|Fedianina V.A. Shinto studies in Russia|
Shinto studies in Russia
(presented at The Jubilee Conference of the Scholarly Subject of Japanese Studies at Sofia University "St. Kliment Ohridski", Bulgaria, 2015, October)
Vladlena A. Fedianina, PhD, assistant professor, The Moscow City University, The Institute of Foreign Languages, The Department of Japanese Language Studies
Shinto is an essential, integral and inseparable component of Japanese culture and it complicates its study as an independent religion's tradition. Study of Shinto in Russia is conducted mostly as a part of Japanese, not religious, studies. First, we briefly outline the history of Japanese studies in Russia and then show how Shinto fits into it.
In Russia the first attempts to study the Japanese language and the country were made in the early 18th c. There were schools for teaching Japanese language in St.-Petersburg and Irkutsk. The first Russian-Japanese dictionary was published by Andrei Tatarinov in the 18th c. Until the 19th c. the bulk knowledge of Japan came mainly from Europe, more specifically from Holland. It was not until the first quarter of the 19th c. that the first original Russian works about Japan appeared.
Russian interest in Japan increased greatly from 1885 following the establishment of Russian-Japanese diplomatic relations. However, the Russian-Japanese war (1904-1905) revealed a lack of interpreters and showed a large ignorance in general about Japan as a country and the people who lived there. At the same time it raised interest in Japan in all layers of Russian society and intensified Japanese studies. From the end of the war to the start of the Russian revolution (1917) both countries created a system of scientific contacts and student exchanges. The main institutions dealing with Japanese Studies were located in St.-Petersburg and Vladivostok. With the appearance of a number of brilliant early Japan scholars, with their first publications in the 1910's and 1920's), Japanese studies took on some fundamental features akin to its traditions of classical Asian studies, such as an emphasis on philology.
Many of the scholars, who had been educated in Russia before the 1917 revolution, continued their work during the Soviet period. For that reason Soviet Japanology kept an academic "classical" character for about 15 years after the establishment of the Soviet system. The Soviet state supported Japanese studies in the USSR, but also put a high ideological pressure on it. All Asian studies become more politically motivated and the practical bias for studying, first of all, was contemporary social sciences based on the Marx-Lenin methodology.
After the Revolution Japanese studies suffered due to the emigration of many prominent Japanologists. The losses of Soviet scientists because of repressions are a separate issue. During the period from 1936 to 1938 the overwhelming majority of Japanologists were stripped of their jobs, imprisoned and in many cases executed on suspicion of espionage.
Japanese studies were revived after World War II, starting from the beginning of the 1950's. Ideological pressure became weaker. Declaration of Marxism-Leninism as a "methodological basis" had become merely insincere ritual.
The 1960's and 1970's were favorable for the development of Japanese studies. The USSR was compelled to search for ways of normalizing the state relations between the USSR and Japan. Interest in Japan among Russian public and politicians, which had always been high, grew even more in the 1960's boosted by Japan's striking successes in economic development. Japanese Studies became prestigious and fashionable. Classical researchers experienced much lighter pressure than those who studied contemporary problems.
During the Soviet period most attention was paid to modern economic development and the socio-political problems of Japan. The fields of ancient and medieval history, Japanese linguistics, literature and poetry, theater, and art took a back seat. Many of these studies took Shinto into consideration as a national cultural tradition or as a basis for nationalism, but there was no research focused only on Shinto. Actually Shinto as a religious tradition has been studied only since the end of 20th c.
Shinto studies in pure form are deeply interrelated, so for convenience we divide research concerning Shinto into three sections:
1. Annotated translations of written sources concerning Shinto.
2. Shinto studies as a part of Japanese studies.
3. The study of Japanese religious tradition.
Section 1. Annotated translations of written sources concerning Shinto
A great contribution was made by philologists, specialists in folklore and historians, who translated important primary sources of Japanese culture and history. In the 20th c. famous Russian japanologists translated sources that were important for the study of Shinto, and provided them with detailed comments: the Izumo Fudoki ("Records of Customs and Land of Izumo"), 1966, and the Kofudoki (Hitachi, Harima, Bungo, Hizen) ("Ancient Records of Customs and Land (of Hitachi, Harima, Bungo, Hizen)"), 1969, translated by Konstantin A. Popov (1903/04-1990), the Manyoshu ("Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves"), 1971-1972, translated by Anna E. Gluskina (1904-1994), Shinto prayers norito and Imperial edicts semmyo, 1991, translated by Ludmila M. Ermakova , the Kojiki ("Record of ancient matters"), 1994, translated by Evgenia M. Pinus (1914-1983), L.M. Ermakova and Alexander N. Mescheryakov, the Nihon shoki ("Annals of Japan"), 1997, translated by L.M. Ermakova, and A.N. Mescheryakov.
Volume II of "Shinto - the Way of Japanese Gods"  (see Section 3) continued the tradition of translating. Volume II consists entirely of translated excerpts. They are:
The Kojiki (by Natalia A. Feldman and E. M. Pinus), the Nihon shoki, norito and semmyo and Yamato-hime no mikoto seiki ("Records of the Life on Earth of Her Highness, Princess Yamato") (translated by L.M. Ermakova); the Kogo shui ("Gleanings from Ancient Stories"), the Sendai kuji hongi ("Records of Old Matters from Previous Ages") and the Jinno shotoki ("Records of the True Lineages of the Divine Emperors") of Kitabatake Chikafusa (translated by Ekaterina K. Simonova-Gudzenko; the Manyoshu (translated by A. N. Mescheryakov); the Shinsen shojiroku ("New Selection and Record of Hereditary Titles and Family Names") (translated by Maxim V. Grachev); the Shozan engi ("Origins of Various Mountains") (translated by Alexei M. Gorbylyov); the Naobi no mitama ("The Spirit of Renovation") of Motoori Norinaga (translated by Lubov' B. Karelova); the Tama kushige ("Pecious Comb Box") of Motoori Norinaga (translated by Yu. D. Mikhaylova); the Tama no mihashira ("The True Pillar of Spirit") of Hirata Atsutane (translated by V.P. Mazurik); the Kokutai no hongi ("Fundamental Principles of the National Structure") (translated by V.E. Molodyakov).
During the past two decades much research has also been conducted, based on translations of the full text of the Shozan Engi, the Kitano Tenjin engi, the Hachiman gudokin (see the Section 3).
It is worthwhile to draw reader's attention to N.A. Nevski. He greatly contributed to different fields of Japanese studies and was one of the forerunners of contemporary Ryukyuan ethnology. He studied the beliefs and folklores of Okinawa inhabitants and ainu (not Shinto). Only a few of his works have been published in Russia, for example works about Ainu folklore and Miyako folklore.
Section 2. Shinto studies as a part of Japanese studies
Valuable analysis of issues associated with Shinto was provided by researchers who studied ancient texts and Japanese literature.
N.I. Konrad and Vladislav N. Goreglyad (1932-2002), while describing the development of Japanese literature and analyzing some literary monuments, examined some aspects of Shinto: its reflection in literature or its impact on literature, different genres, etc. 
Irina A. Boronina's (1937-2006) study "Classic Japanese novel" in the chapter "Religious and Ritual Traditions of Shinto" described how Shinto traditions were reflected in the Genji Monogatari ("The Tale of Genji").
L.M. Ermakova's monograph "Speeches of Gods and Songs of the People"  examined the relationship between ancient beliefs and traditional Japanese poetry, ritual and mythological sources of Japanese literary aesthetics.
Russian researchers of folklore, culture, history and politics draw close attention to some aspects and problems of Shinto.
Natalia A. Iofan in "The Culture of Ancient Japan"  examined mythological and religious ideas of the ancient Japanese and traced the formation process of cultural traditions.
Philosophical and aesthetic problems of the Japanese worldview and the influence of Shinto on it are addressed in the works of Tatiana P. Grigorieva (1929-2014), and Elena L. Skvortsova .
Tatiana G. Sila-Novitskaya in the work "Emperor Worship in Japan: Myth, History, Doctrine, Politics"  traces the history of Emperor worship in Japan from ancient times to our days, and analyzes the cult of the Emperor in modern Japan.
The role of Shinto in the philosophy of "The School of National Learning" (kokugaku-ha) and "Mito school" (Mitogaku) and the ideological preparation that led to the conservative revolution Meiji ishin and ultimately to the formation of a new Japanese historiography are discussed in the monograph of Vassili E. Molodyakov "Conservative Revolution in Japan: Ideology and Politics".
Anastasia R. Sadokova in her monograph "Japanese Folklore: in the Context of Mythological and Religious beliefs"  explores the major genres of Japanese folklore in connection with mythological and religious beliefs, including Shinto.
Diana G. Glaveeva in the book "Traditional Japanese Culture: Peculiarities of Perception of the World"  addresses the role of Shinto in structuring principles of cultural lifestyles.
Ekaterina K. Simonova-Gudzenko in her study "Japan of the 7th-9th Сenturies: Forms of the Description of Space and Their Historical Interpretation"  analyses the concept of sacred space taking into consideration Japanese indigenous beliefs.
Alexander A. Tolstoguzov in the book "Essays on the History of Japanese Historiography" outlines the history of the Japanese historical sciences and introduces trends in social and religious thought.
Elena A. Sosnovskaya in her PhD dissertation "The Ethos of Japanese Society" defines the role of Shinto in shaping moral and ethical behavior.
A.N. Mescheryakov in the monographs "Japanese Emperor and Russian Tsar" and "The Emperor Meiji and his Japan"  considers Shinto as a structural element of the Japanese national consciousness.
The influence of traditional beliefs on the importance of the individual is examined by Stepan A. Rodin in his PhD dissertation "Personality in Ancient Japan". 
The history of indigenous Japanese beliefs and their impact on culture and politics are partly covered in collected monographs "The History of Ancient Japan" and "The History of Japanese Culture".  The problems of Shinto are raised in Japanese history text-books "The History of Japan" and "The History of Japan. XX century" .
The collected papers "A Thing in Japanese Culture"  tells about mythologization and sacralization of the world of things (objects). It includes also several articles that are directly related to Shinto: "Thing and Mono in Concepts and Rituals" by L. M. Ermakova, "Thing in Names of Shinto Deities" by E.K. Simonova-Gudzenko; "Thing in Sacred Environment" by E. V. Molodyakova.
A number of articles related to Shinto and its functioning in literature and the cultural and political life of Japan are collected in "The History and Culture of Traditional Japan" (series Orientalia et Classica: Works of the Institute of Oriental cultures and antiquity).
Works about the art history of Japan also deal with Shinto motifs and plots, and the Shinto tradition in artistic genres. The monographs of Natalia S. Nikolaeva, raise the question of the Shinto influence on the artistic tradition of Japan.  "Mythical Animals in the Carving of Shinto Shrines of the 17th c."  of Gleb B. Spiridonov concerns the decorative carvings of The Toshogu Shrine complex. The monograph by Igor' A. Samarin "The Way of Gods Across the Islands: Shinto Shrines of the South Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands"  describes the architectural features of places of worship in Shinto tradition. "The History of Japanese Theater"  by Nina G. Anarina traces the relationship between theatrical action and Shinto rituals. Articles by Marina Y. Dubrovskaya examines music in Shinto ritual and ceremonies.
Section 3. The study of Japanese religious tradition
The amalgamated nature of Japanese religious life has led scholars to consider Shinto integral to the Buddhist teachings and others religious and philosophical thoughts.
The results of these studies are presented in the book by Sergei A. Arutyunov and G.E. Svetlov (Komarovski) "Old and New Gods of Japan"  which describes the history of Shinto and Buddhism, the process of their interaction from ancient times until the second third of the 20th c. The monograph of A.N. Mescheryakov "Ancient Japan: Buddhism and Shintoism: The Problems of Syncretism" analyzes syncretism of these two religions as it appears in official chronicles and in folk beliefs. 
The collective monograph "Buddhism in Japan" is devoted to the history of Buddhism in Japan and highlights some of the problems inevitably raised by Shinto. A.N. Mescheryakov in the chapter "Japanese Society and Early Buddhism" writes about early Buddhism, its influence on the perception of Shinto deities, the convergence of Shinto and Buddhism through the cult of ancestors and the concept of sacred space. Alexander N. Ignatovich and Andrei G. Fesyun analyze problems of Shinto-Buddhist syncretism and syncretic shugendo traditions in the chapter "Buddhism in the Heian period". The position of Buddhism in the system of State Shinto are explored by E.G. Komarovski in the chapter "Buddhism in Modern and Contemporary History of Japan".
Syncretic religious traditions (including Shinto) are considered in the PhD dissertation of Alexei M. Gorbylyov "Cult of Mountains in the Japanese Medieval Worldview: on the Material of the Monument of the late 12th c. Shozan engi (‘Origins of Various Mountains')" . The author has written a number of articles concerning the relationship between indigenous beliefs and martial arts.
The problems of combining Shinto, Buddhism and Confucianism in Tokugawa period (1600-1867) are analyzed by Lubov' B. Karelova .
Beliefs in kami (or deities) are considered together with the teachings of the Buddhist schools, Confucian thought, and the teaching of Yin-Yang in "The History of Religions of Japan in the 9th-12th cc." by Nadezda N. Trubnikova and Alexei S. Bachurin . This approach (combining beliefs in kami with other teachings) is applied in other works of N.N. Trubnikova who researches, first of all, Japanese Buddhism. One part of her post-doctoral dissertation "The Tendai School's ‘Original Enlightenment' (hongaku) Tradition in Japanese Religious and Philosophical Thought in 12th-13th cc." is completely dedicated to the Shinto-Buddhist synthesis.
Studies focused mainly on Shinto have appeared only since the last third of the 20th century, but they are still scarce.
In 1985 G.E. Svetlov (Komarovski) in his work "The Way of Gods" examined specific features of Shinto that allowed the ruling circles of pre-war Japan to use it for the cultivation of nationalism. "Holidays in Japan: Customs, Rituals, Social Functions" (1990) by Elgena V. Molodyakova and Seda B. Markaryan describes the origin, concept and content of the matsuri Shinto rites-festivals. In 2004 they released a significantly revised edition of this monograph under the name "Matsuri. Traditional Festivals of Japan". 
In 2000 Andrei A. Nakorchevski published his book "Shinto", which analyzed the various forms of this religious tradition, its structural elements and historical transformation. The author in "Shinto" and other works explored the mystical experience and the religious feelings of Shinto followers, and this is not typical of other Russian works.
Svetlana G. Bisharova in "Shinto Bases of Traditional Japanese Culture" (2006) investigated the role of Shinto in the process of the formation the Japanese culture. 
A brief overview of Shinto by Galina B. Navlitskaya can be found in the section "History of Religions" in Russia's most used text-book for religious studies. 
Anna A. Dulina in 2013 in her PhD dissertation "The Formation and Evolution of the Hachiman Cult in Japan in the 8th -14th cc." (based on the translation of Hachiman gudokin ("Hachiman teachings for silly children")) analyzed in detail the origin of this popular cult in Japan. 
In 2014 Vladlena A. Fedianina published a monograph "The Patron of Literature and The Incarnation of The Bodhisattva: Sugawara Michizane and The Early History of The Tenjin Cult (9th-I2th cc.)", which depicts the origin and development of this popular cult, worshiping the deity of learning. The monograph includes a translation of the main source for The Tenjin cult Kitano Tenjin Engi ("Legends of the Kitano Tenjin Shrine").
Due to the nature of the religious consciousness of the Japanese and the combination of Shinto, Buddhism and other religious traditions, the last two works inevitably analyze Buddhist and other spiritual traditions in the study of cults, which only in modern Japan came to be considered Shinto cults.
A significant role in Shinto studies in Russia was played by The Moscow Representative Office (MRO) of Shinto Kokusai Gakkai (The Shinto International Foundation) (2000-2013), a non-profit and non-governmental organization associated with the United Nations Department of Public Information. It was headed up by Vladimir N. Eremin (1928-2004) and Elgena V. Molodyakova. The MRO encouraged research in the field of Shinto. It brought together specialists from Moscow, St.-Petersburg and other regions of Russia, Ukraine and The Commonwealth of Independent States. It conducted Russian-language Shinto essay competitions; supported students engaged in Shinto studies through scholarships, and held the international conferences "Shinto and Japanese Culture" (in 2002) and "Spiritual and Practical Values of Martial Arts" (in 2005).
The results of research supported by The MRO are presented in seven special editions, including a translation of "The World of Shinto" by the Shinto priest and religious scholar Minoru Sonoda, intended for general readers.
The MRO has also prepared an anthology in two volumes of Russian japanologists: "Shinto - The Way of Japanese Gods", which was the first Russian comprehensive study of this religious tradition. L.M. Ermakova, E.K. Simonova-Gudzenko, A.N. Mescheryakov, M.V. Grachev, Elena M. Diakonova, A.A. Nakorchevski, G.E. Komarovski, E.V. Molodyakova, V.N. Eremin, G.B. Navlitskaya , T.P. Grigorieva, A.E. Gluskina, A.M. Gorbylyov, V.E. Molodyakov contributed to Volume I and their papers are divided into "Shinto origins", "Shinto in ancient and medieval time", "Shinto in pre-modern and modern Japan", and finally "Shinto and Japanese culture".  Volume II is described above in the section 1.
The proceedings of the "Shinto and Japanese Culture" symposium contains full text of participants' papers organized by "History of Shinto", "Shinto and Japanese culture", "Shinto Rituals and Shrines", "Problems of Shinto studies". .
The book "Shinto, the Religion of the Japanese Nation" includes translations of two famous Japanese scholars of religious studies, Ono Sokyo "Shinto. The Kami Way" and Kato Genchi "What is Shinto?", written for foreign readers, and also a brief overview of modern Shinto by E.V. Molodyakova. 
In 2010 "Shinto Essay Competition Results (2005-2009)"  was published. It contains the first-, second-, and third-place winners' papers. Some of them, for example, A.A. Dulina, Galina K. Butova, and S.A. Rodin are continuing their research.
The MRO published the first Russian language encyclopedia of Shinto "Japan: Gods, Shrines, Rites: Encyclopedia of Shinto".  It contains the work of 14 authors. Articles are grouped into chapters with detailed introductions: "Sources and Written Records" (introduction by A.N. Mescheryakov), "Myths and Deities" (L.M. Ermakova), "Rituals in Shinto Tradition" (E.V. Molodyakova), "Main Shrines, Their Precincts and Architecture" (E.K. Simonova-Gudzenko), "Shinto Schools and Interpreters" (A.A. Nakorchevski), "Shinto as Reflected in Art and Literature" (E.M. Diakonova).
In 2012 The MRO issued an anthology called "Shinto: Cultural Memory and Living Faith", (devoted to memory of Umeda Yoshimi, the late director general of the Shinto Kokusai Gakkai). Thirteen authors analyze different aspects of the Shinto tradition in historical development and its functioning in modern society (E.K. Simonova-Gudzenko, L.M. Ermakova, A.N. Mescheryakov, S.A. Rodin, A.M. Dulina, V.A. Fedianina, S.A. Polchov, Sergei V. Kapranov, G.B. Spiridonov, A.A. Nakorchevski, V.E. Molodyakov, E.V. Molodyakova, A.R. Sadokova).
Much has been accomplished in Russian Shinto studies since the end of the 20th century. Comprehensive work has examined 1) historical transformations of Shinto; 2) the impact of Shinto on the formation of ideology and national consciousness; 3) some Shinto cults and rituals; 4) translation of primary sources; and 5) its interaction with other religious traditions and elements of cultural life. But much remains to be explored! The relationship between Shinto and Christianity has barely been examined. Other interesting areas for study include Shinto mystical experience and new religious movements.
 In this paper, the word "Shinto" refers to the indigenous beliefs of Japan and the religious system based on it, which began to be organized at the end of the 7th c.
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About the author:
Fedianina, Vladlena A. - Candidate of Historical Sciences, Docent of The Japanese Language Department at Institute of Foreign Language, The Moscow City l University (from 2007). She graduated from The Moscow State Institute for History and Archives in 1989; from The Institute of Asian and African Studies of M.V. Lomonosov Moscow State University in 2001; studied and trained at universities in Japan. She was an Executive Secretary of The Moscow Representative Office of Shinto Kokusai Gakkai (The Shinto International Foundation) from 2002 to 2013. Main research interests are the history of religions in Japan during the Middle Ages and the Classical Japanese Language (bungo).
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