Shinto - Japan's Indigenous Religion

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Shinto: Japan's Indigenous Religion

Shinto is a religion that originated in Japan. Shintoists consider it to be Japan's indigenous religion and a religion of nature. Scholars sometimes call its practitioners "Shintoists," but practitioners rarely use the term. Shinto worship is generally considered a peaceful, natural religion, and aims to maintain a harmonious relationship with nature and all living things.

An Ancient Religion with Rites and Ceremonies

Shinto is an ancient religion with many different rites and ceremonies. It is a form of worship that honors the kami, or spirit beings, that dwell within us. Shinto rituals and ceremonies are performed by priests. Priests may be male or female and can marry or have children. They are assisted in rituals by younger women called "miko." Miko are often the daughters of priests. Other art forms associated with Shinto include shrine architecture, the Noh theater, calligraphy, court music, and other arts.

A Global Presence

Shinto is not limited to Japan, and it has been adopted by other cultures as well. Many people practice Shinto around the world. A Yahoo Groups list dedicated to Shinto was established in 2000 and has about 1,000 members. Now that list is no longer active, but there are many other communities, ranging from six to 10,000 members, on several social media and virtual worlds.

The Influence of State Shinto and Separation

Japanese nationalist leadership sought to remove all Buddhist influence from kami worship and created State Shinto, which some historians regard as the origin of Shinto as a separate religion. Shinto was exported to other countries of East Asia during the early 20th century, and after World War II, Shinto became separated from the Japanese state.

A Complex and Diverse Religion

Shinto dates back to ancient Japan and has evolved into a complex and diverse religion. It includes several practices, attitudes, and institutions, and is based on the seasons and the Japanese land. Shinto worshippers recognize a divine spirit in nature and celebrate the highlights of each season. It also involves purification rites and customs designed to defeat the polluting effect of death.

Honoring Kami and Embracing the Present

Shinto has many faces, from simple household altars to elaborate shrines. Shinto aims to honor kami, the gods of nature, as well as the emperor. Shinto is a life-affirming religion, and a profound part of the Japanese culture. Shinto emphasizes the importance of the present moment. In order to honor the kami, it is essential to live in the present.

The Worship of Kami

The most important belief in Shinto is the worship of kami, or god-like spirits found throughout the natural world. These supernatural entities are difficult to define, but are often referred to as divine beings or gods. In Japanese culture, eight million kami are believed to exist. Shinto worshipers pray to these spirits, who in turn influence both the natural and human world. Thousands of shrines and priests are dedicated to this faith.

Shinto as a Powerful Symbol

Shinto was a major influence on Japan until the end of World War II. It was considered the state religion, and Shinto was used as a powerful symbol to unite the nation during wartime.

September 12, 2022


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