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SHINTO. ORIGINS. The name Shinto comes from shin Tao or “the way of the divine”. Date: about 2500 years ago. Country: Japan No founder. Religious Pluralism!. Over the years, Shinto has demonstrated great ability to coexist with other faiths such as Taoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism.

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  • The name Shinto comes from shin Tao or “the way of the divine”.

  • Date: about 2500 years ago.

  • Country: Japan

  • No founder

Religious pluralism
Religious Pluralism!

  • Over the years, Shinto has demonstrated great ability to coexist with other faiths such as Taoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism.

  • Even today, people may be Buddhist or Christian and still practice some Shinto rituals.


  • The essence of Shinto is the Japanese devotion to invisible spiritual beings and powers called kami, to shrines, and to various rituals.

  • Shinto is not a way of explaining the world. What matters are rituals that enable human beings to communicate with kami.

  • Kami are spirits and if they are treated properly they will intervene in our lives to bring benefits like health, business success, and good exam results.

Important kami
Important Kami

  • Amaterasu (Amaterasu-Omikami)

  • Usually translated as 'Sun Goddess', and the greatest of the kami. The kami of the Ise shrine, and the ancestor of the Imperial family.

Izanami izanagi
Izanami - Izanagi

  • The two kami who gave birth to Japan.


  • The kami of the wind, or the storm-god, who both causes and protects from disasters. The brother of Amaterasu.

Characteristics of shinto
Characteristics of Shinto

  • Everything, including the spiritual, is experienced as part of this world. Shinto has no place for any transcendental other world.

  • Shinto does not require adherents to follow it as their only religion.

  • Shrine visiting and taking part in festivals play a great part in binding local communities together.

  • Shinto sees human beings as basically good and has no concept of original sin, or of humanity as 'fallen'.


  • The word matsuri can refer to any occasion for offering thanks and praise to a deity at a shrine. 

  • Matsuri also refers to Shinto festivals.

  • Shinto festivals generally combine solemn rituals with joyful celebration, and these celebrations can include drunken and loutish behaviour.

  • The matsuri focus on specific kami, who are guests of honour at the event.


  • A shrine (jinja) is a sacred place where kami live, and which show the power and nature of the kami.

  • Every village and town or district in Japan will have its own Shinto shrine, dedicated to the local kami.

  • Shrines need not be buildings - rocks, trees, and mountains can all act as shrines, if they are special to kami.

  • The entrances to shrines are marked by torii gates, made of wood and painted orange or black. The gates are actually arches with two uprights and two crossbars, and symbolise the boundary between the secular everyday world and the infinite world of the kami. Because there are no actual gates within the torii arch a shrine is always open.


  • People who practice Shinto can visit a shrine at any time. Some go at festival time and some when they are asking the kami for something specific- like good grades on an exam.

Purifying rituals
Purifying Rituals

  • Purifying rituals are always performed at the start of Shinto religious ceremonies.

  • Misogi

  • This term covers purification rituals in general, or purification rituals using water to free body and mind from pollution.

  • One of the simplest purifications is the rinsing of face and hands with pure water in the temizu ritual at the start of a shrine visit in order to make the visitor pure enough to approach the kami.


  • Shinto ethics are not based on a set of commandments or laws that tell the faithful how to behave, but on following the will of the kami. So a follower of Shinto will try to live in accordance with the way of the kami, and in such a way as to keep the relationship with the kami on a proper footing.

  • But it's important to remember that the kami are not perfect - Shinto texts have many examples of kami making mistakes and doing the wrong thing. This clear difference with faiths whose God is perfect is probably why Shinto ethics avoids absolute moral rules.

  • The overall aims of Shinto ethics are to promote harmony and purity in all spheres of life. Purity is not just spiritual purity but moral purity: having a pure and sincere heart.

Cultural impact
Cultural Impact

  • Some sources claim 3,000,000 people follow Shinto.

  • BUT because you can practice Shinto and other faiths, other sources claim the number could be as high as 107,000,000 people!