Shinto - The Indigenous Religion of Japan

joyalariwo By joyalariwo, 7th Feb 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Religion>Other Religions

Shintoism is the indigenous religion of the Japanese people, its beliefs are forged in the fact that, both gods and spirits are found in all things living.


Shintoism is the indigenous religion of the people of Japan which dates back to 200 BC. Shinto beliefs are said to be based on the fact that, both gods or spirit are found in all living things.

The word Shinto is made up of two characters and they are “Shin” which means Kami and “to” which means Wa, so in other words Shinto means the way of the gods. Also gods or kami (kah-me) are believed to reside in beautiful and sacred places, such as waterfalls or ancient forests.


Artists who are known for their exceptional skills, are believed to have the hand of the kami in their lives, even some non-living things such as rocks can also contain the presence of a kami.

Unlike many other religions, Shintoism has no formalized book or writings to guide their faithfuls, rather Shintoism emphasizes on a constant search of harmony with nature, coupled with the recognition and appreciation for a god’s presence in one’s surroundings.

Shintoism also believes that in these sacred spaces, one can truly connect with the spiritual realm.


It wasn’t until 540 when Buddhism finally reached the shores of Japan, that Shintoism began to have a formalized structure but before Buddhism, there were numerous shrines scattered all over Japan but they all recognized only the local kamis, the kami was very important to the people and they were greatly revered.

But with the introduction of Buddhism, it was obviously necessary to preserve this indigenous religion of Japan and it began with the structuring of all the various kamis, that were worshiped in Japan.

The Japanese were eventually able to organize, the various kami structures or shrines into what was eventually termed as Shintoism.

Also it wasn't until recently that the Japanese government, altered Shintoism to create a State Shinto which was specially for propaganda purposes and today there are thousands, if not tens of thousands of shinto shrines in Japan.

Jinja Shinto

In Japan today, Shintoism has returned to its original form of Jinja Shinto which is a Shinto Shrine, it emphasizes and appreciates the beauty of the supernatural around us, while recognizing that we are all an inseparable part of the world, in which we co-exist with other living things.

The famous Japanese torii or red gateways, lets whoever passing through it know that, the area they are approach is indeed sacred. It would take several long writings, to feature all the prominent shrines in Japan, but lets start with these two:

Ise Shrine

The Ise Shrine is the most important, as well as the oldest of all the Shinto shrines in Japan, it was built during the third and fifth centuries. The Ise Shrine consists of an inner shrine called Naiku, as well as an outer shrine called Geku. These wooden buildings are dedicated to kami Toyouke and Amaterasu Omikami.

The Ise shrine is next to the Isuzu River, which is at the base of Mount Kamiji and Mount Shimaji in southern Honshu Japan. There is also a sort of weird fact that the Ise Shrine, is said to be about 2,000 years old but its structures are always rebuilt every twenty years!

Well the next rebuilding just took place last year and the next remodeling would be in 2033.

Kamo Wake-Ikazuchi Jinja

The Kamo Wake-Ikazuchi Jinja is also known as the Kamigamo Shrine, it is another old Shinto shrine, situated in the ancient city of Kyoto, this shrine is dedicated to the deity Wakeikazuchi and it was built in 678, during the reign of Emperor Temmu.

For more information on Shintoism, you can visit this website International Shinto Foundation.

Photo Credits & Articles

Thanks to Gideon Davidson,Rekishi no Tabi , Mltsp , Mosesofmason and Piyaphon Phemtaweepon for their photos.

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200 Bc, Ise Shrine Jinja Shinto, Japanese Religion, Joyalariwo, Kami, Kamigamo Shrine, Shinto, Shintoism, Spirit

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author avatar joyalariwo
I am a screen writer who loves reading, watching movies and gardening. I like traveling and meeting people, here's hoping you enjoy my writing as well!

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author avatar spirited
20th Feb 2014 (#)

well done, the history of various religions has always interested me.

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author avatar joyalariwo
21st Feb 2014 (#)

Thanks Spirited.

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author avatar cnwriter..carolina
20th Feb 2014 (#)

I love what you have written here and the beautiful pictures...thank you so much...

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author avatar joyalariwo
21st Feb 2014 (#)

The pleasure was certainly mine Carolina, thanks.

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
21st Feb 2014 (#)

Good job!

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author avatar joyalariwo
21st Feb 2014 (#)

Thank you Phyl.

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author avatar Chrystal J
17th Jan 2015 (#)

Shinto fascinates me... great article and beautiful pictures.

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