We travelled to Japan, where we encountered the rich traditions and beliefs of the Shinto religion.  We learned about Shinto’s deep reverence for nature, and the belief in benevolent kami spirits which are venerated throughout Japan with shrines and yorishiro (objects used to invite benevolent kami spirits into a space). We examined some rituals that Shinto followers perform to honor the kami spirits and to keep themselves pure during rituals or when visiting shrines.  

We also discovered the Torii– a structure that symbolizes a gateway from the mundane and everyday world to a sacred, pure and divine space.  We looked at pictures of similar sacred gateways in the world, like the Torana in India, the Hongsalmun in Korean, the Paifang in China.  Then each child constructed a Torii and placed it in a spot in our surroundings that they felt to be sacred. We also added little respectful visitors to our Torii scenes!

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