Shintoism

Shintoism or Shinto (神道 Shintō or kami-no-michi) is the traditional religion of Japan that focuses on ritual practices to be carried out diligently to establish a connection between present-day Japan and its ancient past. Classified as an East Asian religion by scholars of religion, its practitioners often regard it as Japan’s indigenous religion and as a nature religion. Scholars sometimes call its practitioners Shintoists, although adherents rarely use that term themselves. There is no central authority in control of the movement and much diversity exists among practitioners.

 

Shintoism practices were first recorded and codified in the written historical records of the Kojiki and Nihon Shoki in the 8th century. Still, these earliest Japanese writings do not refer to a unified religion, but rather to a collection of native beliefs and mythology. Shintoism today is the religion of public shrines devoted to the worship of a multitude of “spirits“, “essences” (kami), suited to various purposes such as war memorials and harvest festivals, and applies as well to various sectarian organizations.

Amaterasu emerges from the Heavenly Rock Cave (Shunsai Toshimasa, 1887)

Japanese Mythology

Japanese Mythology Japanese mythology is a collection of traditional stories, folktales, and beliefs that emerged in the islands of the Japanese Archipelago. Shinto and Buddhist traditions are the cornerstones of Japanese mythology. The history of thousands of years of contact with China, Korea, Ainu, and Okinawan myths are also key influences in Japanese mythology. Japanese...

Bridge River Japan Shinto Boats Travel Landmark

State Shinto

State Shinto State Shintō (国家神道 or 國家神道, Kokka Shintō) describes Imperial Japan‘s ideological use of the native folk traditions of Shintoism, . The state strongly encouraged Shinto practices to emphasize the Emperor as a divine being, which was exercised through control of shrine finances and training regimes for priests. The State Shinto ideology emerged at the...

Page from a copy of the Nihon Shoki, early Heian period

Nihon Shoki

Nihon Shoki The Nihon Shoki (日本書紀), sometimes translated as The Chronicles of Japan, is the second-oldest book of classical Japanese history. The book is also called the Nihongi (日本紀, “Japanese Chronicles”). It is more elaborate and detailed than the Kojiki, the oldest, and has proven to be an important tool for historians and archaeologists as it includes the most...

Susanoo and Orochi in Izumo-ryū kagura

Kagura

Kagura Kagura (神楽 (かぐら), “god-entertainment”) is a specific type of Shinto ritual ceremonial dance. Once strictly a ceremonial art derived from kami’gakari (神懸 (かみがかり), “oracular divinification”), kagura has evolved in many directions over the span of more than a millennium. Today, it is very much a living tradition, with rituals tied to the rhythms of the agricultural calendar,...

Torii Shrine Sea Itsukushima Shinto Shrine God

Shinto Sects and Schools

Shinto Sects and Schools Shinto (神道, shintō), the folk religion of Japan, developed a diversity of schools and sects, outbranching from the original Ko-Shintō (ancient Shintō) since Buddhism was introduced into Japan in the sixth century. Early period schools and groups The main Shinto schools with traditions traceable to early periods, according to authoritative published...

Headquarters of Reiyū-kai.

Japanese New Religions

Japanese New Religions Japanese new religions are new religious movements established in Japan. In Japanese, they are called shinshūkyō (新宗教) or shinkō shūkyō (新興宗教). Japanese scholars classify all religious organizations founded since the middle of the 19th century as “new religions”; thus, the term refers to a great diversity and number of organizations....

Kasuga-taisha—Middle gate and hall, World Heritage Site and one of the National Treasures of Japan

Shinto

Shinto or Shintoism Shinto (神道 Shintō or Shintoism or kami-no-michi) is the traditional religion of Japan that focuses on ritual practices to be carried out diligently to establish a connection between present-day Japan and its ancient past. Classified as an East Asian religion by scholars of religion, its practitioners often regard it as Japan’s indigenous religion and as a nature...

Shinto Music

Shinto Music

What is Shinto Music? Shinto music is the ceremonial and festive music of Shinto (神道), the native religion of Japan. Its origin myth is the erotic dance of Ame-no-Uzume-no-Mikoto which lured Amaterasu from her cave. Kagura Kagura (神楽) or ‘entertainment of the gods’ includes music, dance and poetry and comprises mi-kagura of the court, o-kagura of major shrines such as Ise Jingū, and village sato-kagura....

From left to right: Hotei, Jurōjin, Fukurokuju, Bishamonten, Benzaiten, Daikokuten, Ebisu

List of Japanese Deities

List of Japanese Deities This is a list of divinities native to Japanese beliefs and religious traditions. Many of these are from Shinto, while others were imported via Buddhism or Taoism and “integrated” into Japanese mythology and folklore. Kami, shin, or, archaically, jin (神) is defined in English as “god“, “spirit“, or “spiritual essence”, all these terms meaning “the energy...

Kami

What is Kami?

What is Kami? Kami (神) are the spirits or phenomena that are worshipped in the religion of Shinto. They can be elements of the landscape, forces of nature, as well as beings and the qualities that these beings express; they can also be the spirits of venerated dead persons. Many...

Wooden Plaque Worship Wish Religion Wooden Japan

Shinto Holy Books

Shinto Holy Books Shinto has historical accounts of the formation of the world and the coming of the kami to Japan, providing both an historical and spiritual basis for Shintoism. The first and still the most important major accounts of Shinto cosmogony are the Kojiki (‘Records of Ancient Matters’), committed...

Torii Gate Japan Fushimi Inari Torii Kyoto Shrine

A Prayer From The Shinto Religion

A Prayer from the Shinto religion Shinto (神道 Shintō or Shintoism or kami-no-michi) is the traditional religion of Japan that focuses on ritual practices to be carried out diligently to establish a connection between present-day Japan and its ancient past. Classified as an East Asian religion by scholars of religion, its practitioners often regard it as Japan’s indigenous...

Shinto rituals begin with a process of purification, often involving the washing of the hands and mouth at the temizu basin; this example is at Itsukushima Jinja.

Shinto Concept of Sin

Shinto Concept of Sin In Shinto, there is no concept of original sin or karma. But ancient Japanese considered all unhappy or unfortunate incidents, such as diseases or natural hazards, as sins. Yet, they were not the cause in the individual, but in external factors. And they considered sin to...

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