May 29 2011

What is Shintoism or Shinto?

Category: Religion


Shintoism - ShintoShinto (or, Kami no Michi, meaning “the way of the gods”), is the national religion of Japan. Shintoism is a nature-centric belief system based, in part, on honoring the connection the Japanese people have with the natural world and their creator gods. Shinto became a formal religion in the late 6th century AD. Essentially, the religion is founded on the Japanese origin deities/kami, Izanagi and Izanami (the gods who gave birth to the island of Japan). In Shinto it is believed that all Japanese have kami within them from the moment of birth. Holy shrines are a definable mark of Shinto devotion. There are between 78,000 and 80,000 Shinto holy shrines scattered throughout all of Japan.

Shinto is often interpreted as being the “religion of the forest” since the natural landscape is considered sacred and all of nature is a holy place where the Kami can be found. In fact, there are kami for each space in nature: kami of the forests, kami of the moon, kami of the seas, kami of the river, kami of the rains, etc.

By following the sacred traditions, showing honor at shrines and demonstrating dutiful obedience to natural law, Shinto adherents manifest their connection to one another, to nature, to their ancestors, and to everything that binds the Japanese as one culture and one people. More information on Shintoism can be found at

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