ISBN 9781903296752,Understanding Shinto

Understanding Shinto



Viva Books Private Limited

Publication Year 2002

ISBN 9781903296752

ISBN-10 1903296757

Hard Back

Number of Pages 112 Pages
Language (English)


Shinto, or "the Way of the Gods", is the indigenous religion of Japan. It has pervaded Japanese culture for millennia; indeed, in a great many respects, to be Japanese is to be Shinto. To understand Japan it is essential to have some knowledge of this faith's history, theology and ritual practices. Shinto explains the origins and importance of the emperor at the apex of Japanese society. Its pervasive concern with purification underlies the ubiquitous Japanese customs of cleanliness. In part the beliefs and rites of Shinto reflect the subordination of the individual to the group -- be it a household, a rice-growing village, or a large company. At its heart the religion is overwhelmingly identified with a loosely organized collection of shrines dedicated to an almost infinite number of all-pervasive kami ("spirits," or "divine beings") - a fact that remains central to the Japanese religious consciousness. Shinto continues to thrive, in part, because of the deep-rooted tendency of the Japanese to transform borrowings from other cultures. As a consequence of this fusion, the inhabitants of Japan simultaneously espouse two major faiths, Shinto and Buddhism, and many Buddhist deities exist as Shinto kami. Written by an acknowledged authority on Japanese religions, this book describes and explains the history and practices of Shinto and shows how, despite a much transformed society and a major competing faith, it has secured its place as the spiritual tradition of most modern Japanese.

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