Cambridge Encyclopedia » Cambridge Encyclopedia Vol. 67

Shinto - History, Definition, Practices and teachings, Cultural effects, Important shrines

8th japanese religion nature

The indigenous religion of Japan, ‘the way of the spirits’, so named in the 8th-c to distinguish it from Buddhism, from which it subsequently incorporated many features. It emerged from the nature-worship of Japanese folk religions, and this is reflected in ceremonies appealing to the mysterious powers of nature (kami) for benevolent treatment and protection. By the 8th-c, divine origins were ascribed to the imperial family and the Japanese islands, and in time these became the basis for State Shintoism and its loyalty and obedience to the Emperor. Shinto influenced the development of bushido under the Tokugawa shogunate. In the 19th-c it was divided into Shrine (jinga) Shinto and Sectarian (kyoho) Shinto, with the former regarded as a ‘state cult’ and the latter officially recognized as a religion but ineligible for state support. In 1945, State Shinto lost its official status. There were nearly 2·7 million Shintoists in 2006.

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