By: PRASANT, GAVIN, Harshita

Essential Question

How does Shintoism create a distinct Japanese consciousness and play a significant role in the political realm?

Origins of Shintoism

Origin of Shintoism

Shinto is the formal state religion of Japan that was first used in the 6th century. Shinto has no founder, and no formalized system of doctrine. Shinto has played a big role in developing unique Japanese attitudes, creating a distinct Japanese consciousness. Belief in divine beings is one of the foundations of Shinto. As the foundation for Japanese culture, Shinto has also played a significant role in the political realm. For centuries, Shinto religious festivals and ceremonies have become indistinguishable from the affairs of the government.

Basic Religious Beliefs

Shintos believe that the kami or God not only exist as spiritual beings, but also in nature, they believe that kami they are within mountains, trees, rivers, and even geographical regions. In this sense, the kami are not like the powerful divine beings found in Western religions, but forces in nature. Related to the kami is the understanding that the Shinto followers are supposed to live in harmony and peaceful existence with both nature and other humans. This has enabled Shinto to exist in harmony with other religious traditions.

Classification of Shintoism

Shintos have indigenous religious beliefs and practices of Japan. Shintoism is an ethnic religion.

Branches of Shintoism

Jinja Shinto

Jinja shinto is the form of Shinto commonly practiced at the nearly 100,000 recognised shrines throughout Japan. Emphasis is placed on intuitive feelings and spiritual emotions expressed through ritual rather than in articles of belief. However, in 1956 following the disestablishment of 'state Shinto' which had fostered prewar emperor worship and Japanese nationalism, Jinja Honcho, the central organising body for Shinto shrines produced a statement entitled 'General characteristics of a life lived in reverence of the kami' which said how the Jinja Shinto should live which is helping others, greatful for all that they have, and praying for the country to flourish.

Kyoha Shinto

Kyôha Shinto seperated from the State Shinto in 1882 and were later denied public support and their shrines were considered owned buy the state. They created established shrines called jinjas. In 1908 they had 13 that were recognized by the government but today they have over 75. They place a heavy emphasis on missionary activity and sometimes can be considered a separate religion, Although they basically still are Shinto. The picture shows some Kyoha Shintos.

Minzoku Shinto

Minzoku Shinto is the folk branch of Shinto, dealing with the traditions and customs. It separated from the Shrine Shinto along time ago and although they were similar they practiced some of their own beliefs which circled around Japanese customs. Usually this is practiced in parallel with Buddhism. This is much more of an agriculturally based religion and the festivals are based on agriculture to an extent.

Geographic Distribution

How the religion diffused

When Japanese people immigrated to the Americas and other places all over the globe including Africa and Central Asia, Shintoism went with them and spread through relocation diffusion.

Shintoism originally spread in Japan as Japan spread its empire. This is an example of expansion diffusion as Shintoism spread along with the growing Japanese empire but it can also be considered Hierarchal diffusion as many people followed the emperor who was Shinto.

Sacred Places and People

Sacred Places

Who Practices Shintoism

Where is Shintoism practiced today?

Shintoism is practiced mostly in Japan although it is practiced by many other descendants all over the globe. The picture below shows all the regions in which Shintoism is followed in. The picture below that shows how Buddhism relates to Shintoism in Japan. As you can tell in the 1st picture Shintoism has spread to many regions of the globe, and is practiced in lots of places.

Number of Followers

There is an estimate of about 4 million Shinto's although that number is not concrete as many other people believe in Shintoism as a secondary religion and considering those people, Shintoism could have as many as 150 million followers.

Unique Features

Key figures and important people

  • Kami - spirits which may be found in water, rocks, trees and other natural manifestations which have a particular aura about them.
  • 7 Gods of Luck
    • 1) Benten - goddess of music, arts, beauty and fertility (identified with Ryugu Otohime - Shinto Princess of the Dragon Palace - sea)
    • 2) Hotei - the fat, laughing god of happiness
    • 3) Jurojin - the god of longevity
    • 4) Fukurokuju - the dwarf god of wisdom
    • 5) Bishamon - the armor clad god of religious zeal
    • 6) Daitoku - the generous god of wealth
    • 7) Ebisu - the god of honest labor.
  • The Sun Goddess Amaterasu is considered Shinto's most important Kami.

Holy Text

Religious Symbols

Torii Gate: mark the entrance to sacred space. Representing the transition between the finite world and the infinite world of the gods.

Place of Worship

  • Shinto shrines are the places of worship and the homes of kami

Impact on social and family structures:

  • Shinto is an indigenous religion of Japan.
  • People who, for political reasons, see Shinto as extremely conservative or linked to the prewar and wartime governmental political military structure, may be reluctant to participate in community events if they think that by doing that they would be endorsing Shinto in this sort of old-fashioned ideological sense.

Impact on cultural beliefs and expectations:

Still Having Trouble? Watch These Videos!

What is Shinto?