View Full Version : Significance of hands touching tatami

7th January 2005, 09:11
OK, in this thread (http://www.e-budo.com/vbulletin/showthread.php?s=&threadid=29272&pagenumber=2) the following thing was mentioned:

...Also it's common in some religious ceremonies, as has already been discussed a bit. I have been to at least one religious dojo where the palm of the hands never touched the floor...

Could someone share a bit of information on that subject, from the shinto* approach?

*not necessarily budo related that is...

J. A. Crippen
7th January 2005, 22:52
In general Shinto is very concerned with both physical and spiritual cleanliness. So it's possible that this may be from an idea of the floor being dirty. But if you consider the fact that the Japanese traditionally spent almost all of their time indoors on the floor, on the tatami, then this reasoning doesn't make sense, for why would people consider a situation as unclean which they spend most of their life around. Tatami are also kept very clean in a well maintained household, so there would be no reason to see them as dirty until they get old.

The floor in a peasant house in an older era (pre-Heian jidai) was simply dirt, as is the kitchen area of a modern minka, so it would have been considered unclean, but that was so long ago that it can hardly be considered to have been an influence.

Having just finished reading both the Kojiki and the Nihon Shoki I can't recall any particular emphasis on the palm of the hand, or on the cleanliness of the hand in particular. I'm guessing that this may be due to something else, something non-Shinto, perhaps a continental influence. Maybe someone familiar with the esoteric Buddhist sects can shed some light on this?