‘mu, and the angels could readily take on corporeal bodies for themselves; by force of their wills, clothing themselves with flesh and bones out of the elements of the earth. By the side of the Asuans they took on corporeal forms.
17. And I said: Go forth and partake of all that is on the earth; but do not partake of the tree of life, lest in that labor you become procreators and as if dead to the heavens from which you came.
18. But those who had never learned corporeal things, being imperfect in wisdom, did not understand Jehovih‘s words, and they dwelt with the Asuans, and were tempted, and partook of the fruit of the tree of life; and lo and behold they saw their own nakedness. And there was born of the first race (Asu) a new race called man (I‘hin); and Jehovih took the earth out of the travail of se‘mu and the angels gave up their corporeal bodies.
19. Jehovih said: Because you have raised up those who shall be joint heirs in heaven, you shall tread the earth with your feet, and walk by the sides of the new born, being guardian angels over them, for they are of your own flesh and kin.
20. The fruit of your seed I have quickened with My spirit, and man shall come forth with a birthright to My etherean worlds.
21. As I have quickened the seed of the first born, so will I quicken all seed to the end of the earth. And each and every man-child and woman-child born into life I will quicken with a new spirit, which shall proceed out of Me at the time of conception. Neither will I give to any spirit of the higher or lower heaven power to enter a womb, or a fetus of a womb, and be born again.
22. As the corporeal earth passes away, so shall the first race Asu pass away; but as I do not pass away, so shall the spirit of man not pass away

Book of Jehovih Ch.6 of Oahspe
Oahspe tells us that the pure blood Ihins started dying out after 1150 BC due to a kind of climate change at that time. But an offspring race, ours, succeeded them. Yet ancient undeciphered tablets, stories of lost tribes and forgotten prophecies, speculation about the origins of the white race, ancient rites, advanced knowledge and symbolism of Freemasonry live on today. The answer to some of this lies, as I told Dr Kimura, at the bottom of the sea.

Mound Builder refers to prehistoric inhabitants of North America who constructed various styles of earthen mounds for burial, residential and ceremonial purposes. These included Archaic, Woodland period (Adena and Hopewell cultures), and Mississippian period Pre-Columbian cultures dating from roughly 3000 BC to the 16th century CE, and living in the Great Lakes region, the Ohio River region, and the Mississippi River region.
Through the mid-nineteenth century, European Americans did not recognize that ancestors of the Native Americans built the mounds of the eastern U.S. There were theories that the mound builders were Vikings who came to North America and eventually disappeared, or that Greeks, Africans, Chinese or assorted Europeans built the mounds. During the 1800s, a common folklore was that the Lost Ten Tribes were the ancestors of Native Americans and the mound builders. The Book of Mormon (1830) describes two waves of immigration from Mesopotamia: the Jaredites (ca. 3000 - 2000 BCE) and an Israelite group in 590 BCE (called Nephites, Lamanites and Mulekites). Oahspe never mentions any immigrants to the Americas since the sinking of Pan, when the Ihins that survived the flood sailed there. Yet, Ihins were not the same race as the Native Americans of today.
Lafcadio Hearn suggested that the mounds were built by people from Atlantis. Reference to an alleged race appears in the poem "The Prairies" (1832) by William Cullen Bryant.
In the 16th-19th centuries, Europeans and Americans thought that a race other than one related to the Native Americans had built the mounds. When Europeans first arrived in America, they never witnessed the American Indians building mounds; when asked about the mounds the Indians did not know anything about them. Yet the Spanish, had written numerous accounts about the Indians' construction of mounds. A few French expeditions reported staying with Indian societies who built mounds.
People also claimed that the Indians were not the mound builders because the mounds and related artifacts were older than Indian cultures. The Indians encountered by the Europeans and Americans were not known to engage in metallurgy. Some artifacts that were found in relation to the mounds were inscribed with symbols. As the Europeans did not know of any Indian cultures that had a writing system, they assumed a different group had created them. It was believed that associated stone, metal, and clay artifacts were too complex for the Indians to make.
Since the 19th century, scholarly consensus has been that the mounds were constructed by Indigenous peoples of the Americas, ancestors of Native American tribes, who themselves did not know who built the mounds.

Monks Mound, a flat-topped pyramidal structure at Cahokia, Collinsville, Illinois is the largest earthwork north of Mexico, at over 100 feet (30 m) tall.
Watson Brake, located in the floodplain of the Ouachita River near Monroe in northern Louisiana, United States. Watson Brake consists of an oval formation of 11 mounds from three to 25 feet tall connected by ridges to form an oval near 900 feet across. It has been dated to about 3400 BC. In the Americas, mound building started at an early date, well before the pyramids of Egypt were constructed. Watson Brake is considered the earliest mound complex in North America and is the earliest dated complex construction in the Americas. Watson Brake's dating is nearly 2,000 years before Poverty Point, Louisiana (2500-1000 BC).
The Archaic period was followed by the Woodland period (1000 BC). The Adena and subsequent Hopewell and other mound-building cultures of this period built monuments from Illinois to Ohio.
Around 900–1450 CE, the Mississippian culture developed, primarily along the river valleys. The largest center was Cahokia in Illinois.

While I was in America previously, I visited the Hopewell mounds, near Chillicote Ohio. The museum there dismisses any connection with a previous race. I had also seen the pyramids of China, near Xian ... earth pyramids seemingly a size comparable to the Mesoamerican and Egyptian pyramids I'd seen on other journeys. They were perfectly square and pyramid shaped, and farming went on around them as if they didn’t matter.

After having visited all the main sites in Nara I then went on to search for the Kofun. These are megalithic tombs or tumuli in Japan, said to be constructed between early 3rd century and early 7th century (Kofun period, 250 to 538). I went to the Nara tourist office to ask them where the kofun were. They pointed out many; the closest was literally hidden in the middle of the city, one block away. So I took a walk to find it. Although it was staring me in the face, I couldn’t identify it. I finally realised it was the giant oblong hill covered with trees. I jumped the fence, crossed the narrow moat where it was passable across the water, and took a walk over the top and to the other end. It was totally deserted, but surrounding it were the crowded blocks of Nara residents.
On my last day in Nara I caught a bus to the other main mounds, in one part of the north-western outskirts of Nara. These were far larger, like islands in a moat, and the moats were the size of lakes that circumscribed these huge hills jutting out of the flat plain. Because they are covered by trees its hard to distinguish them. If fact, every hill I saw around Japan after that, which was jutting out of flat country, I suspected to be a kofun.

Most of the Kofun have a keyhole-shaped mound (one square end and one circular end), which is unique to ancient Japan. There are also circular type, "two conjoined rectangles" type, and square type kofun. In the Saki Kofun group, all of circular parts are looking toward the north.
Kofun range in size from several meters to over 400m in length. The largest is Daisen kofun in Sakai City, Osaka Prefecture, which has been attributed to be the tomb of the Emperor Nintoku. The funeral chamber was located beneath the round part and consisted of a group of megaliths. In 1972 the unlooted Takamatsuzuka Tomb was found in Asuka (just south of Nara). Inside the tightly assembled rocks, white lime cement plasters were pasted and drawn with colored pictures depicting the court or constellations. A stone coffin was placed in the chamber and swords and bronze mirrors were laid inside and outside of the coffin.
Most of the tombs of chiefs in the Yayoi period (500 BC to 300 AD) were square-shaped mounds surrounded by ditches. A notable example is 45 meters wide and 5 meters high, and has a shaft chamber. One of the first keyhole-shaped kofun was built in the southeastern part of the Nara Basin in the middle of the 3rd century, is 280 meters long and 30 meters high, much bigger than previous Yayoi tombs.
A wooden coffin was placed at the bottom of a shaft, and the surrounding walls were built up by flat stones and megalithic stones were placed as a roof. Bronze mirrors, iron swords, magatama, clay vessels and other artifacts were found in undisturbed tombs. Some scholars assume the buried person of Hashihaka kofun was the ancient shamaness Queen Himiko of Yamataikoku, mentioned in the Chinese history texts. The construction of gigantic kofun is the result of the relatively centralized governance structure in the Nara Basin, possibly the origin of the Yamato polity and the Imperial linage of Japan.

The Kofun period (250 to 538) follows the Yayoi period (500 BC to 300 AD). The word kofun is Japanese for the type of burial mounds dating from this era.
The Kofun and the subsequent Asuka periods are sometimes referred to collectively as the Yamato period. The Kofun period (the oldest era of recorded history in Japan) is distinguished from the Asuka period by its cultural differences. The Kofun period is illustrated by a shinto culture which existed prior to Buddhism. The leader of the powerful clan which won control over much of Honshu and the northern half of Kyushu established the Imperial House of Japan.

Kofun are defined as the earthen burial mounds built for the people of the ruling class during the 3rd to 7th centuries in Japan. The mounds contained large stone burial chambers. Some are surrounded by moats. The oldest Japanese kofun is said to be Hokenoyama Kofun located in Sakurai (just near Asuka), Nara, which dates to the late 3rd century. In the Makimuku district of Sakurai, later keyhole kofuns (Hashihaka Kofun, Shibuya Mukaiyama Kofun) were built around the early 4th century. The trend of the keyhole kofun first spread from Yamato to Kawachi (where gigantic kofun such as Daisenryo Kofun exist), and then throughout the country (except for Tohoku region) in the 5th century. Keyhole kofun disappeared later in the 6th century, probably because of the drastic reformation which took place in the Yamato court; Nihon Shoki records the introduction of Buddhism at this time. The last two great kofun are the Imashirozuka kofun (length: 190m) of Osaka, which is believed by current scholars to be the tomb of Emperor Keitai, and the Iwatoyama kofun (length: 135m) of Fukuoka which was recorded in Fudoki of Chikugo to be the tomb of Iwai, the political archrival of Keitai.

While conventionally assigned to the period from 250 AD, the actual start of Yamato rule is disputed. The start of the court is also linked with the controversy of Yamataikoku and its fall. Regardless, it is generally agreed that Yamato rulers possessed keyhole kofun culture and held hegemony in Yamato up to the 4th century. The regional autonomy of local powers remained throughout the period, particularly in places such as Kibi (current Okayama prefecture), Izumo (current Shimane prefecture), and Hi (central Kyushu); it was only in the 6th century that the Yamato clans could be said to be dominant over the entire southern half of Japan. Yamato's relationships with China is likely to have begun in the late 4th century, according to the Book of Song.
The Yamato polity, which emerged by the late 5th century, was distinguished by powerful clans (Gozoku). Each clan was headed by a patriarch who performed sacred rites to the clan's kami. Clan members were the aristocracy, and the kingly line that controlled the Yamato court was at its pinnacle. The Kofun period is also sometimes called the Yamato period since this local chieftainship arose to become the Imperial dynasty at the end of the Kofun period. Yamato and its dynasty however were just one rival polity among others throughout the Kofun era. Japanese archaeologists emphasise that in the early half of the Kofun period other regional chieftainships, such as Kibi were in close contention for importance. The Tsukuriyama Kofun of Kibi is the fourth largest kofun in Japan.

The Yamato court ultimately exercised power over clans in Kyushu and Honshu, bestowing titles, some hereditary, on clan chieftains. The Yamato name became synonymous with all of Japan as the Yamato rulers suppressed the clans and acquired agricultural lands. Based on Chinese models (including the adoption of the Chinese written language), they started to develop a central administration and an imperial court attended by subordinate clan chieftains but with no permanent capital. The famous powerful clans included the Kibi clans in the Izumo Province. The Nakatomi and Inbe clans handled rituals. The crafts were organized into guilds.
The Yamato court had ties to the Gaya confederacy. There is archaeological evidence from the Kofun tombs, which show similarities in form, art, and clothing of the depicted nobles. Based on the Kojiki and the Nihon Shoki, Japanese historians claimed Gaya to be a colony of the Yamato state, a theory that is now widely rejected. More likely all these states were tributaries to the Chinese dynasties to some extent. However, Chinese scholars point to the Book of Song of the Liu Song Dynasty, written between 441-513, presenting the sovereign of Japan as the suzerain of the Gaya Confederacy. This interpretation is also widely rejected even in Japan as there is no evidence of Japanese rule in Gaya or any other part of Korea. In recent years, Kofun can be found with jades in Japan, Baekje area and Gaya confederacy area. The legend of the 4th century Prince Yamato Takeru alludes to the borders of the Yamato and battlegrounds in the area. A frontier was close to the later Izumo province. Another frontier, in Kyushu, was apparently somewhere north of today's Kumamoto prefecture.
While the rulers' titles were diplomatically King, they locally titled themselves as Okimi (Great King) during this period. Two swords had inscriptions of Amenoshita Shiroshimesu ("ruling Heaven and Earth") and Okimi. The title of Amenoshita Shiroshimesu Okimi was used up to 7th century, until being replaced by Tenno. Clans and local chieftains that made up the Yamato polity claimed descent from the imperial family or other tribal Gods. Archeological evidence is found in the Inariyama sword, on which the bearer recorded the names of his ancestors to claim its origin to Obiko who was recorded in Nihon Shoki as a son of Emperor Kogen. There are also a number of clans having origins in China or the Korean peninsula.
While writing was largely unknown to the indigenous Japanese of this period, the literary skills of foreigners seem to have become increasingly appreciated by the Japanese elite in many regions. Much of the material culture of the Kofun period is barely distinguishable from that of the contemporaneous southern Korean peninsula, demonstrating that at this time Japan was in close political and economic contact with continental Asia through Korea. Bronze mirrors cast from the same mould have been found on both sides of the Tsushima Strait.
The Kofun period gave way to the Asuka period in mid-6th century AD with the introduction of Buddhism. The Asuka period coincided with the reunification of China under the Sui Dynasty later in this century. According to the Book of Sui, Silla and Baekje greatly valued relations with Wa (Japan) of the Kofun period, and the Korean kingdoms made diplomatic efforts to maintain their good standing with the Japanese.
The archaeological record, and ancient Chinese sources, indicate that the various tribes and chiefdoms of Japan did not begin to coalesce into states until 300 AD, when large tombs began to appear while there were no contacts between western Japan and Korea or China. Some describe the "mysterious century" as a time of internecine warfare as various chiefdoms competed for hegemony on Kyushu and Honshu. Even more complicating is the Nihon Shoki referencing the Koreans to be the progenitor of Yamato. Due to these conflicting information nothing can be concluded for the book of Song or Nihon Shoki. Emperor Tenno's grandfather was Korean. There is no evidence of Japan ever having been sophisticated enough to control any part of Korea during the time of Jingu. There is archeological evidence of Koreans going to Japan during this time. Finding Northern Wei Chinese horse sculptures, Chinese bronze mirrors, painting and iron-ware arouses the question of why would a Japanese culture that doesn't have Korean ceramic ability or horses yet have horse sculptures in their tombs. Decorated tombs and painted tumuli which date from the fifth century and later found in Japan are generally accepted as Korean peninsula exports to Japan. The Takamatsuzuka Tomb has paintings of a woman dressed in clothes similar to wall paintings from Goguryeo and Tang Dynasty China. In addition, Chinese astrology was being introduced during this time.
Chinese chronicles note that horses were absent from the islands of Japan; they are first noted in the chronicles during the reign of Nintoku, most likely imported by Chinese and Korean immigrants.
Keyhole kofuns were also recently discovered in the Gaya confederacy region of the Korean peninsula. This suggests a shared relationship between the Yamato and Baekje during the 3rd and the 7th centuries AD. Earrings discovered in Silla and Kaya tombs are very similar to Japanese earrings dated to the Kofun period, "The ultimate source of such elaborate techniques as granulation is probably the Greek and Etruscan goldsmiths of western Asia and Europe, whose skills were transmitted to northern China and later to Korea. Chinese Han styles of tomb construction were gradually adopted in all three kingdoms of Korea, mainly from the 4th century onwards. The tombs in the southern part of Korea and Japan appear to have a relationship. However, all the kofun-style tombs discovered in Korea have been dated as younger than those found in Japan.
In 1976 Japan stopped all foreign archeologist from studying the Gosashi tomb which is suppose to be the resting place of Emperor Jingu. Prior to 1976 foreigners did have access. Recently in 2008, Japan has allowed controlled limited access to foreign archeologists, but the international community still has many unanswered questions. National geographics wrote Japan "has kept access to the tombs restricted, prompting rumors that officials fear excavation would reveal bloodline links between the "pure" imperial family and Korea".

Kyoto, and the Mystifying Bamboo Groves
Kyoto was a good finale to my trip. I was there for a week, and could take my time visiting the many temple complexes, checking out the historical districts, and some Shinto shrines.
Beginning with the Kiyomizu-dera, a wooden temple supported by pillars off the slope of a mountain, and walking north along the eastern paths along the foot of the mountains down Sannen and Ninen Zaka (lanes), into the historical Gion and Pontocho geisha quarters, wandering into the commercial center to the Nishiki market, and walking back through the Yasaka jinja (a Shinto shrine) to the Maruyama koen (gardens), can be a whole day's sightseeing.
Next day continued north and visited the Chion-in temple complex, and then entered the Philosopher's Walk, which begins at the Nanzen-ji temple complex where is a red brick aqueduct full of rushing fresh mountain water. Further up is a waterfall. I visited the small Honen-in temple and had a philosophical chat with an interested Japanese devotee of Honen.
On another day I bought a day bus pass and began by touring the Daitoku-ji Zen temple complex, then jumped off and on the bus whose route goes on to the Kinkaku-ji or temple of the Golden Pavilion; then Ryoan-ji, famous for its rock garden, and Ninna-ji. On the way back I dropped in to the To-ji temple, since this was made the first Esoteric Buddhist centre in Kyoto by Kukai.
Other places I visited included the northern fork of the Kamo gawa (river) at Kyoto, the Sanjusangen temple to see the spectacle of the 1001 statues of Kannon, the Fushimi Inari Shrine, famous for the surprisingly long Torii archways, the Nishijin textile center, and the a free guided tour of the Kyoto Imperial Palace. I managed to ask my burning question about the emperor’s family line name. The guide tried to convince me that the emperor didn’t have one. But I pressed her, saying that the family name of the Izumo lineage goes back to the sun goddess family. It was by this means that they are able to trace their origin and claim their title. She finally admitted that she didn’t know. I later found out that many Japanese people independantly think that the emperor didn’t have a family line name. This made me suspicious, but I am now finding out that even the Nihon Shoki is a wild, confused and unreliable scripture.

I ventured on to Arashiyama, on the beautiful Katsura river that night, just out of Kyoto, in the west. I had read about the groves of bamboo there, and arriving late at night walked alone down the dark streets and lanes and fumbled my way through a bamboo grove and went to sleep there. There are thousands of painful mosquitoes in Japan, by the way. I had a net. Early the next morning, I reflected on life and my journey, like I do at early hours. Later that morning I was compelled to write the following poem down. It was inspired by images of Japanese paintings that I saw inside the stately Tentyu-ji Zen temple, not far away.

Riddle from the Bamboo Grove

I am a thief, but I don’t steal
I have slaves, but I don’t enslave
I am an actor, but I don’t pretend
I am a murderer, but I don’t kill
I am here, but I am nowhere

I am a tiger praying on your envy
I am a beggar who failed to fly
I am a lion that evaluates your arrogance
And a horse that prances on by

I am the guardian of a swirling vortex
A glaring dragon who threatens your advance
My scaly tail dances in the gentle clouds
My eyes quicken your course

I am a red demon of eternal darkness
I wield a flaming sword of feigned honour
I come in the night in service to your warrior spirit
To impress your passion in chains of iron

I speak but no-one hears
I see you but you don’t see me
I know you but you don’t know me
I move you but you don’t move me
I feel you but you don’t feel me

I am your spirit, but you are not mine
I am majestic, free and powerful, are you?
I am pure, original and humble, are you?
I am merciful, selfless and charitable, are you?
I am your soul, I never die

I sleep in the safety of the bamboo grove
And wake in the morning sun

It was such a nice area that I stayed another night. That night there was a fire display for maybe 50 boats of tourists tied together in a line, on the beautiful river. It turned out to be a type of traditional cormorant fishing.

Oomoto, and sensei Masamichi Tanaka
The last significant thing I did in Japan was to visit the two spiritual centers of Oomoto, one in Kameoka, 20 km west of Kyoto, and the other in Ayabe, 80 km from Kyoto, on the same line.
I caught an early morning train to the rural community of Ayabe and walked to the Baisho-en, the birthplace and headquarters of Oomoto, at the foot of Mt. Hongu. It was still too early in the morning, but soon I was speaking with a member who invited me to join their tour. It was led by an elder dressed in Shinto priest attire. I found myself for the first time to be a Shinto participant, like hundreds of those I had seen around Japan. We were led into the various celebration and worship halls and the elder explained the detail of their mysteries in Japanese, only very little of which got translated for me in private.
I soon discovered that Omoto (great origin) is very outgoing. Oomoto performed the 'Noh' drama "Hagoromo" (the Robe of Feathers), in the cathedral of St John the divine in New York City, and in Canterbury cathedral in England in 1980. In return St John the Divine cathedral representatives gave a service in Japan. The memorabilia of exchanged gifts displayed in various glass cases in the celebration hall bore testimony to the occasion. Oomoto dignitaries were also, to my surprise, invited to visit Mecca as another exchange gesture. This initially moved me, considering their bold advent to unite religions in mutual love and purpose. But later, when I learned more of what they actually believed, I wondered how could this unite world religions that are already irreconcilably divided by widely varying accounts of their truth.
We entered two separate assembly/worship halls that were grand in construction and size but had little embellishment. The altar had not even symbols, let alone images, something I was pleased with, in a way, since it was a welcome change from the gaudy Buddhist embellishments and idols, and a testimony to the Unknowable Creator. The priest spoke at great length of the architecture and design. I thought about how I’d been told that there would be more English speaking teachers at the spiritual center, Ten'on-kyo, located in the center of the Kameoka, so I didn’t finish the tour but immediately went to Kameoka, the birthplace of Onisaburo Deguchi, abandoning my intention to go to see the Kofun near Asuka, in the Yamato plain, as it was my last day in Japan.

Omoto is “often categorised as a new Japanese religion originated from Shinto”. I knew of it years ago out of interest in the many things that are in common with Oahspe believers, namely:

They are close to the same period of time (1881, 1892)
Omoto was established by its spiritual founder’s automatic writings.
They believe in the ability of the spirit world to communicate through mortals
They are vegetarian.
They are passivists, or what Oahspe calls non-resistants.
They proclaim (as well as other ancient Shinto schools) the achievement of personal virtue as a step to universal harmony.
They believe in a “Great Original Spirit”
But apparently they also have these things in common with Caodaism, Tay Ninh of Vietnam, Tao Yuan of Taipei, Taiwan, the White Brotherhood of Bulgaria to name a few that Masamichi Tanaka told me about.

You have to walk around the castle moat and find the bridge so as to cross to the Ten'on-kyo center. I was referred to Masamichi Tanaka. I now know, he is the translator of Omoto spiritual texts into English, a sensei (teacher) and the moderator of the Omoto website. He was very open minded and friendly, and we got involved in deep discussion. Because he was interested in prophecy, and the Mayan calendar 2012 end date, I explained to him my idea of the galactic alignment, which he understood very fluently and comprehensively.
He has invited me as a friend in facebook from which I now know he is also a master of Noh and tea ceremony. He showed me a DVD called ‘History of Oomoto’, a copy of which was given to me.
According to this film Oomoto was persecuted in 1921 and 1935 by the Japanese government because of its doctrine of passivism and internationalism, and its growing social influence. The first "Omoto incident" was a government intervention. The Choseiden building was destroyed in Ayabe. During the "Second Omoto Incident" its grounds were confiscated, headquarters destroyed, and its leaders put in captivity. 3,000 followers were brought to trial and many tortured to death. In 1946 the supreme court found Oomoto not guilty, however Onisaburo gave up rights to compensation because it would be too heavy a burden for the recently defeated Japanes citizens. [The belief that Kunitokodachi and Susano-o no Mikoto were the original founders and rulers of Japan, who were driven away by Amaterasu Omikami, the divine ancestor of the imperial line, is what placed this religion in opposition to the government in pre-war Japan.]
Onisaburo Deguchi established the World Religious Federation in Beijing in 1925. I thought of how in 1893 Swami Vivekananda, (as well as Nikola Tesla) whose teacher was Ramakrishna, attended the World's Parliament of Religions held in Chicago, and became the first eastern yogi who brought Vedic philosophy and religion to the west.

After World War II, the organization reappeared as Aizen’en, a movement dedicated to achieve world peace, and with that purpose it was registered in 1946 under the Religious Corporations Ordinance.
In 1949 Omoto joined the World Federalist Movement and the world peace campaign. In 1952 the group returned to its older name, becoming the religious corporation Omoto under the Religious Corporations Law.
In 1950 Ayabe became the first Japanese city to declare itself a World Federation Peace City. The First World Religious Forum was held in November 1993 in Ayabe. The Second World Religious Forum, sponsored by the Oomoto Foundation was in Kyoto in 2002 and was attended by leaders of the Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim and Shinto faiths. The interreligious activity also celebrated the 110th anniversary of the founding of Oomoto and the 77th anniversary of Jinrui Aizenkai (Universal Love and Brotherhood Association), which was founded by Onisaburo Deguchi. Oomoto sponsors conferences like the World Religious Forum to foster interreligious dialogue on such issues as war, violence, religious fanaticism, famine, poverty, the environment and other obstacles to world peace. Oomoto’s doctrine holds that all religions come from the same source and that all gods are one god. Through organizations like Jinrui Aizenkai, Oomoto translates its ideals into a practical grassroots approach to its goals, sponsoring programs to educate, feed and provide health care to others. The "World Constitution and Parliament Association" and "The Institute on World Problems" have worked closely with the "Universal Love and Brotherhood Association".
Since the time of Onisaburo Deguchi, the constructed language Esperanto has played a major role in the Oomoto religion. Starting in 1924, the religion has published books and magazines in Esperanto and this continues today. Almost all of the 45,000 active members of Oomoto have studied some Esperanto, and around 1,000 are fluent in the language.
From 1925 until 1933 Oomoto maintained a mission in Paris. From there, missionaries travelled throughout Europe, spreading the word that Onisaburo Deguchi was a Messiah or Maitreya (Jp: Miroku) , who would unify the world. Oomoto members recognize notable religious figures from other religions as kami. For example, the creator of Esperanto, L. L. Zamenhof is revered as a god. However, all of these kami are believed to be aspects of a single God concept.

Masamichi also spoke of the mobilisation of the masses under no identifiable cause during the early period of Oomoto. This has a correspondence to the American movement, about which Oahspe prophecides that

"Neither shall they know the cause, but they shall come forth in tens of thousands, putting away all Gods and Lords and ancient tyranny, for My [the Great Spirit] sake.

After having trusted and been bemused by what Shinto priests had told me about Amaterasu, and their Emperor, and having tried to piece together the merit of Japanese cultural progress from a shogunate to a republic, I was relieved to be in the company of one who had a more liberal view about State Shinto's effect on people's lives.

Shinbutsu shugo (literally "fusion of kami and buddhas") is the Japanese syncretism of Buddhism and local religious beliefs. When Buddhism was introduced through China in the late Asuka period (6th century), rather than discard the old belief system the Japanese tried to reconcile it with the new, assuming both were true.
According to some scholars, Shinto has existed as such continuously since pre-history, and consists of all the peculiarly Japanese rituals and beliefs shaped by Japanese history from prehistory to the present. The term "Shinto" was coined in the 6th century to differentiate the loosely organized local religion from imported Buddhism. An opposing view argues that Shinto as an independent religion was born only in the modern period after emerging in the Middle Ages as an offshoot of Buddhism. Shinto as a distinct religion is a Meiji era invention of Japanese nationalist ideologues. The state formalization of kami rituals and the state ranking of shrines during the Heian period were not the emergence of Shinto as an independent religion, but an effort to explain local beliefs in Buddhist terms. The two characters for "Shinto" appear very early in the historical record, for example in the Nihon Shoki. But they were originally used as a name for Taoism or even for religion in general.
[This impies that Shinto is a Taoist import, but adapted to Japanese culture, which would explain its already immense centralised power before Buddhism]
Many features of Shinto, for example the worshiping of mirrors and swords or the very structure of Ise Shrine are typical of Taoism. The term Shinto in old texts therefore does not necessarily indicate something uniquely Japanese. According to this view, a syncretism of Buddhism and local beliefs produced today's Shinto. It needed to be a syncretism because "The kami of our land will be offended if we worship a foreign kami". Foreign kami were called banshin ("barbarian gods") or busshin ("Buddhist gods"), and understood to be like local ones.
By the time Buddhism entered Japan it had absorbed Hinduistic divinities like Brahma (Bonten in Japanese) and Indra (Taishakuten). When it arrived in Japan, it already had a disposition towards producing the combinatory gods that the Japanese would call shugoshin. Monks saw kami as inferior to their Buddhas. Hindu gods had been thought of as unilluminated and prisoner of sa?sara. Buddhist claims of superiority encountered resistance, and monks tried to overcome them by integrating kami in their system through a process of divided in three stages.
The first effort to reconcile the two is attributed to Prince Shotoku (574 - 622), but the differences were beginning to become manifest to the Japanese at the time of Emperor Temmu (673 - 86). Accordingly junguji ("shrine-temples") were founded. The idea that the kami were lost beings in need of liberation through the power of Buddha, subject to karma and reincarnation like human beings was taught in early Buddhist stories. To improve the kami's karma through rites and the reading of sutras, the monk would build a temple next to the kami's shrine[9]. Such groupings were created already in the 7th century, for example in Usa, Kyushu, where kami Hachiman was worshiped together with Miroku Bosatsu (Maitreya).
At the end of the same century, in what is considered the second stage of the amalgamation, the kami Hachiman was declared to be protector-deity of the Dharma and later, a bodhisattva. Shrines for him started to be built at temples. When the great Buddha at Todai-ji in Nara was built, within the temple grounds was also erected a shrine for Hachiman, according to the legend because of a wish expressed by the kami himself. Hachiman considered this his reward for having helped the temple find the gold and copper mines from which the metal for the great statue had come. After this, temples in the entire country adopted tutelary kami.
The third stage of the fusion took place in the ninth century with the development of the honji suijaku theory according to which Japanese kami are emanations of buddhas, bodhisattvas or devas who mingle with us to lead us to the Buddhist Way. Many kami changed from potentially dangerous spirits to be improved through contact with the Buddhist law to local emanations of buddhas and bodhisattvas which possess their wisdom. The buddhas and the kami were now indivisible.
The two religions however never fused completely but kept their identity inside a difficult, unsystematized and tense relationship. This relationship was, rather than between two systems, between particular kami and particular buddhas. The prohibition of Buddhism at the Ise and Kamo Shrines allowed them to freely develop their theories about the nature of kami. In 1868 with the Shinbutsu Bunri (the attempt for a separation of Shinto and Buddhism during the Meiji period), temples and shrines were separated by law. Most temples still have at least one small shrine, so the separation of the two religions is superficial, yet a difference between the two religions is now felt to exist.

At Ayabe I learned of the Omoto gods called Kuni-toko-tachi no Mikoto and Ushitora no Konjin. I was told they were two names for the same god, and that they represented the One Spirit. I brought them up with Masamichi. He said Kuni-toko-tachi translates to:

Kuni=Land, took=Eternal and tachi=standing, ruling, established
Ushitora=Northeast and Konjin=Powerful Spirit.
I started to have doubts.

Since then I found this blog that says "there is a small settlement on the banks of the Yato River where there is an Omoto Shrine dedicated to Omotojin who is the original, local, land kami. Up in Izumo he is called Kojin, and he was the main kami of worship for every community in the old days. Prior to 1945 there was just a wayside shrine here set in a grove of trees. The trees were cut down and sold and the money used to build the present shrine. Every 6 years until 1966, Omoto Kagura (dance) was performed here. My friends recently deceased grandfather danced here and 5 times became possesed by Omotojin, the most times for one person in living memory. Shamanic kagura was widespread in Japan until the Meiji era. This area of Iwami is the only place in Japan where it is still practised." Iwami is maybe 60 km west of Izumo near Nima on the north coast.

Since Izumo and Iwami are northeast of Kyushu, and northwest of Nara, or Yamato, one might think Yamataikoku/Yamato was in Kyushu, and that Ushitora no Konjin (northeastern powerful spirit), an ancient Izumo god, was originally identified by a culture of Kyushu.

My doubts were related to the thought that Konjin was a lying-spirit pretending to be the very creator; a common occurrence in the lower spirit realms according to Oahspe. These spirits can found large heavenly kingdoms, if they have sufficient wisdom and cunning. In the local regions on the earth below, cultural movements professing the false angel/god’s claims (usually to do with his/her alleged attributes and exaggerated claims about creation) may arise, which might evolve into a fully fledged religion with martyrs, priests and followers.
Well, in this world full of creative potential and expression, there is scope for a little of this within the limits of one’s possibilities. The search is, in part, for who we really are within, after all; and the creator is conceived of as infinite and boundless; All-possibility. But I heed Oahspe when it exposes angel entities claiming to be the creator, yet who originate in circumstances which are the same as ours (ie, born of woman). No matter how established a religion may be, we need not be subservient to a false authority when it comes to worship and ritual. We are indebted to the founding fathers of the American revolution who assured us forever more of our religious freedom.

In a land where the highest national scripture conveys a Japanese pantheon of contesting worshipable gods, shamans and heroes, known by sometimes questionable moral behaviour [most scriptures, worldwide, include an element of this, more or less], it was understandable to think that Kuni-toko-tachi no Mikoto could be thought of as Ushitora no Konjin (a powerful northeastern Spirit), and that somehow he was the personification of Daigenrai, the Great Original Spirit.
I asked Masamichi Tanaka about Yamakage and the kami of the three-fold whirl, namely Amenominakanushi no kami, Kamimusubi no kami and Takamimusubi no kami. There was a tone of respect for Yamakage, as I also found at Izumo. I now know that Omoto and Yamakage largely have the same beliefs.

Yamakage says Daigenrai is given the name Amenominakanushi no kami. Deguchi teaches that the Supreme Deity (the Great Original Deity of the Universe) is called Ame-no-mi-naka-nushi-no-oh-kami or Oh-kunitokotachi-no-ohokami (The Universe-Eternally-Standing-Great-Deity). Hence Kuni-toko-tachi could be thought of as the primordial creator, even Daigenrai, the Great Spirit. Deguchi uses the word "Deity" in preference to "Spirit". This would not be my choice, since Oahspe traces the term "Deity" back to Deus, Dyaus, Zeus etc; a separate head god of a particular heavenly region. If Daigenrai is meant to be everpresent and omnipresent, as Oahspe intends by the term "Great Spirit", a local "Deity" would not suffice.
But Kuni-toko-tachi is also being equated with Konjin, an itinerant kami from Onmyodo (a traditional Japanese cosmology and system of divination based on the Taoist philosophies of Wu Xing [Five Elements] and Yin and yang). He is associated with compass directions, and said to change position with time. Konjin's momentary location is considered an unlucky direction, because this Kami is particularly violent and said to punish through curses. Konjin was said to be at tremendous power when residing as "Kimon Konjin" (Konjin of the Demon's Gate") at the two "demon's gates" (the northeast "front" gate called omote-kimon and the southwest "back" gate called ura kimon).

After an amiable discussion with Masamichi Tanaka for an hour or two I had to rush on.

The Oomoto history begins late in the Edo period (1859), when Konko Daijin (also known as Akazawa Bunji, or Bunjiro Kawate, 1814-1883) founded a new religion called Konkokyo which was based on the Konjin cult. His family suffered a series of accidental deaths, and he feared that the deaths were the work of the evil spirit Konjin. Bunjiro himself suffered a severe illness in 1855, but while receiving magico-religious healing rituals, he experienced the sensation of divine healing, a religious experience that deepened his faith. Bunjiro's brother became a Konjin-cult medium and faith healer in 1857. While now understanding the reasons for the Konjin deity's violence, Bunjiro also experienced the deity's compassion and began expounding on that theme. In response to a revelation from Konjin, Bunjiro gave up farming and devoted himself to proselytizing in 1859. He stated that Konjin was not an evil kami but the deity Tenchikane no Kami, the "world's parent kami and savior of humankind." After the Meiji Restoration of 1868, religious policies of the new government temporarily placed limits on the movement's proselytizing activities. In his later years he compiled the Oshirasegoto oboecho (Record of Revelations).
Konkokyo is a syncretic, henotheistic and panentheistic religion, which worships God under the name of Tenchi Kane No Kami, the Golden God of Heaven and Earth, the Parent God. Everything is seen as being in profound interrelation with each other. God is not seen as distant or residing in heaven, but present within this world. The universe is perceived to be the body of the Parent God. Suffering is seen as being caused by individual disregard of the relationship between all things. Konkokyo's beliefs center around the betterment of human life in this world by gratitude, apologising, mutual help and prayer. In this way, everybody can join their hearts with God to become Ikigami, a living God. It is believed that after death, all beings return to God. The spirits of the deceased do not pass on to a heaven or a hell, but remain in this world, in unity with Tenchi Kane No Kami.

Deguchi Nao, of Ayabe, declared that she had a "spirit dream" at the lunar New Year in 1892, becoming possessed (kamigakari) by Ushitora no Konjin and starting to transmit his words. After 1895, and with a growing quantity of followers, she became a teacher of the Konkokyo religion. In 1898 she met Ueda Kisaburo who had previous studies in kamigakari (spirit possession) and in 1899 they established the Kinmeikai which became the Kinmei Reigakkai later in the same year. In 1900 Kisaburo married Nao’s fifth daughter Sumi and adopted the name Deguchi Onisaburo. Omoto was thus established based on Nao's automatic writings (Ofudesaki) and Onisaburo’s spiritual techniques.

The Prophecies of Onisaburo Deguchi regarding a sunken continent
Date of Fulfillment
In 1995 the Okinawa Times (dated Jan. 1) reported that what looked like the ancient megalithic ruins were found lying in the seabed near Japan's most western Isle of Yonaguni, one of the Yaeyama Islands. They are expected to be the remains of Sawara, the capital of the sunken Island of Kyu.

Date of Dictation: July 1922

Description of Prophecy
Origins of the Ryukyu Islands
The Okinawa Island, the largest of the Ryukyu Islands, is a tenth portion of what used to be a large but sunken island 300,000 years ago. The Reikai Monogatari calls this island Ryu-no-shima ("Island of Ryu"), and it and its pair, Kyu-no-shima ("Island of Kyu") constitute the ancient Ryukyus.
The Island of Kyu corresponds to the Yaeyama Islands.
The castle in Sawara, the capital of Kyu, had a megalithic structure inside its surrounding 119 yard wide moat.
The faith in Maitreya (Japanese: Miroku) lives on until today on Yaeyama Islands in the forms of the Maitreya dance and the Maitreya melody.
Koto-yori-wake ("Logos-Reliance-Lord"), head of the holy place of Ayabe, who visits the Islands of Ryu and Kyu at the command of Kamu-susa-no-wo and Kuni-toko-tachi, reveals that on the islands are Ryu-no-tama ("Jewel of Ryu") and Kyu-no-tama ("Jewel of Kyu"), that the former is shiho-mitsu-no-tama ("tide-flowing jewel") and the latter, shiho-hiru-no-tama ("tide-ebbing jewel"), and that with these two jewels, one can make whatever devil succumb.

Date of Dictation: Feb. 1922

Description of Prophecy
A model of the submersion of the Continent of Mu.
To have the prediluvian world in the palm of their hands, Oh-kuni-hiko and his wife-deity falsely proclaim themselves as Hinode-no-kami ("Sunrise-Deity") and Izana-mi-no-mikoto ("Her Augustness the Female-Who-Invites"), respectively.
One day, the Oh-kuni-hiko forces wage war against the good deities headed by the genuine Hinode-no-kami on the Island of Yomotsu ("Hades") in the Pacific, which Onisaburo equates with the continent of Mu. (Onisaburo says that Mu is about 6,588 miles in length and 7,564 miles in width.
The devils suffer a total defeat in the "Great Mountain Pass of the World (= Armageddon)," resulting in the sinking of Mu into the sea.

See also http://www2.plala.or.jp/wani-san/teaching.html for more of Onisaburo's teachings and poems.

Conclusion

I now believe Shinto is a Japanese adaptation of Taoism. Just as science, archaeology, ancient history, religion, and all order of social organisation are redefining and inventing themselves as we speak, Japanese cultural identity will begin to rediscover its essence beneath many masks. As Japan's submarine remains cry out from under their hidden depth, an archetypal ghost dances on in time and ritual despite attempts to fashion it in our own image.




Links

The Vision
Sam'tu, the sign of Triangle
Music Album
Poetry
Galactic Alignment
Plasma Kosmology
Holographic Paradigm
I have Oahspe related websites called
Zarathushtrians and Hinduism
Faithists of Hapta
Identifying Pan, the Submerged Continent
The Sacred Kosmon Year
'Progress of Things' Versus 'Evolution'
Email me (Paul) at perov8@yahoo.com


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