By Nadia Mathis, Edward Butler, and Anna Sneed

The Origin

Origin of the religion
Shintoism is an ancient Japanese religion. The Shinto practices were first recorded in the books of Kojiki and Nihon Shoki in the 8th century. The word “Shinto” means “The Way of the Gods,” and was adopted from the Chinese word 神道 which means “Spirit.”
Basic religious beliefs
Shintoism is based on the importance of a relationship between humans and nature. Since this is the basis for the religion, they do not have a god, scripture, or founder and to be considered Shinto, you do not have to publicly profess that you believe in this way of life. People who follow Shintoism believe that certain deeds called “purities” can create a purity in order to clear ones peace of mind. In contrast to this, wrong deeds are called “impurities.” If an “impurity” is done, you can be purified in a ritual called a “Harae,” and these rituals are a vital part of the Shinto beliefs. The place of teaching and worship of the Shinto faith is called a shrine, and if somebody is injured on the grounds then the shrine must be ritually purified. The Shinto believe that the dead go to a place called yomi 黄泉, which is much like the Greek Hades. Death according to the Shinto tends to be a negative thing and a source of “pollution” called “kegare”. In contrast to this they view death as a path towards apotheosis and believe that certain individuals can be enshrined after death. Those who are killed without being shown gratitude for their sacrifice will hold a grudge which can lead to them becoming a powerful evil kami in order to seek revenge
Classification of religion
Shintoism is classified as an ethnic religion and has many ties to Buddhism. While there are few Shinto outside of Japan, the majority of people practicing Shintoism are centralized in Japan.
Branches or divisions of the religion

Shintoism can be broken down into four branches. The first branch of Shintoism is called Kohitsu Shinto or Shinto of the Imperial House. This branch of Shinto was originally practiced by the emperors of Japan. The second branch of Shinto is called Minzoku or Folk Shinto. While this branch is not have an official recognition of creed, it includes many rituals done by the smaller rural regions of Japan. The newest form of Shintoism is called Kyoha or Shuha Shinto which can be broken down into 13 various sections. The sections are branches of Shintoism that have been founded since the 19th century. These branches have their own belief system while still following the fundamental ideas of Shintoism.

Geographic Distribution

How the religion diffused
Shintoism hasn’t really diffused very much out of Japan. Its hearth could be traced back to mainland Asia, where Buddhism originated. After Buddhism got to Japan, parts of it were taken and Shintoism was created. Some migrants have brought with them Shintoism to other places such as America, but only a small number of followers have done this.
Holy Places
Shinto Shrines, which are where the kami live. The kami are represented by a certain holy object within the shrine. A gate called a torri marks the entrance to a shrine. People visit Ise Jingo to see the most sacred shrines.
Where it is practiced today
Although it isn’t official there, Shintoism is widely practiced in Japan.
Number of followers
Because most practice a mix of shintoism and Buddhism, it is hard to find an exact number of followers. It is estimated that 100 million people practice a combination of the two.
Map illustrating distribution of followers

Unique Features

Key figures and important people
Because there isn't a certain god in Shintoism, most of the important figures come from legends. Izanagi and Izanami were siblings in a legend that explains the origin of Japan. The current emperor of Japan was often considered divine.
Holy texts
There are no certain holy texts, but there are a couple books that some followers of Shintoism read, such as the Kojiki.
Religious symbols
The torri often represents Shintoism.
Place of worship
Most people worship the Kami at home or in shrines.
Impact on social and family structures
People who follow shintoism respect nature. For example, they don't cut paper when making origami as they want to respect the tree spirit.
People who follow shintoism and the emperor take place in many religious festivals. The festivals bring many people together and helps them enjoy themselves.
Impact on cultural beliefs and expectations

Family is very important in Shintoism. Birth and marriage are celebrated.
Matthew Davison- Shintoism

Essential Question

How does not having a god affect the way a religion develops?