Home » Japan » Shinto Influence On Japan Research Paper

Shinto Influence On Japan Research Paper

One of the most crucial things in the understanding of a country or civilization is to learn about their religion. Religion is not just another concept, it is the way of life for an entire race of people. This is especially true with countries whose religions originated in their country and had been around for many centuries. A great example of this is Shinto in Japan, which has been around for an extremely long time. Shinto formed the country of Japan, explaining how the country formed and how it came to be today.

Shinto is an exceedingly significant thing to pay attention to when learning about any other events or concepts in Japan. Seeing as Shinto is the largest religion, there are multiple varieties of Shinto: Sect Shinto, Shrine Shinto, Imperial Household Shinto, and Folk Shinto. Sect Shinto “is comprised of thirteen groups formed during the nineteenth century” (“Shinto”). These thirteen sects are Izumo Oyashirokyo, Konkokyo, Ontakekyo, Shinshukyo, Shinto Taikyo, Tenrikyo, Fusokyo, Jikkokyo, Kurozumikyo, Misogikyo, Shinrikyo, Shinto Shuseiha, and Shinto Taiseikyo.

Because each group was formed during a different time, each group has their own slightly different morals and ways of worship. They also have their own eeting places, as those in Sect Shinto congregate in meetings halls rather than at shrines, which is more like Shrine Shinto. As the name indicates, Shrine Shinto worships shrines where their deities live. These shrines can be distinguished from regular buildings by their “various symbolic structures, such as torii gates and shimenawa ropes, are used to separate the shrine from the rest of the world.

Some major shrines have a national rather than a local role, and are visited by millions of people from across Japan at major festivals. ” (“BBC – Religions – Shinto”) Unlike Christianity, those involved in Shrine Shinto do not visit hrines a certain day each week, but instead visit around festival times. Though these shrines can be worshipped by those in a different sect of Shinto, they are primarily for the use of those who are Shrine Shinto. This type of Shinto is known as “the oldest and most prevalent of the Shinto types. It has always been a part of Japan’s history and constitutes the main current of Shinto tradition. (“Shinto”)

Shrine Shinto has three main guidelines: be helpful to others even when they have nothing to offer in return, treat the deities with utmost respect, and pray for those in the nation to live in harmony. Another type of Shinto is Imperial Household Shinto, or State Shinto. This type of Shinto came about through “the Meiji dynasty’s restoration and the downfall of the shogunate” (“Shinto”) in an attempt to rid Shinto of other ideals, thus decontaminating Shinto. This type of Shinto considered the emperor to be a divine being who must be treated as such.

This later became abolished due to World War Il as the emperor was forced to give up his divine power. Lastly, Folk Shinto focuses on deities and the spiritual aspects of Shinto. Many of their practices include “divination, spirit possession, and shamanic healing” (“Shinto”), and many of these deals came from other common Japanese cultures such as Confucianism or Taoism. The most common form of Shinto that is followed today is Shrine Shinto (“Shinto”). This led to their being over 80,000 shrines currently in Japan, with certain parts that only Shinto priests, which can be men or women, may enter due to the kami present.

Shinto is one of the largest religions in Japan, which is focused around millions of millions of kami, or their deities. Some of the most famous kami in Shinto are Izanami and Izanagi. Those two kami are known for creating Japan, and the story goes that the two stirred the ocean with a pear and drops fell back into the ocean, crystallizing and forming the ocean (“Izanami and Izanagi”). These two kami are also known for creating most of all the other kami, and Izanami and Izanagi are considered “universal parents. They are the Adam and Eve of the race. (Holtom 83)

The main backstory between the creation of the other kami was “Izanami was terribly burnt when she gave birth to Kagutsuchi and it is said that many kami were born from her tears as she suffered from her injuries until finally, she died. ” (Cartwright 1) However, the most momentous kami in Shinto is a daughter of Izanami and Izanagi, Amaterasu, the sun goddess. Amaterasu is known as “the most important divinity in the Shinto pantheon, or collection of gods. She is held to be the ancestor of the emperor and is the most revered person of heaven” (Roberts 4).

She and her brother Tsukuyomi ruled the heavens, Amaterasu ruling the day and her brother controlling the night. (Roberts) One day, Tsukuyomi became angered and destroyed the crops Amaterasu grew during the day. This upset Amaterasu so much that she hid in a cave, swearing to never return. Japan was plunged into darkness, causing crops and animals to begin dying. Eventually, “the sun goddess Amaterasu saw her reflection in a kagami, or mirror,” (Roberts 81), and this intrigued her and she left the cave. The eclipse had ended, but ever since then, Amaterasu was respected greatly to prevent her from disappearing and killing all life on Earth.

Many other stories in Shinto follow this type of pattern because Shinto typically focus around these sorts of folk stories as it does not have a main script. (“BBC – Religions – Shinto”) One of the focuses in these stories is the afterlife. All those who die go to one form of the otherworld, underground, across a river that eparates the living from the dead. There are several different types of the otherworld, The places where the spirit dwells are often mentioned as the otherworld in the classics such as the Kojiki (Record of Ancient Matters), the Nihonshoki (Chronicles of Japan), the Manyoshu (Anthology of Poems), etc.

In each otherworld, there live kami. The most well known otherworld is ‘Takamano-hara’ (the otherworld of Heaven) where the most venerable deities live. (“JINJA HONCHO – Association of Shinto Shrines. ” 1) This is a very crucial thing to remember about Shinto, there are many different otherworlds, each with their wn distinct differences and their own kami, just as there are different shrines and festivals for different kami. The four main festivals are about the different changings of the seasons. (“JINJA HONCHO – Association of Shinto Shrines. )

These vibrant celebrations typically include giving gifts to the different kamis and “the excitement and spontaneity are contagious, and one can easily find oneself ‘possessed’ by the ‘spirit of the kami and absorbed into the mass of the shrine-carrying crowd. ” (Nelson 172) Shinto is centered around their many deities and their role of creating the world, as well as the afterlife and celebrations especting their gods. As it may be obvious due to the numerous stories around the creation of Japan, Shinto has been around for many centuries and began in Japan.

Shinto was created as a religion for the Japanese to go against traditional religions and ways of thinking; such as Taoism, Confucianism, or Buddhism. Shinto began in the late 6th century AD the name Shinto was created for the native religion to distinguish it from Buddhism and Confucianism, which had been introduced from China. Shinto was rapidly overshadowed by Buddhism, and the native gods were generally regarded as manifestations of Buddha in a revious state of existence. (“Shintoism” 1) Shinto continued to thrive, but then Buddhism became more and more popularized, leading to Shinto almost dying out entirely.

However, in the “18th century, Shinto was revived as an important national religion through the writings and teachings of a succession of notable scholars, including Mabuchi, Motoori Norinaga, and Hirata Atsutane. ” (“Shintoism” 1) From then on, Shintos began to explain certain events through their religion. For example, In 1867 the shogunate was overthrown, and the emperor was restored to the head of the government.

According to revived Shinto doctrine, the sovereignty of the emperor was exercised by divine right through his reputed descent from the sun goddess Amaterasu Omikami, who is considered the founder of the Japanese nation. “Shintoism” 1) To this day, Shinto remains to be quite a large religion in Japan, as 51 percent of people in Japan identify as Shinto, though they may also practice another religion. (“Japan”) This is one of the reasons Shinto remains so popular to this day, it is allowed to practice whatever religion one would like while also considering oneself Shinto. This is the main reason it is unlikely for Shinto to die out in Japan any time soon. Shinto is very significant when learning world civilization because the country of Japan was built around it.

Shinto is not labeled as just a religion “Shinto-ness’ is something deeper. It is the cultural will or energy of the Japanese people, embodied in conventions which precede or transcend religion. ” (Toshio 2) Shinto is more than just a religion, it is a community in which a group of people live together as one. All existences are tied together, there is no real world or spiritual world, only one true, spiritual existence. The rituals performed in Shinto are not to necessarily abide by their religion, it is more a way of respect nd manners, “In Shinto, the importance of the ritual is simply the ritual itself.

It’s wrong to think that Shinto ritual is important because of the beliefs that lie behind the ceremonies. ” (“BBC – Religions – Shinto: The Importance of Ritual. ” 1) These rituals teach children things such as ethics or behaving in certain ways. (“BBC – Religions – Shinto: The Importance of Ritual. ” 1) Because Shinto is treated less as a religion and more as a lifestyle, there are no rituals that must be performed to become Shinto. This is why a huge majority of the population in Japan considers hemselves to be Shinto, Shinto means something different to each person.

As long as one decides to commit to living in a Shinto way, they are considered Shinto. Shinto shaped the way Japan is today and it is crucial to understand Shinto when learning about different civilizations around the globe. Shinto has been around since the 6th century, starting in Japan. It focuses around the millions of millions of kami, or deities, and their importance in this world. The Shinto thoughts on the afterlife are very interesting because instead of one or two otherworlds after death, there are many otherworlds, each with heir own distinct characteristics and kami.

Rather than a main script, such as the Bible, Shinto has folk stories and their texts are not entirely Shinto. Shinto tells the story of how Japan was formed and continues to influence Japan today, therefore, it is crucial to know the background of Shinto. If Shinto is disregarded as nothing more than an odd, folk religion with no real relation to present-day Japan, a huge chunk of Japanese culture will be forever forgotten. Shinto has been a large part of Japan’s past ideals and traditions as well as Japan’s culture to and must be remembered as such.

Cite This Work

To export a reference to this essay please select a referencing style below:

Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.