The Shinto Religion The Shinto religion is an ancient Japanese religion. It started around 500 BCE. The Shinto name was originally from the Chinese words “shin tao” which means “The Way of the Gods”(Reader 23). During that time it was the Yamato dynasty and its origins were to the imperial family. The Shinto religion comes from a creation story. It tells about the lives and history of the Kami which is translated as god or gods. There was a divine couple, named “Izanagi-no-mikoto and Izanami-no-mikoto, who gave birth to the Japanese Islands. Their children became the deities of the various Japanese clans”(website).
According the research I conducted about 84% of the Japanese population follow two religions, both Shinto and Buddhism. Unlike most religions, Shinto does not have a completely developed theology. It does not have a moral code like many religions such as Christianity. They generally follow the Confusion Values for their moral code. They have religions texts that discuss aspects of life and afterlife called the “High Plain of Heaven” and the “Dark Land”, but not very many details are given about afterlife. In the Shinto religion, ancestors are deeply worshipped”(website).
All human life and human nature is considered scared and all is considered as “Kami’s child”(website). Some characteristics of Shinto are the great love and reverence for nature. Kami are not deities in a normal western sense, they are closely related to humanity. The lack of what happens after death is a continued debate even in today’s present time. Unlike other religions one does not need to do anything to be considered a Shintoist. If a child is born in Japan his or her name is added to a list the local shrine keeps. Worship to a shrine if a very simple procedure.
The person who plans to go to the shrine will “take a morning bath, put on clean clothes, perform his morning devotions before the god-shelf and report his plan to go to a shrine”(Bunce, 120). Before the person reaches the shrine he will have passed under a torii and be will have purification and a barrier to entrance if he has any cuts, aliments, or other defilements, the shrine must not be polluted by blood or disease. When he enters the shrine “he will remove hats, gloves, coat and scarf and facing the main part of the shrine he will bow, put a coin in the ffering box, clap his hands twice and pause with bowed head in an attitude of a prayer”(Bunce, 120). There are four affirmations in Shinto: Tradition and family, Love of Nature, Physical Cleanliness and Matsurei. There are four forms of Shinto today. The first one is called Koshitsu Shinto which translates to meaning the Shinto of the imperial house. This form of Shinto the rituals are carried out by the emperor, who is considered to be divine. Jinja Shinto is translates as shrine Shinto, this is the largest Shinto group. It is the original form of the religion.
Shrines in Japan are members of a group called Jinja Honcho, the Association of Shinto Shrines. The third form of Shinto is called Kyoha Shinto or Shuha Shinto. This consists of 13 sects that were founded by people that have their own sect of beliefs and doctrines. The final form of Shinto is called Minzoku Shinto or Folk Shinto. It is seen in rural practices and rituals such as by the sides of the road or agriculture rituals by individual families. The Shinto religion tolerates all other religions and accepts other practices. It is common for a believer to pay respects to other religions such as Buddhism”(website). My impression of the Shinto religion is that is closely relates to Hinduism. When it comes to worshiping people as gods and worshiping aspects of nature is similar in both religions. Many gods and goddess in Hinduism is set to specific type such as nature, family, children, women and so on. It also is similar in the fact that it accepts others religions and is tolerate that one does not have to be Shinto or Hindu. I believe that this religion fits well with the Japanese culture due to their values and lifestyle.
The Japanese believe in cleanliness and order and being part of a group and this religion helps incorporate all of those aspects in one. This religion is not a religion that requires a large amount of time dedicated to it which helps to once again fit very well into a very busy Japanese lifestyle of school, work, and social groups. I believe that the Shinto religion is an uncomplicated easy to follow and understand religion. It is a religion that cannot be interrupted numerous different ways. It’s easy to understand and respect people and nature, family, and ancestors.
In conclusion, the Shinto religion is a very old and very practiced religion in Japan and I believe that it will continue to grow and continue to be practiced in the future of Japan. This religion ties in very easily with the rest of the culture. Works Cited Bunce, William. Religions in Japan: Buddhism, Shinto, Christianity. Tokyo, Japan. Charles E. Tuttle Company Inc. Reader, Ian. Religion in Contemporary Japan. Honolulu, Hawaii. University of Hawaii Press. 1991. Wikipedia. 14 November 2006. Wikimedia Foundation Inc. November 14, 2006. http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/shinto