Inochi (Life) From the Gods

The gods, and “inochi’ are all connected.
Takeaki Yoshida 吉田武章氏

Takeaki Yoshida 吉田武章氏

Chief Priest of the Kamo Shrine in Kurayoshi City, Tottori Prefecture, Japan. Partial transcript of presentation given at Asia Regional Conference Oct 3rd.

So, everything that exists in the natural world was given to us from God.  And we should have that feeling of gratitude toward God.  That in and of itself is not a “spirit” per se but a gift from the gods.  So humans, for example, well let me change the topic a bit.  “Inochi”  or Life…. is something we receive from our ancestors.  But, with just “inochi” alone, we can’t continue to stay alive.  We need food, air, water, with those things, “inochi” can be nurtured.  That’s what I mean…The things we receive from the gods…my view is that these are all the things we receive from the gods.  To illustrate, a change of topic…

Food arrangement demonstration

Next, I’d like to talk about Japanese meals for a moment.  So we talked about the fact that we have received “inochi” from the gods.  To continue living, it can be said that we must continue to receive “inochi”.  Therefore, everything that exists here has received its “inochi” from the gods.  The trees, mountains, seas, rivers, air…all of these contain life given by the gods.  Li


This is a typical Japanese meal.

The most important things to consider is “hashi” (chopsticks).  We call this “hashi” and we eat with them.  We place the hashi like this, crossways in front of us.  From the chopsticks on this side is the domain of the Gods.  On our side, is the world of the humans.  On that side, everything is made by the gods.  

In all foods, there is “inochi” or life.  And by partaking of these things containing inochi, we humans can continue to live and act.  That’s the symbolism.  Therefore, when we eat, first we put our hands together, and say’ “itadakimasu” The meaning of “itadakimasu” is that we humans partake of all these things given by god that contain inochi, and thus are given the power to stay alive.  We use these hashi (chopsticks) to eat, and at the end, we place the hashi back down, and say “gochisosama”.  Gochisosama means “thank you for an abundance of wonderful things.”  It’s a way, again, of stating our thankfulness to the gods. So again, we call these “hashi” and as is written here…hashi is something that joins “hashi”, a side, with the other hashi (side);. For example, “bridge” is also pronounced “hashi’  Bridge “hashi” connects the right and left side (also “hashi”).  We also have what’s called “hashi-go” which is something we use to climb up to the second floor.  This connects the upper “hashi’ with the lower” hashi”.

And these “hashi” chopsticks they have a narrow end and a thick end.  Narrow end points in God’s direction, this end, to the humans’ direction.  This “hashi” connect the gods and the humans.  Thus, we receive “inochi” from the gods and we are able to continue to live as humans.  The gods, and “inochi’ are all connected.  

This is what we believe.  Therefore, in our daily lives, we shouldn’t forget to be thankful toward everything, I think is the most important thing. I believe the most important act is for us to live life to its fullest, while being thankful for all we’ve been given. 

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