What is Shinto?
Its Traditions...
Japan Society
State Shinto
The World

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Last Updated
6/11/02
 
Japan Society

         While Shinto may not be completely popular in Japan, Japanese culture is actually strongly influenced by religion. This is especially interesting as polls have showed that most Japanese do not consider themselves to be religious at all. In a 1979 poll of citizens aged from 16 to 19, 19% told that they did not have a religion (Japanese Culture). Society provides the etiquette in Shinto culture, leading many Shintoists to be moral in their community so that they can live happy lives (The Way of the Gods). Since Shinto accepts other religions, it makes it possible for Shintoists to practice
The number of Shinto style weddings have gone down in recent years in Japan.
Buddhism as well, or even for Buddhists to practice Shintoism. By having this openness to the religion it ties many people back to society more, and making it more of a national religion. People do not have to completely devote themselves to the religion, and thus allows for its members to practice the parts of the religions that they want to. This is a very much different type of religious culture than is seen in most western religions, where you are expected to practice one, and only one religion. Shinto was also influenced by these other religions, such as Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism (Shinto and Ecology). These influences make Shinto a religion that has been openly changed since it first began, and one that has adapted to the lives of Japanese people. Having many influences makes Shinto a unique religion, one that has very little to do with "normal," western religions. Since there is no real dogma for it, there can be no push to make it popular, instead relying on the society of Japan to continue its rituals through praying in shrines and participating in traditions. It has been documented that the number of members of Shinto has been declining in recent years, in many ways blamed on the contemporary Japanese not having time for spiritual reflection in their lives. Weddings done in Shinto style in Japan have gone from 70 percent a generation ago to fewer than 20 percent now in favor of Christian style weddings ("Japan Has Little Time for Its Old-Time Religion," 2001). Religious instruction and strong religious attitude is not very strong in most Japanese families (Japanese Culture). Despite numbers now though, the ideas of Shinto clearly show in Japan. The importance of behavior and character are stressed among Japanese children, and even though the numbers of Shintoists may be down, there are still many that perform the rituals of Shinto as a tradition.
         People think of Japan as a technological country, and in many ways those people are right. With Shinto being such an old religion it has lost touch with many of Japan's hip youth, which has lead to changes in it. Ms. Sugimoto, the owner of an 800-year-old shrine, not too long ago built a state-of-the-art shrine with "high-tech lighting and motorized shutters," renting it out office space to nearby businesses as well ("Japan Has Little Time for Its Old-Time Religion," 2001). Japan being in such a high tech society means adapting some its old culture in order to fit society. Shinto is truly a part of society, by helping shape the way early people crafted their lives, as well as attempting to fit into Japans constantly changing environment. The ideas of Shinto are relied upon heavily in their culture, such as in their entertainment industry and others that go on to affect the world.