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Found at these bookshops Searching - please wait We were unable to find this edition in any bookshop we are able to search. The trade and interchange of people helped the growth and complexity of the peoples spirituality by exposure to new beliefs. The natural spirituality of the people appeared to be based on the worship of nature forces or mono , and the natural elements to which they all depended.

The gradual introduction of methodical religious and government organizations from mainland Asia starting around BCE seeded the reactive changes in primal Shinto over the next years to a more formalized system. These changes were directed internally by the various clans frequently as a syncratic cultural event to outside influences. Eventually as the Yamato gained power a formalization process began. The genesis of the Imperial household and subsequent creation of the Kojiki helped facilitate the continuity needed for this long term development through modern history.

There is today a balance between outside influences of Buddhist , Confucian , Taoist , Abrahamic , Hindu and secular beliefs. In more modern times Shinto has developed new branches and forms on a regular basis, including leaving Japan. New arrivals from the continent seem to have invaded Japan from the West, bringing with them new technologies such as rice farming and metallurgy. Many other elements of Japanese culture also may date from this period and reflect a mingled migration from the northern Asian continent and the southern Pacific areas.

Among these elements are Shinto mythology, marriage customs, architectural styles, and technological developments such as lacquerware, textiles, laminated bows, metalworking, and glass making. Japanese culture begins to develop in no small part due to influences from mainland trade and immigration from China. During this time in the pre-writing historical period, objects from the mainland start appearing in large amounts, specifically mirrors, swords, and jewels.

All three of these have a direct connection to the imperial divine status as they are the symbols of imperial divinity and are Shinto honorary objects. Also the rice culture begins to blossom throughout Japan and this leads to the settlement of society, and seasonal reliance of crops.

Both of these changes are highly influential on the Japanese people's relationship to the natural world, and likely development of a more complex system of religion. This is also the period that is referenced as the beginning of the divine imperial family. The Yayoi culture was a clan based culture that lived in compounds with a defined leader who was the chief and head priest. They were responsible for the relationship with their "gods" Kami and if one clan conquered another, their "god" would be assimilated.

The earliest records of Japanese culture were written by Chinese traders who described this land as "Wa". This time period led to the creation of the Yamato culture and development of formal Shinto practices. The development of niiname or the now Shinto harvest festival is attributed to this period as offerings for good harvests of similar format typically rice become common.


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The great bells and drums, Kofun burial mounds, and the founding of the imperial family are important to this period. This is the period of the development of the feudal state, and the Yamato and Izumo cultures. Both of these dominant cultures have a large and central shrine which still exists today, Ise Shrine in the North East and Izumo Taisha in the South West. This time period is defined by the increase of central power in Naniwa, now Osaka , of the feudal lord system.

Also there was an increasing influence of Chinese culture which profoundly changed the practices of government structure, social structure, burial practices, and warfare. The Japanese also held close alliance and trade with the Gaya confederacy which was in the south of the peninsula. The Paekche in the Three Kingdoms of Korea had political alliances with Yamato, and in the 5th century imported the Chinese writing system to record Japanese names and events for trade and political records.

In they sent a Confucian scholar to the court to assist in the teachings of Confucian thought. In or a Buddha image was given to the Yamato leader which profoundly changed the course of Japanese religious history, especially in relation to the undeveloped native religious conglomeration that was Shinto. In the latter 6th century, there was a breakdown of the alliances between Japan and Paekche but the influence led to the codification of Shinto as the native religion in opposition to the extreme outside influences of the mainland.

Up to this time Shinto had been largely a clan 'uji' based religious practice, exclusive to each clan.

Shintoism: The Indigenous Religion of Japan

The Theory of Five Elements in Yin and Yang philosophy of Taoism and the esoteric Buddhism had a profound impact on the development of a unified system of Shinto beliefs. In the early Nara period , the Kojiki and the Nihon Shoki were written by compiling existing myths and legends into a unified account of Japanese mythology. These accounts were written with two purposes in mind: Much of modern Japan was under only fragmentary control by the Imperial family, and rival ethnic groups.

In particular the Asuka rulers of — saw disputes between the more major families of the clan Shinto families. However, it was not until the Hakuho ruling period of — that Shinto was installed as the imperial faith along with the Fujiwara Clan and reforms that followed. Prior to this time clan Shinto had dominated and a codification of "Imperial Shinto" did not exist as such. Also the practice of sending imperial princesses to the Ise shrine begins.

Due to increasing influence from Buddhism and mainland Asian thought, codification of the "Japanese" way of religion and laws begins in earnest. This culminates in three major outcomes: It was a liturgy of rules and codifications, primarily focused on regulation of religion, government structure, land codes, criminal and civil law. All priests, monks, and nuns were required to be registered, as were temples.


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The Shinto rites of the imperial line were codified, especially seasonal cycles, lunar calendar rituals, harvest festivals, and purification rites. The creation of the imperial Jingi-kan or Shinto Shrine office was completed. This period hosted many changes to the country, government, and religion. This practice was necessary due to the Shinto belief in the impurity of death and the need to avoid this pollution. New shrines are built and assimilated each time the city is moved.

They identified the statue of Viarocana with Amaterasu the sun goddess as the manifestation of the supreme expression of universality. The priest Gyogi is known for his belief in assimilation of Shinto Kami and Buddhas. Shinto kami are commonly being seen by Buddhist clergy as guardians of manifestation, guardians, or pupils of Buddhas and bodhisattvas.

With the introduction of Buddhism and its rapid adoption by the court in the 6th century, it was necessary to explain the apparent differences between native Japanese beliefs and Buddhist teachings. One Buddhist explanation saw the kami as supernatural beings still caught in the cycle of birth and rebirth reincarnation. The kami are born, live, die, and are reborn like all other beings in the karmic cycle. However, the kami played a special role in protecting Buddhism and allowing its teachings of compassion to flourish. For example, he linked Amaterasu the sun goddess and ancestor of the Imperial family with Dainichi Nyorai , a central manifestation of the Buddhists, whose name means literally "Great Sun Buddha".

In his view, the kami were just Buddhas by another name. There was no theological study that could be called "Shinto" during medieval and early modern Japanese history, and a mixture of Buddhist and popular beliefs proliferated. At that time, there was a renewed interest in "Japanese studies" kokugaku , perhaps as a result of the closed country policy.

The attempt was largely unsuccessful, since as early as the Nihon Shoki parts of the mythology were explicitly borrowed from Taoism doctrines. For example, the co-creator deities Izanami and Izanagi are explicitly compared to yin and yang. However, the attempt did set the stage for the arrival of state Shinto , following the Meiji Restoration c.

Fridell argues that scholars call the period — the "State Shinto period" because, "during these decades, Shinto elements came under a great deal of overt state influence and control as the Japanese government systematically utilized shrine worship as a major force for mobilizing imperial loyalties on behalf of modern nation-building. The Meiji Restoration reasserted the importance of the emperor and the ancient chronicles to establish the Empire of Japan , and in the government attempted to recreate the ancient imperial Shinto by separating shrines from the temples that housed them.

During this period, numerous scholars of kokugaku believed that this national Shinto could be the unifying agent of the country around the Emperor while the process of modernization was undertaken with all possible speed.

Shinto: The Native Religion of Japan

The psychological shock of the Western " Black Ships " and the subsequent collapse of the shogunate convinced many that the nation needed to unify in order to resist being colonized by outside forces. In , a Ministry of Rites jingi-kan was formed and Shinto shrines were divided into twelve levels with the Ise Shrine dedicated to Amaterasu, and thus symbolic of the legitimacy of the Imperial family at the peak and small sanctuaries of humble towns at the base. The following year, the ministry was replaced with a new Ministry of Religion, charged with leading instruction in " shushin " moral courses.

Priests were officially nominated and organized by the state, and they instructed the youth in a form of Shinto theology based on the official dogma of the divinity of Japan's national origins and its Emperor. However, this propaganda did not take, and the unpopular Ministry of Rites was dissolved in the mids. Although the government sponsorship of shrines declined, Japanese nationalism remained closely linked to the legends of foundation and emperors, as developed by the kokugaku scholars. In , the Imperial Rescript on Education was issued, and students were required to ritually recite its oath to "offer yourselves courageously to the State" as well as to protect the Imperial family.

The imperial era came to an abrupt close with the end of World War II , when Americans declared that Japanese nationalism had been informed by something called "State Shinto", which they attempted to define with the Shinto Directive. The meaning of "State Shinto" has been a matter of debate ever since. In the post-war period, numerous " New Religions " cropped up, many of them ostensibly based on Shinto, but on the whole, Japanese religiosity may have decreased.

However, the concept of religion in Japan is a complex one. A survey conducted in the mids indicated that of those participants who claimed not to believe in religion, one-third had a Buddhist or Shinto altar in their home, and about one quarter carried an omamori an amulet to gain protection by kami on their person. Following the war, Shinto shrines tended to focus on helping ordinary people gain better fortunes for themselves through maintaining good relations with their ancestors and other kami.

The number of Japanese citizens identifying their religious beliefs as Shinto has declined a great deal, yet the general practice of Shinto rituals has not decreased in proportion, and many practices have persisted as general cultural beliefs such as ancestor worship , and community festivals matsuri —focusing more on religious practices. The explanation generally given for this anomaly is that, following the demise of State Shinto, modern Shinto has reverted to its more traditional position as a traditional religion which is culturally ingrained, rather than enforced.

In any case, Shinto and its values continue to be a fundamental component of the Japanese cultural mindset. Shinto has also spread abroad to a limited extent, and a few non-Japanese Shinto priests have been ordained.

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A relatively small number of people practice Shinto in America. There are several Shinto shrines in America. Shrines were also established in Taiwan and Korea during the period of Japanese imperial rule , but following the war, they were either destroyed or converted into some other use. Within Shinto, there are a variety of sects which are not a part of Shrine Shinto and the officially defunct State Shinto.

Sect Shinto , like Izumo Taishakyo Mission of Hawaii and Konkokyo , have unique practices which originated alongside older Shinto practices before the classification and separation of Shinto practices of the Meiji era in From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For other uses, see Shinto disambiguation. This section does not cite any sources. Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources.

Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. August Learn how and when to remove this template message. Shinto Shrines of Japan. Ise Grand Shrine —Honden at Naiku. After , it is the apex of the Shinto Shrines.

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Izumo-taisha — haiden and Honden , one of the oldest shrines in Japan. Tsubaki Grand Shrine —Haiden, one of the oldest shrines in Japan. Fushimi Inari-taisha —Main Gate, one of the oldest shrines in Japan. List of Shinto shrines. This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. July Learn how and when to remove this template message. Offerings to the kami. Kamidana home shrine with kagamimochi and Ofuda.

Hamaya at Ikuta Shrine. Shinto sects and schools. A Popular Dictionary of Shinto. A Year in the Life of a Shinto Shrine. Japanese Religion 1st ed. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: A Concept Takes Shape. In some cases, Buddhist priests were in charge of the management of Shinto shrines. From the beginning of the Kamakura period — , theories of Shinto-Buddhist amalgamation were formulated.

The anti-Buddhist Ise or Watarai Shinto appeared in the city of Ise during the 13th century as a reaction against the Shinto-Buddhist amalgamation; it attempted to exclude Buddhist accretions and also tried to formulate a pure Japanese version. In the Tokugawa shogunate was founded in Edo Tokyo , and contact between Shinto and Confucianism was resumed. Scholars tried to interpret Shinto from the standpoint of Neo-Confucianism, emphasizing the unity of Shinto and Confucian teachings.

Schools emerged based on the teachings of the Chinese philosophers Chu Hsi and Wang Yang-ming, and Neo-Confucianism became an official subject of study for warriors. Fukko Restoration Shinto began toward the end of the 17th century. Advocates of this school maintained that the norms of Shinto should not be sought in Buddhist or Confucian interpretations but in the beliefs and life-attitudes of their ancestors as clarified by philological study of the Japanese classics.

Motoori Norinaga — represented this school. His emphasis was on the belief in musubi the mystical power of becoming or of creation , which had been popular in ancient Shinto, and on a this-worldly view of life, which anticipated the eternal progress of the world in ever-changing mutations. These beliefs, together with the inculcation of respect for the Imperial line and the teaching of absolute faith—according to which all problems beyond human capability were turned over to kami—exercised great influence on modern Shinto doctrines.

An Imperial Rescript on Education made it the formal foundation of the state. The divinity of the emperor was stressed, based on Confucian concepts of loyalty to the emperor and the state. During the latter part of the 19th century, new religious movements emerged out of the social confusion and unrest of the people. What these new movements taught differed widely: The new religious movements were based mostly on individual religious experiences and aimed at healing diseases or spiritual salvation.

These sectarian Shinto groups, numbering 13 during the Meiji period — , were stimulated and influenced by Restoration Shinto. They can be classified as follows:. After the Second World War, Shinto lost its status as an official religion, shrine membership was not required and contributions became voluntary.

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The "nationalization" of Yasukuni shrine, home of the remains of war dead, is a current issue. Shinto does not have any philosophical literature or official scripture that can be compared to texts like the Bible or the Qur'an. They were written in AD and , respectively, and are compilations of the oral traditions, mythology and ceremonies of ancient Shinto. But they are also books about the history, topography, and literature of ancient Japan.

Also important is the collection of 50 books known as Engishiki, completed in These deal with the laws governing shrine ceremonies, the organization of religious leadership, and official prayers and liturgies. At the core of Shinto are beliefs in the mysterious creating and harmonizing power musubi of kami and in the truthful way makoto of kami. The nature of kami cannot be fully explained in words, because kami transcends the cognitive faculty of man. Devoted followers, however, are able to understand kami through faith and usually recognize various kami in polytheistic form.

The kami began as the mysterious forces of nature associated primarily with permanent features in the landscape, such as unusual mountains, rocky cliffs, caves, springs, trees and stones. Many folk tales evolved around these holy places, which often refer to animal possession and chiefly involve foxes, badgers, dogs and cats betwitching people.

Celestial bodies play only incidental roles as Shinto kami. Today, parishioners of a shrine believe in their tutelary kami as the source of human life and existence. Each kami has a divine personality and responds to truthful prayers. The kami also reveals makoto to people and guides them to live in accordance with it. In traditional Japanese thought, truth manifests itself in empirical existence and undergoes transformation in infinite varieties in time and space.

In Shinto all the deities are said to cooperate with one another, and life lived in accordance with a kami's will is believed to produce a mystical power that gains the protection, cooperation, and approval of all the particular kami. Shinto holds a generally positive view of human nature. A common Shinto saying is that "man is kami's child. In actuality, however, this divine nature is seldom revealed in man, which gives rise to the need for purification see Practices, below. Second, it means that daily life is made possible by kami, and, accordingly, the personality and life of people are worthy of respect.

An individual must revere the basic human rights of everyone as well as his own. Shinto is described as a religion of tsunagari "continuity or community". The Japanese, while recognizing each man as an individual personality, do not take him as a solitary being separated from others.

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On the contrary, he is regarded as the bearer of a long, continuous history that comes down from his ancestors and continues in his descendants. He is also considered as a responsible member of various social groups. Motoori Norinaga stated that the human world keeps growing and developing while continuously changing.

Similarly, Japanese mythology speaks of an eternity of history in the divine edict of Amaterasu. In its view of history, Shinto adheres to the cyclical approach, according to which there is a constant recurrence of historical patterns. Shinto does not have the concept of the "last day": From the viewpoint of finite individuals, Shintoists also stress naka-ima "middle present" , which repeatedly appears in the Imperial edicts of the 8th century.

According to this point of view, the present moment is the very center in the middle of all conceivable times. In order to participate directly in the eternal development of the world, it is required of Shintoists to live fully each moment of life, making it as worthy as possible. Historically, the Shinto beliefs and rituals of each local community has played an important role in harmonizing different elements and powers. After the Meiji Restoration , Shinto was used as a means of spiritually unifying the people during repeated wars.

Since the end of World War II, the age-old desire for peace has been reemphasized. Shinto ceremonies are designed to appeal to the kami for benevolent treatment and protection and consist of abstinence imi , offerings, prayers and purification harae. Purification, by washing with water, symbolically removes the dust and impurities that cover one's inner mind.

A traditional Japanese home has two family altars: Pure Shinto families, however, will have all ceremonies and services in Shinto style. Shinto does not have weekly religious services.