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Reading About Shinto 2020/5/3 14:30
Like most people at the moment - I've got more free time than normal at the moment.

I've visited more places in Japan than most and have a reasonably grasp of Shinto - but was wondering if anyone had an audible or kindle suggestions about the more in depth breakdown of Shinto.

I'm currently listening to Shinto: The Way Home but am currently finding it a bit underwhelming.....
by mfedley  

Re: Reading About Shinto 2020/5/6 22:05
no-one has any ideas? I'm aware that this forum is quiet at the moment
by mfedley rate this post as useful

Re: Reading About Shinto 2020/5/8 11:39
How about this?


by ... (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Reading About Shinto 2020/5/8 23:04
I actually forgot about this person. I think I've actually visited some of his residences.

One of the things of interest I find in Shinto is the difference between the classification of "state religion", kami, the amalgamation and breaking apart of shinto and buddhism, it's place with the royal family and the psyche it has with the Japanese mindset.

Some of these areas are interesting - some are contentious.
by mfedley rate this post as useful

Re: Reading About Shinto 2020/5/9 02:31
All I can offer is this BBC "In our time" episode from 2011 which I enjoyed. It's probably much more general than you are after though. https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b014qnld

As an aside episodes of this are one of the things I listen to during my flights to and from Japan.

by Stan Norrell rate this post as useful

Re: Reading About Shinto 2020/5/9 17:20

I am the previous poster c(guest)
I would like to abstain from saying morec and to be contented with presenting you Lafcadio Hearn, but I had an impression that you donft consider Lafcadio Hearn as an excellent foreign author studying Shinto and Japanese mind.

I actually forgot about this person. I think I've actually visited some of his residences.
And you have not read even one line of his writings, have you?
He is, since the Meiji era to today, the only Western author that tried to understand, apart from his Western notion of religion, but eintrinsicallyf, through his inner sight and sympathetic analysis, and succeeded to reach Shintō and the Japanese mind. He is profoundly different from all authors and scholars not only of his time, but also of today. His attitude to understand the Japanese mind might come from his origin, Irish father and Greek mother, Celtic tradition and ancient Greek religion.

I recommend you to read at least some of his important writings.
Especially, and first of all,
- gJapan, An Attempt At Interpretationh,
and then,
- eA Living Godf in gGleanings in Buddha Fieldsh
- eFrom A Travelling Diaryf in gKOKORO: Hints And Echoes Of Japanese Inner Lifeh
- gIn Ghostly Japanh

and, if you are interested,
- gThe Celtic Twilighth by W. B. Yeats

I am sure, with Lafcadio Hearn, that in spite of changes of outward appearance of Japan, these past hundred and fifty years since Meiji era, in spite of multiple superpositions of foreign different civilizations and cultures from the ancient times to today, the essential base of Japanese mind stays always the same, except for a short miserable period of modern Japan when militarism abused Shinto tradition, using fanatic Hirata Atsutanefs doctrine of Shintoism (close to the doctrine of Catholicism) and the aftermath of the Second World War, occupied by the Allied (including Australian) Forces. Even during this misled time, people did not believe that the Emperor was a god. They knew that the Emperor of Japan had been always on their side, praying for them peace and ease, as Chief Priest of Shinto. Also today, we (except for rare communists, leftists and brainwashed-pretending-leftist-travel-companion journalism), we respect (never worship) the Emperor as being the symbol of our national unification, as the center of our national solidarity.

Have you ever asked Japanese people what religion they had? If so, unless they were Christians, Muslims, convinced Buddhists or convinced Shintoists, they(me too), ordinary Japanese people, surely, must have showed somewhat embarrassment, or somewhat hesitation to declare they were Buddhists or Shintoists, and responded at most that they were non-believers (or atheists without knowing what this word meant), or Buddhists by tradition. However, they must have never said they were Shinto believers. Because they knew Shinto was not a religion in the same meaning as Christianity, Islamism, Buddhism were religions; they know Shinto is something spiritual rooted in inconscient base of our mind). When we go to or pass by a shrine (house of ghost, spirit, according to Hearn), we pray without any intention of salvation of our souls, we pray for nothing or something trivial. However, passing torii and entering inner ground and standing in front of the house of ghost (even if it was mere, simple, almost rotten village-side shrine, we feel some inevitable feeling of awe, because we know, growing up as a Japanese, this so-called shrine, jinja, yashiro and its site itself is haunted by souls of dead ancestors, or inhabited by some extraordinary natural power or some supernatural power, in general kami (-sama). Awesome and affectionate.

Some of these areas are interesting - some are contentious.
I wonder why some are contentious? Because you think Shinto was related with a period of Japanese militarism? I will not come into sterile historical issues, nor will I repeat what I have already said above. With an exception, you could not cover all periods of Shinto mind. It seems to me that your interest for Shinto is more inclined to the historical aspects of Shinto, then you can find easily books in English if you go to any amazon website. I have not read any of these books, but I believe none of them would be as good and perspicacious as Hearn's writings.

Please forgive me if I am too rude in my words.
by ... (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Reading About Shinto 2020/5/9 21:09
Hi Guest.

You were not rude at all - I just had little detail in my request and it was probably easy to misinterpret.

I've traveled around Japan more than most Japanese and have been lucky enough to visit Ise, Izumo Taisha, Dewa Sanzen, Kumano Kodo, Takachiho and many other shrines. My travels have allowed me to visit many places, experience many things and have many in depth conversations about Japanese history with locals which are willing to share their knowledge.

Many of these conversations have allowed me to gleam a better understanding of the topic - but I am not happy with my knowledge of Shinto. The book that I just listened to stressed that religion is often seen a bit different than in the west - as when asked it's more often like asking someone if your are a dogmatic practitioner of <<choose a religion>>. I'm also aware that around 200 years ago there was two practitioners of shinto (first one wanted to look more at the original teachings, the second who wanted to do the same but took a much stronger dogmatic approach) which set shinto onto a recent different path of state worship. The names and intricate details escape my mind at the moment.

My main interest comes from a few different facets. First - my recent visits to Jomon and Yayoi sites in Kyushu, along with the lack of major temples in southern Kyushu but many historic shrines in the area peaks my interest.

Looking at the incorporation of worship in Okinawa and how it's been integrated with shinto in having it's own flavor was interesting - but then again I felt this lacking in Hokkaido which I found fascinating. Learning more about the Ainu and the more recent history of Hokkaido will help me understand this.

I've also heard the Hearn I think visited Izumo Taisha also was lucky enough to visit I think Izumo Taisha when things were less impacted by outside forces than now - it would have been fascinating to have seen what he did with his own eyes.

For my comment on being interested in some of the more contentious areas - I find that many belief systems have strengths and weaknesses and I am fascinated in how these works. Let's just say I've read some sad by interesting books including "Ordinary Men, Tombstone, Bloodlands, Gulag & the Gulag Archipeligo." The closest book that I found interesting in this area in Japan was underground by Haruki Murakami.

Your comment on finding authors in English is probably correct - it's probably too much of a niche subject for there to be a definitive set of books to read on the subject.
by mfedley rate this post as useful

Re: Reading About Shinto 2020/5/10 17:46
HI mfedley

I am a big fan, have used some of your posts on here to plan trips in Japan.

There is a Lacfadio Hearn museum in Matsue, which we very much enjoyed when we visited in 2018. He was a fascinating man.

Religion in Japan interests me too. We went to a shrine with Japanese friends and took out a 100Y coin for the donation, only to be told that the kami would be very happy with 1Y, or maybe 5Y if that was the smallest we had. Nothing like Christian churches, I observed.

The trip to Matsue was the first step of our driving tour of Chugoku-Chiho, which was a great success thanks to some of your suggestions. Still a lot to see in that area, but I really loved Matsue and also fell a little in love with Hagi, a tiny bit of empire very far from Tokyo. Lacfadio Hearn did the trip from Okayama to Matsue by litter, essentially. It was a very picturesque train trip and I'm sure we missed things on the way.

We had several days in Okayama planned for April 2020, which we spent at home instead, and hope to have the chance to do that trip perhaps in 2022.

Take good care, and wash your hands!
by Who? (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Reading About Shinto 2020/5/11 00:03
Good to see you enjoyed the San-in region. Matsue is an interesting and historic town but it's also got some really good gardens - if that's your thing.

My basic memory of the Hearn House as a building was meh but I do tend to remember the stories being more interesting. It's also good to see that another person really enjoyed Hagi - probably one of my favorite places in Japan. I personally found in the clan graves at the two temples to be standouts for Japan.

Once again - the Tori gates inside a temple (along with a small temple/shrine found in the same location at Hagi) is quite fascinating - along with Hagi playing an important role in the Meiji restoration which allowed for the industrialization of Japan.

It would be fascinating to see how much of a role buddhism, neo-Confucianism of the Edo-Tokugawa Shogunate and Shinto played in allowing Japan to become what it is today. The metaphysics of the three belief systems are at times complementary but at times diametrically opposed. For example - the idea that all things can be rationally (reality) explained in neo-Confuscianism, the mysticism of Buddism (unreality of things) along with Shito having a pure heart and admiring the wonder of things which cannot be explained.

My understanding of shinto around 1800 is an interesting one. It seemed as though another reformation was starting to occur with two closely linked schools of shintoism which had similar ideas (getting back to the origins of shinto) but had very different outcomes. One school (which I quite liked) looks back at the texts but seems to place a high emphasis on showing many of the ideals shown by a Heian Court official compared to bushido. The second school which seemed to become more prominent had more of a focus on state shinto - which is something I do not fully understand. It is a reason why Enseiji Temple exists - which is one of the few temples and shines which have a connection to the royal family from memory....
by mfedley rate this post as useful

Re: Reading About Shinto 2020/5/17 22:56
I am actually waiting on a reply on the interviews for university admission in Japan. With the coronavirus, all the admissions are up in the air due to the immigration halt.

In regards to your post, I am learning about Shinto and exploring it in deeper depths. My beliefs swing between Shrine Shinto and folk Shinto from the way things are edefinedf . Did read some of the English translated books but they left me wanting. More like looking at a beautiful cake without slicing it up to reveal the layers, and tasting it.

To be truthful, most of my Japanese friends are freaked out at my shrine obsession and my Japanese relatives (on the distant side) think that I am half mad.

The Shinto priests ( guji/negi) of the more einakaf shrines have an occasional chat with me about the enshrined deities and the history of why the particular shrine was placed in the area (usually more folk) but my Japanese is way too limited to dive deep.

Thatfs my method of learning in depth. Different areas , different priests = different ways of looking at Shinto. My way to Shinto feels more like an accidental stumble. Although one of the Guji disagreed on my thought, he says the Kami can ecallf. Oh and I participate in some rituals too.

by magatsu8 rate this post as useful

Re: Reading About Shinto 2020/5/24 18:14
One interesting place to visit if you drive car is the Kunisaki Peninsula - which has an interesting mountain worship that seems to meld nature to Buddhism. It's quite unique for Japan and is also one of my favorite places in Japan. Hope all goes well with the university entrance interviews....
by mfedley rate this post as useful

Re: Reading About Shinto 2020/5/25 04:57
Kunisaki Peninsula - that would be more Shugendō like Dewa Sanzan in Yamagata?
by magatsu8 rate this post as useful

Re: Reading About Shinto 2020/5/25 13:09
by mfedley rate this post as useful

Re: Reading About Shinto 2020/6/3 15:52
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