I am the previous poster c(guest)
I would like to abstain from saying morec and to be contented with presenting you Lafcadio Hearn, but I had an impression that you donft 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 eintrinsicallyf, 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 Interpretationh,
- eA Living Godf in gGleanings in Buddha Fieldsh
- eFrom A Travelling Diaryf in gKOKORO: Hints And Echoes Of Japanese Inner Lifeh
- gIn Ghostly Japanh
and, if you are interested,
- gThe Celtic Twilighth 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 Atsutanefs 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.