34 Facts About Shinto


Shinto has no central authority in control and much diversity exists among practitioners.

FactSnippet No. 634,040

Shinto is polytheistic and revolves around the, supernatural entities believed to inhabit all things.

FactSnippet No. 634,041

However, the authors Joseph Cali and John Dougill stated that if there was "one single, broad definition of Shinto" that could be put forward, it would be that "Shinto is a belief in ", the supernatural entities at the centre of the religion.

FactSnippet No. 634,042

Inoue Nobutaka stated that "Shinto cannot be considered as a single religious system that existed from the ancient to the modern period", while the historian, Kuroda Toshio, noted that "before modern times Shinto did not exist as an independent religion".

FactSnippet No. 634,043

Unlike religions familiar in Western countries, such as Christianity and Islam, Shinto has no single founder, nor any single canonical text.

FactSnippet No. 634,044

Shinto is often cited alongside Buddhism as one of Japan's two main religions, and the two often differ in focus, with Buddhism emphasising the idea of transcending the cosmos, which it regards as being replete with suffering, while Shinto focuses on adapting to the pragmatic requirements of life.

FactSnippet No. 634,045

Shinto has integrated elements from religious traditions imported into Japan from mainland Asia, such as Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, and Chinese divination practices.

FactSnippet No. 634,046

The philosopher Stuart D B Picken suggested that Shinto be classed as a world religion, while the historian H Byron Earhart called it a "major religion".

FactSnippet No. 634,047

Earhart noted that Shinto, in having absorbed much Chinese and Buddhist influence, was "too complex to be labelled simply [as an] indigenous religion".

FactSnippet No. 634,048

Term Shinto is often translated into English as "the way of the ", although its meaning has varied throughout Japanese history.

FactSnippet No. 634,049

The term Shinto has been commonly used only since the early 20th century, when it superseded the term as the name for the Japanese state religion.

FactSnippet No. 634,050

Shinto is polytheistic, involving the veneration of many deities known as, or sometimes as.

FactSnippet No. 634,051

In Japanese, it is often said that there are eight million, a term which connotes an infinite number, and Shinto practitioners believe that they are present everywhere.

FactSnippet No. 634,052

Shinto seeks to cultivate and ensure a harmonious relationship between humans and the and thus with the natural world.

FactSnippet No. 634,053

Shinto includes belief in a human spirit or soul, called the or, which contains four aspects.

FactSnippet No. 634,054

In Shinto, kannagara describes the law of the natural order, with wa being inherent in all things.

FactSnippet No. 634,055

Shinto sometimes includes reference to four virtues known as the akaki kiyoki kokoro or sei-mei-shin, meaning "purity and cheerfulness of heart", which are linked to the state of harae.

FactSnippet No. 634,056

Shinto's flexibility regarding morality and ethics has been a source of frequent criticism, especially from those arguing that the religion can readily become a pawn for those wishing to use it to legitimise their authority and power.

FactSnippet No. 634,057

Cali and Dougill noted that Shinto had long been associated with "an insular and protective view" of Japanese society.

FactSnippet No. 634,058

Shinto shrines have increasingly emphasised the preservation of the forests surrounding many of them, and several shrines have collaborated with local environmentalist campaigns.

FactSnippet No. 634,059

Shinto tends to focus on ritual behavior rather than doctrine.

FactSnippet No. 634,060

Nelson stated that "Shinto-based orientations and values[…] lie at the core of Japanese culture, society, and character".

FactSnippet No. 634,061

In Shinto, it is seen as important that the places in which kami are venerated be kept clean and not neglected.

FactSnippet No. 634,062

Unlike in certain other religions, Shinto shrines do not have weekly services that practitioners are expected to attend.

FactSnippet No. 634,063

Some Shinto practitioners do not offer their prayers to the directly, but rather request that a priest offer them on their behalf; these prayers are known as kito.

FactSnippet No. 634,064

Household Shinto can focus attention on the, who are perceived to be ancestral to the or extended kinship group.

FactSnippet No. 634,065

Picken suggested that the festival was "the central act of Shinto worship" because Shinto was a "community- and family-based" religion.

FactSnippet No. 634,066

Shinto practitioners believe that the kami can possess a human being and then speak through them, a process known as.

FactSnippet No. 634,067

Earhart commented that Shinto ultimately "emerged from the beliefs and practices of prehistoric Japan", although Kitagawa noted that it was questionable whether prehistoric Japanese religions could be accurately termed "early Shinto".

FactSnippet No. 634,068

Shinto effectively became the state cult, one promoted with growing zeal in the build-up to the Second World War.

FactSnippet No. 634,069

Shinto spread abroad through both Japanese migrants and conversion by non-Japanese.

FactSnippet No. 634,070

Shinto is primarily found in Japan, although the period of the empire it was introduced to various Japanese colonies and in the present is practiced by members of the Japanese diaspora.

FactSnippet No. 634,071

Shinto has attracted interest outside of Japan, in part because it lacks the doctrinal focus of major religions found in other parts of the world.

FactSnippet No. 634,072

Shinto was introduced to United States largely by interested European Americans rather than by Japanese migrants.

FactSnippet No. 634,073