n. the indigenous religion and former ethnic cult of Japan characterized by the reverence of Kami, deified nature spirits, and spirits of ancestors. usu. cap.

There are more Shinto shrines dedicated to Heavenly Deity (Tenjin) than any in Japan aside from, I think, Hachiman, the god of war (and Daniel-san, the god of car waxing).

It is difficult to say what Shinto (神道) is because there is no such thing as Shinto, nothing in particular that the word refers to.

In the eighth century, the Chinese words "shen" (神, divine power) and "dao" (道, way) were used to represent the various folk practices that are commonly Japanese. This is also called kannagara (惟神).

In the Tokugawa era (1600-1868), some scholars began to study what they called kokugaku (国学), which can be roughly translated as "nativism," "Japanese Studies," or "Native Studies." One of their primary concerns was to valorize Shinto as a native tradition to replace imported traditions such as Buddhism.

From the Meiji era in the late 1800s until the abdication of the divine status of the emperor during the Allied Occupation, Shinto was defined as the national faith.

But Shinto has no single deity nor anything really resembling a deity. Kami do not create life, they are alive. They do not reward or punish people after death, people become kami. But then stones have kami or are kami. The wind is many different kami. Water is used in misogi ceremonies to purify one's understanding of the way of the kami but water is also kami.

Kami might be enshrined in a building (jinja) but the kami is not contained within or by the mirror or twisted paper at the centre of the shrine. The mirror and the shrine both simply make reference to the kami.

If Shinto is anything, it is how Japanese people, at least the elderly, behave towards each other and the natural world.

Deeply ingrained in Japanese culture, Shinto is a religion that has revered the natural order -- sun, sea, trees, waterfalls -- throughout its history. A religion primarily of ritual observance and festival celebration, it provides the Japanese people with many opportunities for colorful and exuberant expression. Although Shinto is the `native religion' of Japan, the name itself, Shin-to, is an old Chinese word, meaning "The Way of the Gods" -- the final syllable of the word, -to, is the same word as `Tao' in the language of Chinese Taoism. The Japanese themselves chose to use a Chinese name for their native religion because at that time, more than a millennium ago, Chinese was the unique language of writing in Japan, which had not yet developed a tradition of writing in its own language. The Japanese phrase meaning the same thing as the Chinese word Shinto is Kami no michi, "The Way of the Supernals." Thus the two expressions, one Chinese in origin and the other pure Japanese, are interchangeable; but for historical reasons the old Chinese name for the Japanese religion continues to be more commonly used.

Like Chinese Taoism, Japanese Shinto too has been highly eclectic, with older roots in myth and liturgy than in theological speculation or philosophy. An understanding of specific Shinto shrines and old Shinto myths is very important to a complete understanding.

Shintoism was a religion in Japan that began approximately 3000 years ago (660 BC). It was one of the two main religions in Japan, along with Buddhism. Since both of these were tolerant religions, many Japanese practiced both of them. It is said that many Japanese would practice Shintoism before they got married because of the wonderful and elaborate wedding ceremonies, and then they would switch to Buddhism because of the rewards promised after death.

Shintoism has no founder, and is sometimes considered more of a philosophy than a real religion. “Shinto” means “Kami”, which means “the way of the gods”. It promotes happiness and well-being. It teaches one to find good in what may seem bad, and to not hurt or wish to hurt even your enemies. Shinto followers used to offer gifts to the gods each day, such as water, food or incense. Another big part of this religion was meditation.

Shintoism was the only original Japanese religion. Where as Buddhism was one of the many Chinese influences brought into Japan in 300 to 1100 AD (the Aristocratic period). The symbol of Shinto is a very distinct and unique character. It is a decorated portal called (in Japanese) “Tori”. It is suppose to represent the sacred doorway to the Shinto Temple.

Shinto was the official religion of Japan until just after the end of the Second World War in 1945. It was after the tragic bombings of the two Japanese cities Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The emperor and the people found it was impossible to still fallow the positive teachings of Shintoism after all the bad that had happened. Japan no longer has an official religion.

Shin"to (?), Shin"to*ism (?), n. [Chin. shin god + tao way, doctrine.]

One of the two great systems of religious belief in Japan. Its essence is ancestor worship, and sacrifice to dead heroes.

[Written also Sintu, and Sintuism.]


© Webster 1913.

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