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Cults and World Religions

Shintoism



Shinto is the indigenous religion of Japan. Over the years it has suffered influence at the hands of Buddhism, Confucianism, and, odd as it may seem, Christianity.

At its origins, this is a primitive religion which focuses worship on nature and people. There is no historical foundation for this religion. It centers worship around Kami, a concept involving the gods, all aspects of nature, supernatural power, and people. Kami is everywhere and everywhere is Kami. It is a “force” in the universe. This is, obviously, a pantheistic religion.

The name itself appears to come from two Chinese words which mean “spirit way” (shen and tao). The Japanese version is kami no michi, or “the way of the gods.” It is only around A.D. 500-to-700, after Buddhism has entered Japan, that the followers of Shintoism commence to record the traditions associated with the religion.

By tradition, the Japanese islands were formed by the Shinto gods, Izanagi and Izanami, who are viewed as having mated to produce the Japanese race. Shintoism focuses upon loyalty to Japan and its emperor, the Mikado. Salvation is achieved by observing the many social and physical taboos of Japanese tradition. Salvation is the deliverance from the troubles and evils of the world. Ritual purity and offerings of food and rice wine are part of the practice. There are about 100,000 shrines run by a Shinto priesthood in Japan. There is no concept of sin or depravity. The religion does have a concept of immortality, which is “cured” by appeasing the gods.

The major influence upon Shintoism by the other religions is the introduction of an ethical system. There are approximately 150 more sects of Shintoism and many of these have become very aggressive in attempting to evangelize the religion outside of Japan.

 

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