The Original Religion of Japan – Shinto and Shintoism

by ebazaar 23 October 2009 5 Comments

Here are the basic information of the indigenous Japanese religion, Shinto and Shintoism.

Japanese in short can be described as natural practitioners of polytheism. Since the earliest history of Japan and the ancient people of Japan, they have been worshiping a number of Gods that are largely related to nature, such as the Sun Goddess, God of the Sea, God of lightning and many more. This natural spirituality of the Japanese people is called as Shinto or ‘Way of the Gods’. The similar term or description first appears in the historical chronicle Nihon Shoki (720, Chronicles of Japan), where it refers to religious observance, the divinities, and shrines – but not as the now known ‘Shinto religion’. However, not until the late 12th century that Shinto is used to denote a body of religious doctrines.

After the 6th century during the Nara (710-794) and the Heian (794-1185) period, Shinto nevertheless was crystallized as an imperial religious system, and with the arrival of outside spiritual views such as Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism, Shinto has became more prominent than it was before. These elements gradually were even adapted into the Japanese native spirituality aspects.

japanese religion shinto

Shinto practice is circumscribed within the context of sacred space and sacred time and can be characterize by the worship of Gods symbolized by natural forces and animals, and also the worshiping of their ancestors, which perhaps an element from the Chinese influence. Rituals and ceremonies are performed at each shrine by priest, priestess, or by a rotating group of community members, on a cyclical and yearly basis. They have certain ritual codes that involved words to utter during the rituals like some sort of mantra, gestures and movements prescribed by the National Organization of Shrines or Jinja Honcho. There is another central aspect of Shinto rituals, which is purification. Most rituals are done in order to honoring and appeasing the Gods, as acts of appreciation for the abundance of harvest as well as to purify a person from his or her sins.

Shintoism in the Modern Japan

More and more Japanese people, especially the young generations claim themselves as atheist, although they follow certain Shinto rituals and ceremonies from time to time. And if these people are also counted as part of the followers of Shinto, statistic will show a figure of approximately 119 millions of Shinto followers, though only about 90 millions are adherents and they are mostly people aged 35 and above. They are many Shinto shrines in Japan and each shrine has different offerings and dedication. It is typical for Japanese people to hold traditional wedding ceremonies at Shinto shrines and even new borns were brought to the shrines to receive the blessing from the Gods for a good life.

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5 comments so far

  1. Ali

    Hello, I was wondering how influenced Shintoism is by Buddhism and such in Japan? I read somewhere that a painted torii indicates that the shrine had some sort of Buddhist connections, and if it is plain it is a ‘pure’ Shinto shrine. Do you know if that’s true?


  2. Finley Mitchell

    In reality, no single religion could guarantee us a place in Heaven. In the end, what matters is how we a treat other people.,’”


  3. Accent Chair 

    it does not matter what religion you have, just do good things on this world–;


  4. Foam Insulations :

    religion is a good thing since this is our only connection to a higher being;-;


  5. Brody James

    what matters most is the good deeds that we do on our fellow men, it does not matter what religion you have as long as you do good stuffs ,’;


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