A book by Joseph Cali (with John Dougill) called Shinto Shrines: A Guide to the Sacred Sites of Japan’s Ancient Religion (University of Hawaii Press, 2013) provides some interesting information about Shinto in Japan. Here are some highlights from the book:
- There are roughly 80,000 Shinto shrines in Japan today.
- Of the two main belief systems in Japan — Buddhism and Shinto — Shinto has existed since ancient times and is considered native to Japan whereas Buddhism entered Japan from the outside world sometime during the 6th century.
- Shinto rituals revered nature and thus often took place outdoors.
- The Kami (spirit or deity) in Shinto can embody places, things, animals and even people.
- From the book: “Shrines can be found everywhere in Japan, from the densest metropolitan area to the most desolate mountaintop. They may be cared for by Shinto priests, by local communities, or by the families on whose property they reside.”
- Shinto shrines come in many different sizes.
- Shinto shrines “are readily identified by the distinctive torii — a simple two-post gateway, with one or two crossbeams at the top — that stands in front of every shrine. It marks an area as a sacred space where kami dwell.”
Read the book to learn more about Shinto and to learn about specific shrines in Japan.