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Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Shintoism, Japan's Official Religion Pt.1

Shinto is Japanese's official religion. As of 2017, about 52 percent of Japanese people's religion is Shinto. Anime and Japanese dramas have shown many rituals of Shinto from time to time that could make a small opening into what the religion actually looks like. While it is really great for them to show something that deals with the Japanese religion, many people don't really know the facts and how Shinto really works. So today, I am going to show you the facts about Shinto and how the religion works for the Japanese people.

1. Shinto is Polytheistic

Unlike Christianity where it only has one god, Shinto has many gods. While Christainity's god is just mainly God himself, Shinto gods are mainly gods that come from all of your surroundings. Such as your ancestors, gods from your region, people that died a tragic death or trying to change the world, ancient gods, or even nature itself. That's why in some anime shows that characters tend to talk to their family members or friends that died. So that's why there are about 8 million gods!! Shinto has so many gods that the Japanese made a phrase Yaoyorozu no Kami which means 8 million gods.

So no, those anime characters are not crazy at all!

2. Humans becoming Gods

Yes, normal human beings can become gods in Shinto. The only way that a human becomes a god is they are revered after their deaths if they lived a great or pure life. While God in Christianity believed to be perfect, Shinto gods are not perfect since they have emotions like normal human beings.

3. Unknown founder of Shintoism

Christians would always think that Jesus Christ is the founder of Christianity, while Japanese people won't know about their founder of Shinto. When the Japanese people and the culture became aware of the religion, it had already been there. The earliest and closest resemblance of Shinto in early history was Yayoi culture between the 3rd and 2nd century BC. The Yayoi phenomena were agricultural rites and shamanism. 

4. Purity

Shinto's main tenets deal with purity of the mind, body, and soul. It's easily observable in daily Japanese life, from removing shoes at the door to the sick receiving organs from dead organ donors. Purification rituals were developed to cleanse the body and spirit. The most common are temizu, the washing of hands and face to achieve purification before approaching to any Shinto shrines.

5. New Year's Day

Shinto's important holiday is New Year's Day. On New Year's Eve, Buddhist temple rings its bells 108 times until exactly midnight. The reason for 108 times is that one ring correlates to one sin. Then, for the first three days of the new year, people gather together to celebrate the new year by eating, drinking, and being together. 

The most important thing is to visit any of the shrines to pray for good luck and buy charms for the new years. 

That's the end of part one, and I'll start on part two soon!!

Happy Shinto,