As the journalist David Mcneill describes in his article Re-engineering Shinto published in the The Japan Times, Japan’s ancient, religion, Shinto, has been considered one of the world’s least dogmatic belief systems. As he suggest, this is due to the fact that most of its earthy, animist rituals were tied to a love of nature and tradition, anchored around festivals and ceremonies honoring kami (gods) found in all aspects of life.
The name shinto started to be used in the VI. century,from the union between two chinese words, Shen and to.Shen, Shin in japanese, which means spirit or god; and to, do in japanese, which means via or way. This concept was thought as a way to make a distinction between Shinto and Buddhism (Batsudo or way of Buda)
The most relevant characteristics about Shinto would be three:
- Its ability to adapt or to assimilate beliefs from other religion with which it has coexisted, in special Buddhism.
- It has stimulated the creation of its own myths, but it has been also complemented by other religions, such as Confucianism or Buddhism.
- Due to its own ancestral nature, it is an archaic and conservative religion; nevertheless, it has gone through many changes and adaptations, and it has evolved incredibly throughout history.
Talking about its content, Shinto is the result of a great amount of beliefs and ancestral rites mainly focussed on the adoration of the supernatural forces, as spirits or gods, whose name is Kami. There are great number of them, and they have increase and changed throughout the centuries. In fact, the term Shinto is also commonly associated with the expression “eighty myriads of kami,” indicating the immense number of such kami found in the religion, and suggesting the obvious reason why Shinto is usually referred to as a “polytheistic” belief system.
In addition, Shinto, unlike other major religions, does not have a founder, nor does it possess sacred scriptures or texts, and its practices can be divided in four affirmations:
- Tradition and family
- Love of nature – The kami are an integral part of nature.
- Physical cleanliness – Purification rites are an important part of Shinto
- Festivals and ceremonies – Dedicated to honoring and amusing the kami”
This is just a small introduction, but the Kami are the myths, the fantastic beings that we will try to discover; and we will also talk about the Torii, the absolute symbol of the religion.
This, and much more is going to appear in my next lines.
- La Enclopedia del Estudiante,ELPAÍSvolume 19 -Religiones y Culturas-.Edited by Santillana.
- The Tapan Times .Re-engineering Shinto (November 23,2013, by DavidMcneill) http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/11/23/national/re-engineering-shinto/#.Uqq5ddLuLSg
- BBC-Religions. Shinto (Last updated 2009-10-30) )http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/shinto/ http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/shinto/beliefs/religion.shtml
- Encyclopedia of Shinto – Religious and Intellectual Influences on Shinto http://eos.kokugakuin.ac.jp/modules/xwords/category.php?categoryID=2 – Introduction-Kami http://eos.kokugakuin.ac.jp/modules/xwords/category.php?categoryID=39
- LEAD.LEARN.LIFE. David Kanigan- Shinto (SEPTEMBER 15, 2013 BY DAVID KANIGAN) http://davidkanigan.com/2013/09/15/shinto/