What does Shinto stand for?

Rites of Shintoism

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Izanagi buried his wife on the mountainside, but, unable to accept her death, he decided to travel to the Yomi (the underworld) in search of her. In this catabasis, so well known and repeated in Western mythology – it is strikingly similar to the story of Orpheus and Eurydice – Izanagi takes a tooth from his left comb and lights a fire to illuminate the path in the darkness. In doing so, he discovers his wife completely putrefied and covered with countless larvae and maggots.

This first rite of purification thus becomes one of the foundations that give meaning to a multitude of conventions, customs, beliefs and important festivities in Japanese society. And it is part of Shinto, the worship of the gods of nature, which is considered the original religion of Japan, and which has as its center the shrine of divinity (kami). This cult permeates Japanese society, giving meaning to social relations and allowing for a sense of community, which can be seen in traditional festivals (matsuri).

Founder of Shintoism

The origins of Shintoism are generally unknown as it developed from a primitive cult. It is not a rationalized system: it is a religion without a text and without a founder, based on respect for nature and ancestor worship. These are essential elements of this religious practice.

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In the 6th century, Buddhism was introduced in Japan and Shintoism was influenced by the popular beliefs of Buddhism. They influenced each other considerably, and in the Nara period in the 8th century, even syncretism of Buddhism and Shinto(神仏習合) appeared.

When Buddhism was introduced in Japan, Buddha was received as a foreign deity. This syncretism gave rise to various different ideas such as that a kami is like a human being who has desires, so the Buddha should help him tame his passions, or that a kami is a protector of Buddhist divinity, among other things, so there are different views of the two religions in Japan depending on the historical period.

Gods of Shintoism

One of the religions of East Asia, it is based on the veneration of the kami, supernatural spirits that exist in all of nature. The connection between the kami and nature makes it possible to consider Shinto as an animist religion.

It is considered the original religion of Japan,[3] a popular cult that can be described as a sophisticated form of naturalistic animism with ancestor veneration, deeply identified with Japanese culture.

These concepts are intimately linked to the way of life that originated through the agricultural work of the people, as Japan was exploited by connected settlers who lived in dependence on the forces of nature and cycles of the seasons, which it was believed could be beneficially influenced by mastering them through magic and ritual.

Humans, eager to attain possession of the magical force causing productive yields with nature, devised a series of practices performed by shamans and later by emperors.[3] The emperors, who were the first to be given the power to control the natural world, were the first to be given the power to control the natural world.

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Religion of ancient Japan

The oldest nobility in the world (the Japanese) is considered a descendant of Amaterasu, thus the Emperor was considered the highest authority of Shintoism and before separating state and religion this left to light a divine fluctuation between the two.

Without sacred texts and with a conception of nature that is not “static” with a mode of faith in which the visit to the shrine is habitual and intensely connected with the natural as a living definition of the Japanese understanding of existing. In their pantheon dwell the creator gods Izanagi and Izanami and their daughter: the Sun Goddess Amaterasu.

After becoming enraged, the Sun Goddess, Amaterasu O-mikami, locked herself in a cavern called Ama-no-iwato, thus plunging the world into darkness. The other gods did everything they could to try to get Amaterasu O-mikami out of the cavern.

Tenmangu shrines worship Michizane Sugawara, a prominent 9th century scholar and nobleman, who was revered as the God of Learning and is prayed to by those about to take exams.

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