Shinto Essay

Topics: Shinto, Japanese mythology, Religion Pages: 3 (931 words) Published: October 31, 2012
The traditional belief system of Japan, Shinto has no fundamental creeds or written teachings, and is not particularly evangelical. It is an ethnic religion which is almost exclusively associated with the land and people of Japan; it is the essence of what is means to be Japanese as its beliefs and characteristics have had a significant role in shaping Japanese culture. It also resonates with a veneration for Japanese tradition and the invisible presence of innumerable spiritual powers, or kami. Shinto is essentially a body of ritual to relate with kami in a way that is respectful and positive. Shinto ethics, as encoded in its ritualistic actions, ascertain the importance of the community over the individual. People are loyal to the ‘ie’, a term that embraces a form of extended family, including the kami and living members. Followers of Shinto also owe a wider loyalty to society where its aim is to promote the well-being and stability of society as a whole. The notion of kami controversially questions the type of belief system under which Shinto is classified. Although generally kami refers to the various kami of heaven and earth spoken of in the classics such as the Kojiki and the Nihonshoki, and the mitama (spirits) enshrined in their shrines; it can also refer to anything else that has superior and extraordinary power, provoking awe. Norinaga Motoori (1730-1801) in his book, Kojiki-den, provides a description of kami; “There were also many occasions on which mountains and oceans were called kami; this does not mean that a mitama (spirit) indwelling the mountain was called kami, but that the mountain itself, or the ocean itself, was kami, and this, too, because of their superbly awe-inspiring quality”. Professor Motoori’s description of kami and kami-ness defines the vague transcendence in the notion of heavenly kami with other references indicating immanence. As a result, it can be verified that kami is used as a quality of Ki (power and awe) and experienced...
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