College and University > Religion > Shinto
Shintoism is a less-known religion that is dominant only in Japan. The word shinto translates to “way of the gods”. It is a very indigenous religion which shares a very long history with Japan. Up to now, Shintoism remains as a major religion in Japan, alongside Buddhism.
As it is an indigenous religion, Shintoism has no known founder. It doesn’t even have any sacred texts, unlike other religions of the world. Rather, it is based on a series of traditions handed down from one generation to the next.
Shintoism considers many things as gods, mostly things of nature, like the wind, waves, and trees. Followers of Shintoism call these nature gods as “kami”. One example of this is Amaterasu, the goddess of the Sun. She is considered as the most important kami for Shinto followers.
According to their belief, even people can become kami after they die. Their descendants revere them as gods and some put up luxurious shrines for their ancestors.
Other kami also have shrines, which are considered their homes. Shinto priests also live in the shrines and perform rituals and festivals. They believe that festivals serve to show the kami what the outside world is like, so the priests consider these events very important.
Shintoism believes that nobody is perfect and that every person is basically good. They say that evil is caused by evil spirits, so to keep them away, shinto followers would perform rituals of purification, say prayers, and give offerings to the kami.
Today, Japanese shinto followers still pray to the kami in shrines, but some do so by putting up altars in their homes. They also believe in the power of talismans and amulets; in fact, many are available in shrines, each one for different purposes. There are talismans for safety, good health, success, and even good exam scores.