Japanese Scholars View of the Shinto Religion

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The Shinto religion is seen in two different lights by Japanese scholars. One is the view that the role of Shinto in Japanese history as a periphery religion and reliant on Buddhist ideals for its success. The other is that Shinto may seem to be a very primitive religion, but it has also maintained a long history of rituals and institutions that represent Japanese culture and its ability to absorb other religions and cultures. Both arguments are relatively strong, however I argue that Modernization mixed with consolidation of the Shinto belief system during the Meiji Reformation played a major role in separating Shinto from other religions, primarily Buddhism. While it may have been dependent on Buddhism in the past, during the Meiji Restoration Shinto was clearly separated out from any other religions and put on a pedestal. I will first describe how Shinto was largely believed to be an extension of Buddhism before the Meiji period, and then I will outline the many possible causes as to how Shinto began to solidify during the Meiji Reformation. The clearest description of the relationship between Buddhism and Shinto, pre-Meiji period, can be seen in the honji suijaku theory that was popular during the Edo period. According to this theory, Kami, the animistic spirits in the Shinto religion, acted as protectors of Buddhist divinities. This already places the Shinto spirits at a lesser position to that of the figures in the Buddhist faith, and was popularly practiced at
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