View Full Version : Shinzen...Zenshin

Jeff Bristol
26th August 2000, 18:35
I have heard the word front refered to as zenshin, and shinzen. My question is, which is correct? Is one just misreading the kanji, or is there another reason for the confusion?

Jeff Bristol

27th August 2000, 20:12

"Shinzen" ("front" [mae/zen] of the "deity" [kami/shin]) is actually the Shinto shrine. The shinzen is also referred to as "kamidana" [deity shelf] -- the shelf upon which the small shrines are placed. This may or may not be co-located at the shomen -- usually placement is configured according to compass direction (either facing east or south).

I've not heard of "zenshin" -- I suppose it could mean "Zen" [different kanji meaning meditation] "heart/mind."

"Shomen" means "true front" and refers to the front of the dojo.

Sometimes "kamiza" is used. This can be two separate meanings with different kanji.

1) kami [upper] za [seat]. The location within the dojo that is to the right of the shomen as you face it.

2) kami [deity] za [seat]. The Shinto shrine.

Confusing? Well, welcome to Japanese 101 ... where every kanji has at least 2, and sometimes 10, different sounds. And ... every word-sound has as many different kanji.

Ouch! :D


Anders Pettersson
28th August 2000, 07:52

Zenshin could be "moving forward". Sometimes in Shorinji Kempo we use that term for practicing techniques (single form) such as different tsuki and keri, while moving forward.

In that case it is written ĹO?i <I>zen</I> (or <I>mae</I>) being front and <I>shin</I> advance/progress.

So the words zenshin and shinzen is probably written with different kanji, only the zen(mae) kanji in common.

<A href=?hhttp://www.shorinji-kempo.org/">www.shorinji-kempo.org</A>

Jeff Bristol
28th August 2000, 20:06
Thanks, I was wondering about that. The question came up, in fact, the first time I heard 'zenshin kotai', the renshinkan Shorin ji set of basics. my sensei said it meant front and back, I just got around to wonderin about it recently. The multi-meaning of kanji might put me off learning Japanese, but then again I think I am too stubborn to give up. Thanks for the answers.

Jeff Bristol

28th August 2000, 23:09
Zenshink˘tai simply means advancing and retreating. It's made up of four kanji: "front/before" + "advance/push/progress" + "back/rear" + "retreat." I don't think this is so much a case of multiple meanings of kanji, as multiple homonymic kanji. As for front and back, that's usually "zengo," written with the "zen" and "k˘" from zenshink˘tai

Just for your information, there is another phrase "zenshink˘tai" which is written entirely differently and means "whole body shifting/changing."