Shinto and Books on Shintoism

An overview of Shinto + Books on Shintoism

Shinto and Books on Shintoism

Shintoism is a unique belief based on simple principles of purity. It continues to reign the Japanese mind and is significant in the everyday life of the technologically advanced modern Japanese society. This unique “belief” is a subject that draws many and has gained much attention in the literary world as well. This post is a brief overview on Shinto and books on Shintoism which may interest you to explore further on the unique culture of the Japanese people.


Shinto means “the way of the Gods” and it is Japan’s indigenous spirituality. An optimistic faith, every living thing in nature such as trees, rocks flowers, animals, is said to contain kami (gods). Nature and turning of the seasons are celebrated and cherished. It has neither a specific origin such as a leader or a prophet nor is it codified. Shinto does not emphasise specific moral codes and it does not explain the world. There is no absolute right and wrong and no one is regarded as “perfect”.

Though no human is regarded as perfect, they are thought to be fundamentally good. Consequently, the Shinto principles focuses on rituals by purification, prayers and offerings to kami. There are cleansing practices of various types including ritual washing or bathing.

Learn more about the etiquette at a Shinto shrine – A simple step-by-step guide on this page

The Shinto principles can be seen throughout Japanese culture. It is a way of life.

Spring in Japan is a time of renewal and cherry blossoms are a symbolic flower of the spring. Cherry blossoms or “sakura” is celebrated for their fleeting nature of life. The blossoms peak for around two weeks, then they start to fall. The season is affectionately known as the “Hanami” which literally means “watching blossoms” . This tradition goes back thousands of years. Learn more about Hanami, best time to travel to Japan and where to observe the best Hanami by navigating to this page.

Books on Shintoism

To find out more on Shintoism in Japan, I have selected a few books that provides a good degree of information. These are available on Amazon either in paperback or on Kindle download.

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This definitive study represents a first, momentous step towards a more developed understanding of Shinto.

Shinto: A History | Helen Hardacre

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This book is intended to give a basic, yet detailed view of the Shinto world for a beginner. This book traces the path of Shinto starting from its ancient origins to its present day.

Shinto – The Way of Gods: Introduction to the traditional religion of Japan | Vincent Miller

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…each chapter focuses on one of the formative elements: Shintoism, Buddhism, Taoism, Zen, Confucianism, and Western influences in the modern era. Each chapter is concluded with extensive endnotes along with thought-provoking discussion.

Japanese Culture: The Religious and Philosophical Foundations | Roger J Davies

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This introduction unveils Shinto’s spiritual characteristics and discusses the architecture and function of Shinto shrines. Further examination of Shinto’s lively festivals, worship, music, and sacred regalia illustrates Shinto’s influence on all levels of Japanese life.

Shinto the Kami Way | Sokyo Ono

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Shinto is a way that is practised every morning and evening, in the acts of daily life, by every individual from the emperor to the common people… there is nothing within human life that does not belong to Shinto.     

Watarai Nobuyoshi

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