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Shinto facts for kids

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Itsukushima Gate
The torii gateway to the Itsukushima Shrine in Hiroshima Prefecture, Japan, one of the most famous examples of torii in the country. Torii mark the entrance to Shinto shrines and are recognizable symbols of the religion.

Shinto (Japanese: 神道, romanizedShintō) is a religion from Japan. Is is regarded as Japan's indigenous religion and as a nature religion. it is Japan's largest religion, the second being Buddhism.


Several institutions and practices of Shinto existed in Japan by the 8th century. However, various scholars have argued that Shinto as a distinct religion appeared in the 19th century, in Japan's Meiji era.


There are many deities in the Shinto religion. Also, it is believed that everything in the world has a soul.

Moral values

Yasukuni Shrine 2012
The actions of priests at the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo have generated controversy across East Asia

Shinto values such qualities as sincerity (makoto), honesty (tadashii), hard work (tsui-shin), and thanksgiving (kansha) directed towards the kami. Shojiki is regarded as a virtue, encompassing honesty, uprightness, veracity, and frankness.

Shinto sometimes includes reference to four virtues known as the akaki kiyoki kokoro or sei-mei-shin, meaning "purity and cheerfulness of heart".

Worship practices

A torii gateway to the Yobito Shrine (Yobito-jinja) in Abashiri City, Hokkaido

Shinto practitioners believe in supernatural beings called the kami. the term kami generally means "god" or "spirit". The kami are everywhere - they inhabit all things, including forces of nature and prominent landscape locations.

The kami are worshiped at kamidana household shrines, family shrines, and jinja public shrines. Priests in public shrines oversee offerings of food and drink to the specific kami enshrined at that location.

At early stages, the kami were thought to be formless and invisible. Later, under Buddhist influence, they came to be represented in a human form. Statues of the kami are called shinzo.

Takeo Shrine Sacred tree
A 3000 year old sacred tree (shintai) of Takeo Shrine

The kami can do good to a person or cause some bad things happen to him. To please the kami, people place different objects that are called go-shintai in shrines. Usually, these are: mirrors, swords, stones, beads, and inscribed tablets. They should be hidden inside boxes so that even the priests do not know what they look like. This is done to set peace and balance between the human world and the spiritual world.

Other common rituals include the kagura dances, rites of passage, and seasonal festivals.

A lot of attention is paid tp the concept of purity, so ritual washing and bathing is practiced before worship.

New Year celebration

Tomioka hachimangu10
Procession of the kami as part of the Fukagawa Matsuri festival in Tokyo

The season of the new year is called shogatsu. On the last day of the year (31 December), omisoka, practitioners usually clean their household shrines. Many people visit public shrines to celebrate new year; this "first visit" of the year is known as hatsumōde or hatsumairi.

There, they buy amulets and talismans to bring them good fortune over the coming year. To celebrate this festival, many Japanese put up rope known as shimenawa on their homes and places of business. Some also put up kadomatsu ("gateway pine"), an arrangement of pine branches, plum tree, and bamboo sticks. Kazari, which are smaller and more colourful, keep away misfortune and attract good fortune.

Interesting fatcs about Shinto

Aoi Matsuri
Participants in a procession for Aoi Matsuri in Kyoto
  • The term Shinto comes from the combination of two Chinese characters: shen (), which means "spirit," and dao (), which means "way", "road" or "path". Shinto (Shendo) is often translated into English as "the way of the kami".
  • Scholars sometimes call its practitioners Shintoists, although they rarely use that term themselves.
  • There is no central authority in control of Shinto.
  • The religion has no single creator or specific doctrine. It exists in various local and regional forms.
  • In Shinto, the dead are thought to be capable of becoming kami.
  • Following Japan's defeat in World War II, Shinto was formally separated from the state.
  • in Japan there are around 100,000 public Shinto shrines.
  • Aspects of Shinto have been incorporated into various Japanese new religious movements.
  • Public festivals called matsuri. A common feature of festivals are processions or parades known as gyōretsu.
  • According to a traditional lunar calendar, Shinto shrines should hold their festival celebrations on hare-no-hi or "clear" days", the days of the new, full, and half moons.
  • Many of the Japanese who practice Shinto are also followers of Buddhism.

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Sintoísmo para niños

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