The Shinto Religion Essay

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ORIGINS The religion we know as Shinto is native to Japan and was first practiced sometime before the year 500 B.C.E. The name ‘Shinto’ comes from a Chinese phrase meaning “Way of the Gods”. It was first used to describe the native Japanese religion in the 8th Century C.E. It is currently the official religion of Japan along with Buddhism (Ono 1-3). There is a less common name for Shinto that comes directly from the Japanese language, which is “Kami no michi” which also means “Way of the Gods” (Renard 18). While Shinto has existed for more than 2500 years, there is no distinct founder, there is no body of religious law and there is no specific scripture as there are in other religions (Ono 2). Despite all of these differences,…show more content…
The most prominent of these was Amaterasu, the sun goddess. Amaterasu is the most important and most revered Kami in Shinto, we can see an example of this when looking at the current Japanese flag which shows a red circle representing the rising sun of Japan, also the symbol of Amaterasu (DesRivieres 100-101). In Shinto there are four “Affirmations”; things that are important in life, things that should be honoured. The first is tradition and family, the second is nature, the third is physical cleanliness and the last is the Kami. All of these things should be accorded the highest honour (Robinson). For a religion with such a rich history, Shinto has a surprisingly underdeveloped theology (Ono 2). There is no specific system of laws or beliefs; it usually borrows the moral code of Confucianism. One of Shinto’s few concrete beliefs is that while all animals are special, humans in particular are sacred because humanity is the child of the Kami. One place where Shinto is especially vague is in its depiction of the afterlife. We do know that there is a land of the dead thanks to the story of Izanami and Izanagi, and we know that it is ‘unclean’, but that is the only description of this land that we have. We don’t know if there are separate places for sinners and the virtuous. We do not know who, if anyone, rules this underworld, it is meant to be a complete mystery that none
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