What is Shinto?
Its Traditions...
Japan Society
State Shinto
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Last Updated
6/11/02
 
Its Traditions...

        Since the Kami are such a large part of the religion, their worship in the many shrines shows that the human relationship to the gods is very deep. People go to shrines to avoid evil spirits and especially do so before events such as the opening of a business or a school entrance exam (Shinto Religion in Japan). People always need some sort of help, and with the worshiping of these Kami in home shrines as well it creates a strong bond between Shintoists and the Kami. Shinto is in many ways much more of an open religion than others, even going as far as saying it tolerates other religions and accepts that people might perform both Shinto and Buddhism in their homes in Japan. With Shinto being more open in many ways, it also has more ways to express it. Shintoists are able to express their respect to the Kami through individual shrine worship, rituals, customs, and festivals. Rituals and ceremonies even receive more emphasis than a system of ethics or morals. Life and death are simply viewed as a natural process and "a general concept of good and evil does not exist" (Buko). There is no hope for a
A large amount of time spent practicing Shinto happens inside Shrines around Japan.
A large amount of time spent practicing Shinto happens inside Shrines around Japan.
future life in Shinto, with death being seen as a great tragedy. It is during these times of sorrow that many Shintoist resort to a Buddhist ideal to take care of their problem. With no real written code of ethics peace and harmony with the world and nature is essentially the main goal of the religion (Shinto Religion in Japan). This simple moral code consists generally of merely avoiding serious sins such as lies, murder, and adultery (Malherbe). There are Four Affirmations in the Shinto religion nevertheless, those being "tradition and the family, love of nature, physical cleanliness and Matsuri, meaning festivals and celebrations held in the honor of the sprits. One of the most important parts of the Shinto religion is the demonstration of loyalty to superiors, those being ancestors, emperors, family, the country of Japan and Shinto itself (Buko).
         Purification plays a large part in the Shinto religion as a ritual that is fulfilled in order to show respect for the Kami (Nomura 9). Purification is completed every time a Shrine is entered, and is part of one of the main practices that is observed in Shinto. The majority of the time spent practicing Shinto is spent in these shrines, thus making purification a large part of it. The purification process for these shrines at home in a Kamidana or elsewhere consists of the following steps. Clean your mouth with water, make an offering with either coins at a shrine or food at a home shrine, then bow twice deeply, clap your hands twice, bow deeply once more and pray. (Shinto Religion in Japan). Festivals and rituals are very import to Shintoism, these being called Matsuri, which are the celebrations for simply rejoicing in being alive. During these celebrations Shintoists try to be pure in heart, show their thanks for everything in the world that is pleasing and hope for continual happiness in their times ahead. Celebrations mark the special events in individual's lives, the community as well as the nation of Japan as a whole. This process makes up part of the rituals of Shinto, being some of the most important aspects of the religion. Shintoism has a very strong base in Japan, and emphasizes loyalty to the country of Japan through its early beliefs that emperors were thought to be Kami, and thus had to be "obeyed unquestioningly by all Japanese" (Howdyshell).