1. The Historical Origins – Shintoism was founded in the late 500 BCE in Japan.
2. Founders - The institution now called Shinto was initially created by the Yamato clan in their bid to assume ruler ship of the Japanese islands. Shinto has no founder in the sense that Buddhism or Christianity has a founder, nor is there an individual or group of individuals who were responsible for developing Shinto as a religion.
3. Sacred scriptures – The Nihon shoki (Chronicle of Japan) and Kojiki (Record of Ancient Matters) are texts that include records of ancient mythology and deal with religious matters.
4. Religions concepts – The origin of the word “Shinto” means “way of the kami”. Therefore, Shinto beliefs focus on the existence and power of the kami, or gods, that exist in the world, in nature, and especially in and throughout Japan.
5. Deity – Shinto is the “way of the gods” and Shinto gods and goddesses are called Kami. Kami refers to anything that is above, high, special, and unusual in any way. There are 3 basic types of Kami – Abstract powers associated with nature (i.e. weather events, natural rock or landscape formations, bodies of water, forests). Family Ancestors (deceased ancestors whose essence lives on in the family as a revered and honored presence), Souls of the Auspicious Dead (i.e. soldiers and other war dead, these are revered for their bravery, commitment and service). Amaterasu is the Sun Goddess who was born from the left eye socket of a male creator kami named Izanagi and is the most famous of the Shinto gods.
6. Clergy - Shinto priest is called a Shinshoku and the main function of the priest is to officiate all shrine ceremonies on behalf or at the request of the worshippers. The priest does not lecture, preach or act as a spiritual leader but his role is to ensure the continuance of a satisfied relationship between the ‘kami’(god or sacred power) and the worshipper through offering and mediation of the deity’s blessings.
7. Rituals – Purification - symbolically purifying oneself or an object before interacting with the kami (Shinto gods). Purification is done with water (rinsing, washing, and bathing) or with the priest's wand, clapping hands, and bowing. Other common rituals include the formal reading of prayers from ancient collections, and making food and drink offerings to the kami (which is later shared in a communal meal).
8. Prayers – The devotion involve throwing a coin, or several into a collection box, ringing a bell, clapping one’s hands, and making wishes or asking favors from the kami also one may write their wish on a small wooden tablet called an “ema” and leave it hanging at the shrine where the kami can read it. It the wish/favor is granted them one may return to the shrine and leave another “ema” as an act of thanksgiving.
9. Places of worship – Shinto shrines are the “place of the kami” and the most sacred place in Japan. There are over 100,000 of them throughout Japan. Shinto shrines are sacred areas which…