Shintoism, the Religious Beliefs and Practices of Japan

Shintoism is the religious beliefs and practices of Japan. Shinto has no founder, no founding date and no sacred scriptures, but it has managed to preserve its main beliefs and practices. Shintoism was started around 500 BC. The word Shinto came into use in order to distinguish indigenous Japanese beliefs from other religions such as Buddhism. Shintoism is tied tightly to Japanese society and culture it is also cooperative with other religions in Japan. The number of followers is believed to be around 3-4 million people. There are also a number of different sectarian Shinto groups that fall under 5 basic group goals. These groups are Revival Shinto sects, Confucian sects, Purification sects, Mountain worship sects, and "Faith-Healing" sects. Although was once an official religion in Japan it lost that status after World War II and is now voluntary involvement.

The beliefs of Shintoism begin with kami with the creating and harmonizing power along with a belief that various kami come in polytheistic form. Shinto holds a positive view of human nature and the "man is kami's child". This causes a follower to give basic human rights to everyone as well as his own. Shinto is also based on a history or community where each individual is just a continuation of the developing human world.

Followers honor kami with shrines with each home having two shrines one for Shinto and another for Buddhism. These shrines have a gateway, called a torii, where a person washes their hands and rinses their mouth before entering it. Shintoism also has several major festivals each year, including the Spring Festival (Haru Matsuri or Toshigoi-no-Matsuri), Autumn or Harvest Festival (Aki Matsuri, or Niiname-sai), an Annual Festival (Rei-sai), and the Divine Procession (Shinko-sai). The Divine Procession usually takes place on the day of the Annual Festival, and miniature shrines (mikoshi) carried on the shoulders are transported through the parish. Finally the texts listed below are all valued in the Shinto religion.

• The Kojiki (Record of Ancient Matters)

• The Rokkokushi (Six National Histories)

• The Shoku Nihongi and its Nihon Shoki (Continuing Chronicles of Japan)

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

References

"Shinto." Encyclopædia Britannica (Encyclopædia Britannica Premium Service, 2005).

"Shinto," "Shinto Literature," "Shinto Shrines." John R. Hinnels, ed., The Penguin Dictionary of Religions, 2nd ed. (Penguin Books, 1997).

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