Shinto is one of the worlds most interesting and ancient religions in the world. In many ways to be Japanese is to be Shinto. And to be Shinto you must be Japanese (Picken, 4). This religion has been engrained in Japanese society for generations, and is key to Japanese culture and politics. In this paper the following topics will be discussed: gender issues with the deities and priests, the interplay of religious systems within the study, and the political relationship between the Japanese government and Shinto. .
The Shinto priesthood is an institution that traces back to ancient Japan. The priesthood goes back many generations, and is hereditary. The duties of the priests are to serve the kami, engage in religious activity and they are in charge of administering the Shinto shrines( Picken 187). .
The Shinto priests have a very rich tradition. The garb the priest wear are symbolic of their rank in the priesthood. The priests rank is denoted by the color of their Hakama (the lower part of the priestly costume). The name of the ranking system is called Kai-i. The rank is as follows:.
Jokai: Purity; this is granted to priests who serve 20 years or more. .
Meikai: Brightness. This rank and the two below are granted on the basis of education, general learning. .
There is also a rank for priesthood within each Jinja, (a jinja is a sacred place where kami is present and is revered. That rank is as follows:.
Guji: the chief priest of a shrine.
Gon-Guji: the assistant chief prist of a shrine.
Negi: senior priest.
Gon-negi: assistant senior priest.
Miko: shrine maiden who assist at rituals and performs sacred dances.
Itsuki-no-miya, or Saishu: the highest rank of all priests, traditionally a female of the imperial family, who was know as the princess devoted to the kami. These office exists now only at the Grand Shrines of Ise (Picken, 188).