Seishi (Deification of a Living Man) (生祀)

Seishi (生祀) means to honor or worship the spirit of a living person. Seishi (生祠) means the same. There are cases where the spirit of someone else who has performed great achievements and is alive is honored and where one's own soul is worshipped.


Seishi carried out to worship one's own soul was to live a long life or become Kami (god) after death.
It is thought that this originated in the tradition that Okuninushi (chief god of Izumo in southern Honshu Island, Japan, and the central character in the important cycle of myths set in that region) worshipped his own Kushimitama (the wondrous, miraculous, or salubrious) and Sakimitama (the propitious) in Mt. Mimoro (Mt. Miwa.)

The oldest case of someone worshipping their own soul was related to Haruhiko MATSUKI (824 - 924)in the Heian period when he was a Shinto priest of Geku (outer shrine) in Ise-jingu Shrine, he worshipped his soul included in stones or rocks in Obe, Watarai-gun, Ise in 923.

There is a case where Sadanobu MATSUDAIRA carried out Seishi for himself at Oshu Shirakawa-jo Castle in 1797 in the Edo period.

The number of Seishi increased in the Edo period, and this was probably due to the influence of Chinese thought.

In the Edo period, Ansai YAMAZAKI established rules for ritual procedures based on a ceremony style for Confucianism and worshipped his soul. The Seishi was carried out in his residence, Suika (Shidemasu)-Reisha Shrine in Kyoto in 1671. After that, Shintoists and scholars of Japanese classical literature in Hirata-ha school worshipped their own souls in accordance with their established ritual procedures.

Genchi KATO (1873-1965) is well-known for his research on Seishi. According to Kato, 60 to 70 Seishi were identified and the latest Seishi is the one for Chugi NISHI which was enshrined in August 1931 in Urakawa-cho, Hidaka Province, Hokkaido Prefecture.

Emperor Meiji's Seishi was built in Port of Ishinomaki in Miyagi Prefecture in 1876, and also in the site of Yahiko-jinja Shrine in Ono-mura, Kamiina-gun in 1893. The Seishi of Emperor Meiji and Empress Dowager Shoken was each built in two locations in 1887 and 1904, the Seishi of Emperor Taisho was built in Monbetsu-mura, Hidaka Province, Hokkaido Prefecture in 1911, the Seishi of Empress Teimei was built in Hirose-machi, Hiroshima Prefecture in 1913, and the Seishi of Prince Chichibunomiya and Prince Takamatsunomiya was each built in Doshin-machi, Himeji City in 1924. The Seishi of Emperor Showa was built on Mt. Yoshitsune, Honbetsu-cho, Tokachi Province, Hokkaido Prefecture in 1879, and the Seishi of Emperor Showa and Empress Kojun was each built in Hirose-machi, Hiroshima City in 1928.

[Original Japanese]