Shinto Is The Native Religion Term Paper

Shinto is the native religion of the indigenous people of Japan which worships kami, or nature spirit gods. There are local kami of specific places and also major kami, such as the sun goddess. The word Shinto means the Way of the Divine or the Path of Kami. Most Shinto practices are no longer taught, though some remain as part of Japanese culture. Some consider it to be a sophisticated form of animism, and is regarded as a primal religion, but it is also strongly influential on the mindset of the modern Japanese. There is little emphasis on the afterlife, and there is no specific dogma or set of prayers, and no holiest person or place. Shinto is more a collection of rituals and ideas that help relate people to the kami.

Shinto was established in the later Jomon period, through the combining of many tribe religions. In the fifth century the introduction of writing had a huge impact on the direction of Shinto as it became unified through the collection of written myths that was meant to impress the Chinese with how sophisticated Japanese culture was. These narratives were also intended to validate the Imperial house, showing its lineage back to the Sun Goddess Amaterasu, as other ethnic groups were warring against the Shinto and not accepting the Imperial House's rule.

Eventually, Shinto was made the official religion of Japan in hopes of unifying the country, and combining it with Buddhist beliefs was outlawed. Shinto beliefs spread to territories like Hokkaido and Korea. After World War II, it was no longer the state religion because the Emperor no longer claimed to be the living god. Shinto has remained, but without the same focus on mythology or divine Imperial family, and more focus on helping ordinary people have good relations with their ancestors. There are far less people that identify as Shinto today officially, but many offshoot religions in Japan remain highly influenced by Shinto.

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