“THE SHINTO` WAY”

Shinto (the way of the gods) is the indigenous faith of the Japanese people, and it is as old as the Japanese people.

Until the end of World War II, it was closely aligned with State Shinto. The Emperor of Japan was worshipped as a living God.

Shinto does not have a founder nor does it have sacred scriptures like the sutras or the bible.
Many texts are valued in the Shinto religion. Most date from the 8th century EC.

Propaganda and preaching is not common either, because Shinto is very deeply rooted in the Japanese people and its traditions.

Shinto does not have as fully developed a theology as do most other religions. But Shinto is a tolerant religion which accepts the validity of other religions. It is common for a
believer to pay respect to other religions, their practices and objects of worship.


One states that 40% of Japanese adults follow Shinto; that would account for
about 50 million adherents. Others state that
about 86% of Japanese adults follow a combination of Shinto and Buddhism;
that would put the number of followers of Shinto
at 107 million. One source estimates 1000 followers of Shinto in North America.


Shinto Beliefs

Most Japanese citizens follow two religions: both Shinto and Buddhism.
Buddhism first arrived in Japan from Korea and China during the 8th century CE. The two religions share a basic optimism about human nature, and for the world.
Within Shinto, the Buddha was viewed as another God (nature deity). Meanwhile, Buddism in Japan regarded the God as being manifestations of various Buddhas.


There are "Four Affirmations" in Shinto:

1.Tradition and the family: The family is seen as the main mechanism
by which traditions are preserved. Their main celebrations relate to birth and marriage

A written code of ethics and morals does not really exist in Shinto; but the Confucian ethics had melted together with Shinto over the centuries, especially during the Edo period.

2.Love of nature: Nature is sacred; to be in contact with nature is to be close to the Gods. Natural objects are worshipped as sacred spirits.
The Gods are the objects of worship in Shinto. They are sacred spirits and can take various forms such as natural elements like the sun, mountains, springs, trees, rocks, and the wind, or abstract things like fertility, but also ancestors, national heroes and protectors of family clans.

Each shrine is dedicated to a specific God who has a divine personality and responds to sincere prayers of the faithful.When entering a shrine, one passes through a special gateway for the Gods. It marks the demarcation between the finite world and the infinite world of the Gods.

In contrast to Western religions there are no absolutes in Shinto, even though there is a most
important godess, the Sun goddess. Shinto is a very optimistic faith. It is thought that all humans are fundamentally good, and that all evil is caused by evil spirits. The purpose of most of the rituals is to avoid evil spirits by purification, offerings and prayers.

3.Physical cleanliness: They take baths, wash their hands, and rinse
out their mouth often. In the past, believers practiced the washing of their bodies in a river near the shrine. In recent years they only wash their hands and wash out their mouths in a wash basin provided within the shrine grounds.


4."Festivals": This is a festival which honors the spirits.
The desire for peace, which was suppressed during World War II, has been restored. Shinto shrines are the places of worship and the homes of the Gods. Most shrines celebrate festivals regularly in order to show the God the world outside the shrine. There are special information pages about shrines and festivals.

Seasonal celebrations are held at spring planting, fall harvest, and
special anniversaries of the history of a shrine or of a local patron spirit. A country-wide National Founding Day is held on FEB-11 of each year. Other festivals: (New Year (Girls' festival (Boys' festival (Star festival). Followers are expected to visit Shinto shrines at the times of various life passages. For example, the "Three-five-seven - festival" involves a blessing by the shrine Priest of girls aged 3 and 7 and boys aged 5

Shrine ceremonies, which include cleansing, offerings, prayers, and
dances are directed to the gods. There are ritual dances accompanied by