Amatsu Tsumi and Kunitsu Tsumi (天つ罪・国つ罪)

"Amatsu tsumi" and "Kunitsu tsumi" are concepts of crime in in the Shintoism. These terms occur as a pair in oharae no kotoba (the great purification incantation) described in 'Norito' (incantations) in Fascicle (Book) 8 of the "Engishiki" (an ancient book for codes and procedures on national rites and prayers). Amatsu tsumi and Kunitsu tsumi are written in Kanji characters as "天つ罪" and "国つ罪" or "天津罪" and "国津罪."

Amatsu tsumi and Kunitsu tsumi are important concepts in understanding the view of "crimes" in ancient Japan, where religion, politics, and legislation were closely related. As Norinaga MOTOORI and the successors pointed out, however, Amatsu tsumi and Kunitsu tsumi were crimes that were closely related to religion. "Kojiki" (The Records of Ancient Matters) and "Nihonshoki" (Chronicles of Japan) include descriptions implying that secular crimes also existed in ancient Japan.

If one follows Shinobu ORIKUCHI's theory, originally amatsu tsumi was written as 雨障, implied how during the rainy season, farmers stayed indoors and were repentant of their misdeeds. Gradually the characters 天つ罪 came to be used for amatsu tsumi, implying SUSANO no Mikoto's various misdeeds in Takamanohara, the Plain of High Heaven (see the section of "Iwatogakure") in Japanese Mythology. In response to this interpretation, eventually kunitsu tsumi came to be perceived as the complementary opposite of amatsu tsumi.

Amatsu tsumi and Kunitsu tsumi described in oharae no kotoba include the followings. Note that oharae no kotoba only listed the name of the crimes: there are various theories about what each crime means, especially those of Kunitsu tsumi.

Amatsu tsumi

It is said that Amatsu tsumi originates in the crimes committed by Susanoo no Mikoto in Takamanohara described in "Kojiki" and "Nihonshoki." Because all of these crimes are acts to do harm to the agriculture caused by a man, these crimes are considered to exist since the emergence of communities before the establishment of the nation.

Ahanachi
This is a crime where rice field irrigation is interrupted by breaking down the ridges between rice paddies and flowing the water out of the paddies. "Kojiki" and "Nihonshoki" describe that Susanoo no Mikoto committed this crime against the rice field of Amaterasu Omikami (the Sun Goddess) in Takamanohara.
Mizoume
This is a crime where irrigation is interrupted by filling in the irrigation ditches to prevent the water from being drawn, described in "Kojiki" and "Nihonshoki."
Hihanachi
This is a crime where irrigation is interrupted by destroying the irrigation pipe to prevent the water from being drawn, described in "Nihonshoki."
Shikimaki
This is a crime where a field is sowed where other people have already sown seeds to hinder the development of crops (or to usurp the others of the cultivation right, some theory states), described in "Nihonshoki."
Kushisashi
It is described in "Nihonshoki" that Susanoo no Mikoto committed this crime due to his envy of the rice field of Amaterasu Omikami in Takamanohara. One theory states that the purpose of this crime is to usurp other people's fields by setting up stakes at harvest time. There are three other theories: a theory that this crime is a curse that hurts the landowner by piercing a cursed skewer in the fields (or preventing the owner from approaching the field and usurp it); a theory that this crime hurts the landowner's legs by secretly setting up many skewers in the field; and a theory that says this crime kills livestock by piercing them with skewers.
Ikihagi
This is a crime where horses are skinned alive, and originated in the description in "Nihonshoki" where Susanoo no Mikoto skinned Ama no fuchigoma Horse alive and threw it into the palace where Amaterasu Omikami was weaving the cloth to present to the God. Based on this description, one theory states that this crime violates the sacredness of a divine service (or the preparation for the service); another theory states, on the other hand, that it only refers to skinning and slaughtering the livestock.
Sakahagi
This is a crime where a horse is skinned backward from rear to front, and due to the same origin as Ikihagi described in "Kojiki" and "Nihonshoki," this is also regarded as the violation against the sacredness of a divine service. It is also the same as Ikihagi that it has another theory stating that it only refers to skinning and slaughtering the livestock.
Kusohe
"Kojiki" and "Nihonshoki" describe the origin of this crime as being where Susanoo no Mikoto defecated at the shrine in Takamanohara where Amaterasu Omikami performed Daijosai (first ceremonial offering of rice by newly-enthroned Emperor) or Niinamesai festival (ceremonial offering by the Emperor of newly-harvested rice to the deities). Based on this description, one theory states that this crime desecrates the ceremonial place for a divine service with filthy matters like excrements. Another theory states, on the other hand, that it should be read as "kusoto," in which "to," as in "norito," refers to a magical act, and kusoto is an act to pollute the crops by cursing the manure.

Kunitsu tsumi

Crimes described as Kunitsu tsumi include diseases and disasters that are not considered to be "crimes" in today's notion, which is a distinctive characteristic of Kunitsu tsumi. One theory explains that cataclysmic events are caused by human being committing crimes; by being injured or diseased (or die as a result), or having inappropriate sexual relationships, human body generates impurity and causes cataclysmic events as a result. It is pointed out that some of Kunitsu tsumi were based on the belief in Yakushi Nyorai (the Healing Buddha) in the Emperor Tenmu's era. The description of "Nihonshoki" proves that the faith in Yakushi existed in the era of Emperor Tenmu. It is pointed out that one of the purposes of having the faith in Yakushi was to receive the worldly benefit such as removing a disease or disaster, thus some of Kunitsu tsumi must have derived from the text of "Yakushi Nyorai hongan kudokukyo" (Yakushikyo Sutra).

Ikihadadachi
This is a crime of hurting a living person's skin, equivalent to a charge of bodily injury.
Shinihadadachi
A direct interpretation states that Shinihadadachi is a crime of hurting a dead body's skin, equivalent to a charge of vandalizing a corpse. The purpose of this crime is said to be enact a curse; however, in another theory, while the victim of Ikihadadachi described in the previous section was still alive when his/her skin was hurt, the victim of shinihadadachi was injured to death, therefore it is equivalent to a charge of injury resulting in death.
Shirahito
Shirahito refers to a disease of pale skin, also called Byakurai or Shirahatake, and it is said to be a kind of leprosy. One theory states that the reason of counting this disease as one of Kunitsu tsumi is found in "Yakushikyo Sutra;" when Yakushi Nyorai performed Bosatsu gyo, it made twelve great vows and the sixth vow declared that every human disease would be healed by hearing the name of Yakushi Nyorai. Examples of disease include 'people born with deformities, ugly, stubborn, idiot, blind, deaf, disabled hands or legs; hunchbacked, or pale skin,' and the last refers to Shirahito.
Kokumi
Kokumi refers to a condition in which a person develops a big lump, on the back, or so-called hunchback. One theory states that it came from the description of "Yakushikyo sutra" as described above.
A charge of raping his own mother
Incest with his own mother
A charge of raping his own child
Incest with his own child
A charge of raping a mother and its child
Having a sexual intercourse with a woman and then with her daughter
A charge of raping a child and its mother
Having a sexual intercourse with a woman and then with her mother (the four charges described above are summarized as 'Oyakotawake' in the section of Emperor Chuai in "Kojiki," thus there is a theory stating that these are divided only for the sake of rhetoric and thus have no difference in the meaning).
A charge of raping animals
It refers to bestiality and it is categorized in the section of Emperor Chuai in "Kojiki" into 'Umatawake' (bestiality with horse), 'Toritawake' (bestiality with chicken), and 'Inutawake' (bestiality with dogs).
Woes by crawling insects
This refers to calamities caused by crawling insects (such as poisonous snakes, centipedes, and scorpions). In "Yakushikyo Sutra," there is a description that 'evil elephants, lions, tigers, wolves, bears, poisonous snakes, scorpions, centipedes, mosquitoes, gnats, or other frightful things' would be cleared by praying for Yakushi Nyorai. One theory states, therefore, that 'crawling insects' refers to those listed following 'poisonous snakes' in this description.
Woes by Takatsu Kami
It is regarded as natural disasters such as lightning damage.
Another theory, by taking the influence of "Yakushikyo Sutra" into consideration, states that this refers to disasters by unrighteous divine spirits in a broad sense, as described in the Sutra: 'yaksha, rakshasa, bishaja, and other evil fierce gods.'
Woes by Takatsu Tori
"Woes by flying birds" is found in Norito of Otonohogai, and thus it is considered to refer to damages to buildings and other mishaps caused by raptorial birds. This also has another theory stating that this is based on the description of 'attacks by monstrous birds' in "Yakushikyo Sutra."
Kemonotaoshi, a crime of doing Majimono
This refers to Kodo, a magic ritual to kill house stocks and place a curse on others using the carcasses. Here, too, "Yakushikyo Sutra" has a description in the section where every evil act done by people will be expiated by the power of Yakushi Nyorai, 'They pray to the spirits of the mountain forests, trees, and graves. They kill living beings in order to make sacrifices of blood and flesh to the yaksha and rakshasa ghosts. They write down the names of their enemies and make images of them, and then they hex those names and images with evil mantras. They summon paralysis ghosts, cast hexes, or command corpse-raising ghosts to kill or injure their enemies' and the section following 'They kill living beings' in particular.

Note that 'Azunai no tsumi' (a crime of burying priests of two shrines together) described in the article of February of the first year of Sessho (regent) of Empress Jingu in "Nihon Shoki" can also be included to these crimes. Moreover, "Kotai Jingu Gishikicho" adds Kawairi (die by drowning in a river) and Hiyaki (burnt by fire to death) to Kunitsu tsumi crimes. Regarding these two cases, "Yakushikyo Sutra" has a section to describe nine kinds of untimely death, the fourth is to be burned to death and the fifth is to drown, so the relation to the brief in Yakushi Nyorai can be suggested.

Current Status

In Oharae no kotoba used by Jinja Honcho (Association of Shinto Shrines) and its subordinate shrines, the names of crimes in Amatsu tsumi and Kunitsu tsumi have been omitted because Kunitsu tsumi include discriminatory expressions.
Therefore, where Oharae no kotoba today reads 'Amatsu tsumi Kunitsu tsumi and many other such crimes come forth' it originally read 'Amatsu tsumi and ahanachi, mizoume, hihanachi, shikimaki, kushisashi, ikihagi, sakahagi, kusohe, and many other crimes; by declaring separately from Amatsu tsumi, Kunitsu tsumi and ikihadadachi; shinihadadachi; shirahito; kokumi; a charge of raping his own mother, raping his own child, raping a mother and its child, raping a child and its mother, raping animals; woes by crawling insects, takatsu kami, and takatsu tori; Kemonotaoshi, a crime of doing Majimono; and many other such crimes come forth.'