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SHINTŌ . Shintō is a Japanese term often translated as "the way of the gods." Broadly, it refers to the worship of the multifarious Japanese kami (gods). In modern Japan, it signifies forms of ritual practice and belief focusing on Shintō shrines (jinja, literally "kami -places") which are institutionally separate from Buddhist temples. However, the worship of kami in Japan is not restricted to Shintō, and those who worship the kami at Shintō shrines are nearly all Buddhists and/or members of Japanese new religions. A narrow definition of Shintō might restrict it to only those elements in Japanese religious history that have explicitly identified themselves by the term Shintō, while broad definitions of the term sometimes see Shintō as coterminous with the entirety of Japanese culture, past and present.

The meaning of the term Shintō has undergone many changes in the course of Japan's history. The most radical took place as recently as the mid-nineteenth century, when Japan resumed full contact with the outside world after two and a half centuries of seclusion. Immediately after taking office in 1868, the modernizing Meiji government issued decrees dissociating kami from buddhas. Up to this time, kami -worship throughout Japan had largely taken place at shrine-temple complexes run by Buddhist clergy. Buddhas, kami, and other well-known divinities were understood to form part of a common pantheon also revered by numerous Shūgendō (mountain ascetic) practitioners and other specialized religious groups and movements. In the years following 1868, a nationwide system of shrines, priests, and doctrines relating only to non-Buddhist divinities (mainly these were kami stripped of their Buddhist titles) was developed with government support. At the apex of this system was the shrine of Amaterasu the sun goddess, deity of the shrine of Ise and divine ancestress of the imperial line now back in power following the collapse of the shogunate. Until the end of World War II, this new, dissociated form of Shintō was regarded under Japanese law as "nonreligious." The divinity of the emperor and the unique status and mission of the land of Japan since the Age of the Gods were not religious ideas preached by shrine priests but historical facts transmitted by schoolteachers. Generations of Japanese children were taught that Shintō represented an ancient, unchanging tradition; an idea also promulgated quite successfully outside Japan, where modern Shintō is often believed to be a survival of Japan's "primal" religion. Since 1946, under postwar laws guaranteeing personal religious freedom and the separation of religion and state, this understanding of Shintō is no longer sponsored by the government nor taught in schools, and Shintō teachings and practices are now regarded in law as "religious." Nevertheless, what is usually meant by Shintō today is essentially the same nationwide system of shrines, priests, and kami -rituals that was dissociated from Buddhism in the mid-nineteenth century and for the first eighty years of its existence regarded as nonreligious. The study of Shintō as religion therefore raises many interesting questions.

Recent Developments in the Study of ShintŌ

The study of Shintō underwent radical changes in the late twentieth century as modern critical methods were brought to bear on a subject that had been neglected for many years. Until the 1980s, serious modern scholarship on Shintō hardly existed inside or outside Japan. In the minds of most academics, the term Shintō evoked a discredited system of state-sponsored emperor worship, heavily implicated in the ultranationalism that had culminated in Japan's defeat in 1945. Japanese scholars with impressive but possibly compromising expertise in prewar Shintō studies were out of favour, and few postwar scholars were interested in studying customs and traditions relating to kami performed mainly by the older generation at decaying local shrines. Within Japan, the study of Shintō as a system of religious meaning was largely the preserve of conservative scholar-priests connected with shrines and seminaries whose view of Shintō had changed little since 1945, and in some cases since the nineteenth century. While some major shrines prospered as the Japanese economy expanded, no intellectually respectable Shintō worldview emerged in the decades following World War II that could compete for international scholarly attention with the new-found appeal of Zen and other forms of Japanese Buddhism or the shifting fortunes of the dynamic, self-promoting new religions.

In the 1980s, however, new questions about Shintō and new understandings of Shintō began to emerge among both Japanese and non-Japanese academics. The critical study of Shintō rapidly developed as a field of vibrant international scholarship, and the question of Shintō became highly significant, indeed central, within the study of Japanese religions. Because new understandings of Shintō developed so quickly, books and articles published at different times present widely varying views of Shintō. Readers who consult different works may be confused about whom and what to believe on the topic. Before embarking on the study of Shintō in more detail, it is thus necessary to understand what the main views of Shintō are and why the study of Shintō is now such a contested, problematic, and interesting area of enquiry.

Two Views of ShintŌ

Broadly speaking, there are two extreme views of what Shintō is, as well as an emerging middle ground within which increasingly sophisticated debates are taking place. At one extreme is a view of Shintō that holds that it is Japan's ancient and enduring indigenous religion. This view dominated understandings of Shintō inside and outside Japan throughout the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It was succinctly stated, for example, in the opening sentence of the scholar-priest Hirai Naofusa's 1987 article on Shintō in the first edition of the Encyclopedia of Religion. "Shintō," wrote Hirai, "is the name given to the traditional religion of Japan, a religion that has existed continuously from before the founding of the Japanese nation until the present." This view, which might best be described as neo-traditionalist, celebrates Shintō both as a religion and as something quintessentially Japanese, implicitly contrasting an ancient, native Shintō spiritual heritage with later "foreign" religions and ideologies such as Buddhism or Western thought. This presentation of Shintō as a kind of Japanese natural phenomenon is consistent with the prewar understanding of Shintō as a unique and enduring attribute of the Japanese "race," and hence the Japanese nation-state. It also fit well with popular postwar nihonjin-ron, or "theory of Japaneseness," literature, which claimed a unique character and identity for the Japanese as opposed to other human beings. This understanding of Shintō is essentialist and ahistorical. Historical transformations in kami -worship are read as temporary departures from a pure Shintō core, while to account for the plethora of contradictory beliefs and practices related to kami, types or subdivisions of Shintō are proposed, such as Imperial Household Shintō, Shrine Shintō, Sect Shintō, or Folk Shintō, although Shintō means something different in each case. Because the national morality doctrines of pre-1945 Shintō were jettisoned at the end of the war, neo-traditionalists have tended to present Shintō ideas as matters mysteriously beyond the realm of doctrine. Thus the Shintō scholar Ono Sōkyō declared of the notion of kami in Shintō: The Kami Way (1960), "it is impossible to make explicit and clear that which fundamentally by its very nature is vague" (p. 8). Above all, the neo-traditionalist construction of Shintō as a separate, self-contained religious tradition comprehensively marginalizes the role of Buddhism, which was officially introduced from Korea in the sixth century and in one way or another has dominated Japanese religious life, including kami -worship, ever since.

At the other extreme is the radical view of Shintō associated with the Japanese historian Kuroda Toshio, who in his 1981 article "Shintō in the History of Japanese Religion" threw down a major and controversial challenge to the prevailing neo-traditionalist understanding of Shintō. Kuroda declared that the idea of an ancient, enduring, indigenous tradition of Shintō was "no more than a ghost image produced by a word linking together unrelated phenomena" (Mullins et al., p. 27). Kuroda's argument, stated simply but based on detailed research into early and medieval Buddhism, was that throughout most of Japan's history the shrines, shrine rituals, priests, concepts of kami, and other key elements of what are now called Shintō were really Buddhist through and through. The idea of an ancient Shintō tradition, native to Japan and separate from Buddhism, Kuroda argued, is nothing but a modern invention, a supporting pillar of nineteenth-century nationalism meant to sustain the ideology of emperor worship. The notion of Shintō as an ancient, unchanging tradition was designed by Meiji bureaucrats to persuade Japanese people to comply with the will of their divine emperor in pursuit of rapid industrialization at home and imperial expansion abroad. Kuroda preferred to reserve the term Shintō for those relatively rare occasions from the late Heian period onward when the term was actually used. Instead, he referred to pre-Meiji Japanese kami beliefs and practices as elements in what he called the kenmitsu taisei, or exoteric-esoteric system, a complex and variegated worldview founded on prevailing esoteric Buddhist patterns of belief and ritual practice that incorporated kami alongside other Buddhist divinities. Kuroda's claim that "ancient Shintō" was entirely a Meiji period invention, if correct, has profound implications for the modern study of Shintō. Above all, it means that kami -worship, at least before 1868, can only properly be understood within the context of Japanese Buddhism; Shintō would thus become a nonsubject.

Emerging Issues

Following Kuroda's radical challenge, the study of Shintō gained a new lease of life as scholars debated the key question of whether Shintō has existed uninterruptedly throughout Japanese history or, conversely, emerged as an independent religion only in modern times. Some critics of the Shintō establishment took the opportunity to dismiss today's Shintō as "merely" a nineteenth-century invented tradition. This was not a new charge; the Victorian Japanologist Basil Hall Chamberlain, who witnessed the process at first hand, described it in an essay titled "The Invention of a New Religion" (reprinted in Japanese Things, Tokyo, 1971). Others have pointed out that all successful traditions require periodic reinvention, and Shintō may be no exception. Even if Shintō as it is known today was invented at the time of the Meiji restoration in 1868, all scholars agree that there have been systems of shrines dedicated to kami in Japan throughout recorded history and perhaps before, so an ancient, continuous tradition of kami -worship, whether it be called Shintō or not, must surely be acknowledged in any analysis of Shintō past and present. Moreover, the Japanese imperial line is undeniably ancient, continuous, and bound up with kami beliefs. Thus, the debate has shifted from a simple either/or issue (either Shintō is a modern invention or it is an ancient enduring tradition) to detailed enquiries into such topics as the past and present use of the term Shintō; ways of discerning and discussing continuity and change in kami worship within an overarching Buddhist context; the relations between the imperial institution, kami, and shrines over long periods of time; and the role of Shintō within contemporary Japanese religion and society.

As a result of Kuroda's work, the term Shintō is now used with great caution by scholars, especially when dealing with premodern eras. Studies of Japanese religion now consciously seek to avoid making false distinctions between Shintō and Buddhism as if these have always represented separate spheres of life. Even in contemporary Japan, where Shintō shrines and Buddhist temples have been institutionally separate since 1868 and it might seem to make sense to speak of Shintō and Buddhism as different religions, most people who visit shrines to the kami also visit Buddhist temples, and often for similar purposes, namely to seek "practical benefits" (genze riyaku, kubosa ) such as easy childbirth, safe travel, true love, or success in examinations. Many, though not all, of the successful new religions of Japan also incorporate both Shintō and Buddhist themes into their rituals and beliefs. Shintō and Buddhist discourses, therefore, continue to be integrated in various ways within the lived experience of Japanese people. Kuroda's dismissal of an imagined past in which a distinctive, indigenous Shintō tradition persisted separately from Buddhism has thus highlighted continuities, as well as discontinuities, between pre- and post-Meiji Japanese religion.

ShintŌ in Japanese History

Since Shintō has meant different things at different times, it makes sense to approach the study of Shintō historically, so that themes which emerge can be treated within their historical context rather than as features of a timeless Shintō. The major systems of belief and practices relating to kami and shrines can then be considered without prejudging the issue of whether in a particular time and place these are best described as Shintō. For convenience, Japanese history will be divided into five periods, approximately as follows:

  • Early Japan (prehistoryninth century ce).
  • Medieval Japan (tenthsixteenth centuries).
  • Edo period (16001868).
  • Meiji restoration to World War II (18681945).
  • Contemporary Japan (1945present).

Early Japan

Neo-traditionalists assert that there was an unnamed, indigenous religion in Japan focusing on the worship of kami, and that this tradition was obliged to name itself Shintō in order to distinguish itself from the Buddhism later introduced from China and Korea. In practice, it is very difficult to disentangle different strands of ritual and belief and to identify one element as indigenous and another as imported. Archaeological evidence suggests that in prehistoric Japan (before 400 ce), spiritual powers related to water supplies, agriculture, seafaring, and other precarious undertakings were worshipped at various sites. The introduction of rice culture from the mainland encouraged hierarchical forms of community, whose leaders' authority was reinforced by rituals for the kami. Chinese accounts provide the earliest written information on Japan, reporting among other things that spiritual forces could be deployed by powerful women. The Weizhi, a Chinese text from the late third century ce, famously describes a Queen Pimiko who maintained her rule by what the Chinese called "magic and sorcery." Fifth-century Chinese histories tell of five Japanese kings who, like their Korean counterparts, sent tributes to China and received mirrors, ceremonial swords, and other gifts from the Chinese emperor in return. Such prized items evidently came to be used widely for ritual purposes.

The "kings" known to the Chinese were probably the rulers of the Yamato clan, which by the late fourth century had already achieved political dominance over other powerful clans in eastern, central, and western Japan. The main site of the Yamato court was at Mount Miwa in central Japan, where Ōmononushi, the protective deity of the Yamato, was worshipped as "the spirit of the land." Around the fifth century, Chinese-style notions of an all-embracing imperial rule meant that the competing clans progressively converged under a central authority, adopting common myths of origin. Huge burial tombs constructed for the Yamato rulers at this time attested to their military and political dominance. Royal funeral and succession rites were developed that involved pacification of the deceased king's spirit through a recitation of his genealogy and accomplishments. Members of immigrant clans with expertise in writing were in charge of these rituals. They developed methods of recording names and other Japanese terms using Chinese characters phonetically. The two earliest such writings, the Kojiki (Record of ancient matters, 712 ce) and Nihonshoki (Chronicle of Japan, 720 ce) affirm the divine ancestry of the Yamato line and provide detailed accounts of "the age of the gods," including the creation of the world and the descent of certain kami to the land. Sub-narratives chronicling the subordination of descendants of "earthly kami " appear to symbolize the conquest of previously independent clans. The founding myths (engi ) of great seafaring shrines such as the Sumiyoshi Taisha (in modern Osaka) are also retold, locating established sites of ritual power within the Yamato story.

Through such narratives, influenced heavily by Chinese themes and first written down almost two centuries after Buddhism came to Japan, the Yamato claimed the sun deity Amaterasu as their ancestor, enshrining this important kami at Ise in the direction of the sunrise and dedicating a succession of imperial princesses to officiate at the Ise shrines. While the cult of Amaterasu became increasingly important to the preservation of the emperor's mystique, the removal of Amaterasu's shrine from the Yamato court and the delegation of worship at Ise to female members of the imperial family at this time suggest that female ritualists who, like Queen Pimiko, had previously played an important ritual-political role at the center, were now to be marginalized.

Court offerings and the registering of shrines

Under Yamato rule, regular offerings of "divine treasures" made to the court symbolized the fealty of subordinate clans. Archaeological findings show that certain ancient ritual sites of strategic importance to Yamato rule attracted thousands of offerings from the Yamato court over many centuries. An example is Oki no shima, a small island off the coast of northwest Kyushu dedicated to the deity Munakata, a kami revered by local clans with important links to the continent. The implication is that the Yamato made ritual offerings to raise the status of selected shrines in order to secure relations with important subordinate clans. Such exchanges, and subsequent systems of registering and ranking important shrines by the central authority served to reinforce the Chinese-style notion of the Japanese emperor as absolute lord of "all under heaven." Under the Ritsuryō system of Chinese law, introduced in the seventh century, the notion of Japan as a single realm controlled by the emperor was reinforced by the propagation of Buddhism from the center and the appropriation of local kami cults by the central government. Imperial rites such as the mysterious daijōsai ritual of imperial succession involved offerings from representative shrines, while seasonal court rituals following the agricultural cycle, such as the niiname (ritual of new rice), and official norito prayers to the kami were replicated in major shrines throughout Japan.

The management of these ritual activities was the province of several lineages of court ritualists, including the influential Nakatomi clan, who in 669 divided into two branches. One branch retained the Nakatomi name and responsibility for ritual affairs, while the members of the Fujiwara branch rose to an unparalleled position as the controlling political family of Japan in their roles as ministers, advisers, regents, and heirs to the imperial line. Like other leading clans based in the capital, the Fujiwara now sought to affirm a continuing inherited right to political power by developing a cult of their own clan deity (ujigami), a powerful ancestral kami to be worshipped exclusively by their own clan. Since the Fujiwara had no such deity, the thunderbolt kami, Takemikazuchi, originally enshrined at Kashima in the east, was ritually "invited" to the court capital, along with the divine ancestor kami of the Nakatomi. From the eighth century these deities occupied the Kasuga shrine, which thus became the tutelary shrine of the Fujiwara clan, part of the Kofukuji-Kasuga temple-shrine complex around which the Nara capital developed. Subsequently, the Fujiwara's clan rites at Kasuga became part of the official ritual calendar, thus blurring the distinction between public, Ritsuryō-style state ritual at recognized shrines and "private" observances at important independent shrines.

While court histories and chronicles provide a wealth of data about the view from the center, there is scant information from this period about nonregulated cults and practices pursued at provincial shrines and no evidence that these shrines shared a common theology or ritual practice that could be called Shintō. Local records (fudoki ) indicate that rites were performed by local clan chiefs doubling as ritual specialiststo propitiate angry kami, for example. These rites were normally held in yashiro, open places of assembly, rather than in shrine buildings. The growing influence of Buddhist and Daoist ideas gave shape to some local rites, while the increase in offerings to and from the court and registered shrines required more permanent shrine buildings to provide storage. The court policy of making grants of money, land, and official rank to local communities through officially registered shrines encouraged the creation of such shrines in virtually every community. Most major shrines developed from the eighth century as jingūji, or shrine-temples. These were sites of veneration of buddhas and kami which acquired considerable economic and political power as well as religious significance. The Ritsuryō understanding of power as something distributed from the center and transmitted by heredity fostered claims by leading provincial clans for recognition as branches of the major clans already established at court. Applications for shrines to be registered and ranked ever higher on the basis of the power or miracles of their kami proliferated. By the tenth century the Engishiki (Procedures of the Engi era) recorded nearly three thousand officially recognized shrines throughout Japan, far too many for the Ministry of Kami Affairs (Jingikan) to cope with. In practice, a few hundred "national official shrines" in the central provinces and some shrines of particularly powerful deities throughout the country remained under the aegis of the ministry, while the majority of local shrines developed in their own ways, increasingly under the influence of Buddhism. The ambitious project of regulating shrines and temples according to the Ritsuryō system did not achieve its goal, but more than a thousand years later, in 1868, it was to provide a reference point for the "restoration" of supposedly Shintō institutions such as the Jingikan.

Early references to the term Shintō

Most early references to the kami connected with the Yamato court and the imperial line allude to them as jingi, a high-status term for the heavenly deities drawn from Chinese Confucian vocabulary. Thus laws relating to kami, called jingi-ryo, were administered by the Jingikan. However the Nihonshoki also contains the earliest rare occurrences of the word Shintō. At the time, this term was pronounced "jindō " (equivalent to the term shen-dao in Chinese, meaning "spirits"). The Nihonshoki records that Emperor Yomei "had faith in the buddhadharma and 'revered' jindō " while Emperor Kotoku "revered the buddhadharma but 'scorned' jindō " (he is said to have cut down the trees at a shrine). Interpretations of these brief references to Shintō vary; some scholars find in them evidence that Shintō was recognized at this early stage as a religion separate from Buddhism; others have proposed the meaning "Daoism." Because these references relate to the two emperors' contribution to the establishment of Buddhism in Japan, jindō most probably just means "spirits" and refers to individual, potentially troublesome, local kami who could be pacified by Buddhist rites (a usage of the term shen-dao well-attested in Chinese Buddhist sources) rather than to a system of religious thought and practice regarded as an alternative to Buddhism.

Medieval Japan

The medieval period witnessed a variety of developments in systems of kami -worship, stimulated by social and political changes and the spread of Buddhism and other Chinese religious influences. It is often said that an "amalgamation of kami and buddhas" (shinbutsu shūgō ) took place in the medieval period or earlier. The phrase shinbutsu shūgō is regularly encountered in modern writing; it is the antonym of shinbutsu bunri or "dissociation of kami and buddhas." This dissociation did occur (though it was not at the time called shinbutsu bunri ) and can be dated to a specific point in time, 1868. However, there is no comparable moment in early Japan where kami and buddhas came together fully formed; rather, the various notions of kami encountered in Japanese history were developed through interaction with continental modes of thought, including Buddhism, itself susceptible to a degree of adaptation in the new context. As we have seen, early representations of the imperial kami as jingi owed something to Chinese ideas, while the notion of jindō construed kami as spirits within a Chinese-style Buddhist worldview. An example of amalgamation is the god Hachiman, in some respects the greatest divinity in Japan. Hachiman was already strongly identified with the propagation of Buddhism before he rose to prominence at court in the early eighth century, having been ceremonially transported from western Japan to Nara to endorse the building of the Great Eastern Temple (the Todaiji). Until 1868 this divinity was normally referred to as Great Bodhisattva Hachiman; after the dissociation of 1868 he became, and still is now, Great Kami Hachiman.

Buddhism has a long history of assimilating local spirits into its own cosmology and soteriology. Already in China there existed well-developed theories of "temporary appearance" (in Japanese: keshin ) and "original sourcetrace manifestation" (honji-suijaku ; the idea that local divinities emanate from the original Buddha). These theories accounted for the various outward forms manifested by cosmic, ultimately formless, buddhas and bodhisattvas to accomplish the liberation of all beings from this world of illusion. By the medieval period a richly articulated international Buddhist worldview, fifteen hundred years in the making and transmitted through esoteric lineages of monastic masters and disciples, predominated in Japan. The key question was how a particular shrine or kami was to be incorporated within a religious discourse that was overwhelmingly Buddhist. There was no single answer to this question, and we find shrine and temple priests offered a wide range of explanations, from the view that kami, like other sentient beings, need to receive Buddhist teaching in order to attain salvation (these were referred to as "real" kami or jisshin, literally "they are merely what they seem"), through the notion favored particularly at court that the kami are the special guardians of Buddhism (and therefore of Japan as a Buddhist kingdom), to declarations by the new Shintō medieval cults that the kami are not only fully enlightened but, in a reversal of the Buddhist formula, are really the foundational entities underlying the temporary forms of the buddhas and bodhisattvas worshipped in India, China, and Japan. Some kami were also identified as angry spirits (goryō ) of notable historical figures who had been unfairly disgraced or died in tragic circumstances. They expressed their anguish through curses (tatari ) which took the form of epidemics, and cults were developed for their pacification; once appeased they could evolve into benign and powerful kami. Even jisshin, or "real" kami, could actually be buddhas who had temporarily "dimmed their light and mingled with the dust" (wakō dōjin ), the more effectively to teach the buddhadharma in human or animal forms. In general, the status of miscellaneous kami rose within the Buddhist hierarchical cosmos during the early and medieval periods to the point where identifying either a buddha or a major kami as the focus of worship became a matter of style rather than substance; a situation which still prevails today.

The twenty-two shrines

Attempts under the Ritsuryō system to establish central control of local shrines through registration, award of ranks, reciprocal offerings, and unification of rites had come to an end by the eleventh century. Only a small elite group known as "the twenty-two shrines," with close ties to the emperor and the Fujiwara, now received court offerings and shrine visits from members of the court. These great shrines, more accurately shrine-temple complexes, came to possess significant economic and political power. Through donation of lands they developed extensive, tax-free estates able to support a full-time clergy. The priests developed intricate and often secret rationales and rituals designed to conserve and reinforce the close associations between the shrine-temple complex, its various deities, and the ruling elite. Such associations involved systems of equivalences, identifying local divinities with named buddhas and bodhisattvas. This precious knowledge, which coupled the fortunes of the ruler to the well-being of the cultic site, was recorded in documents which came to acquire the status of sacred texts, comparable to Buddhist esoteric manuals.

The secret teachings of the shrine-temple complexes incorporated yin and yang theory, Confucianism, and other elements derived from continental thought, and they provided a point of departure for new "Shintō" theories about the sacred sites and their divinities. This in turn fostered popular devotion to the shrine-temples in the form of worship, pilgrimage, and donations. Pilgrimage became increasingly popular as a religious practice among the court aristocracy of the late Heian period. In the Kamakura period (11851333), the practice spread to lower orders of society, with a consequent increase in both the numbers of pilgrims and their economic importance to the shrine-temple complexes. The teachings available to devotees underlined the importance of visiting the shrines, which came to be understood as reservoirs of spiritual purity, endowed with the power to enlighten. The teachings also identified the combinatory divinities at each shrine. At Ise, for example, the sun goddess Tenshōdaijin (Amaterasu) was the Buddha Vairochana (Jap., Rushana, Dainichi-nyorai) or according to another source the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara (Jap., Kannon bosatsu). These divinities, endowed with magical and healing powers, offered advantages to all who came within their ambit in quest of miracles, religious merit, or enlightenment.

Late medieval developments

Most shrines throughout the country were obliged to seek new supporters from near or far, and the steady decline of the court meant that by the fifteenth century even the twenty-two shrines were receiving negligible imperial support, though their reputation as top shrines persisted. Provincial governors, meanwhile, founded civic shrines in local capitals to host public rituals for the landowning elite, featuring military, theatrical, and agricultural rites and displays. In a context of political instability, military clans originally formed by warring landowners rose to power, eventually eclipsing the resources and ritual status of the court and promulgating their own forms of religiosity. The Minamoto military clan, which provided Japan's first shogun in 1192, adopted as their ancestral and tutelary deity Hachiman, the bodhisattva-kami long associated with both military conquest and Buddhist merit.

The new combinatory cults, based at shrine-temple complexes but propagating their teachings to a wider audience, therefore viewed both kami and Buddhist divinities as enlightened beings. They offered specific means of salvation to individuals, in the manner of esoteric Buddhist lineages. The combinatory cults drew in different proportions on Buddhist, Daoist, Confucian, and kami beliefs, and during the Kamakura period came to dominate the medieval religious landscape. Although some of these combinatory cults may be described as Shintō and others as Buddhist, this is not a particularly helpful way of understanding their nature and role in the medieval context. From the perspective of a modern Shintōist, movements such as Watarai Shintō or Yoshida Shintō might be construed as the first tentative shoots of a later revival of "pure" Shintō, but in the context of their time they were creative religious movements that, like the "new Buddhisms" of the Kamakura period, drew inspiration from images, rituals, and doctrine selected from a variety of sources. Their founders and systematizers added new elements and interpretations, sometimes presenting these as ancient truths, to provide a meaningful and authoritative path to salvation for contemporary worshipers faced with a range of religious possibilities.

The leadership of these combinatory cults was exclusively male, as was the perspective of their writings. Where a public religious role relied on heredity this was patrilineal, with adoption of a suitable male heir where necessary. Religious institutions and movements in medieval Japan, whether interpreting native, Chinese, or Buddhist strands of thought, shared and thereby reinforced a long-established view of women as lesser beings, subject to various "hindrances" such as blood pollution and turbulent emotions that rendered them unfit for any responsible public role within a religious hierarchy, or indeed any other field of governance. Although women were encouraged to participate in the expanding popular cults as ordinary pilgrims, supplicants, or worshipers, and some of the new Buddhist movements such as Pure Land and Nichiren asserted their theoretical spiritual equality, the contributions that women undoubtedly made to the development of the medieval combinatory cults remain largely invisible to history.

Ryōbu, Watarai, and Sannō Shintō

Among the most successful cults developed by the twenty-two shrines were Ryōbu Shintō and Watarai Shintō, both focusing on the Ise shrines; and Sannō Shintō, based at Mount Hiei. As imperial support declined, popular ritual activities based on these teachings provided significant economic support for the major complexes. The success of these cultic centers formed the popular and enduring conception of kami as enlightened beings at least equal to buddhas, and they redefined pilgrimage and other shrine rituals as techniques of individual purification and enlightenment.

Ryōbu (Dual) Shintō developed as an aspect of Shingon Buddhist thought, both to account for the existence of two shrines at Ise (one dedicated to Amaterasu, the other to the food deity Toyouke) and to explain the place of these important imperial kami within esoteric Buddhist cosmology and ritual practice. Buddhism had been taboo within the Ise shrine ever since a notorious bid in 768 by the priest Dōkyō to succeed his protégée, the nun-empress Shōtoku, as emperor. Had he been successful, Dōkyō's accession to the throne would have destroyed the principle of heredity on which not only the imperial succession but also the power and status of the Fujiwara and other major clans at court relied. Once Dōkyō had been thwarted, thanks to an oracle from the bodhisattva-kami Hachiman at Usa, which rejected Dōkyō's claim to the throne, Ise was reconstituted as an inviolable symbol of the hereditary imperial line, out of bounds to Buddhist priests, Buddhist raiment, and even Buddhist vocabulary. Nevertheless, Buddhism thrived at Ise, and it was priest-monks associated with the Ise estates who produced the medieval texts underpinning Ryōbu Shintō. Dual, in the context of Ryōbu Shintō, refers to the two maalas of Shingon esoteric Buddhism and their correspondence to the two Ise shrines. Texts such as the Nakatomi Harae Kunge (Exegesis of the Nakatomi Purification Formula) produced by Ise monks explained that the taboo on signs of Buddhism within the precincts of the shrine resulted from a pact made in the Age of the Gods between Amaterasu and the demon king, who feared that Japan, once created, would become a Buddhist country. Amaterasu cleverly offered to ban Buddhism at her shrine if the demon king promised not to destroy the land. Thus the Ise taboo existed to guarantee, not to oppose, the spread of Buddhism in Japan.

On the basis of such theories and other "secret" texts, which later became known as the Five Books of Shintō (Shintō gobusho ), priests of the Watarai lineage in charge of the Ise Outer Shrine argued, on the basis of Chinese yin-yang theory, quotations from the Nihonshoki, and other sources, that the shrine of Toyouke was equal, and in fact superior, to that of Amaterasu, deity of the Inner Shrine. These debates, which on occasion generated bitter lawsuits between the two shrines, had more than scholastic implications; the success of the Watarai pilgrimage trade depended on pilgrims' confidence that to visit the Outer Shrine of Toyouke was to visit the real Ise shrine. Although the Watarai declined in influence after supporting the losing Southern side in the contest of the Northern and Southern courts (13361392), Ise Shintō theories were subsequently taken up by the Arakida family of Inner Shrine priests and by various Buddhist sects, while elements of these Ise Shintō teachings, such as the notion of a God of Great Origin, were also disseminated through Yoshida Shintō.

While Ise Shintō was closely though not exclusively derived from Shingon Buddhist theories, Sannō Shintō (Shintō of the Mountain King) was a complex tradition of cosmology, ritual, and art flowing from the great Tendai temple-shrine complex on Mount Hiei outside Kyoto, originally founded in the ninth century by Saichō. Worship of seven indigenous and invited deities, including the combinatory deity Hie Sannō, formed the focus of the Sannō cult, whose intricate theoretical basis was developed by specialist monastic chroniclers (kike ) drawing on a great variety of Buddhist and other sources. The wealth of equivalences, correspondences, and cross-references in the theoretical systems underpinning the cultic complexes meant significant overlap and integration between the different systems; so, for example, Sannō was also Amaterasu, deity of Ise, and an emanation (gongen ) of the Buddha Shakyamuni.

Japan as a land of the gods (shinkoku)

The period from the eleventh to thirteenth centuries saw a post-Ritsuryō structure emerge in which Japan was conceived not as a reflection of the ideal Chinese state but as a separate Buddhist land, and indeed as a center for the spread of Buddhism. The imperial line secured its future by defending Buddhism and the power of Buddhism protected the country. Esoteric Buddhism reached the peak of its ritual influence at court, while the "new Buddhisms" of the Kamakura period, emphasizing the perils of mappō (the degenerate age of the dharma ) and the corresponding need for "easy" methods of liberation, vied to offer techniques of salvation designed by the buddhas for the special time and circumstances of Japan. Nichiren (12221282), for example, argued that the kami who protected Buddhism (and hence the country) had abandoned Japan because of neglect of the Lotus Sūtra. The popular notion of Japan as a shinkoku, or land of the kami, at this time relied on the honji-suijaku understanding of kami as emanations, traces, or local appearances of the cosmic buddhas and bodhisattvas, or as guardians of the dharma. The existence of these pro-Buddhist divinities throughout the country provided conclusive evidence that Japan, as a shinkoku, or divine land, was, along with India and China, one of the three great centers of the Buddhist world. This notion reinforced the legitimacy of the emperor as protector of Buddhism and validated the activities of numerous cults performing religious rituals and maintaining sacred sites. Subsequently, following the abortive Mongol invasions of the late thirteenth century, the notion of shinkoku began to change, implying Japan's superiority to her neighbors, a tendency later encouraged in the Edo period by the rise of National Learning. By the Meiji period, under the influence of nationalist thought and the dissociation of kami and buddhas, the Buddhist significance of shinkoku was entirely lost, so that to the modern ear the phrase can mean nothing more profound than "the kami are on our side."

Yoshida Shintō

Following the catastrophic Ōnin War of 14671477 and the final collapse of the system of imperial support for the twenty-two shrines, a new religious movement known, among other names, as Yui-itsu Shintō (the one and only Shintō) emerged in Kyoto. Its founder was the religious entrepreneur Yoshida Kanetomo, a priest at the Yoshida shrine originally founded by the Fujiwara as the Heian branch of their tutelary Kasuga shrine. Kanetomo ostensibly rejected Buddhism in favor of his Yui-itsu Shintō, though the new teachings that he promulgated about the kami of the Yoshida shrine struck a chord with his audience precisely because they offered an attractive synthesis of the prevailing forms of religious knowledge, arranging Buddhist, Confucian, and Daoist or yin-yang ideas according to principles of Chinese numerology. Kanetomo secured the endorsement of the emperor for his interpretation of Shintō, even for the bold claim that all the major divinities of Japan, including the deities of Ise, had migrated to the Yoshida shrine, so that a pilgrimage or offering to the Yoshida shrine was now the only effective way to benefit from the power and blessings of these deities. Although the rise of Yoshida Shintō inevitably provoked opposition from other cultic sites, Kanetomo's version of Shintō was outstandingly successful. It grew to the status of a nationwide cult, spreading elements of Ryōbu and Watarai Shintō along with Kanetomo's ideas.

Yoshida Shintō used for its own propagation an image known as "the oracles of the three shrines" (sanja takusen ). This took the form of a scroll inscribed with the names of the top three shrines in Japan (Ise, Kasuga, and Iwashimizu Hachiman; these three were seen as representing all shrines) and three brief oracular statements affirming the virtues of honesty, purity, and compassion. These three shrines also represented, according to Fujiwara tradition, a covenant made in the Age of the Gods between the Fujiwara (Kasuga), the shogunate (Hachiman), and the imperial house (Ise) to cooperate in the rule of Japan. Copies of the scroll formed a kind of virtual shrine at which the deities of the Yoshida shrine could be revered. By such means, followers of Yoshida Shintō were encouraged to identify all shrines as signifiers of the parent Yoshida shrine in Kyoto.

Edo Period (16001868)

Following many decades of civil war and the sudden appearance, and almost as sudden disappearance after a century, of Catholic Westerners, the Edo period saw the growth of cities and the rise of a prosperous merchant class, the government's incorporation of all Buddhist sects, regardless of religious differences, into a single nationwide system of local temple registration, and the favoring of neo-Confucianism as a political philosophy for the military elite. A massive expansion of popular pilgrimage to cultic sites founded on local religious associations, or kō, was accompanied by the spread of syncretic religious movements involving kami worship. This period witnessed several developments that turned out to be crucial to the formation of modern Shintō. These included the establishment of a viable national system of shrine ranking and registration under the Yoshida and Shirakawa houses; the increasing conceptualization of Shintō as an anti-Buddhist, or at least non-Buddhist, native tradition; the association of Shintō with Confucian ethical thought; and the rise of the most important intellectual tradition behind modern Shintō, that of Kokugaku, or National Learning.


The military leaders who emerged to unite Japan during the sixteenth century following the Warring States period were unable to claim ancestral legitimacy as the rulers of Japan, and they therefore adopted the neo-Confucian notion of tendō (the way of heaven) to legitimise their violent appropriation of power. In addition, the first Tokugawa shogun, Ieyasu, was enshrined after his death in the magnificent purpose-built mausoleum of Nikkō, where he was venerated according to Sannō Shintō rites as a daigongen, or great emanation of the Buddha. Successive Tokugawa shoguns made official pilgrimages to the Nikkō shrine, symbolically affirming that the enshrined spirit of their ancestor Ieyasu was equivalent in status to the imperial deity of Ise, and a Buddhist divinity.

Under the Tokugawa bakufu (government) the influence of Confucian ideas expandedin particular the neo-Confucianism of Zhu Xi (11301200), and to a lesser extent that of Wang Yangming (14721529). Neo-Confucianism encouraged "the investigation of things"; an activity which could take the form of rational enquiry or Zen-like methods of contemplation. Confucianism encouraged the study of the ancient past, the days of Confucius, as the template for an ideal society. Originally this meant China's past, but among Japanese scholars interest shifted towards that which was specifically Japanese: the Age of the Gods as documented in native Japanese literature. Neo-Confucianism in China already had an anti-Buddhist character, and this too was transferred to Japan. The combination of anti-Buddhist sentiment and interest in ancient Japanese texts led some thinkers in the Tokugawa period to distinguish Buddhism as a separate category from Japan's indigenous tradition, which some identified as Shintō.

Attempts to separate out a form of Shintō that would be independent of Buddhism required a radical rethinking of key Shintō concepts in non-Buddhist terms. Here again, Confucianism provided an alternative philosophical legitimation, in this case for Shintō notions such as kami. A number of influential theorists of the early Edo period sought an intellectual rapprochement between Confucianism and Shintō. Hayashi Razan (15831657) was an independent scholar and advisor to the bakufu who developed a theory of kami as ri (principle). He undertook extensive studies of major shrines and their cults with the aim of showing that they were, or should have been, distinct from Buddhism. Yamaga Sokō (16221685) argued that the ethical ideals exemplified in ancient Shintō predated Chinese ethics, and therefore Japan, not China, should be regarded as the Middle Kingdom, an idea later taken up by proponents of National Learning. Yoshikawa Koretari (16161694) modernized Yoshida Shintō teachings by linking them to neo-Confucianism, focusing on the virtue of self-denial (tsutsushimi ) to be achieved by purification (harae ). Yamazaki Ansai (16161682) developed an extremely influential system which he called Suika Shintō, based on a reference to an oracle in a thirteenth-century Ise Shintō text which declares: "To receive divine beneficence (sui ), give priority to prayer; to obtain divine protection (ka ), make uprightness your basis." In Ansai's Confucian reading of the Shintō scriptures, kami were again identified with the principle (ri ) that unites heaven and man. Kami inheres in the human heart or mind (kokoro ) and should be united and venerated there through sincerity and prayer. Elaborating on Confucian notions of respect and self-denial, Ansai interpreted the Nihonshoki and Kojiki narratives as documenting eternal relations between imperial line, lord, and vassal. The intellectual and esoteric aspects of Suika Shintō came to influence the imperial court, to the extent that some ancient court rites were revived in the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Ansai's ideas were subsequently developed in different ways by his numerous disciples and their schools. The idea that Confucian ethics and Shintō rites are natural bedfellows continued into the modern period in the post-Meiji emperor system (exemplified, for example, in the 1890 Imperial Rescript on Education) and in prewar teachings on national morality.

Shrines and temples in the Edo period

In order to control the shrines, the Tokugawa bakufu restricted the land holdings of the twenty-two shrine complexes and placed them under the control of local daimyō (feudal lords). In 1665 they granted to the Yoshida family and to certain court families, notably the Shirakawa, the power to grant licenses (ranks) to shrine priests. The intention was to give the Yoshida, as servants of the bakufu, an effective monopoly over licensing. Although disputes continued well into the Edo period between the Yoshida and Shirakawa over the boundaries of their respective influence, the system provided the government for the first time with meaningful central control over the activities of virtually all shrines and their priests in Japan. Meanwhile, as one of the measures designed to expel Christianity, Buddhist temples throughout Japan had been organized into parishes where local families, including those of shrine priests, were required to register and to conduct their family's funeral rites. As the economy grew during the Edo period, the family system that required the eldest son to perform ancestral rituals spread to all levels of society and led to an increasing need for the services of Buddhist temples. Many Buddhist temples prospered, but their position as administrative agencies of the bakufu and their monopoly over funeral rites became a cause for resentment, not least among the rising class of professional shrine priests licensed by the Yoshida and Shirakawa, some of whom wished to conduct funerals of their own. These factors contributed to anti-Buddhist feeling, which in some cases took the form of a pro-Shintō movement. As early as 1666, for example, the government of the Mito domain closed more than a thousand Buddhist temples, ordered all Buddhist objects to be removed from shrines, and ordered a shrine to be built for each village. Overall, however, throughout the Edo period the popular view remained that Shintō and Buddhist institutions, rites, and practices complemented rather than competed with each other.

Increasingly, shrines and temples in prosperous urban areas competed to attract visitors with festivals, entertainments, food, and cultural activities, while popular preachers connected with the Yoshida school, such as the renowned Masuho Zankō (16551742), drew large crowds with down-to-earth sermons on Shintō topics. Many festivals developed into their modern forms during the Edo period. The annual calendar was standardized by the Edo bakufu, the gosekku (five seasonal days) were declared national holidays, and festivals were celebrated on these numerologically significant days. For example, the third day of the third month was jōshi rites of purification in which impurity was transferred to dolls, which were then cast into the water (the origin of today's hina matsuri, or doll's festival)while on the seventh day of the seventh month the tanabata star festival was celebrated. From their origins as communal agricultural rites for the kami, annual festivals increasingly became spectacles in urban areas, drawing large crowds to view the rituals and processions rather than to participate directly in them.

Religious confraternities

Many local or more widespread religious confraternities (kō ) developed in this period, some independently of any religious establishment and most often with the goal of pooling funds to enable representative members to travel on pilgrimage to great shrines or sacred mountains. Some of these groups evolved into the Sect Shintō organizations of the Meiji period. The focus of devotion might be pilgrimage (to Ise, the Shikoku circuit, or a host of other venues), or religious practices relating to particular divinities such as Inari, Konjin, or Jizō. Pilgrimage, a predominantly urban phenomenon in the Edo period, offered one of the few legitimate grounds for travel under the Tokugawa regime and provided an essential source of income for major religious institutions. Encouraging and enabling groups and individuals to undertake pilgrimage became a preoccupation of all the important cultic sites. This was particularly true of the Ise complex, which hosted a constant round of regular pilgrimages organized by the shrine's countrywide network of enterprising oshi (pilgrim-masters). A popular jingle ran, "You should visit Ise at least once in your life," while another, mindful of the many worldly distractions available to wide-eyed pilgrims, advised "When you go to Ise, don't forget to visit the shrine!" Remarkably, several apparently spontaneous mass nationwide pilgrimages to Ise, some involving millions of people, occurred at intervals of about seventy years throughout the Edo period. Reflecting the changing meaning of the shrine and the requirements of the pilgrimage trade, the oracles of the three shrines (sanja takusen ) scroll, which in the late medieval period had signified the enshrinement of the top three deities at the Yoshida shrine in Kyoto, now displayed personified images of the gods as combinatory divinities. With Amaterasu at its center (in male Buddhist garb; the gender of Amaterasu became fixed only after the Meiji period) the scroll came to be regarded primarily as a souvenir of pilgrimage to Ise. According to the beliefs and values of the particular kō involved, and the nature of the shrines and temples visited en route, the pilgrimage itself might be conceived as embodying acts of religious merit-making, purification, expiation, petition, intercession, or healing.

Prominent among mountain-worship kō were those focusing on Mount Fuji. Mountains in Japan represent "otherness" for agricultural communities and have often been the site of encounters with buddhas, kami, and other spiritual beings. Agricultural rites commonly celebrated the descent of kami to the rice fields and their return to the mountains. Shūgendō religious specialists conducted elaborate combinatory rituals in which participation in the ascent of the mountain represented a spiritual birth, death, purification, and enlightenment. Edo-period mountain cults became eclectic and adapted to the interests of the common people. Fuji-kō, religious associations focusing on Mount Fuji, were inaugurated in the early seventeenth century by Hasegawa Takematsu, or Kakugyō, whose spiritual powers derived from ascetic practices performed at the mountain. Around eight hundred Fuji sects developed, attracting worshippers mainly from Edo and the surrounding area. To follow just one thread: in 1688 after an ascent of Mount Fuji inspired by Kakugyo's teachings, Ito Jikigyō (16711733) revealed himself to be an emanation of the Bodhisattva Miroku (Maitreya, the coming Buddha). Jikigyō's Miroku-ha (Maitreyism) teachings emphasizing faith in Mount Fuji attracted a wide following. They were subsequently reinterpreted, first by Kotani Sanshi Rokugyō (d. 1841) who taught that the whole world was under the care of the kami "mother and father of all" (moto no chichi-haha ) who resided on Mount Fuji, and again after the Meiji restoration by Shibata Hamamori (18091890), who erased Buddhist elements, emphasized emperor worship, and is now regarded as the founder of the modern Jikkyō-kyō. The movement was recognized as a Shintō sect and named Shintō Jikkyō-kyō in 1882. Shibata's son attended the 1893 World Parliament of Religions in Chicago. The teachings today emphasize cheerfulness and sincerity; thousands of members dressed in white ascend Mount Fuji in August shouting "rokkon shōjō " ("purification of the six sense-organs") originally a phrase found in the Lotus Sūtra, though the group maintains a strong Shintō identity. The ascent of sacred mountains was normally denied to women before the Meiji restoration.

National Learning (Kokugaku)

From the early eighteenth century, as economic growth, increasing literacy, and the spread of printed literature extended opportunities for scholarly study among the lower levels of society, Confucian interpretations of Shintō began to be overtaken by rationalist and philological studies of native literature. Rather than seeking arcane correspondences between Shintō and Chinese systems of thought, scholars interested in Japanese ancient customs began to approach the study of Japanese literature in a critical and empirical manner, examining in painstaking detail different recensions of texts and the forms of writing used in different periods of Japanese history. These researches led, among other things, to the debunking of much of the literature produced by medieval Shintō. Yoshimi Yoshikazu, for example, compared the Watarai's Shintō gobusho (the Five Books of Shintō) with texts of the Nara period to prove that the Watarai "ancient" texts were in fact the product of medieval minds. Similar devastating critiques were aimed at the Yoshida and Suika Shintō sacred books.

These methodological advances underpinned the development of what came to be known as Kokugaku (National Learning or Japanese Studies). Initially this was an academic discipline that sought to uncover the forms of Japanese culture that existed before any influence from outside, in particular before the introduction of Buddhism and Chinese thought. Favorite topics were early Japanese collections of poetry such as the Man'yōshū and Kokinshū and the narratives relating to kami in the Nihonshoki and Kojiki. Kada Azumamaro (16691736) was perhaps the first writer to offer a nonliteral account of the Age of the Gods in the Nihonshoki, arguing that the myths depicted an ethical ideal to which humans should aspire. His disciple Kamo no Mabuchi (16971769) took a similar approach to the Man'yōshū, identifying desirable "Japanese" qualities of masculine vigor and spontaneity which, he argued, were later obscured by the introduction of undesirable "feminine" literary and aesthetic values imported from the continent.

In the late eighteenth century, National Learning developed from an academic discipline into a significant socioreligious movement made up of scholars with large followings whose goal became the "restoration" (fukko ) of Shintō. The major figure in this movement and a towering figure in Japanese intellectual history was Motoori Norinaga (17301801). Inspired by Kamo no Mabuchi to turn his attention to ancient Japanese literature in search of the original Japanese "way," Norinaga's remarkable critical scholarship and relentless schedule of lecture tours gained him hundreds of dedicated disciples and nationwide recognition. His major commentary on the Kojiki remains an authoritative work. In terms of literary theory, Norinaga argued that the truth of things was set out in the ancient texts; though obscure it could be grasped by the sincere Japanese heart. He elevated unmediated feeling and the "movement of the heart" over Confucian and Buddhist scholastic moralizing and identified these suprarational qualities as unique to the Japanese way, thus providing his contemporaries with a new nativist lens through which to view the classics of Japanese literature. In the narratives of the Age of the Gods he found both a literal account and an ideal of ethical behavior manifested in the inviolable imperial line.

Hirata Atsutane and restoration Shintō

Norinaga's approach was thoroughly Japanocentric, and it is this aspect of his thought that became most prominent in the teachings of Hirata Atsutane (17761843). Atsutane was inspired by Norinaga's writings and later came to be regarded as Norinaga's successor in Kokugaku, though the two never actually met. Atsutane's approach was more religious than literary, and as a scholar he proved eclectic and populist, without the intellectual rigor of Norinaga. Drawing on the notion of an original "Japanese way" superior to the continental philosophies, Atsutane developed the theory that Shintō was a universal religion that lay at the root of all religious truth, wherever found. This enabled Atsutane to incorporate popular Buddhist ideas such as karma, ancestor worship, geomancy, and the spirit world into his teaching on the grounds that these were elements of original Shintō that had also found their way into lesser, foreign religions. His approach was actually not very different from that of the medieval Shintō theorists who sought correspondences between the Age of the Gods, Buddhism, and yin and yang. Perhaps because of this, and the fact that he had acquired a large following in several areas of Japan, Atsutane was commissioned first by the Yoshida and then by the Shirakawa to teach Shintō to shrine priests. Atsutane's adopted son Kanetane successfully expanded the movement after his father's death and in the 1850s, as Japan reopened to the West, the Hirata school's pro-Japanese and antiforeign views attracted new followers from all classes, including influential samurai concerned about Japan's fragile international position. To secure the "Japanese way" in the face of the foreign threat, the Hirata faction envisaged a restored Shintō in which the Yoshida and Shirakawa would play a prominent role.

The influential restoration ideologue Ōkuni Takamasa (17921871) held Atsutane in high esteem and used some of Atsutane's ideas on comparative religion in his own attempts to accommodate Christianity, speculating that Adam, Eve, and Cain were kami sent from Japan to open up the Western world, while the Virgin who bore Jesus may have been the kami Hiruko. However, despite the Hirata school's passion for the restoration of Shintō and Okuni's regard for Atsutane's theories, it was not the Hirata vision of Shintō that was "restored" when the emperor came to power in 1868. Instead, a refurbished system of imperial ritual was introduced, controlled from the court. Devised by Ōkuni and colleagues from the Tsuwano fief, it offered no role to the Yoshida and Shirakawa families, nor to any other schools of Edo-period Shintō. In one major respect, however, it fulfilled a major aim of the Hirata school by instituting a form of Shintō that was regarded as both unique to the Japanese race and separate from Buddhism.

Meiji restoration to World War II

The Meiji restoration of 1868 led to profound changes in every aspect of Japanese life, and the transformation of Shintō has to be understood in this context. The new Meiji government's broad aim was to create as rapidly as possible a modern state out of what had been a feudal society. While the ultimate goal of modernizationa rich, powerful, industrialized empire at least equal to those of the European powerswas hardly in dispute, there was less consensus over the means of achieving the goal and, in particular, the price to be paid for it in terms of loss of meaning and cultural identity. Debates on these topics occupied some of the best minds of the early Meiji period. The first objective of the new Meiji government was to make a break from Tokugawa traditions and to mobilize an unprepared populace to pull in one new direction rather than many. Like other emerging European nations, the Japanese regime sought to build public confidence and cohesion by wrapping radical new ventures in symbols of the past. In the case of Japan, the process perhaps went further than in any other modern nation and was, arguably, more successful.

In the realm of religion, developments in the first few years of the Meiji period were propelled principally by ideology, but also by bureaucratic, political, and economic considerations. With hindsight, a process of trial and error is evident. In regard to local shrines, one of the first acts of the new government, heavily influenced by National Learning ideologues, was to restore the Jingikan (Ministry of Kami Affairs) and assign to it, instead of to the Yoshida and Shirakawa houses, responsibility for all shrines. In an edict of 1871 the shrines were designated as sites for state ritual, abandoning completely any association with the Edo-period schools and theories of Shintō that the authorities regarded as unsuited to the new age. As early as March and April 1868, shinbutsu hanzen (clarification of kami and buddhas) decrees were issued requesting accounts of the identity of kami worshipped at shrines, temples, and festivals nationwide. Priests serving kami within Buddhist temples (many such priests combined Buddhist and Shintō clerical roles) had to choose either to become dedicated shrine priests or remain Buddhists; they could not be both. This ruling was particularly damaging to Shūgendō ritualists who occupied the middle ground, even before Shūgendō was banned altogether in 1873. The Buddhist names and identities of kami were no longer to be used, which meant that legions of kami required new or amended names. Kami shrines could no longer contain Buddhist symbols, so statues, paintings, inscriptions, sacred texts, vestments, and other ritual items all had to be removed. This was in many cases a destructive process, marked by hooliganism toward both shrines and Buddhist temples under the slogan "Haibutsu kishaku! " ("Expel the Buddha; destroy Shakyamuni!"). Many priceless shrine treasures were destroyed or discarded. The process also entailed the closure of Buddhist temples; between 1868 and 1874, perhaps thirty thousand temples disappeared, and more than fifty thousand Buddhist clerics were returned to lay life.

Meiji Shintō and the Great Teaching

The intention of these initial reforms was not to destroy Buddhism but to redefine Shintō from the center as a state cult, and the consequences of this radical bureaucratic process for local shrines and for those who remained their priests in the early years of Meiji were almost as severe as for Buddhists. During 18691870, bitter disputes among Shintō factions in the new Jingikan over the proper rituals to be conducted at shrines paralyzed decisions about the instructions to be issued to shrine priests. Meanwhile, government bureaucrats issued orders for the wholesale rationalization (the merging and closing) of thousands of lesser shrines, in order to leave only one shrine for each administrative area. This shrine would become the focus of a new system of shrine registration (ujiko shirabe ) intended to supplant the Tokugawa Buddhist temple registration system. Both the notion of shrines as the private property of priests and the principle of heredity for shrine priests were abolished, so that the livelihood of priests hung in the balance. Shrines were first asked to perform funerals, widely regarded as defiling and formerly the preserve of Buddhism, then following the so-called pantheon dispute of 1875 they were forbidden from doing so. These rapid developments left many shrine priests in a state of disarray, justifiably fearful for their own careers, unsure of the nature and status of their shrines, and unclear too about the appropriate teachings they should give and rituals they should perform.

Meanwhile, initiatives were afoot in Tokyo to spread a National Teaching suitable for the new era. This new unified teaching was intended to underpin the concept of shrines as sites reserved exclusively for imperial state rites and not, as had been the case in the Edo period, ritual centers offering a multiplicity of Buddhist and Shintō teachings. Underpinning the promulgation of the National Teaching was a logic that equated the National Teaching with Shintō, and Shintō with the uniquely Japanese "way of humanity" exemplified in the narratives of the Age of the Gods, preserved eternally in the traditions of the imperial house and manifest in codes of government. Shintō, according to this way of thinking, was explicitly distinguished from mere "religions" (such as Christianity, Buddhism, Edo forms of Shintō, and sectarian teachings) which rested on the theories of fallible human founders. The new national creed, referred to as the Great Teaching (taikyō ) formed the substance of the Great Promulgation Campaign (taikyō senpu undō ) launched in 1869. Initially the Jingikan sought to employ exemplary individuals as senkyōshi, Shintō missionaries, to spread the "three great teachings" (sanjō no kyōsoku ) to the people at large. Senkyōshi of the right calibre, however, proved extremely hard to find, and in 1872 the failing project was transferred to the new (and short-lived) Ministry of Religion, which recruited and trained, though it did not itself finance, a new army of "national evangelists" (kyōdōshoku ) drawn from many different walks of life to propagate the national creed. These evangelists included Buddhist and Shintō priests, actors, comedians, storytellers, and clergy of new religious movements such as Konkōkyō and Kurozumikyō. The Great Teaching comprised a threefold instruction to the people:

  1. Revere the deities and love your country.
  2. Make clear the principles of heaven and the way of man.
  3. Reverence the emperor and abide by the will of the court.

Inevitably, the various kyōdōshoku gave their own slant to the Great Teaching. Experienced Buddhist teachers took the opportunity to integrate the ideas and practices of their own sects, while clergy of semiofficial religious movements welcomed the opportunity to become kyōdōshoku, in part to shield their group from possible persecution. Shrine priests, though restricted in that role to the performance of approved state rituals, could earn extra revenue by conducting funerals and other religious functions in the role of national evangelist; such work also financed their evangelism. The three great teachings were of course capable of different interpretations. Official commentaries on the teachings issued to the kyōdōshoku encouraged activities such as payment of taxes, the development of a "rich country, strong army," the importation of Western science and culture, and compulsory education.

Shrine Shintō and Sect Shintō

The difficulties of spreading the National Teaching using unpaid intermediaries and problems with persistent doctrinal disputes among shrine factions convinced the Meiji government that the dissemination of national doctrines should not be entrusted to shrine priests, who held many different views on the meanings and purposes of their shrines. Shrine priests were therefore prevented from evangelizing and increasingly confined their activities to state-approved ritual matters, while also maintaining the cults of local tutelary deities on behalf of their parishioners. A new calendar of rites was introduced early in the Meiji period that emphasized rituals for emperors in the "unbroken lineage" and for the first time synchronized the annual ritual cycle of shrines throughout the country with that of the imperial household, thus ascribing to the emperor the role of priest of the nation. Increasingly, Shrine Shintō came to be seen as nonreligious, in the elevated sense of being supra-religious or nondenominational. Some Shintō priests had created independent religious fraternities supportive of the National Teaching while acting as national evangelists, and from the late 1870s these groups were awarded the new status of Shintō sect, a category falling somewhere between Shintō and religion that recognized both their popular religious appeal and their affinities with the national cult. The Shintō sects also included revelatory new religions such as Kurozumikyō and pre-Meiji confraternities such as Shintō Jikkyō-kyō. Up until 1945, the number of Shintō sects was restricted to thirteen, with additional groups such as Ōmoto classed for administrative reasons as subsects.

By the first half of the nineteenth century, several new independent religious movements had emerged, each founded by a charismatic shamanic figure spontaneously possessed by a deity that revealed itself to be the parent or universal kami : God. These movements, which have been termed "vitalistic," included Tenrikyō, Konkōkyō, and Kurozumikyō. None of these movements initially saw itself as a Shintō movement, but each was eventually recognized by the Meiji authorities as a Shintō sect. The survival of these large and widespread religious movements indicates that they were able to adapt successfully to prevailing sociopolitical circumstances, including the radical changes of the Meiji restoration. Kurozumikyō adapted relatively easily to the National Teaching, and Kurozumikyō clergy took a full part in the great promulgation campaign. In order to evade persecution under the shogunate, Konkō Daijin (18141883), the founder of Konkōkyō, obtained a shrine licence in 1864 from the Shirakawa, but after the Meiji restoration in 1873 he renounced any association with Shintō, refusing to take any part in the great promulgation campaign. Fearing for the future of the organization, his close disciple and successor, Satō Norio, studied the National Learning and became a national evangelist, along with more than a hundred other Konkōkyō ministers. He developed a creed for Konkōkyō that presented the movement as a form of national Shintō. By the 1880's Satō had became an avid proponent of the three great teachings and the "spirit of the national polity" (kokutai seishin ). Tenrikyō's redoubtable female founder, Nakayama Miki (17981887), also courted persecution and imprisonment by rejecting national Shintō, and recognition of Tenrikyō as a Shintō sect was granted only in 1906 under the leadership of her grandson. Tenrikyō formally rejected its Shintō identity in the 1970s and remains uneasy about this apparent compromise with the Shintō establishment.

The emperor system

With Shrine Shintō broadly distinguished from religion, Meiji bureaucrats turned their attention to the promulgation of Shintō imperial mythology as historical fact. The Meiji Constitution of 1889 resulted from seventeen years of secret debates and drafts over such issues as the relations between religion and state and freedom of religion, with full awareness of European models. The constitution affirmed the "sacred and inviolable" person of the emperor and made a key distinction between private religious belief and public activity. Article 28 stated that "Japanese subjects shall, within limits not prejudicial to peace and order, and not antagonistic to their duties as subjects, enjoy freedom of religious belief." After 1889 it therefore became unconstitutional to withdraw from emperor-centered Shintō rites, since these were civic duties rather than religious ritual. The constitution was swiftly followed in 1890 by the Imperial Rescript on Education (Kyōiku chokugo ), which became, in effect, a sacred text, enshrined in schools alongside a picture of the emperor and reverently recited. It set out the basic tenets of the emperor system as well as the Confucian five relationships, exhorting loyalty and filial piety to the emperor as the divine descendant of the imperial kami Amaterasu. As an expression of National Teaching, the issuing of the rescript to schools signaled that schoolteachers would henceforth be responsible for conveying the doctrinal aspects of the state cult, while shrine priests contributed the shrine-based ritual dimension; after the Russo-Japanese War of 19041905 rites were introduced in schools too. The binding relationship established at this point between, on the one hand, the ideology of the emperor system transmitted through schools and other organs of the state such as local government and the armed forces and, on the other hand, the emperor-worshipping rites performed at Shintō shrines, formed the heart of the prewar "national faith" of Japan.

Between 1906 and 1929 the number of shrines throughout Japan was once again radically reduced by a generally unpopular program of shrine mergers (jinja gappei) designed to streamline shrine parishes and match the remaining major shrines with local administrative areas. The policy resulted in the destruction of more than eighty thousand shrines, about half the national total. Many were small unrecognized shrines but some were venerable shikinai-sha (shrines registered in the Engishiki ).

The question of State Shintō

In 1945, the nexus of state, shrine, and emperor-worship relationships built up over nearly eighty years by various means was referred to by the postwar Occupation authorities as State Shintō. This neologism (in Japanese kokka shintō) first appeared in the Directive for the Disestablishment of State Shintō issued by the Supreme Commander of Allied Powers (SCAP) in December of 1945, and it subsequently shaped debates about whether Shintō should be seen as the main architect or an innocent casualty of prewar imperialistic nationalism. State Shintō was defined in the 1945 directive as "that branch of Shintō (kokka shintō or jinja shintō ) which by official acts of the Japanese government has been differentiated from the religion of Sect Shintō (shūha shintō or kyōha shintō ) and has been classified a non-religious cult commonly known as State Shintō, National Shintō, or Shrine Shintō." SCAP staff found the precise referent of the term "State Shintō" difficult to pin down. The focus on Shintō diverted attention somewhat from the fact that by this time the ideology and values of the emperor system were embraced by virtually all religious groups: Buddhist, Christian, and sectarian. Devotion to the emperor was by no means an exclusively Shintō phenomenon; it was, after all, instilled into every Japanese child in school. The term "State Shintō" subsequently came to be interpreted in a number of very different and incompatible ways. As a concept, it captures a historical moment rather than providing a useful analytical category. Debates continue about the extent to which Shintō, more than other religions, was implicated in the discredited emperor cult and "national ethics" teaching which demanded subjugation to the kokutai (body of the state). Clearly, much depends on the definition of Shintō.

Shintō in contemporary Japan

The Occupation authorities certainly did not believe that state-sponsored teachings and rites relating to a divine emperor and the age of the gods could be nonreligious. They felt the need to distinguish what was religious from what was not so that a clear line could be drawn between religion and state in the new constitution. It was because Shintō was religious, not because it was Shintō, that it had to be separated from the state. From the SCAP perspective, separation of religion and state was axiomatic. The relationship between religion and state is, of course, a cultural variable and there are as many ways in which the two are related in the modern world as there are states and religions. However, the fact is that in 1945 an eighty-year relationship between Shrine Shintō and the Japanese state apparatus ended overnight. Under the 1947 constitution, religion and state were separated and individual religious freedom guaranteed. Shrine Shintō therefore entered the postwar period as a voluntaristic religion (strictly speaking Shintō is a multitude of such religions, since under the Religious Juridical Persons Law of 1951 each Shintō shrine is registered as a separate religious body). Under the new constitution, Shintō's formal relationship with the state could be no closer than that enjoyed by Christianity, Buddhism, the Shintō sects, Jehovah's Witnesses, or indeed any other of the hundreds of religious organizations, new and old, native and foreign, to be found in contemporary Japan. The repositioning of Shintō as one religion among many presented a serious challenge to the shrines and their priests and put the very survival of Shrine Shintō in question.

Change and continuity

The changes wrought to Shrine Shintō by the Occupation administration were significant but limited in scope. A review of the continuities and discontinuities between prewar and postwar Shintō shows that the concept of Shintō established in the Meiji period survived more or less intact. The emperor remained monarch, though belief in his divine ancestry was now unnecessary. Very little destruction of Shintō resources occurred. The Shintō Directive removed war memorials, which had attracted ultranationalist sentiments, but these were not Shintō shrines as such. Devotional images of the emperor, copies of the Imperial Rescript on Education, and ultranationalist ethics textbooks such as Cardinal Principles of the National Entity (kokutai no hongi) were removed from schools, but shrines built since the Meiji restoration of 1868 to promote the emperor system were untouched. The single most important element of Meiji Shintō, the 1868 dissociation of kami and buddhas, went unchallenged as far as Shintō shrines, Buddhist temples, and their respective priests were concerned, though new syncretic religions were now free to develop. In place of central government, the independent jinja honchō (literally "Shrines HQ" though the official name in English is "The Association of Shinto Shrines") was established to administer the nationwide network of shrines under "the spiritual leadership of the Ise shrine." Though some major shrines opted for independence, and others may yet follow, the jinja honchō oversees virtually all shrines in Japan, managing shrine ranks and priestly qualifications and providing modern-day equivalents of Meiji court messengers and imperial offerings to shrines.

A residual notion of the Meiji shrine parishes remains, reflected in the expectation that shrines should receive financial support from local residents. Shintō priests still overwhelmingly carry out rites rather than preach doctrine, and very few of the tens of thousands of shrines destroyed by shrine merger have been restored, so the current shrine (and temple) landscape of Japan remains characteristic of the Meiji period rather than previous eras. The Yasukuni shrine to the war dead, chief of the provincial gokoku (nation-protecting) shrines, stands as a powerful symbol of Meiji values. It is controversial in Japan and among Japan's neighbors since it, more than any other Shintō institution, appears to challenge the boundary constructed in 1945 between religion and state. The imperial family's rites remain exclusively Shintō in style, with no reversion to former Buddhist practices. Finally, and despite the postwar legal status of Shintō as religion, the Meiji idea of Shintō as nonreligious still prevails, at least to the extent that Shintō practices are widely regarded as custom or tradition rather than religion. As a consequence, legal battles have been fought over the propriety of participation by government officials in Shintō rituals such as the blessing of new buildings. For most Japanese, seasonal shrine visits, rituals, and festivals relating to particular shrines and kami are seen as part of a broad spectrum of "given" customary practices.

Shintō has changed in some ways since 1945. After a difficult postwar period of austerity, increased spending power resulting from the Japanese "economic miracle" from the 1970s onward helped restore the fortunes of many shrines. Shrines with a nationwide reputation continue to attract substantial numbers of pilgrims and tourists, particularly at the New Year, when some 80 percent of the population makes a shrine visit. Many major shrines have survived and some have prospered by effectively marketing the benefits of their kami (traffic safety, examination success, business success, safety at work, and many others) or the beauty and tranquillity of their surroundings. Most shrines have their own annual ritual calendar with special purification ceremonies and festivals at key points in the year. Family rituals such as "seven-five-three" (shichi-go-san ) when children of three, five, and seven visit the shrine with their parents, have increased in popularity with the rise of modern family units. Travel companies and shrines have cooperated to attract participants to new or revived pilgrimage routes. While the constitution prevents public funds from being spent on religious events, local authorities in many areas have been keen to support colorful festivals that attract visitors and benefit the local economy. Consequently, many festivals have come to be seen as cultural rather than religious events. While rural depopulation led to the decline of many agricultural traditions in the postwar period, some have been revived as a result of city dwellers returning to rural areas. However, Shrine Shintō lacks a strong sense of identity and purpose in modern Japan, and there are real concerns within the Shintō establishment that, as communities become increasingly fragmented and lifestyles more individualistic, many shrines will fade away. Some observers have suggested that Shrine Shintō will continue to decline until it can offer women real opportunities to achieve leadership within the priesthood and in other important roles currently occupied only by men. This represents a considerable challenge since Shintō is, among other things, a powerful symbol of conservatism in a society where seniority in many occupational fields is still a male preserve.

Shintō new religions

While some shrines may be struggling, an area of growth throughout most of the postwar period has been that of new religions with a Shintō identity. Shintō-related new religious movements in Japan account for a significant proportion of religious activity, with the largest groups counting their adherents in hundreds of thousands. However, the many different groups involved have their own histories and disparate aims. They seldom if ever act in concert, and do not regard themselves as parts of a greater Shintō whole. On the contrary, members of new religious movements are often encouraged to think of their own group as possessing the special truth of Shintō. Beliefs and practices of the Shintō-style new religions vary considerably. To take just a few examples: Tenshō kōtai jingū kyō (literally "the religion of the imperial shrine of Amaterasu," known also as the dancing religion) connects with Shintō mainly through its name. The movement was founded in 1945 by a remarkable woman, Kitamura Sayo (19001967). She endured marriage as the sixth bride of a man who, on the orders of his stingy mother, divorced each wife after using her as cheap labor for a season. Kitamura experienced possession (kami-gakari ) by a spirit snake who then revealed itself as the god Tenshō kōtai jingū and commissioned Kitamura to save the world. Dressed as a man, performing the "dance of no-self" in streets, parks, and railway stations, and denouncing Japan's rulers as "maggots and traitors," Kitamura traveled widely in Japan and overseas, attracting many devoted followers. Known to her disciples as Ōgami-sama, or great goddess, she taught that passions and attachment were the cause of suffering and was credited with numerous miracles and healings.

Sekai kyūsei-kyō ("religion for the salvation of the world," known also as M.O.A.) was founded by Okada Mokichi (18821955), a member of the prewar Ōmoto Great Origin sect, following a revelation by the Bodhisattva Kannon. In 1928 Okada set up the Great Japan Association for the Worship of Bodhisattva Kannon, which practised healing and communion with spirits. Forced by the government to focus on the healing aspect, the movement was renamed Japan Association for Healing through Purification. After the war the revived movement split and Okada formed the group now called Sekai kyūsei-kyō. His followers see Okada as a living kami (ikigami ) and combine Shintō-style rites and symbolism with a reverence for fine art, both Western and Japanese. Members are wary of modern medicinal drugs and promote an organic diet and "light-healing" (jōrei ), in which healing rays are transmitted from the palm of the hand towards the patient. Several major evangelical Shintō-style healing movements that use similar methods trace their origin to (and regard themselves as the real heirs of) Okada's teaching, the best-known being Sūkyo Mahikari, founded in 1978. Many other smaller groups embracing Shintō symbolism have been founded by men and women offering healing, prophecy, revelation, or psychic powers and adopting a Shintō or Shintō-Buddhist idiom. Worldmate (originally known as Cosmomate) is a New Age Shintō movement whose success has been founded on the best-selling publications of its energetic creator, the business guru Fukami Toshū. Worldmate teaches that a proper relationship with the right kami is the key to worldly success. Through his International Shintō Foundation however, Fukami has also provided significant philanthropic support for academic research in the field of Japanese religions, including the critical study of Shintō in all its forms.

Concluding Remarks

It is relatively easy to ask questions about Shinto, less easy to summarize it. By adopting a wider definition of Shintō, as kami belief, for example, the scope of discussion could be extended to include a multitude of Japanese folk traditions and miscellaneous practices relating to kami. Alternatively, one could adopt an aesthetic approach and explore Shintō readings of Japanese literature in the manner of the pioneers of National Learning. An ethnographic approach would illumine the infinitely varied details of festivals and shrine rituals in many places and eras. Here, Shintō has been considered in terms of systems of kami worship over time. Shintō has been construed in many different ways in the course of Japan's history, and this process will no doubt continue. In the late twentieth century, new directions in Shintō theology emerged, some adopting a robust response to the charge that Meiji Shintō is an invention and asserting that yes, Shintō is a modern religion, it regards both the emperor and the land of Japan as sacred, and this is its strength. Others have argued for an environmentalist reading of Shintō as a forest tradition or a nature religion. Yet others have drawn comparisons with Western Neopaganism.

The approach adopted in this survey to the study of Shintō has been historical, since it is the changing, historically conditioned aspect of Shintō that is most often and most obviously neglected in textbook presentations of Shintō as an ageless, unchanging, primal tradition. It has also been well argued, however, that while Shintō may not be "primal" in the ordinary sense, it should nevertheless be seen an "adjusted" primal religion; that is, the deliberately rough archaism of contemporary Shintō rituals reflects choices made by sophisticated religious actors who are well aware of their historical positioning and of alternative ways of being religious. This approach perhaps best captures the worshiper's point of view, which should never be forgotten.

See Also

Amaterasu Ōmikami; Buddhism, article on Buddhism in Japan; Kami; Priesthood, article on Shintō Priesthood.


Ashkenazi, Michael. Matsuri. Honolulu, 1993.

Blacker, Carmen. The Catalpa Bow: A Study of Shamanistic Practices in Japan. London, 1992. A classic work on shamanism in Buddhist, Shintō, and folk contexts.

Bocking, Brian. A Popular Dictionary of Shintō. Richmond, U.K., 1995.

Bocking, Brian. The Oracles of the Three Shrines: Windows on Japanese Religion. Richmond, U.K., 2001.

Breen, John, and Mark Teeuwen, eds. Shintō in History: Ways of the Kami. A substantial edited collection of recent Japanese and Western scholarship on Shintō, with extensive bibliography; articles range from Daoism in early Japan to twentieth-century Shintō studies.

Chamberlain, Basil Hall. Japanese Things: Being Notes on Various Subjects Connected with Japan. Rutland, Vt. and Tokyo, 1971 (reprint of the 1905 edition).

Grapard, Allan. The Protocol of the Gods: A Study of the Kasuga Cult in Japanese History. Berkeley, 1992.

Hardacre, Helen. Shintō and the State, 18681988. Princeton, N.J., 1989. Addresses the changes in Shintō at the Meiji restoration.

Havens, Norman, and Inoue Nobutaka, eds. Encyclopedia of Shintō, vol. 1. Tokyo, 2001.

Inoue Nobutaka, ed. Shinshūkyō Kyōdan jinbutsu jiten. Tokyo, 1996.

Inoue Nobutaka, Itō Satoshi, Endō Jun, and Mori Mizue. Shintō: A Short History. Edited by Inoue Nobutaka; translated and adapted by Mark Teeuwen and John Breen. London, 2003. A succinct and comprehensive critical introduction to the history of Shintō.

Itō Satoshi, Endo Jun, Matsuo Kooichi, and Mori Mizue. Nihonshi shōhyakka: Shintō. Tokyo, 2002.

Japanese Journal of Religious Studies (Nanzan University, Japan). The major English-language journal for the study of Japanese religions. An index of articles, many available online, is available from Themed issues of JJRS particularly relevant to Shintō, each issue bringing together articles by leading scholars, include Tracing Shintō in the History of Kami Worship (2002, vol. 29, nos. 34); Local Religion in Tokugawa History (2001, vol. 28, nos. 34); Pilgrimage in Japan (1997, vol. 24, nos. 34); The Legacy of Kuroda Toshio (1996, vol. 23, nos. 34); The New Age in Japan (1995, vol. 22, nos. 34); and The Emperor System and Religion in Japan (1990, vol. 17, nos. 23).

Kokugakuin Daigaku Nihon Bunka Kenkyūjo, ed. Shintō jiten. Tokyo, 1994.

Kuroda Toshio. Jisha Seiryoku. Tokyo, 1980. See also Kuroda's article "Shintō in the History of Japanese Religion," published in the Journal of Japanese Studies 7, no. 1 (1981): 121 and reprinted in Mullins et al., Religion and Society in Modern Japan (see below).

Miyachi Masato. Tennōsei no seijishiteki kenkyū. Tokyo, 1981.

Mullins, Mark R., Shimazono Susumu, and Paul L. Swanson, eds. Religion and Society in Modern Japan: Selected Readings. Berkeley, 1993. This anthology includes Kuroda's "Shintō in the History of Japanese Religion," articles on Shūgendō, Yasukuni Jinja, and other aspects of contemporary religion, and documents including the 1890 Imperial Rescript on Education, the 1945 Shintō Directive, and extracts from the 1889 and 1947 constitutions.

Nelson, John. A Year in the Life of a Shintō Shrine. Seattle, 1996.

Ono Sōkyō. Shinto: The Kami Way. Rutland, Vt., and Tokyo, 1962.

Reader, Ian. Religion in Contemporary Japan. London, 1991.

Sakamoto Koremaru. Kokka shintō keisei katei no kenkyū. Tokyo, 1994.

Satō Hiroo. Kami, hotoke, ōken no chūsei. Tokyo, 1998.

Smyers, Karen A. The Fox and the Jewel: Shared and Private Meanings in Contemporary Japanese Inari Worship. Honolulu, 1999.

Teeuwen, Mark. Watarai Shintō: An Intellectual History of the Outer Shrine in Ise. Leiden, the Netherlands, 1996.

Teeuwen, Mark, and Fabio Rambelli. Buddhas and Kami in Japan: Honji Suijaku as a Combinatory Paradigm. London, 2002.

Yasumaru Yoshio. Kamigami no meiji ishin. Tokyo, 1979.

Yasumaru Yoshio, and Miyachi Masato, eds. Nihon kindai shisō taikei 5: shūkyō to kokka. Tokyo, 1988.

Yoshie, Akio. Shinbutsu shūgō. Tokyo, 1996.

Brian Bocking (2005)