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Shinto

The Religion Emerging Through The Culture of Japan

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Shinto

What is Shinto?

Shinto is considered to be the religion, which is emerging through the culture of Japan. Shinto is also termed as Kami-no-michi and Shintoism. Shinto is also considered as the indigenous religion of Japan by the practioners and scholars belonging from the East Asian Religion. The religion of Shinto rotates around supernatural entities and gods or spirits. Shinto has emerged from the association of natural world and kami, with the categorization as pantheistic and animistic. The worship of Kami is facilitated in public shrines, family shrines and kamidana household shrines. The public shrines are usually supervised by the priests as they are responsible for monitoring kami with the provision of religious paraphernalia like amulets for the religion’s adherents.

In Shinto, various common rituals involve the culture of age-related celebrations, seasonal festivals and ritual dances named Kagura. The term used for the rituals and festivals is matsuri. Shinto aims at the cleansing practices and ensures the practices like bathing or ritual of washing. The culture of Shinto does not focus on the definite moral codes rather the concentration is only directed towards the ritual purity, regular communion with the seasonal practices and the worship for the Kami. The religion Shinto neither has a specific rate of doctrinal text nor has no creators. However, Shinto is known to exist in the regionalized forms and localized areas.

The belief associated with Kami could be outlined to Yayoi period, which is from 1000BCE to the 300 CE. The veneration of the Kami was simplistic earlier than in the recent periods. The discovery of Shinto was first facilitated in Japan. In Japan, a total of 113 million believers and around 80,000 public shrines exist. The practice of Shinto in other areas than Japan can be found in smaller rates. In Japan, a small number of people identify Shinto as religious and rest of Japanese population participate in Buddhist activities, Shinto matsuri, seasonal events and festivals. This evidence depicts a single common belief in the Japanese culture, where it is believed that various religions do not have the mandation to be exclusive. Different variants of Shinto are also expressed in the modern religious movements of Japan.

The definition of Shinto by John Dougill and Joseph Cali can be stated as, Shinto being the belief of Kami, supernatural entities in center of religion. Helen Hardacre, a Japanologist stated Shinto as, "Shinto encompasses doctrines, institutions, ritual, and communal life based on kami worship". Shinto is often considered as a form of religion. Nevertheless, Shinto cannot be aligned with various implications of Western culture. Shinto does not possess a single founder like other religions, Islam and Christianity.

The inclination of the western religions have always been stressed at the concept of exclusivity, however in the regions of Japan the practice of different religions simultaneously was acceptable from a long period. The countries that have contributed in the religious practices and belief of Shinto are Confucianism, Chinese divination and Buddhism practices. The culture of Shinto is considered similar to East Asian religious, specific to the belief of various deities.

Nature and Variations

The religion of Shinto involves various beliefs, attitude of life on the basis of practices and religious practices of Japan. The practices of Shinto can be witnessed in personal motivation and in their social life in place of the pattern of the philosophies and formal belief pattern. The culture of Shinto is majorly associated with the acting, thinking and value system of Japanese population. There are three forms of Shinto, Folk Shinto, Sect Shinto and Shrine Shinto. A Shinto tradition that can be witnessed from the historical times till the modern times is Shrine Shinto. The conception of Sect Shinto reflects new movement including 13 main sects, which have emerged from Japan in around 19th century. Each sect has been organized by a specific religious body through the contribution of a syntematizer or founder. Folk Shinto, the third form of Shinto is a belief, which is associated with different forms of Shinto. Folk Shinto consists of neither doctrinal formulation nor formal structure, however is based on the worship of smaller images and agricultural rites amongst the rural families. The three forms of Shinto are interconnected with each other, Shinto faith is includes Folk Shinto and another identity of Sect Shinto is also the parishioner in a specific Shinto Shrine.

Shinto in Today’s World

Shinto acts as a support system through the visit at Shrines and prayers at home. Talismans can be witnessed in the state of good health, traffic safety, effective exam performances and business success. The culture of Shino can be witnessed in a number of religious practices and in weddings. Death is considered to be a sign of impurity and usually is associated with the concept of Buddhism. Therefore, the cemeteries are not linked with Shinto religion or culture but are facilitated in the style of Buddhism.

Significance of Shinto

Purifying Evil spirits: The religious belief and practices of Shinto reflects optimism due to the assumption of all humans to be good. In the culture of Shinto, the source of the evil is considered to be the evil spirits. With the implication of the practices and rituals of Shinto, evil spirits can be purified.

Accepting and respecting nature- The practices and implication of Shinto can be considered crucial and is another term of faith amongst the Japanese population. The emergence of the faith in Shinto religion was witnessed suddenly in Japan. The religion of Shinto is not advocated by any specific individual or religion, which restricts the presence of dogma in the deeds and teachings.

Pragmatic and Social Nature- The belief of Shinto neither direct at the being saved from hardships and determination of universe nor has a philosophical reflection over the concept of suffering, death and life. Moreover, the culture of Shinto do not attempt at satisfying the philosophical temptation of humans, which is the reason for its wide acceptability and absence of ideological discrimination.

Shinto is a belief without the presence of specific advocate or aspects of satisfying various needs of human shortcuts. Therefore, the religious practices and rituals of Shinto is widely practiced and accepted by the population around the world.

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