There is little representation of Shinto outside Japan. In the process of migration, communities of believers penetrated into Europe, Latin and North America and the Hawaiian Islands.
One of the most open and little-known areas for believers is the Shinto religion.
Shinto is the official religion in Japan, so it is often mentioned in Japanese culture communities.
This article is devoted to the analysis of the features of the doctrine of Shintoism.
The exact number of followers is unknown, since the Japanese consider themselves to be adherents of both Buddhism and Shintoism. Research in 2016 showed that more than 84 million Japanese are followers of Shinto.
The exact year of the religion’s creation is also unknown. Shintoism appeared in Japan in the 6th-7th centuries CE.
Media opinions on the impact of this creed vary.
Some consider Shinto an established tradition, not a religion, since almost all of the modern life of the Japanese partially intersects with Shinto.
According to other media, the presence of deities carrying out their plans causes skepticism in other countries towards Japan.
In Japan, counts of pilgrims are held every year. It has been found that Shinto attracts a large number of young people, which indicates the popularity of this religion.
A brief history
This religion was formed as a result of the unification of pagan beliefs in different territories of Japan.
Some elements of this religion can be traced back to the 3rd century BCE.
It was during this period that the first Shinto rituals and deities appeared among the ancient population of Japan.
During the reign of the Yamato dynasty (7th century CE), Shintoism acquired the status of the state religion.
In 701, the Taiho Codex was created. It includes provisions on the state structure, religion, holidays and ceremonies.
At the beginning of the 8th century, the Ministry of Kami Affairs was created. It was tasked with keeping account of the sanctuaries for worship.
In 713, sacred books appeared: “Kojiki” and “Nihongi”. They combined myths, legends and Japanese religious chronicles.
In 927, the code of Engisiki was issued. It contained information about rituals, temples and prayers.
Since the 9th century, the unification of Shintoism and Buddhism and the emergence of mixed teachings began.
The Essence of Religion
Shintoism means “the way of the gods” in Japanese. The Japanese believe that after death, people turn into gods.
Shintoism is based on animistic beliefs, its essence lies in the belief that all objects of nature have a spiritual substance (animated). Omnipresent souls are called “kami”. They live in trees, water, mountains, rocks, etc.
Shintoism combines magic and the ideas of religious philosophy. In this religion, the understanding of good and evil differ from the traditional ones. There is nothing inherently good or bad. All actions are evaluated depending on the goal.
Shintoism presupposes the veneration of ancestors and nature. Therefore, this belief does not have a single set of commandments. The Japanese adhere to the natural flow of life, which is created by nature itself.
The rites were held in shrines, the entrance to which was headed by the torii gate – a symbol of Shintoism.
The system of rites is clearly formed. It includes:
- Prayers. Prayers begin with tributes to the gods and handclaps to attract the gods.
- Harai is a rite of purification with water. Ablution occurs in the form of spraying or washing hands, sometimes rinsing the mouth.
- Shinsen is a rite of offering gifts to the gods.
- Naorali is a rite of a meal, symbolizing reunion with the kami.
The holidays are processions accompanied by fairs.
The most colourful is the Matsuri holiday. It represents communication with the kami and is accompanied by prayers.
The most cheerful holiday is Setsubun matsuri. It is celebrated in early February. Marked by the awakening of nature. On this day, it is customary to exorcise demons with the help of beans.
The Shichi-go-san festival is considered the most joyful holiday. Held on November 15. On this day, children aged three, five and seven are brought to the temple to thank the gods for their health and happiness.
Holy places are places of worship of kami.
Consider the main shrines of Shintoism:
- Yasukuni is a temple in Tokyo. Dedicated to the souls of the liberating warriors.
- Hongden is a temple-the abode of spirits. Closed to the public. Sacred rituals are performed there. The opening of the doors of this temple is usually accompanied by a celebration.
- Ise-Jingu is a famous temple in Japan. Dedicated to the sun goddess Amaterasu. The relics of the imperial dynasty are located in the walls of the temple.
Biography of the creators
Officially, the Shinto religion has no founder. The Japanese worship more than 8 million gods, each of which has its own purpose.
Significant figures in modern Shintoism are representatives of the imperial family.
The most memorable person was Emperor Akihito. He took the throne in 1989, and left it in 2019 due to health reasons. He handed over the reign to his son Naruhito. During the reign, the emperor was considered the main minister of Shinto.
The second significant figure is Yoshima Umeda. He is the Chairman of the International Shinto Scientific Society. He is known for having made a presentation in Moscow in 2001 on the opening of the Moscow representative office.
Another representative of Shintoism is Koichi Barrish.. He teaches Aikido and is the founder and clergyman of the Shinto Temple in Washington (USA).
Shintoism is considered a peaceful religion, which has not been accompanied by persecution, persecution of dissidents and hostility.
However, in the oldest scripture “Nihongi” a conflict is mentioned that took place in 552. It was associated with the imposition of Buddhism in Japan. The emperor was presented with a statue of Buddha and offered to spread the religion in his country. Some dignitaries were glad to accept the gift and teaching, others told the emperor that the kami might get angry for changing religion.
The emperor decided that a dignitary who wants to lead this creed will install this statue in his home and will pray to it.
At that moment, an epidemic swept over Japan. The emperor associated this misfortune with the installed Buddha statue.
The statue was thrown into the Nanipa River.
The first attempt to combine Shinto and Buddhism ended in failure.