Shinto Overview

March 17, 2015 · updated February 15, 2022

Red Torii Gates with Umbrella, Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kyoto, Japan
Torii gates at the Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto, Japan. ajari
Fast Facts on Shinto
Adherents 3-4 million
Beliefs kami: ancient gods or spirits
Practices Worship and offerings to kami at shrines and at home. Purification rituals.
Texts Kojiki (Records of Ancient Matters); Nihon-gi (Chronicles of Japan)

Shinto (also Shintoism) is the term for the indigenous religious beliefs and practices of Japan. Shinto has no founder, no official sacred scriptures, and no fixed creeds, but it has preserved its central beliefs and rituals throughout the ages.

The word Shinto, which comes from the Chinese shin tao, meaning "the way of kami [spirits]", came into use in order to distinguish indigenous Japanese beliefs from Buddhism, which had been introduced into Japan in the 6th century CE.

Shinto (together with Buddhism) is intimately tied to Japanese society and culture. Shinto's relationship with other religions in Japan are generally cooperative and harmonious. Shintoists insist on maintaining their own characteristics and inner depth while working toward the peaceful coexistence of human beings.

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