Shinto
Overview
or Shintoism, also kami-no-michi, is the indigenous spirituality of Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

 and the Japanese people. It is a set of practices, to be carried out diligently, to establish a connection between present day Japan and its ancient past. Shinto practices were first recorded and codified in the written historical records of the Kojiki
Kojiki
is the oldest extant chronicle in Japan, dating from the early 8th century and composed by Ō no Yasumaro at the request of Empress Gemmei. The Kojiki is a collection of myths concerning the origin of the four home islands of Japan, and the Kami...

and Nihon Shoki
Nihon Shoki
The , sometimes translated as The Chronicles of Japan, is the second oldest book of classical Japanese history. 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 complete extant historical...

in the 8th century. Still, these earliest Japanese writings do not refer to a unified "Shinto religion", but rather to disorganized folklore, history, and mythology.
Encyclopedia
or Shintoism, also kami-no-michi, is the indigenous spirituality of Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

 and the Japanese people. It is a set of practices, to be carried out diligently, to establish a connection between present day Japan and its ancient past. Shinto practices were first recorded and codified in the written historical records of the Kojiki
Kojiki
is the oldest extant chronicle in Japan, dating from the early 8th century and composed by Ō no Yasumaro at the request of Empress Gemmei. The Kojiki is a collection of myths concerning the origin of the four home islands of Japan, and the Kami...

and Nihon Shoki
Nihon Shoki
The , sometimes translated as The Chronicles of Japan, is the second oldest book of classical Japanese history. 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 complete extant historical...

in the 8th century. Still, these earliest Japanese writings do not refer to a unified "Shinto religion", but rather to disorganized folklore, history, and mythology. Shinto today is a term that applies to public shrines suited to various purposes such as war memorials, harvest festivals, romance, and historical monuments, as well as various sectarian organizations. Practitioners express their diverse beliefs through a standard language and practice, adopting a similar style in dress and ritual, dating from around the time of the Nara
Nara period
The of the history of Japan covers the years from AD 710 to 794. Empress Gemmei established the capital of Heijō-kyō . Except for 5 years , when the capital was briefly moved again, it remained the capital of Japanese civilization until Emperor Kammu established a new capital, Nagaoka-kyō, in 784...

 and Heian
Heian period
The is the last division of classical Japanese history, running from 794 to 1185. The period is named after the capital city of Heian-kyō, or modern Kyōto. It is the period in Japanese history when Buddhism, Taoism and other Chinese influences were at their height...

 Periods.

The word Shinto ("Way of the Gods") was adopted from the written Chinese (神道), combining two kanji
Kanji
Kanji are the adopted logographic Chinese characters hanzi that are used in the modern Japanese writing system along with hiragana , katakana , Indo Arabic numerals, and the occasional use of the Latin alphabet...

: , meaning "spirit" or kami; and , meaning a philosophical path or study (from the Chinese
Chinese language
The Chinese language is a language or language family consisting of varieties which are mutually intelligible to varying degrees. Originally the indigenous languages spoken by the Han Chinese in China, it forms one of the branches of Sino-Tibetan family of languages...

 word dào
DAO
DAO may refer to:* D-amino acid oxidase, a peroxisomal enzyme.* Data access object, a design pattern used in object-oriented software engineering* De-asphalted oil, a crude oil refinery process stream...

). Kami
Kami
is the Japanese word for the spirits, natural forces, or essence in the Shinto faith. Although the word is sometimes translated as "god" or "deity", some Shinto scholars argue that such a translation can cause a misunderstanding of the term...

are defined in English as "spirits", "essences" or "deities", that are associated with many understood formats; in some cases being human-like, in others being animistic, and others being associated with more abstract "natural" forces in the world (mountains, rivers, lightning, wind, waves, trees, rocks). Kami and people are not separate; they exist within the same world and share its interrelated complexity.

There are currently 119 million observers of Shinto in Japan, although a person who practices any manner of Shinto rituals may be so counted. The vast majority of Japanese people who take part in Shinto rituals also practice Buddhist
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

 ancestor worship. However, unlike many monotheistic religious practices, Shinto and Buddhism typically do not require professing faith to be a believer or a practitioner, and as such it is difficult to query for exact figures based on self-identification of belief within Japan. Due to the syncretic nature of Shinto and Buddhism, most "life" events are handled by Shinto and "death" or "afterlife" events are handled by Buddhism—for example, it is typical in Japan to register or celebrate a birth at a Shinto shrine, while funeral arrangements are generally dictated by Buddhist tradition—although the division is not exclusive.

Creation myth

The creation myth of Shinto is recorded in the ca. 712 Kojiki
Kojiki
is the oldest extant chronicle in Japan, dating from the early 8th century and composed by Ō no Yasumaro at the request of Empress Gemmei. The Kojiki is a collection of myths concerning the origin of the four home islands of Japan, and the Kami...

. It is a depiction of the events leading up to and including the creation of the Japanese Islands. There are many translations of the story with variations of complexity.
  • Izanagi-no-Mikoto (male) and Izanami-no-Mikoto (female) were called by all the myriad gods and asked to help each other to create a new land which was to become Japan.
  • They were given a spear with which they stirred the water, and when removed water dripped from the end, an island was created in the great nothingness.
  • They lived on this island, and created a palace and within was a large pole.
  • When they wished to bear offspring, they performed a ritual each rounding a pole, male to the left and female to the right, the female greeting the male first.
  • They had 2 children (islands) which turned out badly and they cast them out. They decided that the ritual had been done incorrectly the first time.
  • They repeated the ritual but according to the correct laws of nature, the male spoke first.
  • They then gave birth to the 8 perfect islands of the Japanese archipelago.
  • After the islands, they gave birth to the other Kami, Izanami-no-Mikoto dies and Izanagi-no-Mikoto tries to revive her.
  • His attempts to deny the laws of life and death have bad consequences.


The Japanese islands are to be considered a paradise as they were directly created by the gods for the Japanese people, and were ordained by the higher spirits to be created into the Japanese empire. Shinto is the fundamental connection between the power and beauty of nature (the land) and the Japanese people. It is the manifestation of a path to understanding the institution of divine power.

Kami

Shinto teaches that everything contains a . Shinto's spirits are collectively called , an expression literally meaning "eight million kami", but interpreted as meaning "myriad", although it can be translated as "many Kami". There is a phonetic variation kamu and a similar word among Ainu kamui
Kamui
Kamuy are divine spirits in the mythology of the Japanese Ainu culture.Kamui may also refer to:-People and groups:* Kamui Fujiwara , Japanese game designer & cartoonist...

. There is an analog "mi-koto".

Kami
Kami
is the Japanese word for the spirits, natural forces, or essence in the Shinto faith. Although the word is sometimes translated as "god" or "deity", some Shinto scholars argue that such a translation can cause a misunderstanding of the term...

 are a difficult concept to translate as there is no direct similar construct in English. Kami is generally accepted to describe the innate supernatural force that is above the actions of man, the realm of the sacred, and is inclusive of gods, spirit figures, and human ancestors. All mythological creatures of the Japanese cultural tradition, of the Buddhistic tradition, Christian God
God in Christianity
In Christianity, God is the eternal being that created and preserves the universe. God is believed by most Christians to be immanent , while others believe the plan of redemption show he will be immanent later...

, Hindu gods
Hindu deities
Within Hinduism a large number of personal gods are worshipped as murtis. These beings are either aspects of the supreme Brahman, Avatars of the supreme being, or significantly powerful entities known as devas. The exact nature of belief in regards to each deity varies between differing Hindu...

, Islamic
God in Islam
In Islamic theology, God is the all-powerful and all-knowing creator, sustainer, ordainer, and judge of the universe. Islam puts a heavy emphasis on the conceptualization of God as strictly singular . God is unique and inherently One , all-merciful and omnipotent. According to the Islamic...

 Allah
Allah
Allah is a word for God used in the context of Islam. In Arabic, the word means simply "God". It is used primarily by Muslims and Bahá'ís, and often, albeit not exclusively, used by Arabic-speaking Eastern Catholic Christians, Maltese Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox Christians, Mizrahi Jews and...

, various angels and demons of all faiths among others are considered Kami for the purpose of Shinto faith.

The kami reside in all things, but certain places are designated for the interface of people and kami (the common world and the sacred): sacred nature, shrines, and kamidana. There are natural places considered to have an unusually sacred spirit about them, and are objects of worship. They are frequently mountains, trees, unusual rocks, rivers, waterfalls, and other natural edifices. In most cases they are on or near a shrine grounds. The shrine is a building built in which to house the kami, with a separation from the "ordinary" world through sacred space with defined features based on the age and lineage of the shrine. The kamidana is a home shrine (placed on a wall in the home) that is a "kami residence" that acts as a substitute for a large shrine on a daily basis. In each case the object of worship is considered a sacred space inside which the kami spirit actually dwells, being treated with the utmost respect and deference.

Types of Shinto

To distinguish between these different focuses of emphasis within Shinto, many feel it is important to separate Shinto into different types of Shinto expression. is the most prevalent of the Shinto types. It has always been a part of Japan's history and constitutes the main current of Shinto tradition. Shrine Shinto is associated in the popular imagination with summer festivals, good luck charms, making wishes, holding groundbreaking ceremonies, and showing support for the nation of Japan. Before the Meiji Restoration, shrines were disorganized institutions usually attached to Buddhist temples, but they were claimed by the government during the imperial period for patriotic use and systematized. The successor to the imperial organization, the Association of Shinto Shrines
Association of Shinto Shrines
The is a religious administrative organization that oversees about 80,000 Shinto shrines in Japan. These shrines take the Ise Shrine as the foundation of their belief.The Association has five major activities:...

, oversees about 80,000 shrines nationwide. are the religious rites performed exclusively by the Imperial Family at the three shrines on the Imperial grounds, including the Ancestral Spirits Sanctuary (Kōrei-den) and the Sanctuary of the Kami (Shin-den). includes the numerous but fragmented folk beliefs in deities and spirits. Practices include divination
Divination
Divination is the attempt to gain insight into a question or situation by way of an occultic standardized process or ritual...

, spirit possession, and shamanic healing. Some of their practices come from Taoism
Taoism
Taoism refers to a philosophical or religious tradition in which the basic concept is to establish harmony with the Tao , which is the mechanism of everything that exists...

, Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

, or Confucianism
Confucianism
Confucianism is a Chinese ethical and philosophical system developed from the teachings of the Chinese philosopher Confucius . Confucianism originated as an "ethical-sociopolitical teaching" during the Spring and Autumn Period, but later developed metaphysical and cosmological elements in the Han...

, but most come from ancient local traditions. is a legal designation originally created in the 1890s to separate government-owned shrines from local religious practices. They do not have shrines, but conduct religious activities in meeting halls. Shinto sects include the mountain-worship sects, who focus on worshipping mountains like Mount Fuji
Mount Fuji
is the highest mountain in Japan at . An active stratovolcano that last erupted in 1707–08, Mount Fuji lies about south-west of Tokyo, and can be seen from there on a clear day. Mount Fuji's exceptionally symmetrical cone is a well-known symbol of Japan and it is frequently depicted in art and...

, faith-healing
Faith healing
Faith healing is healing through spiritual means. The healing of a person is brought about by religious faith through prayer and/or rituals that, according to adherents, stimulate a divine presence and power toward correcting disease and disability. Belief in divine intervention in illness or...

 sects, purification
Ritual purification
Ritual purification is a feature of many religions. The aim of these rituals is to remove specifically defined uncleanliness prior to a particular type of activity, and especially prior to the worship of a deity...

 sects, Confucian sects, and Revival Shinto sects. The remainder of Sectarian Shinto is New Sect Shinto
New Sect Shintoists
New Sect Shintoists are the members of a Japanese Shintoist grouping. They belong to Sectarian Shinto. The remainder of Sectarian Shinto is Sect Shinto. There are differences between New Sect Shinto groupings. New Sect Shinto consists of numerous organizations. It is influenced by Buddhism and...

. The current groups of Sect Shinto are Kurozumikyo
Kurozumikyo
Kurozumikyō , literally "the Teachings of Kurozumi," is a Japanese New Religion largely derived from Shinto roots and founded in 1846. The founder, a Shinto priest by the name of Kurozumi, claimed to have had in 1814 a divine union with Amaterasu, goddess of the sun and chief goddess in the Shinto...

, Shinto Shuseiha, Izumo Oyashirokyo, Fusokyo, Jikkokyo, Shinshukyo, Shinto Taiseikyo, Ontakekyo, Shinto Taikyo, Misogikyo, Shinrikyo and Konkokyo
Konkokyo
or just Konko, is a new religion of Japanese origin also regarded as a type of Sect Shinto. It is a syncretic, henotheistic and panentheistic religion, which worships God under the name of Tenchi Kane No Kami, the Golden God of Heaven and Earth. Tenchi Kane No Kami is also referred to as Kami, or...

. An association of Sect Shintoists also exists., literally "Old Shinto", is a reconstructed "Shinto from before the time of Buddhism", today based on Ainu and Ryukyuan practices. It continues the Restoration movement begun by Hirata Atsutane
Hirata Atsutane
was a Japanese scholar, conventionally ranked as one of the four great men of kokugaku studies, and one of the most significant theologians of the Shintō religion. His literary name was Ibukinoya.-Life and thought:...

.

All these main types of Shinto and some subtypes have given birth to many and diverse schools and sects since medieval times to the present days. A list of the most relevant can be found at the article Shinto sects and schools
Shinto sects and schools
, the folk religion of Japan, developed a diversity of schools and sects, outbranching from the original Ko Shintō since Buddhism was introduced into Japan in the sixth century.-Early period Shinto schools and groups:...

.

Shrines

The principal worship of kami is done at public shrines or worship at small home shrines called kamidana
Kamidana
Kamidana , is a miniature Shinto shrine found in many Japanese homes. The kamidana is typically placed high on a wall and contains a wide variety of items related to Shinto-style ceremonies, the most prominent of which is the shintai, most commonly in the form of a small circular mirror, though it...

. The public shrine is a building or place that functions as a conduit for kami. A fewer number of shrines are also natural places called mori. The most common of the mori are sacred groves of trees, or mountains, or waterfalls. All shrines are open to the public at some times or throughout the year.

While many of the public shrines are elaborate structures, all are characteristic Japanese architectural styles of different periods depending on their age. Shrines are fronted by a distinctive Japanese gate (torii
Torii
A is a traditional Japanese gate most commonly found at the entrance of or within a Shinto shrine, where it symbolically marks the transition from the profane to the sacred...

) made of two uprights and two crossbars denoting the separation between common space and sacred space. The torii have 20 styles and matching buildings based on the enshrined kami and lineage.

There are a number of symbolic and real barriers that exist between the normal world and the shrine grounds including: statues of protection, gates, fences, ropes, and other delineations of ordinary to sacred space. Usually there will be only one or sometimes two approaches to the Shrine for the public and all will have the torii over the way. In shrine compounds, there are a haiden
Haiden (Shinto)
In Shinto shrine architecture, the is the hall of worship or oratory. It is generally placed in front of the shrine's main sanctuary and often built on a larger scale than the latter. The haiden is often connected to the honden by a heiden, or hall of offerings...

or public hall of worship, heiden
Heiden (Shinto)
A is the part within a Shinto shrine's compound used to house offerings. It normally consists of a connecting section linking the honden to the haiden . If the shrine is built in the so-called Ishi-no-ma-zukuri style, its stone pavement is lower than the floor of the other two rooms, and it is...

or hall of offerings and the honden
Honden
The , is the most sacred building at a Shinto shrine, intended purely for the use of the enshrined kami, usually symbolized by a mirror or sometimes by a statue. The building is normally in the rear of the shrine and closed to the general public. In front of its usually stands the haiden, or...

. The innermost precinct of the grounds is the honden or worship hall, which is entered only by the high priest, or worshippers on certain occasions. The honden houses the symbol of the enshrined kami.

The heart of the shrine is periodic rituals, spiritual events in parishioners' lives, and festivals. All of this is organized by priests who are both spiritual conduits and administrators. Shrines are private institutions, and are supported financially by the congregation and visitors. The better-known shrines may have festivals that attract hundreds of thousands, especially in the New Year season.

Well-known shrines

Of the 80,000 Shinto shrines:
  • Atsuta Shrine
    Atsuta Shrine
    is a Shinto shrine traditionally believed to have been established during the reign of Emperor Keikō located in Atsuta-ku, Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture in Japan. The shrine is familiarly known as Atsuta-Sama or simply as Miya...

    , Nagoya, shrine to the Imperial sword Kusanagi
    Kusanagi
    is a legendary Japanese sword and one of three Imperial Regalia of Japan. It was originally called but its name was later changed to the more popular Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi .-Legends:...

  • Chichibu Shrine
    Chichibu Shrine
    The is an ancient Shinto shrine in the city of Chichibu, Saitama Prefecture, Japan. The shrine is devoted to Yagokoro-omoikane-no-mikoto, Chichibuhiko-no-mikoto, and Ame-no-minaka-nushi-no-kami, and also enshrines Prince Chichibu....

    , Saitama Prefecture
    Saitama Prefecture
    is a prefecture of Japan located in the Kantō region of the island of Honshu. The capital is the city of Saitama.This prefecture is part of the Greater Tokyo Area, and most of Saitama's cities can be described as suburbs of Tokyo, to which a large amount of residents commute each day.- History...

    , dedicated to Omoikane
    Omoikane (Shinto)
    Omoikane is a Shinto god of wisdom and intelligence. His name means "serving one's thoughts."A heavenly deity, identified as a child of Taka-mi-musubi-no-kami, who is always called upon to "ponder" and give good counsel in the deliberations of the heavenly deities. Appears to have descended from...

     and Amenominakanushi
    Amenominakanushi
    In Japanese mythology and Shintoism, Amenominakanushi was the first kami to come into being in the Plain of Heaven as a "solitary kami" . He was acknowledged as one of the zōka sanshin and one of the five kotoamatsukami .Amenominakanushi is found at the very beginning of the Kojiki...

     Okami
  • Heian Jingū
    Heian Jingu
    The is a Shinto shrine located in Kyoto, Japan. The torii before the main gate is one of the largest in Japan. The architecture of the mirrors the stylge and features of the Kyoto Imperial Palace.-History:thumb|right|220px|Lake at Heian Shrine...

    , Kyoto
    Kyoto
    is a city in the central part of the island of Honshū, Japan. It has a population close to 1.5 million. Formerly the imperial capital of Japan, it is now the capital of Kyoto Prefecture, as well as a major part of the Osaka-Kobe-Kyoto metropolitan area.-History:...

    , dedicated to Emperor Kammu
    Emperor Kammu
    was the 50th emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession. Kammu reigned from 781 to 806.-Traditional narrative:Kammu's personal name was . He was the eldest son of Prince Shirakabe , and was born prior to Shirakabe's ascension to the throne...

     and Emperor Kōmei
    Emperor Komei
    was the 121st emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession. Kōmei's reign spanned the years from 1846 through 1867.-Genealogy:Before Kōmei's accession to the Chrysanthemum Throne, his personal name was ;, his title was ....

  • Hikawa Shrine
    Hikawa Shrine
    is a major Shinto shrine in the Omiya district of Saitama. Surrounding the shrine is a large park in which there are many cherry blossom trees, a zoo and a museum....

    , Omiya district
    Omiya-ku, Saitama
    is a ward of Saitama city, Saitama Prefecture, Japan. It is in the Greater Tokyo Area and about 25 km north of central Tokyo. Ōmiya-ku is surrounded by Nishi-ku , Kita-ku , Minuma-ku , Urawa-ku , Chūō-ku , and Sakura-ku of Saitama city.Ōmiya-ku is the most active commercial and business centre in...

  • Hokkaido Shrine
    Hokkaido Shrine
    The is a Shinto shrine located in Sapporo, Japan. Sited in Maruyama Park, Chūō-ku, Sapporo, the Hokkaido Shrine enshrines four kami including the soul of the Emperor Meiji...

    , Sapporo, Hokkaido
  • The Ise Jingu, Ise, Mie
    Ise, Mie
    , formerly called Ujiyamada , is a city located in eastern Mie Prefecture, on the island of Honshū, Japan.Ise is home to Ise Grand Shrine, the most sacred Shintō Shrine in Japan, and is thus a very popular destination for tourists. The city has a long-standing nickname—Shinto —that roughly means...

    , dedicated to Amaterasu
    Amaterasu
    , or is apart of the Japanese myth cycle and also a major deity of the Shinto religion. She is the goddess of the sun, but also of the universe. the name Amaterasu derived from Amateru meaning "shining in heaven." The meaning of her whole name, Amaterasu-ōmikami, is "the great August kami who...

     Omikami, also called Jingu
  • The Gassan Hongu, Yamagata
    Yamagata
    -Places in Japan:*Yamagata Prefecture**Yamagata City, the capital city of Yamagata Prefecture**Yamagata Airport , an airport located in Yamagata**Yamagata Shinkansen, one of Shinkansen lines running between Tokyo Station and Shinjo Station...

    , dedicated to Tsukuyomi Okami
  • Itsukushima Shrine
    Itsukushima Shrine
    Itsukushima Shrine is a Shinto shrine on the island of Itsukushima in the city of Hatsukaichi in Hiroshima Prefecture in Japan...

    , Hiroshima Prefecture
    Hiroshima Prefecture
    is a prefecture of Japan located in the Chūgoku region on Honshu island. The capital is the city of Hiroshima.- History :The area around Hiroshima was formerly divided into Bingo Province and Aki Province. This location has been a center of trade and culture since the beginning of Japan's recorded...

    , a World Heritage Site
    World Heritage Site
    A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place that is listed by the UNESCO as of special cultural or physical significance...

     and one of the National Treasures of Japan
    National treasures of Japan
    National Treasures are the most precious of Japan's Tangible Cultural Properties, as determined and designated by the Agency for Cultural Affairs...

  • Iwashimizu Shrine
    Iwashimizu Shrine
    The is a Shinto shrine in the city of Yawata in Kyoto Prefecture, Japan. -History:The shrine's Heian period connections with the Kyoto and the Imperial family date from its founding in 859 when construction on its earliest structures commenced...

    , Yawata, Kyoto
    Yawata, Kyoto
    is a city located in Kyoto, Japan.As of May 31, 2011, the city has an estimated population of 74,150, with 31,120 households and the density of 3,042.68 persons per km². The total area is 24.37 km²....

  • Izumo Taisha
    Izumo Taisha
    is one of the most ancient and important Shinto shrines in Japan. No record gives the date of establishment. Located in Izumo, Shimane Prefecture, it is home to two major festivals. It is dedicated to the god Ōkuninushi , famous as the Shinto deity of marriage.A style of architecture,...

    , Izumo
    Izumo, Shimane
    is a city located in Shimane, Japan. Izumo is known for Izumo soba noodles and the Izumo Taisha Shinto shrine.-Demographics:The modern city was founded on November 3, 1941....

  • Kasuga Shrine
    Kasuga Shrine
    is a Shinto shrine in the city of Nara, in Nara Prefecture, Japan. Established in 768 AD and rebuilt several times over the centuries, it is the shrine of the Fujiwara family...

    , Nara
    Nara, Nara
    is the capital city of Nara Prefecture in the Kansai region of Japan. The city occupies the northern part of Nara Prefecture, directly bordering Kyoto Prefecture...

  • Katori Shrine
    Katori Shrine
    The is a Shintō shrine in the city of Katori in Chiba Prefecture, Japan. It is the ichinomiya of former Shimōsa Province, and is the head shrine of the approximately 400 Katori shrines around the country ....

    , Chiba Prefecture
    Chiba Prefecture
    is a prefecture of Japan located in the Kantō region and the Greater Tokyo Area. Its capital is Chiba City.- History :Chiba Prefecture was established on June 15, 1873 with the merger of Kisarazu Prefecture and Inba Prefecture...

    , dedicated to Futsunushi
    Futsunushi
    In Japanese mythology, Futsunushi is a kami of swords and lightning. He is a general of Amaterasu....

  • Kumano Shrines, Wakayama Prefecture
    Wakayama Prefecture
    is a prefecture of Japan located on the Kii Peninsula in the Kansai region on Honshū island. The capital is the city of Wakayama.- History :Present-day Wakayama is mostly the western part of the province of Kii.- 1953 Wakayama Prefecture flood disaster :...

  • Meiji Shrine
    Meiji Shrine
    ', located in Shibuya, Tokyo, is the Shinto shrine that is dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shōken.-History:...

    , Tokyo
    Tokyo
    , ; officially , is one of the 47 prefectures of Japan. Tokyo is the capital of Japan, the center of the Greater Tokyo Area, and the largest metropolitan area of Japan. It is the seat of the Japanese government and the Imperial Palace, and the home of the Japanese Imperial Family...

    , the shrine of Emperor Meiji
    Emperor Meiji
    The or was the 122nd emperor of Japan according to the traditional order of succession, reigning from 3 February 1867 until his death...

  • Nikkō Tōshō-gū
    Nikko Tosho-gu
    is a Shinto shrine located in Nikkō, Tochigi Prefecture, Japan. It is part of the "Shrines and Temples of Nikkō", a UNESCO World Heritage Site.Tōshō-gū is dedicated to Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder of the Tokugawa shogunate. Initially built in 1617, during the Edo period, while Ieyasu's son Hidetada...

    , Nikkō
    Nikko, Tochigi
    is a city in the mountains of Tochigi Prefecture, Japan. Approximately 140 km north of Tokyo and 35 km west of Utsunomiya, the capital of Tochigi Prefecture, it is a popular destination for Japanese and international tourists...

    , Tochigi Prefecture
    Tochigi Prefecture
    is a prefecture located in the Kantō region on the island of Honshū, Japan. The capital is the city of Utsunomiya.Nikkō, whose ancient Shintō shrines and Buddhist temples UNESCO has recognized by naming them a World Heritage Site, is in this prefecture...

  • Ōsaki Hachiman Shrine, Miyagi Prefecture
    Miyagi Prefecture
    is a prefecture of Japan in the Tōhoku Region on Honshu island. The capital is Sendai.- History :Miyagi Prefecture was formerly part of the province of Mutsu. Mutsu Province, on northern Honshu, was one of the last provinces to be formed as land was taken from the indigenous Emishi, and became the...

  • Sendai Tōshō-gū
    Sendai Tōshō-gū
    is the memorial shrine of Tokugawa Ieyasu in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan. Five of its buildings, all dating to 1654, have been designated Important Cultural Properties. The torii and gates were damaged in the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami....

    , Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture
  • Shiogama Shrine, Miyagi Prefecture
  • Three Palace Sanctuaries
    Three Palace Sanctuaries
    The precincts of the Japanese Imperial Palace in Tokyo include structures known as the Three Palace Sanctuaries or Kyuchusanden . They are used in imperial religious ceremonies, including weddings and coronations. The three sanctuaries are:...

    , Kōkyo
    Kokyo
    is the main residence of the Emperor of Japan. It is a large park-like area located in the Chiyoda area of Tokyo close to Tokyo Station and contains several buildings including the main palace , the emperor left Kyoto Imperial Palace for Tokyo...

     Imperial Palace, Tokyo
    Tokyo
    , ; officially , is one of the 47 prefectures of Japan. Tokyo is the capital of Japan, the center of the Greater Tokyo Area, and the largest metropolitan area of Japan. It is the seat of the Japanese government and the Imperial Palace, and the home of the Japanese Imperial Family...

  • Tsurugaoka Hachiman Shrine
    Tsurugaoka Hachiman Shrine
    is the most important Shinto shrine in the city of Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan. The shrine is at the geographical and cultural center of the city of Kamakura, which has largely grown around it....

    , Kamakura, Kanagawa
    Kamakura, Kanagawa
    is a city located in Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan, about south-south-west of Tokyo. It used to be also called .Although Kamakura proper is today rather small, it is often described in history books as a former de facto capital of Japan as the seat of the Shogunate and of the Regency during the...

  • Usa Hachiman Shrine, Ōita Prefecture
    Oita Prefecture
    is a prefecture of Japan on Kyūshū Island. The prefectural capital is the city of Ōita.- History :Around the 6th century Kyushu consisted of four regions: Tsukushi-no-kuni 筑紫国, Hi-no-kuni 肥国, and Toyo no kuni...

    , dedicated to Hachiman
    Hachiman
    In Japanese mythology, is the Japanese syncretic god of archery and war, incorporating elements from both Shinto and Buddhism. Although often called the god of war, he is more correctly defined as the tutelary god of warriors. He is also divine protector of Japan and the Japanese people...

    no-Mikoto
  • Yasukuni Shrine
    Yasukuni Shrine
    is a Shinto shrine located in Chiyoda, Tokyo, Japan. It is dedicated to the soldiers and others who died fighting on behalf of the Emperor of Japan. Currently, its Symbolic Registry of Divinities lists the names of over 2,466,000 enshrined men and women whose lives were dedicated to the service of...

     (Tokyo), a shrine dedicated to Japan's war dead.

Impurity

Shinto teaches that certain deeds create a kind of ritual impurity
Ritual purification
Ritual purification is a feature of many religions. The aim of these rituals is to remove specifically defined uncleanliness prior to a particular type of activity, and especially prior to the worship of a deity...

 that one should want cleansed for one's own peace of mind and good fortune rather than because impurity is wrong. Wrong deeds are called , which is opposed to . Normal days are called "day" (ke), and festive days are called "sunny" or, simply, "good" (hare).

Those who are killed without being shown gratitude for their sacrifice will hold a (grudge) and become powerful and evil kami who seek revenge (aragami). Additionally, if anyone is injured on the grounds of a shrine, the area must be ritually purified.

Purification — Harai or Oharai

Purification
Ritual purification
Ritual purification is a feature of many religions. The aim of these rituals is to remove specifically defined uncleanliness prior to a particular type of activity, and especially prior to the worship of a deity...

 rites are a vital part of Shinto. They are done on a daily, weekly, seasonal, lunar, and annual basis. These rituals are the lifeblood of the practice of Shinto. Such ceremonies have also been adapted to modern life. New buildings made in Japan are frequently blessed
Blessing
A blessing, is the infusion of something with holiness, spiritual redemption, divine will, or one's hope or approval.- Etymology and Germanic paganism :...

 by a Shinto priest called during the groundbreaking ceremony (Jichinsai 地鎮祭), and many cars made in Japan have been blessed as part of the assembly process. Moreover, many Japanese businesses built outside Japan have had ceremonies performed by a Shinto priest, with occasionally an annual visitation by the priest to re-purify.

Afterlife

It is common for families to participate in ceremonies for children at a shrine, yet have a Buddhist funeral
Japanese funeral
A Japanese funeral A Japanese funeral A Japanese funeral (葬儀 sōgi or 葬式 sōshiki)includes a wake, the cremation of the deceased, a burial in a family grave, and a periodic memorial service. According to 2007 statistics, 99.81% of deceased Japanese are cremated...

 at the time of death. The Japanese conception of the afterlife, however, can sometimes take a distinctly non-Buddhist turn. In old Japanese legends, it is often claimed that the dead go to a place called yomi (黄泉), a gloomy underground realm with a river separating the living from the dead. This yomi is very close to the Greek Hades
Hades
Hades , Hadēs, originally , Haidēs or , Aidēs , meaning "the unseen") was the ancient Greek god of the underworld. The genitive , Haidou, was an elision to denote locality: "[the house/dominion] of Hades". Eventually, the nominative came to designate the abode of the dead.In Greek mythology, Hades...

.

Unlike many religions, one does not need to publicly profess belief in Shinto to be a believer. Whenever a child is born in Japan, a local Shinto shrine adds the child's name to a list kept at the shrine and declares him or her a . After death an ujiko becomes a . One may choose to have one's name added to another list when moving and then be listed at both places. Names can be added to the list without consent and regardless of the beliefs of the person added to the list. However, this is not considered an imposition of belief, but a sign of being welcomed by the local kami, with the promise of addition to the pantheon of kami after death.

Omairi — Visiting a Shrine

Any person may visit a shrine and one need not be "Shinto" to do this.
Typically there are a few basic steps to visiting a shrine.
  • Approach the entrance and bow respectfully before entering.
  • If there is a hand washing basin provided, perform Temizu; wash your left hand first, then your right, then rinse your mouth, (do not spit back into the water supply or drink), and sometimes your feet as well if needed. Tip the ladle backwards to wash the ladle handle with the remaining water and place opening down on the rack where you found it.
  • Approach the shrine; if there is a bell, you may ring the bell prior to prayers; if there is a box for donations, leave a modest one in relation to your means; normally there will be a sequence of bows, (commonly 2) and then claps (commonly 2), hold the second and put your hands together in front of your heart for a closing bow after your prayers.
  • There is variation in how this basic visitation may go, and depending on the time of year and holidays there may also be other rituals attached to visitations.
  • Be sincere and respectful to the staff and other visitors, and if at all possible, be quiet. Do be aware that there are places one should not go on the shrine grounds. Do not wear shoes inside any buildings.

Harai (or Harae)

The rite of ritual purification, usually done daily at a shrine and is a ceremony of offerings and prayers of several forms. Shinsen (food offerings of fruit, fish, vegetables), Tamagushi (Sakaki Tree Branches), Shio (salt), Gohan (rice), Mochi (rice paste), and Sake (rice wine) are all typical offerings. On holidays and other special occasions the inner shrine doors may be opened and special offerings made.

Misogi Harai — Water Purification

Also known as: Misogi Shūhō 禊修法

The practice of purification by ritual use of water while reciting prayers is typically done daily by regular practitioners, and when possible by lay practitioners. There is a defined set of prayers and physical activities that precede and occur during the ritual. This will usually be performed at a shrine, in a natural setting, but can be done anywhere there is clean running water.

The basic performance of this is the hand and mouth washing (Temizu 手水) done at the entrance to a shrine. The more dedicated believer may purify him- or herself by standing beneath a waterfall or performing ritual ablutions
Ritual purification
Ritual purification is a feature of many religions. The aim of these rituals is to remove specifically defined uncleanliness prior to a particular type of activity, and especially prior to the worship of a deity...

 in a river. This practice comes from Shinto history, when the kami Izanagi-no-Mikoto first performed misogi after returning from the land of Yomi, where he was made impure by Izanami-no-Mikoto after her death.

Imi

Another form of ritual cleanliness is avoidance, which means that a taboo
Taboo
A taboo is a strong social prohibition relating to any area of human activity or social custom that is sacred and or forbidden based on moral judgment, religious beliefs and or scientific consensus. Breaking the taboo is usually considered objectionable or abhorrent by society...

 is placed upon certain persons or acts. To illustrate, one would not visit a shrine if a close relative in the household had died recently. Killing is generally unclean and is to be avoided. When one is performing acts that harm the land or other living things, prayers and rituals are performed to placate the Kami of the area. This type of cleanliness is usually performed to prevent ill outcomes.

Amulets and protective items

Ema are small wooden plaques that wishes or desires are written upon and left at a place in the shrine grounds so that one may get a wish or desire fulfilled. They have a picture on them and are frequently associated with the larger Shrines.

Ofuda
Ofuda
Ofuda, is a gofu or a talisman issued by a Shinto shrine. It may also be called shinpu . It is made by inscribing the name of a kami and the name of the Shinto shrine or of a representative of the kami on a strip of paper, wood, cloth, or metal.It is to be renewed yearly, typically before the end...

are talismans—made of paper, wood, or metal—that are issued a shrines. They are inscribed with the names of kami
Kami
is the Japanese word for the spirits, natural forces, or essence in the Shinto faith. Although the word is sometimes translated as "god" or "deity", some Shinto scholars argue that such a translation can cause a misunderstanding of the term...

s and are used for protection in the home. They are typically placed in the home at a kamidana
Kamidana
Kamidana , is a miniature Shinto shrine found in many Japanese homes. The kamidana is typically placed high on a wall and contains a wide variety of items related to Shinto-style ceremonies, the most prominent of which is the shintai, most commonly in the form of a small circular mirror, though it...

. They are also renewed annually.

Omamori
Omamori
Omamori are Japanese amulets dedicated to particular Shinto deities as well as Buddhist figures. The word mamori means protection, with omamori being the sonkeigo form of the word, "to protect.".-Design and function:...

are personal-protection amulets that sold by shrines. They are frequently used to ward off bad luck and to gain better health. More recently, there are also amulets to promote good driving, good business, and success at school. Their history lies with Buddhist practice of selling amulets.

Omikuji
Omikuji
Omikuji are random fortunes written on strips of paper at Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples in Japan. Literally "sacred lot", these are usually received by making a small offering and randomly choosing one from a box, hoping for the resulting fortune to be good...

are paper lots upon which personal fortunes are written.

A daruma is a round, paper doll of the Indian monk, Bodhidharma
Bodhidharma
Bodhidharma was a Buddhist monk who lived during the 5th/6th century AD. He is traditionally credited as the transmitter of Ch'an to China, and regarded as the first Chinese patriarch...

. The recipient makes a wish and paints one eye; when the goal is accomplished, the recipient paints the other eye. While this is a Buddhist practice, darumas can be found at shrines, as well. These dolls are very common.

Less popular protective items include dorei, which are earthenware bells that are used to pray for good fortune. These bells are usually in the shapes of the zodiacal animals: hamaya, which are symbolic arrows for the fight against evil and bad luck; and Inuhariko, which are paper dogs that are used to induce and to bless good births.

Kagura

Kagura
Kagura
- Fictional characters :*Kagura Tsuchimiya, the protagonist of Ga-rei*Kagura, an InuYasha character*Kagura Sohma , a Fruits Basket character*Kagura, an Azumanga Daioh character*Ten'nōzu Kagura, a Speed Grapher character...

is the ancient Shinto ritual dance of shamanic origin. The word "kagura" is thought to be a contracted form of kami no kura or "seat of the kami" or the "site where the kami is received." There is a mythological
Mythology
The term mythology can refer either to the study of myths, or to a body or collection of myths. As examples, comparative mythology is the study of connections between myths from different cultures, whereas Greek mythology is the body of myths from ancient Greece...

 tale of how kagura dance came into existence. The sun goddess Amaterasu
Amaterasu
, or is apart of the Japanese myth cycle and also a major deity of the Shinto religion. She is the goddess of the sun, but also of the universe. the name Amaterasu derived from Amateru meaning "shining in heaven." The meaning of her whole name, Amaterasu-ōmikami, is "the great August kami who...

 became very upset at her brother so she hid in a cave. All of the other gods and goddesses were concerned and wanted her to come outside. Ame-no-uzeme began to dance and create a noisy commotion in order to entice Amaterasu to come out. The kami (gods) tricked Amaterasu by telling her there was a better sun goddess in the heavens. Amaterasu came out and light returned to the universe.

Music plays a very important role in the kagura performance. Everything from the setup of the instruments to the most subtle sounds and the arrangement of the music is crucial to encouraging the kami to come down and dance. The songs are used as magical devices to summon the gods and as prayers for blessings. Rhythm patterns of five and seven are common, possibly relating to the Shinto belief of the twelve generations of heavenly and earthly deities. There is also vocal accompaniment called kami uta in which the drummer sings sacred songs to the gods. Often the vocal accompaniment is overshadowed by the drumming and instruments, reinforcing that the vocal aspect of the music is more for incantation
Incantation
An incantation or enchantment is a charm or spell created using words. An incantation may take place during a ritual, either a hymn or prayer, and may invoke or praise a deity. In magic, occultism, witchcraft it may be used with the intention of casting a spell on an object or a person...

 rather than aesthetics
Aesthetics
Aesthetics is a branch of philosophy dealing with the nature of beauty, art, and taste, and with the creation and appreciation of beauty. It is more scientifically defined as the study of sensory or sensori-emotional values, sometimes called judgments of sentiment and taste...

.

In both ancient Japanese collections, the Nihongi and Kojiki
Kojiki
is the oldest extant chronicle in Japan, dating from the early 8th century and composed by Ō no Yasumaro at the request of Empress Gemmei. The Kojiki is a collection of myths concerning the origin of the four home islands of Japan, and the Kami...

, Ame-no-uzeme’s dance is described as asobi, which in old Japanese language means a ceremony that is designed to appease the spirits of the departed, and which was conducted at funeral ceremonies. Therefore, kagura is a rite of tama shizume, of pacifying the spirits of the departed. In the Heian period (8th-12th centuries) this was one of the important rites at the Imperial Court and had found its fixed place in the tama shizume festival in the eleventh month. At this festival people sing as accompaniment to the dance: “Depart! Depart! Be cleansed and go! Be purified and leave!”
This rite of purification is also known as chinkon. It was used for securing and strengthening the soul of a dying person. It was closely related to the ritual of tama furi (shaking the spirit), to call back the departed soul of the dead or to energize a weakened spirit. Spirit pacification and rejuvenation were usually achieved by songs and dances, also called asobi. The ritual of chinkon continued to be performed on the emperors of Japan, thought to be descendents of Amaterasu. It is possible that this ritual is connected with the ritual to revive the sun goddess during the low point of the winter solstice.

There is a division between the kagura that is performed at the Imperial palace and the shrines related to it, and the kagura that is performed in the countryside. Folk kagura, or kagura from the countryside is divided according to region. The following descriptions relate to sato kagura, kagura that is from the countryside. The main types are: miko kagura, Ise kagura, Izumo kagura, and shishi kagura.

Miko kagura is the oldest type of kagura and is danced by women in Shinto shrines and during folk festivals. The ancient miko
Miko
is a Japanese term that anciently meant a "female shaman, spirit medium" who conveyed oracles from kami , and currently means a "shrine maiden; virgin consecrated to a deity" who serves at Shinto shrines.-Word:...

 were shamanesses, but are now considered priestesses in the service of the Shinto Shrines. Miko kagura originally was a shamanic trance dance, but later, it became an art and was interpreted as a prayer dance. It is performed in many of the larger Shinto shrines and is characterized by slow, elegant, circular movements, by emphasis on the four directions and by the central use of torimono (objects dancers carry in their hands), especially the fan and bells.

Ise kagura is a collective name for rituals that are based upon the yudate (boiling water rites of Shugendō
Shugendo
is a highly syncretic Buddhic religion or sect and mystical-spiritual tradition which originated in pre-Feudal Japan, in which enlightenment is equated with attaining oneness with the . This perception of experiential "awakening" is obtained through the understanding of the relationship between...

 origin) ritual. It includes miko dances as well as dancing of the torimono type. The kami are believed to be present in the pot of boiling water, so the dancers dip their torimono in the water and sprinkle it in the four directions and on the observers for purification and blessing.

Izumo kagura is centered in the Sada shrine of Izumo, Shimane prefecture. It has two types: torimono ma, unmasked dances that include held objects, and shinno (sacred No), dramatic masked dances based on myths. Izumo kagura appears to be the most popular type of kagura.

Shishi kagura also known as the Shugen-No tradition, uses the dance of a shishi (lion or mountain animal) mask as the image and presence of the deity. It includes the Ise daikagura group and the yamabushi kagura and bangaku groups of the Tohoku area (Northeastern Japan). Ise daikagura employs a large red Chinese type of lion head which can move its ears. The lion head of the yamabushi kagura schools is black and can click its teeth. Unlike other kagura types in which the kami appear only temporarily, during the shishi kagura the kami is constantly present in the shishi head mask. During the Edo period, the lion dances became showy and acrobatic losing its touch with spirituality. However, the yamabushi kagura tradition has retained its ritualistic and religious nature.

Originally, the practice of kagura involved authentic possession by the kami invoked. In modern day Japan it appears to be difficult to find authentic ritual possession, called kamigakari, in kagura dance. However, it is common to see choreographed possession in the dances. Actual possession is not taking place but elements of possession such as losing control and high jumps are applied in the dance.

Historical records

There is no core sacred text in Shinto, as the Bible
Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

 is in Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 or Qur'an
Qur'an
The Quran , also transliterated Qur'an, Koran, Alcoran, Qur’ān, Coran, Kuran, and al-Qur’ān, is the central religious text of Islam, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God . It is regarded widely as the finest piece of literature in the Arabic language...

 is in Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

. Instead there are books of lore
Folklore
Folklore consists of legends, music, oral history, proverbs, jokes, popular beliefs, fairy tales and customs that are the traditions of a culture, subculture, or group. It is also the set of practices through which those expressive genres are shared. The study of folklore is sometimes called...

 and history
History
History is the discovery, collection, organization, and presentation of information about past events. History can also mean the period of time after writing was invented. Scholars who write about history are called historians...

 which provide stories and background to many Shinto beliefs.
  • The Kojiki
    Kojiki
    is the oldest extant chronicle in Japan, dating from the early 8th century and composed by Ō no Yasumaro at the request of Empress Gemmei. The Kojiki is a collection of myths concerning the origin of the four home islands of Japan, and the Kami...

     (Record of Ancient Matters) The foundation to written Shinto history.
  • The Shoku Nihongi
    Shoku Nihongi
    The is an imperially commissioned Japanese history text. Completed in 797, it is the second of the Six National Histories, coming directly after the Nihon Shoki and followed by Nihon Kōki. Fujiwara no Tsugutada and Sugano no Mamichi served as the primary editors...

     and its Nihon Shoki
    Nihon Shoki
    The , sometimes translated as The Chronicles of Japan, is the second oldest book of classical Japanese history. 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 complete extant historical...

     (Continuing Chronicles of Japan)
  • The Rikkokushi
    Rikkokushi
    is a general term for Japan's six national histories chronicling the mythology and history of Japan from the earliest times to AD 887. The six histories were written at the imperial court during the eighth and ninth centuries, under order of the Emperors...

     (Six National Histories) which includes the Shoku Nihongi and Nihon Shoki
  • The Jinnō Shōtōki
    Jinno Shotoki
    is a Japanese historical book written by Kitabatake Chikafusa , a court noble in the Nanboku-chō period. The work sought both to clarify the genesis and potential consequences of a contemporary crisis in Japanese politics, and to dispel or at least ameliorate the prevailing disorder.The text...

     (a study of Shinto and Japanese politics and history) written in the 14th century

Origins

Shinto has very ancient roots in the Japanese islands. The recorded history dates to the Kojiki
Kojiki
is the oldest extant chronicle in Japan, dating from the early 8th century and composed by Ō no Yasumaro at the request of Empress Gemmei. The Kojiki is a collection of myths concerning the origin of the four home islands of Japan, and the Kami...

 (712) and Nihon Shoki
Nihon Shoki
The , sometimes translated as The Chronicles of Japan, is the second oldest book of classical Japanese history. 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 complete extant historical...

 (720), but archeological records date back significantly further. Both are compilations of prior oral traditions. The Kojiki establishes the Japanese imperial family as the foundation of Japanese culture, being the descendants of Amaterasu Omikami. There is also a creation myth and a genealogy
Genealogy
Genealogy is the study of families and the tracing of their lineages and history. Genealogists use oral traditions, historical records, genetic analysis, and other records to obtain information about a family and to demonstrate kinship and pedigrees of its members...

 of the gods. The Nihonshoki was more interested in creating a structural system of government, foreign policy, religious hierarchy, and domestic social order.

There is an internal system of historical Shinto development that configures the relationships between Shinto and other religious practices over its long history; the inside and outside Kami
Kami
is the Japanese word for the spirits, natural forces, or essence in the Shinto faith. Although the word is sometimes translated as "god" or "deity", some Shinto scholars argue that such a translation can cause a misunderstanding of the term...

 (spirits). The inside or ujigami (uji meaning clan) Kami roles that supports cohesion and continuation of established roles and patterns; and the hitogami or outside Kami, bringing innovation, new beliefs, new messages, and some instability.

Jomon peoples of Japan used natural housing, predated rice farming, and frequently were hunter-gatherers, the physical evidence for ritual practices are difficult to document. There are many locations of stone ritual structures, refined burial practices and early Torii
Torii
A is a traditional Japanese gate most commonly found at the entrance of or within a Shinto shrine, where it symbolically marks the transition from the profane to the sacred...

 that lend to the continuity of primal Shinto. The Jomon had a clan-based tribal system developed similar to much of the worlds indigenous people. In the context of this clan based system, local beliefs developed naturally and when assimilation between clans occurred, they also took on some beliefs of the neighboring tribes. At some point there was a recognition that the ancestors created the current generations and the reverence of ancestors (tama) took shape. There was some trade amongst the indigenous peoples within Japanese islands and the mainland, as well as some varying migrations. 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 300 BCE seeded the reactive changes in primal Shinto over the next 700 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
Yamato
Yamato was originally the area around today's Sakurai City in Nara Prefecture of Japan. Later the term was used as the name of the province and also as an ancient name of Japan...

 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
Taoism in Japan
Taoism is believed to be the inspiration for spiritual concepts in Japanese culture. Taoism is similar to Shinto in that it also started as an indigenous religion in China, although it is more hermetic than shamanistic...

, Abrahamic, Hindu
Hindu
Hindu refers to an identity associated with the philosophical, religious and cultural systems that are indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. As used in the Constitution of India, the word "Hindu" is also attributed to all persons professing any Indian religion...

 and secular beliefs. In more modern times Shinto has developed new branches and forms on a regular basis, including leaving Japan.

Jomon Period (Late and Final 2000 BCE–400 BCE)

By the end of the Jōmon period, a dramatic shift had taken place according to archaeological studies. New arrivals from the continent seem to have invaded Japan from the West, bringing with them new technologies such as rice farming and metallurgy. The settlements of the new arrivals seem to have coexisted with those of the Jōmon for some time. Under these influences, the incipient cultivation of the Jōmon evolved into sophisticated rice-paddy farming and government control. 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. The Jōmon is succeeded by the Yayoi period.

Yayoi Period (400 BCE–250)

Japanese culture begins to develop in no small part due to influences from mainland trade and immigration from north east 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
Kami
is the Japanese word for the spirits, natural forces, or essence in the Shinto faith. Although the word is sometimes translated as "god" or "deity", some Shinto scholars argue that such a translation can cause a misunderstanding of the term...

 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 "Wu". This time period led to the creation of the Yamato
Yamato
Yamato was originally the area around today's Sakurai City in Nara Prefecture of Japan. Later the term was used as the name of the province and also as an ancient name of Japan...

 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.

Kofun Period (250–552)

The great bells and drums, Kofun
Kofun
Kofun are megalithic tombs or tumuli in Japan, constructed between the early 3rd century and early 7th century. They gave their name to the Kofun period . Many of the Kofun have a distinctive keyhole-shaped mound , unique to ancient Japan...

 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
Yamato
Yamato was originally the area around today's Sakurai City in Nara Prefecture of Japan. Later the term was used as the name of the province and also as an ancient name of Japan...

 and Izumo cultures. Both of these dominant cultures have a large and central shrine which still exists today, Ise Shrine
Ise Shrine
is a Shinto shrine dedicated to goddess Amaterasu-ōmikami, located in the city of Ise in Mie prefecture, Japan. Officially known simply as , Ise Jingū is in fact a shrine complex composed of a large number of Shinto shrines centered on two main shrines, and ....

 in the South West and Izumo Taisha
Izumo Taisha
is one of the most ancient and important Shinto shrines in Japan. No record gives the date of establishment. Located in Izumo, Shimane Prefecture, it is home to two major festivals. It is dedicated to the god Ōkuninushi , famous as the Shinto deity of marriage.A style of architecture,...

 in the North East. This time period is defined by the increase of central power in Naniwa
Naniwa
Naniwa can refer to:* The former name of Osaka, Japan* Naniwa-ku , a ward in Osaka* The Naniwa Vehicle Registration Office of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, which issues "Naniwa" license plates for automobiles registered in the city of Osaka* Naniwa, an express train that once...

, now Osaka
Osaka
is a city in the Kansai region of Japan's main island of Honshu, a designated city under the Local Autonomy Law, the capital city of Osaka Prefecture and also the biggest part of Keihanshin area, which is represented by three major cities of Japan, Kyoto, Osaka and Kobe...

, of the feudal lord system. Also there was an increasing influence of Korean trade and 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 Korean Gaya confederacy
Gaya confederacy
Gaya was a confederacy of territorial polities in the Nakdong River basin of southern Korea, growing out of the Byeonhan confederacy of the Samhan period.The traditional period used by historians for Gaya chronology is 42–532 CE...

. The Paekche kingdom in Korea
Korea
Korea ) is an East Asian geographic region that is currently divided into two separate sovereign states — North Korea and South Korea. Located on the Korean Peninsula, Korea is bordered by the People's Republic of China to the northwest, Russia to the northeast, and is separated from Japan to the...

 had political alliances with Yamato
Yamato
Yamato was originally the area around today's Sakurai City in Nara Prefecture of Japan. Later the term was used as the name of the province and also as an ancient name of Japan...

, and in the 5th century imported the Chinese writing system to record Japanese names and events for trade and political records. In 513 they sent a Confucian scholar to the court to assist in the teachings of Confucian thought. In 552 or 538 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 Korea 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.

Asuka Period (552–645)

The introductions of writing in the 5th century from China and Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

 in the 6th century via Korea
Korea
Korea ) is an East Asian geographic region that is currently divided into two separate sovereign states — North Korea and South Korea. Located on the Korean Peninsula, Korea is bordered by the People's Republic of China to the northwest, Russia to the northeast, and is separated from Japan to the...

 had a profound impact on the development of a unified system of Shinto beliefs. In the early Nara period
Nara period
The of the history of Japan covers the years from AD 710 to 794. Empress Gemmei established the capital of Heijō-kyō . Except for 5 years , when the capital was briefly moved again, it remained the capital of Japanese civilization until Emperor Kammu established a new capital, Nagaoka-kyō, in 784...

, the Kojiki and the Nihon Shoki were written by compiling existing myths and legends into a unified account of Japanese mythology
Japanese mythology
Japanese mythology is a system of beliefs that embraces Shinto and Buddhist traditions as well as agriculturally based folk religion. The Shinto pantheon comprises innumerable kami...

. These accounts were written with two purposes in mind: the introduction of Taoist, Confucian, and Buddhist themes into Japanese religion; and garnering support for the legitimacy of the Imperial house, based on its lineage from the sun goddess, Amaterasu. Much of modern Japan was under only fragmentary control by the Imperial family, and rival ethnic groups. The mythological anthologies, along with other poetry anthologies like the Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves (Man'yōshū) and others, were intended to impress others with the worthiness of the Imperial family and their divine mandate to rule.

In particular the Asuka rulers of 552-645 saw disputes between the more major families of the clan Shinto families. There were disputes about who would ascend to power and support the imperial family between the Soga and Mononobe/Nakatomi Shinto families. The Soga family eventually prevailed and supported the famous Empress Suiko and Prince Shotoku, who helped impress Buddhist faith into Japan. However, it was not until the Hakuho ruling period
Hakuhō period
The was an unofficial of Emperor Temmu after Hakuchi and before Suchō. The duration of this discrete non-nengō timespan lasted from 673 through 686.The Hakuhō period is more often used as a general term which describe a wider range of years....

 of 645-710 was Shinto installed at the imperial faith along with the Fujiwara Clan and reforms that followed.

Hakuho Period (645–710)

Beginning with Emperor Temmu
Emperor Temmu
was the 40th emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession.Temmu's reign lasted from 672 until his death in 686.-Traditional narrative:...

 (672-686), continuing through Empress Jito
Empress Jito
was the 41st emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession.Jitō's reign spanned the years from 686 through 697.In the history of Japan, Jitō was the third of eight women to take on the role of empress regnant. The two female monarchs before Jitō were Suiko and Kōgyoku/Saimei...

 (686-697) and Emperor Mommu
Emperor Mommu
was the 42nd emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession.Mommu's reign spanned the years from 697 through 707.-Traditional narrative:Before his ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne, his personal name was Karu-shinnō....

 (697-707) Court Shinto rites are strengthened and made parallel to Buddhist beliefs in court life. Prior to this time clan Shinto had dominated and a codification of "Imperial Shinto" did not exist as such. The Nakatomi family are made the chief court Shinto chaplains and chief priests at Ise Daijingu which held until 1892. Also the practice of sending imperial princesses to the Ise shrine begins. This marks the rise of Ise Diajingu as the main imperial shrine historically. 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: Taiho Code (701 but started earlier), The Kojiki (712),and The Nihon Shoki (720).

The Taiho Code also called Ritsuryō
Ritsuryo
is the historical law system based on the philosophies of Confucianism and Chinese Legalism in Japan. The political system in accord to Ritsuryō is called "Ritsuryō-sei"...

 (律令?) was an attempt to create a bulwark to dynamic external influences and stabilize the society through imperial power. 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. 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
Jingi-kan
, also known as the Department of Shinto Affairs, was a Japanese Imperial bureaucracy established in the 8th century, as part of the ritsuryō reforms.-History:...

 or Shinto Shrine office was completed.

Nara Period (710–794)

This period hosted many changes to the country, government, and religion. The capital is moved again to Heijō-kyō
Heijo-kyo
Heijō-kyō , was the capital city of Japan during most of the Nara period, from 710–40 and again from 745–84. The Palace site is a listed UNESCO World Heritage together with other places in the city of Nara Heijō-kyō (平城京, also Heizei-kyō, sometimes Nara no miyako), was the capital city of Japan...

, or Nara
Nara, Nara
is the capital city of Nara Prefecture in the Kansai region of Japan. The city occupies the northern part of Nara Prefecture, directly bordering Kyoto Prefecture...

, in AD 710 by Empress Gemmei
Empress Gemmei
, also known as Empress Genmyō, was the 43rd emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession.Gemmei's reign spanned the years 707 through 715....

 due to the death of the Emperor. This practice was necessary due to the Shinto belief in the impurity of death and the need to avoid this pollution. However, this practice of moving the capital due to "death impurity" is then abolished by the Taihō Code
Taiho Code
The was an administrative reorganization enacted in 701 in Japan, at the end of the Asuka period. It was historically one of the . It was compiled at the direction of Prince Osakabe, Fujiwara no Fuhito and Awata no Mahito...

 and rise in Buddhist influence. The establishment of the imperial city in partnership with Taihō Code is important to Shinto as the office of the Shinto rites becomes more powerful in assimilating local clan shrines into the imperial fold. New shrines are built and assimilated each time the city is moved. All of the grand shrines are regulated under Taihō
Taiho
Taihō or Taiho can refer to:* Taihō , a Japanese name for the years 701–704* Taihō Code, a reorganization of the Japanese government at the end of the Asuka period.* Japanese aircraft carrier Taihō...

 and are required to account for incomes, priests, and practices due to their national contributions.

During this time, Buddhism becomes structurally established within Japan by Emperor Shōmu
Emperor Shomu
was the 45th emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession.Shōmu's reign spanned the years 724 through 723.-Traditional narrative:...

 (reign 724-749), and several large building projects are undertaken. The Emperor lays out plans for the Buddha Dainichi (Great Sun Buddha), at Tōdai-ji assisted by the Priest Gyogi (or Gyoki) Bosatsu. The priest Gyogi went to Ise Daijingu Shrine for blessings to build the Buddha Dainichi. They identified the statue of Viarocana with Amatarasu (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. The priest Gyogi conferred boddhisattva precepts on the Emperor in 749 effectively making the Imperial line the head of state and divine to Shinto while beholden to Buddhism.

Syncretism with Buddhism

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
Reincarnation
Reincarnation best describes the concept where the soul or spirit, after the death of the body, is believed to return to live in a new human body, or, in some traditions, either as a human being, animal or plant...

). 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.

This explanation was later challenged by Kūkai
Kukai
Kūkai , also known posthumously as , 774–835, was a Japanese monk, civil servant, scholar, poet, and artist, founder of the Shingon or "True Word" school of Buddhism. Shingon followers usually refer to him by the honorific titles of and ....

 (空海, 774–835), who saw the kami as different embodiments of the Buddhas themselves (honji suijaku
Honji suijaku
The term in Japanese religious terminology refers to a theory widely accepted until the Meiji period according to which Indian Buddhist deities choose to appear in Japan as native kami in order to more easily convert and save the Japanese...

theory). For example, he famously linked Amaterasu
Amaterasu
, or is apart of the Japanese myth cycle and also a major deity of the Shinto religion. She is the goddess of the sun, but also of the universe. the name Amaterasu derived from Amateru meaning "shining in heaven." The meaning of her whole name, Amaterasu-ōmikami, is "the great August kami who...

 (the sun goddess and ancestor of the Imperial family) with Dainichi Nyorai
Vairocana
Vairocana is a celestial Buddha who is often interpreted as the Bliss Body of the historical Gautama Buddha; he can also be referred to as the dharmakaya Buddha and the great solar Buddha. In Sino-Japanese Buddhism, Vairocana is also seen as the embodiment of the Buddhist concept of shunyata or...

, a central manifestation of the Buddhists, whose name means literally "Great Sun Buddha". In his view, the kami were just Buddhas by another name.

Kokugaku

Buddhism and Shinto coexisted and were amalgamated in the shinbutsu shūgō
Shinbutsu Shugo
, literally "syncretism of kami and buddhas" is the syncretism of Buddhism and kami worship which was Japan's religion until the Meiji period...

and Kūkai's syncretic
Syncretism
Syncretism is the combining of different beliefs, often while melding practices of various schools of thought. The term means "combining", but see below for the origin of the word...

 view held wide sway up until the end of the Edo period
Edo period
The , or , is a division of Japanese history which was ruled by the shoguns of the Tokugawa family, running from 1603 to 1868. The political entity of this period was the Tokugawa shogunate....

. 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
Kokugaku
Kokugaku was a National revival, or, school of Japanese philology and philosophy originating during the Tokugawa period...

), perhaps as a result of the closed country policy
Sakoku
was the foreign relations policy of Japan under which no foreigner could enter nor could any Japanese leave the country on penalty of death. The policy was enacted by the Tokugawa shogunate under Tokugawa Iemitsu through a number of edicts and policies from 1633–39 and remained in effect until...

.

In the 18th century, various Japanese scholars, in particular Motoori Norinaga
Motoori Norinaga
was a Japanese scholar of Kokugaku active during the Edo period. He is probably the best known and most prominent of all scholars in this tradition.-Life:...

 (本居 宣長, 1730–1801), tried to tear apart the "real" Shinto from various foreign influences. The attempt was largely unsuccessful, since as early as the Nihon Shoki parts of the mythology were explicitly borrowed from Chinese doctrines. For example, the co-creator deities Izanami
Izanami
In Japanese mythology, is a goddess of both creation and death, as well as the former wife of the god Izanagi-no-Mikoto. She is also referred to as Izanami-no-kami.-Goddess of Creation:...

 and Izanagi
Izanagi
is a deity born of the seven divine generations in Japanese mythology and Shinto, and is also referred to in the roughly translated Kojiki as "male-who-invites" or Izanagi-no-mikoto. It is also pronounced Izanaki-no-Okami....

 are explicitly compared to the Chinese concepts of yin and yang
Yin and yang
In Asian philosophy, the concept of yin yang , which is often referred to in the West as "yin and yang", is used to describe how polar opposites or seemingly contrary forces are interconnected and interdependent in the natural world, and how they give rise to each other in turn. Opposites thus only...

. However, the attempt did set the stage for the arrival of state Shinto
State Shinto
has been called the state religion of the Empire of Japan, although it did not exist as a single institution and no "Shintō" was ever declared a state religion...

, following the Meiji Restoration
Meiji Restoration
The , also known as the Meiji Ishin, Revolution, Reform or Renewal, was a chain of events that restored imperial rule to Japan in 1868...

 (c.1868), when Shinto and Buddhism were separated (shinbutsu bunri
Shinbutsu Bunri
The term in Japanese indicates the forbidding by law of the amalgamation of kami and buddhas made during the Meiji Restoration. It also indicates the effort made by the Japanese government to create a clear division between native kami beliefs and Buddhism on one side, and Buddhist temples and...

).

State Shinto

The Meiji Restoration
Meiji Restoration
The , also known as the Meiji Ishin, Revolution, Reform or Renewal, was a chain of events that restored imperial rule to Japan in 1868...

 reasserted the importance of the emperor and the ancient chronicles to establish the Empire of Japan
Empire of Japan
The Empire of Japan is the name of the state of Japan that existed from the Meiji Restoration on 3 January 1868 to the enactment of the post-World War II Constitution of...

, and in 1868 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. The psychological shock of the Western "Black Ships
Black Ships
The Black Ships was the name given to Western vessels arriving in Japan in the 16th and 19th centuries.In 1543 Portuguese initiated the first contacts, establishing a trade route linking Goa to Nagasaki...

" and the subsequent collapse of the shogun
Shogun
A was one of the hereditary military dictators of Japan from 1192 to 1867. In this period, the shoguns, or their shikken regents , were the de facto rulers of Japan though they were nominally appointed by the emperor...

ate convinced many that the nation needed to unify in order to resist being colonized by outside forces.

In 1871, a Ministry of Rites
Jingi-kan
, also known as the Department of Shinto Affairs, was a Japanese Imperial bureaucracy established in the 8th century, as part of the ritsuryō reforms.-History:...

 was formed and Shinto shrines were divided into twelve levels with the Ise Shrine
Ise Shrine
is a Shinto shrine dedicated to goddess Amaterasu-ōmikami, located in the city of Ise in Mie prefecture, Japan. Officially known simply as , Ise Jingū is in fact a shrine complex composed of a large number of Shinto shrines centered on two main shrines, and ....

 (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
Kannushi
A , also called , is the person responsible for the maintenance of a Shinto shrine as well as for leading worship of a given kami. The characters for kannushi are sometimes also read jinshu with the same meaning....

 were officially nominated and organized by the state, and they instructed the youth in a form of Shinto theology based on the official dogma
Dogma
Dogma is the established belief or doctrine held by a religion, or a particular group or organization. It is authoritative and not to be disputed, doubted, or diverged from, by the practitioners or believers...

 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 mid-1870s.

Although the government sponsorship of shrines declined, Japanese nationalism
Japanese nationalism
encompasses a broad range of ideas and sentiments harbored by the Japanese people over the last two centuries regarding their native country, its cultural nature, political form and historical destiny...

 remained closely linked to the legends of foundation and emperors, as developed by the kokugaku scholars. In 1890, the Imperial Rescript on Education
Imperial Rescript on Education
The ' was signed by Emperor Meiji of Japan on 30 October 1890 to articulate government policy on the guiding principles of education on the Empire of Japan...

 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 practice of Emperor worship was further spread by distributing imperial portraits for esoteric veneration. All of these practices were used to fortify national solidarity through patriotic observance at shrines. This use of Shinto gave Japanese patriotism a special tint of mysticism
Mysticism
Mysticism is the knowledge of, and especially the personal experience of, states of consciousness, i.e. levels of being, beyond normal human perception, including experience and even communion with a supreme being.-Classical origins:...

 and cultural introversion, which became more pronounced as time went on.

Such processes continued to deepen throughout the early Shōwa period
Showa period
The , or Shōwa era, is the period of Japanese history corresponding to the reign of the Shōwa Emperor, Hirohito, from December 25, 1926 through January 7, 1989.The Shōwa period was longer than the reign of any previous Japanese emperor...

, when State Shinto became a main force of militarism, finally coming to an abrupt end in August 1945 when Japan lost the war in the Pacific
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. On 1 January 1946, Emperor Shōwa
Hirohito
, posthumously in Japan officially called Emperor Shōwa or , was the 124th Emperor of Japan according to the traditional order, reigning from December 25, 1926, until his death in 1989. Although better known outside of Japan by his personal name Hirohito, in Japan he is now referred to...

 issued the Ningen-sengen
Ningen-sengen
is an imperial rescript issued by the Emperor Shōwa as part of a New Year’s statement on January 1, 1946 at the request of the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers...

, in which he quoted the Five Charter Oath of Emperor Meiji
Emperor Meiji
The or was the 122nd emperor of Japan according to the traditional order of succession, reigning from 3 February 1867 until his death...

 and declared that he was not an akitsumikami
Ningen-sengen
is an imperial rescript issued by the Emperor Shōwa as part of a New Year’s statement on January 1, 1946 at the request of the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers...

.

Post-war

The era of State Shinto came to an abrupt close with the end of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, when Americans decided to bring separation of church and state to Japanese shores in the wake of the Japanese surrender.

Most Japanese had come to believe that the hubris
Hubris
Hubris , also hybris, means extreme haughtiness, pride or arrogance. Hubris often indicates a loss of contact with reality and an overestimation of one's own competence or capabilities, especially when the person exhibiting it is in a position of power....

 of Empire had led to their downfall. The Shinto system included the belief that the emperor, in this case Hirohito, was divine. Soon after the war, the Emperor issued a statement renouncing his claims to the status of "living god" (arahitogami).

In the post-war period, numerous "New Religions
Shinshukyo
is a Japanese term used to describe domestic new religious movements. They are also known as in Japanese, and are most often called simply Japanese new religions in English. Japanese theologians classify all religious organizations founded since the middle of the 19th century as Shinshūkyō. Thus,...

" cropped up, many of them ostensibly based on Shinto, but on the whole, Japanese religiosity
Religiosity
Religiosity, in its broadest sense, is a comprehensive sociological term used to refer to the numerous aspects of religious activity, dedication, and belief . Another term that would work equally well, though is less often used, is religiousness...

 may have decreased. However, the concept of religion
Religion
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

 in Japan is a complex one. A survey conducted in the mid 1970s indicated that of those participants who claimed not to believe in religion, one-third had a Buddhist
Buddhism in Japan
The history of Buddhism in Japan can be roughly divided into three periods, namely the Nara period , the Heian period and the post-Heian period . Each period saw the introduction of new doctrines and upheavals in existing schools...

 or Shinto altar in their home, and about one quarter carried an omamori
Omamori
Omamori are Japanese amulets dedicated to particular Shinto deities as well as Buddhist figures. The word mamori means protection, with omamori being the sonkeigo form of the word, "to protect.".-Design and function:...

(an amulet
Amulet
An amulet, similar to a talisman , is any object intended to bring good luck or protection to its owner.Potential amulets include gems, especially engraved gems, statues, coins, drawings, pendants, rings, plants and animals; even words said in certain occasions—for example: vade retro satana—, to...

 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, which is still very popular), 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. A relatively small number of people practice Shinto in America. There are, however, several Shinto shrines in America, which has a large number of people of Japanese descent. Shrines were also established in Taiwan and Korea during the Japanese occupation
Korea under Japanese rule
Korea was under Japanese rule as part of Japan's 35-year imperialist expansion . Japanese rule ended in 1945 shortly after the Japanese defeat in World War II....

 of those areas, but following the war, they were either repurposed or destroyed.

New sects

Within Shinto, there are a variety of new sects outside Shrine Shinto and the officially defunct State Shinto
State Shinto
has been called the state religion of the Empire of Japan, although it did not exist as a single institution and no "Shintō" was ever declared a state religion...

. Sect Shinto, like Tenrikyo
Tenrikyo
Tenrikyo is a monotheistic religion originating in revelations to a 19th-century Japanese woman named Nakayama Miki, known as Oyasama by followers...

 and Konkokyo
Konkokyo
or just Konko, is a new religion of Japanese origin also regarded as a type of Sect Shinto. It is a syncretic, henotheistic and panentheistic religion, which worships God under the name of Tenchi Kane No Kami, the Golden God of Heaven and Earth. Tenchi Kane No Kami is also referred to as Kami, or...

, have a unique dogma or leader, with some exhibiting the influence of Messianic
Messiah
A messiah is a redeemer figure expected or foretold in one form or another by a religion. Slightly more widely, a messiah is any redeemer figure. Messianic beliefs or theories generally relate to eschatological improvement of the state of humanity or the world, in other words the World to...

 Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 and cult of personality, in the 19th and 20th century, particularly the "New Religions" like (Shinshūkyō
Shinshukyo
is a Japanese term used to describe domestic new religious movements. They are also known as in Japanese, and are most often called simply Japanese new religions in English. Japanese theologians classify all religious organizations founded since the middle of the 19th century as Shinshūkyō. Thus,...

) that proliferated in the post-war era.

Cultural heritage

Shinto has been called "the religion of Japan", and the customs and values of Shinto are inseparable from those of Japanese culture. Many famously Japanese practices have origins either directly or indirectly rooted in Shinto. For example, it is clear that the Shinto ideal of harmony with nature underlies such typically Japanese arts as flower-arranging (生け花, ikebana
Ikebana
is the Japanese art of flower arrangement, also known as .-Etymology:"Ikebana" is from the Japanese and . Possible translations include "giving life to flowers" and "arranging flowers".- Approach :...

), traditional Japanese architecture
Japanese architecture
' originated in prehistoric times with simple pit-houses and stores that were adapted to a hunter-gatherer population. Influence from Han Dynasty China via Korea saw the introduction of more complex grain stores and ceremonial burial chambers....

, and garden design
Japanese garden
, that is, gardens in traditional Japanese style, can be found at private homes, in neighborhood or city parks, and at historical landmarks such as Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines and old castles....

. A more explicit link to Shinto is seen in sumo
Sumo
is a competitive full-contact sport where a wrestler attempts to force another wrestler out of a circular ring or to touch the ground with anything other than the soles of the feet. The sport originated in Japan, the only country where it is practiced professionally...

 wrestling, where, even in the modern version of the sport, many Shinto-inspired ceremonies must be performed before a bout, such as purifying the wrestling arena by sprinkling it with salt. The Japanese emphasis on proper greetings and respectful phrasings can be seen as a continuation of the ancient Shinto belief in kotodama
Kotodama
refers to the Japanese belief that mystical powers dwell in words and names. English translations include "soul of language", "spirit of language", "power of language", "power word", "magic word", and "sacred sound"...

(words with a magical effect on the world). A number of other Japanese religions have originated from or been influenced by Shinto. Also, much of Japanese pop culture, especially anime
Anime
is the Japanese abbreviated pronunciation of "animation". The definition sometimes changes depending on the context. In English-speaking countries, the term most commonly refers to Japanese animated cartoons....

 and manga
Manga
Manga is the Japanese word for "comics" and consists of comics and print cartoons . In the West, the term "manga" has been appropriated to refer specifically to comics created in Japan, or by Japanese authors, in the Japanese language and conforming to the style developed in Japan in the late 19th...

, draws from Shinto for inspiration and stories (e.g. Spirited Away
Spirited Away
is a 2001 Japanese animated fantasy-adventure film written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki and produced by Studio Ghibli. The film tells the story of Chihiro Ogino, a sullen ten-year-old girl who, while moving to a new neighborhood and after her parents are transformed into pigs by the witch Yubaba,...

, Amatsuki
Amatsuki
is an ongoing manga series by Shinobu Takayama, serialized in Monthly Comic Zero Sum. A 13 episode anime adaption produced by Studio Deen premiered on April 4, 2008.-Plot:...

, InuYasha
InuYasha
, also known as , is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Rumiko Takahashi. It premiered in Weekly Shōnen Sunday on November 13, 1996 and concluded on June 18, 2008...

, Higurashi When They Cry, Hell Girl, Kamichu!, and Kannagi: Crazy Shrine Maidens).

See also

  • Ame-no-Uzume-no-Mikoto
  • Culture of Japan
    Culture of Japan
    The culture of Japan has evolved greatly over the millennia, from the country's prehistoric Jōmon period to its contemporary hybrid culture, which combines influences from Asia, Europe and North America...

  • Dol hareubang (Korean spirit)
    Dol hareubang
    Dol hareubangs, also called tol harubangs, hareubangs, harubangs, are large mushroom-like statues found on Jeju Island off the southern tip of Korea...

  • Dōsojin
    Dosojin
    is a generic name for a type of Shinto kami popularly worshiped in Kantō and neighboring areas where, as tutelary deities of borders, they are believed to protect travelers and villages from epidemics and evil spirits...

  • Dryad (Greek mythology)
    Dryad
    Dryads are tree nymphs in Greek mythology. In Greek drys signifies 'oak,' from an Indo-European root *derew- 'tree' or 'wood'. Thus Dryads are specifically the nymphs of oak trees, though the term has come to be used for all tree nymphs in general...

  • Ethereal beings
  • History of Japan
    History of Japan
    The history of Japan encompasses the history of the islands of Japan and the Japanese people, spanning the ancient history of the region to the modern history of Japan as a nation state. Following the last ice age, around 12,000 BC, the rich ecosystem of the Japanese Archipelago fostered human...

  • Hyang (Indonesian mythology)
    Hyang
    Hyang is an unseen spiritual entity that has supernatural power in ancient Indonesian mythology. This spirit can be either divine or ancestral. The reverence for this spiritual entity can be found in Sunda Wiwitan, Kejawen, and Balinese Hinduism. In modern Indonesian this term tends to be...

  • Iwakura (Shinto)
  • Japanese mythology
    Japanese mythology
    Japanese mythology is a system of beliefs that embraces Shinto and Buddhist traditions as well as agriculturally based folk religion. The Shinto pantheon comprises innumerable kami...

  • Kami
    Kami
    is the Japanese word for the spirits, natural forces, or essence in the Shinto faith. Although the word is sometimes translated as "god" or "deity", some Shinto scholars argue that such a translation can cause a misunderstanding of the term...

  • Kodama (spirit)
    Kodama (spirit)
    A is a spirit from Japanese folklore, which is believed to live in certain trees .Cutting down a tree which houses a kodama is thought to bring misfortune, and such trees are often marked with shimenawa rope....

  • Korean shamanism
    Korean shamanism
    Korean shamanism, today known as Muism or sometimes Sinism , encompasses a variety of indigenous religious beliefs and practices of the Korean people and the Korean area...

  • Ōkuninushi
  • Raijin
    Raijin
    is a god of lightning, thunder and storms in the Shinto religion and in Japanese mythology.His name is derived from the Japanese words rai and shin . He is typically depicted as a demon beating drums to create thunder, usually with the symbol tomoe drawn on the drums...

  • Religion in Japan
    Religion in Japan
    Most Japanese people do not exclusively identify themselves as adherents of a single religion; rather, they incorporate elements of various religions in a syncretic fashion known as . Shinbutsu Shūgō officially ended with the Shinto and Buddhism Separation Order of 1886, but continues in practice...

  • Ryukyuan Shinto
  • Shamanism in Siberia
  • Shide (Shinto)
    Shide (shinto)
    is a zigzag-shaped paper streamer, often seen attached to shimenawa or tamagushi, and used in Shinto rituals. A popular ritual is using a haraegushi, or "lightning wand", named for the zig-zag shide paper that adorns the wand. A similar wand, used by miko for purification and blessing, is the gohei...

  • Shintai
    Shintai
    In Shinto, , or when the honorific prefix go- is used, are physical objects worshiped at or near Shinto shrines as repositories in which spirits or kami reside...

  • Shinto architecture
    Shinto architecture
    Shinto architecture is the architecture of Japanese Shinto shrines.With a few exceptions, the general blueprint of a Shinto shrine is Buddhist in origin. Before Buddhism, shrines were just temporary structures erected to a particular purpose. Buddhism brought to Japan the idea of permanent shrines...

  • Shinto in Taiwan
    Shinto in Taiwan
    Shinto in Taiwan has its origins in the beginning of the 50-year Japanese colonial rule of Taiwan in 1895 when the Empire of Japan brought their state religion, Shinto, to the island. The Taiwanese were encouraged to adopt the religion in 1937 as the Empire of Japan began to intensify its...

  • Shinto music
    Shinto music
    Shinto music is the ceremonial and festive music of , 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:...

  • Shinto sects and schools
    Shinto sects and schools
    , the folk religion of Japan, developed a diversity of schools and sects, outbranching from the original Ko Shintō since Buddhism was introduced into Japan in the sixth century.-Early period Shinto schools and groups:...

  • Shinto shrine
  • Twenty-Two Shrines
  • Yomi
    Yomi
    , the Japanese word for the underworld in which horrible creatures guard the exits; according to Shinto mythology as related in Kojiki, this is where the dead go to dwell and apparently rot indefinitely. Once one has eaten at the hearth of Yomi it is impossible to return to the land of the living...

  • Yorishiro
    Yorishiro
    A in Shinto terminology is an object capable of attracting spirits called kami, thus giving them a physical space to occupy during religious ceremonies. Yorishiro are used during ceremonies to call the kami for worship. The word itself literally means approach substitute. Once a yorishiro...

  • Yōsei
    Yosei
    is a Japanese word that is generally synonymous with the English term . Today this word usually refers to spirits from Western legends, but occasionally it may also denote a creature from native Japanese folklore. For example, according to an old folk belief from Iwate Prefecture, it was once...



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