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1. The Essence of Shinto: Japan's
2. Shinto Norito: A Book of Prayers
3. Shinto the Kami Way
4. Shinto: The Way Home (Dimensions
5. Simple Guides Shinto
6. A Year in the Life of a Shinto
7. Katori Shinto-ryu: Warrior Tradition
8. The Meaning of Shinto
9. Enduring Identities: The Guise
10. Shinto: the way of the gods
11. I Am Shinto (Religions of the
12. A New History of Shinto (Blackwell
13. Essentials of Shinto: An Analytical
14. A Popular Dictionary of Shinto
15. Shinto and the State, 1868-1988
16. Shinto Meditations for Revering
17. Eastern Religions: Hinduism, Buddism,
18. Shinto: A Short History
19. Occult Japan: Shinto, Shamanism
20. Shinto: Origins, Rituals, Festivals,

1. The Essence of Shinto: Japan's Spiritual Heart
by Motohisa Yamakage
Hardcover: 232 Pages (2007-05-01)
list price: US$22.00 -- used & new: US$12.82
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 4770030444
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
In The Essence of Shinto, revered Shinto master Motohisa Yamakage explains the core values of Shinto and explores both basic tenets and its more esoteric points in terms readily accessible to the modern Western reader. He shows how the long history of Shintoism is deeply woven into the fabric of Japanese spirituality and mythology--indeed, it is regarded as Japan's very spiritual roots--and discusses its role in modern Japan and the world. He also carefully analyzes the relationship of the spirit and the soul, which will provide informed and invaluable insight into how spirituality affects our daily existence. Through the author's emphasis on the universality of Shinto and its prevalence in the natural world, the book will appeal to all readers with an appreciation of humanity's place in nature and the individual's role in the larger society. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (8)

4-0 out of 5 stars Slightly Confusing.
As a complete beginner to anything Shinto, I bought this hoping it would give me a broad but detailed overview of some of the concepts of Shinto.While I was reading it, I had to constantly refer to the dictionary at the end because of all the Japanese throughout.That was a bit of a hassle.Also some of the stuff on the spirit was extremely confusing with lots and lots of Japanese terms.I do realize I'm reading a book about a Japanese religion, but it was kind of like reading a book on Catholicism entirely in Latin.Other than that, the book was chock full of details and information.Not a book I would recommend for a beginner, but good nonetheless.

4-0 out of 5 stars Philosophy of Shinto
I once checked this book out at my local library but was unable to finish it due to other distractions but I liked what I had read thus I ordered it. After reading the entire book I still liked the information provided.
It has been translated into English from the original Japanese for the western reader of which is difficult for Westerners to obtain unless they can read Japanese Kana (Hiragana, katakana, & kanji).

The author is also a Shinto Priest so one is getting it straight from a practitioner.

Overall it is good....but here comes my biggest complaint!

Being a longtime student of Metaphysics and the Occult as well as a practitioner of such for over 30 plus years, I neither liked the authors attitude towards the Occult nor felt it pertinent for him to mention such since to many Westerners who do not understand it Shintoism is "Occult" as well!

In his criticism of the such the author reminded me too much of the typical Uber-Conservative Juedo-Christian Westerner who is not only xenophobic of anything they deem "foreign" to their beliefs and/or religion, but close-minded as well!

The author needed to bare in mind how Shintoism is viewed to non-Japanese often in the same way he presented his negative views of anything Occult of which again gives me pause since much of Shintoism is very 'Mystical' in nature not to mention that Shinto can be called the Paganism of Japan!

I'd recommend this book for anyone interested in Shintoism and it's philosophy but would alos advise the reader to overlook the authors attitude towards the "Occult".

I'm sorry to sound redundant on that one point but it was difficult for me to get past that!

5-0 out of 5 stars Enlightening
This is wonderful short book on Shinto, which well represents the very cultural soul of Japan, even in these horrid "modern" times in which we live, and which must be understood so as to enable one to grasp some notion, even if a limited one, of the same.
Written by the 75th successor of family lineage within Shinto and providing a personal expression of that one's understanding and thoughts, for which this one is greatful and feels honored to have been allowed to hear/read the same, the perspective is as if one is receiveing guidance from one's beloved uncle or grandfather.
This book is Shinto.
This book does not teach one the ritual practices of Shinto, which must be lived to be so learned, however, this one speaks to the spirit and impotance of Shinto.

5-0 out of 5 stars Find your own Shinto
The Essence of Shinto is more than I expect, Master Motohisa Yamakage explain Shinto in a comprehensive language, so you can understand the meaning of Shinto, in a deep way. So you can coexist with Shinto in these modern days, in the book, Master Motohisa Yamakage tells; we can find our personal Shinto in the place we lived.
I'm very great full with this book, if you are looking for spiritual knowledge,know more about Japanese society and culture The Essence of Shinto don't disappoint you.

2-0 out of 5 stars A Two-Dimensional Beginner's Guide
In writing a book on any religion, an author must confront the great difficulties posed by the transmission of conveying what is often necessarily "spiritual" subject matter.In the case of Shinto, this problem is compounded by a lack of any comprehensive written history or organized worship; even the history of most every Kami in Shinto is distorted and obfuscated by time, specifically the Meiji government's systematic "separation" of Buddhism and Shinto in the late 19th/early 20th century.

Although Yamakage's discourse of Japan's "spiritual roots" are a good start to a high school or college freshman looking to at least understand the basics of its practice, it is rife with such bias and lack of broad historical perspective that it reads essentially as what it actually is: one man's opinion on what Shinto is.

With this having been said, Yamakage's opinions and personal experience of Shinto are well esteemed, (and well earned,) and though he doesn't include anything blatantly wrong, in writing he simplifies the finer points of Shinto to the point of almost making the book look like a New-Age self-help book.

For those who are looking for a simple, cookie-cutter explanation of Shinto to prep for a visit to a shrine or pass a introduction class will find this book at just the right level, without probing into unnecessary details of the "religious" (I use this word loosely) history of Japan.
For those looking to study Shinto with scholarly or serious intent, I would recommend braving the waters of a more in-depth, multi-faceted source. ... Read more

2. Shinto Norito: A Book of Prayers
by Ann Llewellyn Evans
Paperback: 168 Pages (2002-04-08)
list price: US$19.50 -- used & new: US$19.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1553691385
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
This book presents, for the first time, a collection of ancient Japanese Shinto prayers in a format where English speaking readers can both understand the deep meaning of the translated text and can also pronounce the original Japanese words.

Shinto is an ancient spiritual tradition, primarily practiced in Japan, which is now spreading its traditions to the western world. Its primordial rituals and traditions touch a deep chord within one's spiritual self. Shinto's focus on divinity of all beings and of all creation, on living with gratitude and humility, and on purification and lustration of one's self and environment will bring light and joy to any reader.

The purpose of prayer and ritual as practiced in the Shinto tradition, is to reinsert ourselves into a divine state of being, not as a new position, but as an acknowledgement and reinforcement of what already exists. Ritual restores sensitive awareness to our relationship to the universe. Through purification and removal of impurities and blockages, we return to our innate internal brightness and cultivate a demeanor of gratitude and joy.

Shinto rituals and prayers were created by ancient man over 2,000 years ago in a time when mankind was more intuitive about his relationship to this world. Because of this, the rites are archetypal and invoke deep emotion within the participants.

This book of prayers will introduce the western reader to the deep spirituality of Shinto, providing explanation of the spiritual tradition and practice and providing a collection of 22 prayers for use in personal meditation and devotions. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (7)

4-0 out of 5 stars Do not get this on the first gen Kindle
I got the Kindle edition of this book.The section with the prayers were very difficult to readon the Kindle.Looks like someone scanned the pages--the print of the prayers was much smaller than the print of the introduction.Because this is not the fault of the book itself, I still gave it 4 stars because the readable content was educational--gave me more information on the Shinto religion than I could get elsewhere.

The author was correct, at least in my experience, that a lot of the information on Shintoism is still in Japanese form of writing (kanji/hiragana) and would be daunting for a regular person like myself to tackle.Shintoism is the belief that everything has a spirit and we need to live in harmony with everything.Rocks, trees, etc all have spirits and are important to life. Each of us has part of the god (kami). The Shinto prayers and rituals are one way of connecting to the Divine spirit within.

I will re-read this book on my laptop, using Kindle for PC.Hopefully, the content of the prayers will be legible and then I will update this review.

4-0 out of 5 stars greet the rising sun
A good compilation of the prayers of Shinto with transliteration however, with no pronouncing guide (and Japanese can be a bit tricky...)
There is a web site listed for those who want to hear the prayers however, it is now run by a por site and it is not reccommended that you go to that site.
The supposed cd that one can purchase seems to be no longer available...
So much for Shinto in the US and Canada...

5-0 out of 5 stars Exactly what it says it is
This book is exactly what the title says. It is a book of Shinto norito, or prayers.

The book begins by giving some basic understanding of the practice of Shinto. My favorite section is actually the Appendices, which give some descriptions of how to pray, the bowing and the clapping, etc. Also, describes how offerings are set out.

One thing I wish the book did was to describe or show diagrammatically, voice inflections in the prayers. Given that the sound of the words are so important in Shinto prayers, I would think that inflection would be important too, and I saw no discussion of this. If it's pronounced in a monotone manner, I'd like to at least know that. But, that's my personal feeling. Maybe I should see if I can find some audio clips to get a better idea of how Shinto prayers are chanted.

Back to the review, this is very much a non-academic book and the discussion of Shinto itself is pretty minimal. I don't feel I learned a tremendous amout about Shinto here. But then, as the title says, this is a book of prayers, which is exactly what I wanted and was expecting, and I'm glad I found it.

5-0 out of 5 stars An unexpected treasure
I picked up a copy of this book while visiting the Tsubaki Grand Shrine of America in Granite Falls, WA. I was incredibly impressed with how the author explained the various terminologies, the Shinto appreciation of Nature and the Kami offering a greater understanding to the beautiful ritual we had witnessed by Reverend Barrish. The lovely translations of the beloved Shinto prayers were an added and unexpected bonus.

5-0 out of 5 stars My questions are answered
It's rare that I find my questions fully answered in one book. This is the book that tells me more than I knew to ask about how to practice Shinto. I speak with humility and respect when I say, thank you, Ann Llewelyn Evans.With a profound bow. ... Read more

3. Shinto the Kami Way
by Sokyo Ono Ph.D., William P. Woodard
Paperback: 128 Pages (2004-04-15)
list price: US$12.95 -- used & new: US$7.57
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0804835578
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (13)

5-0 out of 5 stars A people, a land and a way...
Once upon a time, the Sun Goddess gave a man a string of jewels, a mirror and a sword and in this way, the first Japanese Emperor was commissioned.

This book, written over fifty years ago, tells the story of that commission and where Shinto, the Kami way, has taken the Japanese in the long years since.

For those looking for a thorough review of this religion, other sources may be preferable.But for the uninformed about Shinto (which is basically everyone in the United States) this book is highly recommended reading for learning more about this ancient faith.

As a student of religion, it's also interesting in the comparative.The Kami way, or life attitudes that Shinto teaches, seem very similar to the Buddhist eightfold way which probably isn't so unusual owing to the close connection that has developed between Shinto and Buddhism in the twenty odd centuries the two religions have been in close proximity.

It's also interesting to contemplate Shinto as a religion of a people, a land and way and think of the comparison that can be made between Shinto and that other people centered faith, Judaism.What historical circumstances have operated to move one in one direction and the other in another direction.Could it be true that mere historical circumstance has contributed to some of the differences that now exist between the two faiths?

However, even on its own merits, an examination of Shinto is fascinating and illuminating.Professor Ono was highly qualified to write this introduction and it's highly recommended.

4-0 out of 5 stars a bare-bones introduction, but worth it
As someone who is interested in all things Japanese, I was really excited to read Dr. Sokyo Ono's Shinto: The Kami Way. This book is held as the standard introduction to Shinto for Western readers, and for the most part, I wasn't disappointed. The author, a recognized expert on the subject, presents Shinto to the reader in plain, simple language. The bare essentials of Shinto are explored, including the architecture and layout of Shinto shrines and the rituals and festivals that are celebrated within. Unfortunately, I was seeking a more philosophical discussion of Shinto, and the author really only includes a short chapter in the back of the book that delves into the actual beliefs of Shinto. Still, the influence of Shinto on the daily life of the Japanese is addressed throughout the book and gives Western readers a glimpse into the way the Japanese have evolved along with their indigenous beliefs. I would recommend this book to all readers interested in world religions and philosophies. This is definitely a must-read for anyone who hopes to understand the Japanese people even a little bit.

3-0 out of 5 stars A good introduction to Shinto
If you are a beginner in the learning of Shinto, you have in this book a good introduction; SHINTO: THE KAMI WAY describes the basic fundaments, for example: introduction to Shinto, types of Shinto, Shrines, festivals, social and political characteristics, Shinto history.
Moreover the book has many illustrations, this way is more easy and interesting for learn and understand The Kami Way.

5-0 out of 5 stars Interesting
This was a good introduction to Shintoism.It is pretty basic, but it gives you a good foundation of the system.This skims the surface and gives you enough to get a good idea of how things work. It also gives you the framework to delve deeper into Shintoism and actually understand what they are talking about.

5-0 out of 5 stars Concise and informative for those want to know the basics and get a deeper understanding of Japanese culture
This brief volume covers the essentials of Shinto and is a great introduction to the subject for Western audiences who wish to have a deeper understanding of Japanese culture, history and especially religious context.

This is a delightful and engaging read by a respected author.Depending upon your purposes, it may be all you need.If you are a very serious student of Japanese culture or world religions, you may want to take it as a good starting point on this topic. ... Read more

4. Shinto: The Way Home (Dimensions of Asian Spirituality)
by Thomas P. Kasulis
Paperback: 212 Pages (2004-08-01)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$13.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 082482850X
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
Nine out of ten Japanese claim some affiliation with Shinto, but in the West the religion remains the least studied of the major Asian spiritual traditions. It is so interlaced with Japanese cultural values and practices that scholarly studies usually focus on only one of its dimensions: Shinto as a "nature religion," an "imperial state religion," a "primal religion," or a "folk amalgam of practices and beliefs." Thomas Kasulis' fresh approach to Shinto explains with clarity and economy how these different aspects interrelate. As a philosopher of religion, he first analyzes the experiential aspect of Shinto spirituality underlying its various ideas and practices. Second, as a historian of Japanese thought, he sketches several major developments in Shinto doctrines and institutions from prehistory to the present, showing how its interactions with Buddhism, Confucianism, and nationalism influenced its expression in different times and contexts. In Shinto's idiosyncratic history, Kasulis finds the explicit interplay between two forms of spirituality: the "existential" and the "essentialist." Although the dynamic between the two is particularly striking and accessible in the study of Shinto, he concludes that a similar dynamic may be found in the history of other religions as well.

Two decades ago, Kasulis' Zen Action/Zen Person brought an innovative understanding to the ideas and practices of Zen Buddhism, an understanding influential in the ensuing decade of philosophical Zen studies. Shinto: The Way Home promises to do the same for future Shinto studies. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (7)

5-0 out of 5 stars Fascinating!
This is a great read. Insightful, intelligent, and eye-opening. Good read if you want an understanding of the Shinto approach to the world-- Or, if you just -really- like Miyazaki films, it'll help you view them in a more complete light. ;)

3-0 out of 5 stars Mildly disappointing
I found this book to be mildly disappointing.If you are looking for a general, historical overview of the development of Japanese religion (without much central focus on Shinto), this book would be for you.The author manages to submerge the actual discussion of the Shinto religion into a background of the historical development of its relationship to Buddhism and Confucianism.This history is important, but for those looking for direct detailed information about Shinto beliefs, rituals, kami, (in short, Shinto itself) I would look elsewhere.Some important historical context is learned from this book, but it does not succeed much in portraying a vivid descriptive account of the Shinto faith.Kasulis' theory of the "existential vs. essentialist" approach of religion I found wholly uninteresting; either he is defining terms too finely or choosing the wrong terms to label them.I could recommend this book only of background historical, contextual importance only,

3-0 out of 5 stars Not a casual read
This book is poorly titled. It derives from a Shinto idea described in the book, but as a title it's just misleading. It leads me to think I can read this book to find more meaning in life, but I found it too academic for that.

During the first part of the book, I found myself bored with analysis and text that seems to exist for its own sake. It really took a lot of effort to get through the first chapter, which spends a lot of time setting up the analytical language used by author throughout the rest of the book.

However, after the initial disappointment, and occasional similar annoyances here and there, I have to say that I found quite a bit of interesting material and insight here. A lot of good discussion, in particular, of the concept of kami. Somewhat different from what I thought it was in Shinto and maybe not what a Shintoist would describe. But, that just leads me to greater interest in the subject.

Overall, I'm glad I purchased this book and I as I try to learn more about Shinto, I expect I will refer back to this book often.

5-0 out of 5 stars Deep Insights into The Nature of Religion, using Shinto As An Example
I generally expect books like these on the subject of Anthropology to be either dry and merely informative on one hand or dim-witted and missing big, important points on the other. This book was neither!

The author, not content with describing surface characteristics of Shinto or describing it in classical religious studies terminology that is biased towards religions such as Christianity and Islam, spends a great deal of time developing terminology and concepts that are unique to Shinto and these types of primitive religions.

Not only does he delve into the very psychology of religion, he discusses the oft-neglected relationship between intellectuals who invent ideology and folk beliefs that are simply passed down over the generations.

The most important thing to get from the book for a Westerner is essentialist/existentialist "split" the author talks about (though he later says the two forms overlap considerably), especially since the former is vastly dominant in Western/Abrahamic religions.

Overall, well written and easy to read (he goes over things and refers back to previous chapters to keep continuity) and highly recommended for anyone into Japanese history, world religions/anthropology or the psychology and nature of religion.

5-0 out of 5 stars Stimulating and Eye-opening!
Kasulis' book 'Shinto' is probably the only book out there that takes an indepth philosophical look at this Japanese religion.While it is essentially philosophical in nature I think it'd also be interesting to anyone wanting to learn more about Shinto.He looks at historical, sociological, and even spiritual factors in his book.I find his discussion on whether Shinto is actually a religion to be most fascinating.To our Western eyes it seems doubtful that Shinto functions in any way resembling what we call 'religion'.However, with a close examination of the difference between 'orthodoxy' and 'orthopraxis', as well as a consideration of the etymology of the word 'religion' in the Japanese context I was convinced that Shinto is definitely a religion.Reading this book has been informative, stimulating, and has given me an inside look at how this relgion operates in the Japanese person's life.Books that can do all those things are rare - that's why I highly recommend it! ... Read more

5. Simple Guides Shinto
by Ian Reader
Paperback: 144 Pages (2008-11-04)
list price: US$10.95 -- used & new: US$5.79
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1857334337
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description

• to appreciate the significance of Japan’s own religion in everyday life

• to recognize the key traditions and festivals (matsuri) of the Shinto year

• to understand what you will see at Shinto shrines and in Shinto rituals

• to gain insights into the controversies surrounding Shinto, politics and nationalism


Simple Guides: Religion is a series of concise, accessible introductions to the world’s major religions. Written by experts in the field, they offer an engaging and sympathetic description of the key concepts, beliefs and practices of different faiths.

Ideal for spiritual seekers and travellers alike, Simple Guides aims to open the doors of perception. Together the books provide a reliable compass to the world’s great spiritual traditions, and a point of reference for further exploration and discovery. By offering essential insights into the core values, customs and beliefs of different
societies, they also enable visitors to be aware of the cultural sensibilities of their hosts, and to behave in a way that fosters mutual respect and understanding. ... Read more

6. A Year in the Life of a Shinto Shrine
by John K. Nelson
Paperback: 16 Pages (1996-04)
list price: US$18.95 -- used & new: US$15.80
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0295975008
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
What we today call Shinto has been at the heart of Japanese culture for almost as long as there has been a political entity distinguishing itself as Japan. "A Year in the Life of a Shinto Shrine" describes the ritual cycle at Suwa Shrine, Nagasaki's major Shinto shrine. Conversations with priests, other shrine personnel, and people attending shrine functions supplement John K. Nelson's observations of over fifty shrine rituals and festivals. He elicits their views on the meaning and personal relevance of the religious events and the place of Shinto and Suwa Shrine in Japanese society, culture, and politics. Nelson focuses on the very human side of an ancient institution and provides a detailed look at beliefs and practices that, although grounded in natural cycles, are nonetheless meaningful in late-twentieth-century Japanese society.Nelson explains the history of Suwa Shrine, basic Shinto concepts, and the Shinto worldview, including a discussion of the Kami, supernatural forces that pervade the universe. He explores the meaning of ritual in Japanese culture and society and examines the symbols, gestures, dances, and meanings of a typical shrine ceremony.He then describes the cycle of activities at the shrine during a calendar year: the seasonal rituals and festivals and the petitionary, propitiary, and rite-of-passage ceremonies performed for individuals and specific groups. Among them are the Dolls' Day festival, in which young women participate in a procession and worship service wearing Heian period costumes; the autumn Okunchi festival, which attracts participants from all over Japan and even brings emigrants home for a visit; the ritual invoking the blessing of the Kami for young children; and the ritual sanctifying the earth before a building is constructed.The author also describes the many roles women play in Shinto and includes an interview with a female priest. Shinto has always been attentive to the protection of communities from unpredictable human and divine forces and has imbued its ritual practices with techniques and strategies to aid human life.By observing the Nagasaki shrine's traditions and rituals, the people who make it work, and their interactions with the community at large, the author shows that cosmologies from the past are still very much a part of the cultural codes utilized by the nation and its people to meet the challenges of today. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (8)

5-0 out of 5 stars Not Just for Academic Use
I've read a lot of academic articles and books in my life, not many of which were just entertaining to read."A Year in the Life ..." provides a good historical background to appreciate and understand contemporary customs, without drowning you in detail.As other reviewers have noted, the personal opinions of the priests along with descriptions of their lives and roles within the Shinto hierarchy are fascinating.

Another aspect of the book I enjoyed very much was the author writing about cultural misunderstandings he had with the priests.One example is when he attended a earth sanctifying ritual and asked which kami manifested itself and the priest just looked at him with a very confused expression on his face.He goes on then to explain the misunderstanding in a very simple yet elegant way.Through anecdotes and explanations like this he manages to convey a very entertaining and interesting view of Shinto.

5-0 out of 5 stars Behind the scenes at a Shinto Shrine
I would recommend "A Year in the Life of a Shinto Shrine", by John K. Nelson, to anyone with an interest in Shinto and Japanese Culture. The book provides a detailed look at Shinto rituals at Suwa Jinja in Nagasaki, Japan.My favorite chapters were about the purification of a plot of land for a construction company, the great purification ceremony, and ringing in the New Year. The chapters about women at the shrine and how younger Japanese relate to the shrine were also really interesting from a cultural perspective.

"A Year in the Life" contains a wealth of knowledge of interest to the scholar. The book is however, easy to read - as if you were listening to a friend telling a story. A glossary of Japanese terms, end notes, maps of the shrine, and pictures broaden the reader's context and add depth to the narrative.

I really appreciated how the book was arranged in five sections. The first section gives the reader an introduction to the history of the shrine, the kami that the shrine is dedicated to, and the people who make the shrine work.The following four sections, one per season, tell the story of the major rituals at the shrine over the course ofyear.

Each chapter usually begins with a description of the shrine on the day of the ceremony, which allows the reader to understand how they might have felt had they arrived at the shrine for the ritual. This reminded me of my own experiences visiting a shrine in Japan.The description also set the mood for the author's descriptions of the rituals that follow.

5-0 out of 5 stars Truly understanding Shinto
"A Year in the Life of a Shinto Shrine" is the best book on Shinto that I have ever read, and that is really saying something as I have read a lot of books on Shinto.It is the first book I have seen that puts things in layman's terms while not dumbing down a fairly complicated system of beliefs and cultural practices.

Instead of attempting to interpret the mysteries and cosmology of the inscrutable religion, author John Nelson puts you in the shoes of Shinto practitioners, from the highest ranking priest to the novices, to the casual visitors who drop by.He takes you behind the scenes, showing you what the day-to-day life is of a Shinto priest, what they believe and what they do.The shrine he introduces, Suwa Shrine in Nagasaki, is a fairly major one, with a full calendar of events and rituals.

On top of all this Nelson frames Shinto in its cultural context.It is not simply a religion, something to be believed in and practiced, but it is a sort of societal glue for Japan, something that connects the present to the past and provides a contextual framework that all Japanese people can recognize.It is difficult to understand this element of Shinto, because the very concept of religion is different.

One of the most fascinating sections of this book is the chapter called "I shouldn't be telling you this but..." where he allows several Shinto priests to express their private opinions under the protection of anonymity. It is exactly this kind of human touch that has been missing from all previous books.Shinto is a religion of human beings, and without this necessary voice it loses all context.

5-0 out of 5 stars Good source for information on Shinto practice
I recently finished reading this book in preparation for a trip I'm taking to Japan in the fall, I will be studying at University for year. I had read a couple of other books about Shinto and found them useful but what I really wanted to read was a book on Shinto practice so when I visit a Shinto Shrine I will have a more complex understanding of what is going on. In a way, this book goes beyond just understanding a Shinto practice it also covers details on things like how to finance a Shrine and how to sit so your legs fall asleep less often etc. I should clarify that this book isn't a travel guide but a well written ethnography, one that primarily focuses on one medium-large Shinto Shrine. In general the book doesn't get to detailed or too hard to read. The author spends some time with theory's and interpretations but mostly focuses on observation. Some of my favorite parts of the book are the interviews with the Guji, he had an interesting life story and some good comparative religion thoughts. Some of the younger priests also have some interesting input, some times complaints. The chapter about a woman Shinto Priest was another highlight. I believe this book would be great for undergraduates, I'm an undergrad in Religious Studies and Philosophy, or for anyone interested in Shinto practice.

4-0 out of 5 stars The human side of Shinto
For someone interested in the "human" side of Shinto religion, Nelson's book is a fascinating study of a religion little understood by most westerners. Its best to skip the introductory chapters, which are a bit pedantic and dry, and start with the actual description of shrine activities. Nelson is most interesting when talking about the priests and their relationship with Shinto, their "parishioners" and each other. Ultimately, it is this sort of writing that convinces the reader that Shinto is not a bunch of exotic rituals, but has a very real meaning and value in its followers lives. Written in 1996, Nelson poses a number of questions about Shinto's future throughout the book. It would be interesting if a second edition of the book was published updating the reader on the present activities of the shrine and its priests. ... Read more

7. Katori Shinto-ryu: Warrior Tradition
by Risuke Otake
Paperback: 317 Pages (2009-02-11)
list price: US$39.95 -- used & new: US$25.02
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1890536210
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (10)

3-0 out of 5 stars GREAT BOOK on IAIJUTSU
Although Bushido Masters don't like books, as you can see from the amount of ancient material that has been written about Bushido, this is an interesting book to browse through its well edited pages. It is though a PICTORIAL rather than a teaching material.
It should be used to be watched more than to learn the katas. If your interest is to learn the style the best alternative is to look for a certified Dojo that pratices Katori Shinto Ryu than to try and repeat the things that are seen here.
Nothing can replace the teachings of a Budo Master, no book can do that. So as I said before, this is like watching the Mount Fuji on a picture - nice to watch, but far away from the real experience that using a sword gives the iaijutsu practitian.

5-0 out of 5 stars Like a Text Book
Katori Shinto-ryu is a voluminous art, and while this book certainly leaves a lot out, it also contains a tremendous amount of information of interest to any serious student of martial arts.While I am not a student of this art, I find the book very valuable.There are numerous techniques involving sword, staff/spear, and empty hands.Only advanced students will be able to learn much from the techniques shown.

I particularly like the section titled "The Elements of Heiho" (4).The depth of this art is extremely impressive, and this section is testament to just how deep it is.Included here are the kuji, or 9-magical signs which are a form of meditative hand mudras out of India, of which there are actually 108.Regardless, I was very impressed to see the nine here.Ninjitsu also makes use of mudras, and ninjitsu is a component of this art and is included in a small section of the book.Also in this section is 5-Element theory and nine-directional theory, both very advanced theories.

I highly recommend this book to any serious student of martial arts.

5-0 out of 5 stars Simply great!!!
> If you are interested in Martial Arts, specially from Japan, it is a "must read" book! In this book the author, Otake sensei, explains using an absolute understandable way, the tradition of Tenshinsho-den Katori Shinto-ryu, the oldest and most famous japanese school of classical martial arts, since its foundation till present days. The book is plenty of pictures, and also full of details not found in other publishing. Aspects of "Mikkyo", the esoteric knowledge, normally lack in the current martial arts, but still in use by Katory Shinto Ryu practitioners, are also shown in this book...!

5-0 out of 5 stars An exceptional Work!
I have read this book cover to cover and in the same spirit as the original "Deity and The Sword" series, I believe this book to be a treasure. I find it's content rich and appropriate for our time. I believe that althought the authors intent was not to "teach" the art of Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto Ryu directly, I felt as though I did learn of the reverence and respect held for this venerable system. In todays times of "instant this or that" I find this book very refreshing. If someone wishes to learn "of" Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto Ryu and its traditions in their historic context then this book is a masterpiece. If someone wishes to "learn" Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto Ryu then I suggest the he or she seek out authorized instruction which in itself is a lesson taught by examining this book. At the end of reading this book I felt as though there was a sense of purpose that traditional martial artist will respect and historical information that scholars will enjoy. Great Job!

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent overview of a classical martial arts system
'Katori Shinto-ryu: Warrior Tradition' is an excellent introduction to the history and structure of this immensely important school (the oldest in Japan), from the most credible source there could be, i.e. the head teacher himself. It contains very interesting insights on the ryu's ethics and way of thinking, and also the combative concepts and principles that guide its technical development.

Although it contains pictures showing techniques being executed, in my opinion this is only illustrative. Clearly, it is not the purpose of this book to teach any techniques, or to serve as a technical reference. (By the way, this should NOT be a surprise to any martial arts student, as the place to learn and improve techniques is the dojo, and your technical reference must be your teacher.)

In summary, this book is a precious record of a rich cultural asset, and very useful for students of any martial art, either classic or modern. ... Read more

8. The Meaning of Shinto
by J.W.T Mason
Paperback: 180 Pages (2002-06-06)
list price: US$18.50 -- used & new: US$16.65
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Asin: 1553691393
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J.W.T. Mason presents rare insight not only into the basic beliefs of Shinto, but also into the importance of mythology and creativity to the evolution of our understanding of life and the universe. Mason begins by establishing his view of the development of man, language, and spiritual expression. Early man had an innate, intuitive understanding of the universe. This understanding was expressed through mythology and ritual. Shinto's traditions and practices still reflect this ancient understanding that all things, living and non-living are of divine spirit. Man is an integral part of Great Nature, Dai Shizen. In Shinto, man seeks to re-establish the natural harmony, to return to the path and rhythm of Great Nature, through prayer, ritual, and daily routines. Mason explains the vitality of Shinto in today's modern world. In this valuable work, the reader will find not only an insightful explanation of Shinto beliefs and ritual, but also a challenge to individuals of any spiritual tradition that their religious experience remain rooted in ancient, intuitive wisdom while simultaneously developing conscious understanding and contemporary expression. ... Read more

9. Enduring Identities: The Guise of Shinto in Contemporary Japan
by John K. Nelson
Paperback: 336 Pages (2000-04-04)
list price: US$25.00 -- used & new: US$17.63
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Asin: 0824822595
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
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Through an investigation of one of Japan's most important and venerated Shinto shrines, Kamo Wake Ikazuchi Jinja (more commonly Kamigamo Jinja), the book addresses what appears through Western and some Asian eyes to be an exotic and incongruous blend of superstition and reason as well as a photogenic juxtaposition of present and past. Combining theoretical sophistication with extensive fieldwork and a deep knowledge of Japan, John Nelson documents and interprets the ancient Kyoto shrine's yearly cycle of rituals and festivals, its sanctified landscapes, and the people who make it viable. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

3-0 out of 5 stars Shinto
Enduring Identities: The Guise of Shinto in Contemporary Japan

I was hoping this would give more specific information about Shinto rituals, such as death. I found it a bit dry, and wasn't exactly what I was looking for. But still useful for information about Shinto, which isn't exactly in abundance in local bookstores. ... Read more

10. Shinto: the way of the gods
by W G. 1841-1911 Aston
Paperback: 402 Pages (2010-08-27)
list price: US$34.75 -- used & new: US$23.54
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Asin: 1177753375
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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This is a reproduction of a book published before 1923.This book may have occasional imperfections such as missing or blurred pages, poor pictures, errant marks, etc. that were either part of the original artifact, or were introduced by the scanning process.We believe this work is culturally important, and despite the imperfections, have elected to bring it back into print as part of our continuing commitment to the preservation of printed works worldwide.We appreciate your understanding of the imperfections in the preservation process, and hope you enjoy this valuable book. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars A fascinating look at Shinto
An in-depth look at the Shinto religion as understood in the early part of the 20th century.A very readable and educating portrayal of one of Asia's most dominant religious sects.I highly recommend this book. ... Read more

11. I Am Shinto (Religions of the World (Rosen Publishing Group).)
by Noriko S. Nomura
Library Binding: 24 Pages (1997-08)
list price: US$18.75 -- used & new: US$15.95
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Asin: 0823923800
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
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A young Japanese-American girl living in Honolulu with her family describes the beliefs and ceremonies of Shintoism. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

3-0 out of 5 stars Good Introduction
Like the "I am Hindu" book, this book does not teach children much about Shinto itself, but it introduces them to the customs.

The book is physically small.It contains colorful pictures with captions, simple large print text, and pronunciation guides for foreign words.

I suggest checking to see if your library has the series. ... Read more

12. A New History of Shinto (Blackwell Brief Histories of Religion)
by John Breen, Mark Teeuwen
Paperback: 280 Pages (2010-01-19)
list price: US$29.95 -- used & new: US$22.50
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Asin: 1405155167
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This accessible guide to the development of Japan’s indigenous religion from ancient times to the present day offers an illuminating introduction to the myths, sites and rituals of kami worship, and their role in Shinto’s enduring religious identity.

  • Offers a unique new approach to Shinto history that combines critical analysis with original research
  • Examines key evolutionary moments in the long history of Shinto, including the Meiji Revolution of 1868, and provides the first critical history  in English or Japanese of the Hie shrine, one of the most important in all Japan
  • Traces the development of various shrines, myths, and rituals through history as uniquely diverse phenomena, exploring how and when they merged into the modern notion of Shinto that exists in Japan today
  • Challenges the historic stereotype of Shinto as the unchanging, all-defining core of Japanese culture
... Read more

13. Essentials of Shinto: An Analytical Guide to Principal Teachings (Resources in Asian Philosophy and Religion)
by Stuart Picken
Hardcover: 440 Pages (1994-11-22)
list price: US$146.95 -- used & new: US$116.67
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Asin: 0313264317
Average Customer Review: 1.0 out of 5 stars
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Shinto is finally receiving the attention it deserves as a fundamental component of Japanese culture. Nevertheless, it remains a remarkably complex and elusive phenomenon to which Western categories of religion do not readily apply. A knowledge of Shinto can only proceed from an understanding of Japanese shrines and civilization, for it is closely intermingled with the Japanese way of life and continues to be a vital natural religion. This book is a convenient guide. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

1-0 out of 5 stars Please resubmit
I also noticed the kanji errors and some sloppy scholarship. If this were one of my PhD students I would tell them to resubmit the manuscript.

1-0 out of 5 stars Full of errors
This book might not seem so overpriced if it had been written and edited well. But be forewarned: it's not. It's full of egregious errors of fact and scholarly convention, not to mention unbelievable typos (check out the *kanji* in the glossary for starters). Before deciding to purchase this book for a library, one should consult reviews inprofessional journals like *Journal of Japanese Studies*, *Japanese Religons* (from NCC Center), and *Journal of Asian Studies*. ... Read more

14. A Popular Dictionary of Shinto (Popular dictionaries of religion)
by Brian Bocking
Paperback: 220 Pages (1997-12-16)
list price: US$52.95 -- used & new: US$24.99
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Asin: 0700710515
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
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A comprehensive glossary and reference work with more than a thousand entries on Shinto ranging from brief definitions and Japanese terms to short essays dealing with aspects of Shinto practice, belief and institutions from early times up to the present day. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

1-0 out of 5 stars All About the British Class System
This book is very informative about the decline of Western educational standards but doesn't say much about Japan's nationalist religion. What's with the british flag on the cover?

5-0 out of 5 stars Shinto Religion: A Japanese Treasure of Tradition
I thought that the book was great, I learned so much and I was glad that Iwas able to read it. My friend owns it and soon I will buy it... Probablytoday or tommorow. Shinto is my religion and I am eager to learn more aboutit. As much as possible. ... Read more

15. Shinto and the State, 1868-1988 (Studies in Church and State)
by Helen Hardacre
Paperback: 224 Pages (1991-08-12)
list price: US$30.95 -- used & new: US$30.92
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Asin: 0691020523
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
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Helen Hardacre, a leading scholar of religious life in modern Japan, examines the Japanese state's involvement in and manipulation of shinto from the Meiji Restoration to the present. Nowhere else in modern history do we find so pronounced an example of government sponsorship of a religion as in Japan's support of shinto. How did that sponsorship come about and how was it maintained? How was it dismantled after World War II? What attempts are being made today to reconstruct it? In answering these questions, Hardacre shows why State shinto symbols, such as the Yasukuni Shrine and its prefectural branches, are still the focus for bitter struggles over who will have the right to articulate their significance.

Where previous studies have emphasized the state bureaucracy responsible for the administration of shinto, Hardacre goes to the periphery of Japanese society. She demonstrates that leaders and adherents of popular religious movements, independent religious entrepreneurs, women seeking to raise the prestige of their households, and men with political ambitions all found an association with shinto useful for self-promotion; local-level civil administrations and parish organizations have consistently patronized shinto as a way to raise the prospects of provincial communities. A conduit for access to the prestige of the state, shinto has increased not only the power of the center of society over the periphery but also the power of the periphery over the center. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

3-0 out of 5 stars Why is this sold as religious studies??
I got a nit to pick with this book. The research itself was extremely well done, but the theory is moronic. Why is this part of a series called "Studies in Church and State", when the only institutional actor in this book is the State? You heard me right-- this is a book on "Studies in State and State". There is no conflict to be discussed. Come to think of it, why does such a series like this even exist, since a minimal amount of critical thinking will reveal that "The Church" is a Christian technical term (a holdover from the bad old days of established churches, actually) with no international parallel? Does anyone REALLY think this will help history students understand the differences between cultures?!

It's not like Helen Hardacre isn't aware of this foolishness. For example, she correctly states in the Introduction that "in pre-Meiji Japan there existed no concept of religion as a general phenomenon" (18) and that "there has been much discussion of whether it is appropriate to consider Shinto a religion" (10). But THEN, in the SAME short section, she claims that pre-Meiji visitors "could take in the secular delights of Ise ... not all [of the Jingu's attractions] were of a religious nature" (referring to brothels). (16) In doing so, she takes up two ideological positions. First, she makes an accusation about the nature of Ise's brothels, for there is of course no rule in sociology or anthropology that brothels cannot be religious. Moreover the Jingu's staff could not have defended themselves against such an accusation, for there was no concept of religion at the time. Secondly, she contradicts the supposed neutrality of even this short introduction, for now the Jingu is a primarily "religious" attraction--simply one that was in the past dirtied by Japan's barbaric mixture of the sacred and the profane.

We find this contradiction as well in more important statements about the invention of State Shinto. Again, "when ideas about religion originating in Europe and Asia came to Japan, they entered a society that had no equivalent concept or term, no idea of a distinct sphere of life that could be called religious ... the Japanese found it necessary to develop their own term for the various Western-language words for religion." (63) However, for some reason this functions the beginning rather than the end of Hardacre's concern with "religion" as a category, and the end rather than the beginning of her complaint with it. Just a few pages later she cleverly rewrites the Occupation assertion of State Shinto's religiousness into an apparent non-assertion, stating that "in the Meiji period, for the first time in Japanese religious history, shrine affiliations became ... defined as nonreligious in character." (83; emphasis added) According to what she stated herself before, Japan did not have a religious history, so why is it being brought up here? A parallel statement may put the ideological grounding of this sentence into perspective: "Following evangelical Christian objections, for the first time in the religious history of aikido, bowing to one's sensei became defined as nonreligious in character." Merely by referencing the category as if it was there all along--unnecessarily, in my opinion--the claim of Shinto's secular nature is negated.

Hardacre again masquerades assertions as statements while discussing the introduction of religious freedom: "The status of Shinto remained ambiguous, with a growing tendency to separate it from the sphere of religion and to align it instead with custom and patriotism." (120) First of all, has there ever been any doubt that visits to shrines are a Japanese custom? If not, then what is the meaning of the suggestion that it became "aligned with" custom, and why does it start its journey towards custom in the "sphere of religion"--a sphere that Hardacre has already twice acknowledged did not exist in Japan before Western involvement? What she may have meant here is that State Shinto was a patriotic, or national, custom, and similarly public customs in the West do not involve references to kami. But to rewrite the sentence in this way would actually change its meaning. State Shinto never left the sphere of kami, and it was always in the sphere of custom, so there is no ambiguity on this subject whatsoever except for its conflict with our own categories. The real ambiguity for most Japanese was that it was implemented as an invented custom, a bottom-up popular tradition that was reinvented by the state as patriotism and recommunicated from the top down.

Hardacre concludes this section with the statement that "we have seen ... that much of Japanese religiosity, especially shrine life, was in essence liturgical and communal in character." (121) It is hard to say what the word "religiosity" and its accompanying generalization adds to this discussion. It waters down her claim and unnecessarily injects an assertion about religiousness with no small ideological implications. If this sentence were written "we have seen that Japanese shrine life was communal in character", it would be both more specific and more accurate.

All in all, the theory in this book serves to mystify and confuse the readers. I hope a better book will be written shortly to edify American academics about the invention of the Japanese state. ... Read more

16. Shinto Meditations for Revering the Earth
by Stuart D. B. Picken
Paperback: 128 Pages (2002-04-01)
list price: US$12.95 -- used & new: US$6.99
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Asin: 1880656663
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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For more than a thousand years, the religious Shinto rituals of Japan have celebrated Nature's spiritual power to heal, strengthen, and enlighten.In SHINTO MEDITATIONS, these ancient devotions to the Earth will inspire readers to cultivate a new spirit of reverence for the spirituality of the natural world that surrounds us.With each meditation--gazing up into the treetops, listening to thunder, feeling the rain fall on our skin--we awaken to the cosmic content within each of us.Readers will learn how to conduct misogi (the Shinto ritual waterfall purification) and find more information about Shinto practice in North America. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars Well done
This book was very well done, and I have found it quite useful.

4-0 out of 5 stars Let us pray
This was not totally what I was expecting, but that is not a bad thing.I guess I was thinking more of a book of ponderables as opposed to a devotional.That being said, this is the first Shinto related book I have read.Maybe not the best to start with if you are just beginning your journey into Shintoism.Not to say it is a bad book; perhaps as I delve more into Shintoism, I will appreciate it better (I have two or three other books on Shinto to read).But it is a good way to see how a Shinto prayer service (for lack of better terminology) would go.

It does explain how one can do these devotionals alone and how the whole waterfall ceremony works, which was very interesting.I would have to say if you are familiar with Shinto, but unfamiliar with the devotional process, pick this up, it will help.If not, shelve this book until you get more familiar. ... Read more

17. Eastern Religions: Hinduism, Buddism, Taoism, Confucianism, Shinto
Paperback: 552 Pages (2005-05-06)
list price: US$24.99 -- used & new: US$10.25
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Asin: 0195221915
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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This fascinating volume provides a concise, illustrated introduction to five of the great religious traditions of the world--Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, Confucianism, and Shinto. Buddhism, one of the world's great religious traditions, attracts millions of modern-day followers. Hinduism, one of the most ancient of all belief systems, is increasingly well known in the West through expatriate Indian communities. Taoism has been an important influence on Western thinking, especially through the impact of the Tao Te Ching. Confucianism, less metaphysical in its principles, emphasizes family values and the role of the individual within the state. And Shinto, distinctively Japanese in character, is the most animistic of the great religions, based on a belief in numerous individual spirits. The contributors explore a great variety of topics within these religions, including: the life of the Buddha; karma and rebirth; inspiring teachers and gurus; the life of Confucius; sacred Taoist texts; the epics of the Ramayana and Mahabharata; holy landscapes, shrines, and festivals; enlightenment; and--for all the faiths--the spiritual and ethical teachings, art and architecture, sacred writings, ritual and ceremony, and death and the afterlife. Also included are extracts from or summaries of historical texts, with author commentaries that explain the significance of each piece and place in its full context. Authoritative and accessible, Eastern Religions provides a gateway for all those in the West who wish to move one step closer to the spirit of the East. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

3-0 out of 5 stars Global Religions - lack of essence
The book gives for each of the religions; Hinduism, Buddism, Taoism, Confucianism and Shinto a good structure into main sections; Origins and history, aspects of the divine, sacred texts, ethical priciples, sacred space, death and afterlife and Society and religion. However within each section there is numereous detailed references to names, places, dates and texts.I miss an overview of each section of what is of importance and what has less significanse. Inserting for each section a missing link- an overview pinpoininting esseentials would make the book an recommendable textbook.

4-0 out of 5 stars great
I was extremely happy they expeditited this item for a low fee. Book was in good condition

5-0 out of 5 stars nice :3
Concise information, nice (and lots of) pictures, and NEVER boring! I really enjoyed using this book for my Eastern Humanities class. It was not at all what I had expected: it was not hard to understand, it was not boring, and it did assume that I already knew everything there was to know about Eastern religions.

So, all-in-all, I would recommend this book... even if you're not taking an Eastern religion class! It really clarifies a lot of myths and misconceptions about Eastern religions.

4-0 out of 5 stars an unusual introductory text
This Oxford publication seems best suited for a comparative world religion course.I found it in search of material for a unit on comparative world religion in my Sociology of Religion course, and I have used it several times now.I wish there was something comparable on Western Religions!EASTERN RELIGIONS is unorthodox in that it has the glossy pages and color photos typically found in a large-format textbook, but instead is in a 5" X 7.5" handbook format.It is 550 pages long, but with plenty of great photos, including reproductions of artwork, the actual text is nowhere near that long.

The organization of the sections is both the strength and the weakness.Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism and Shinto are covered, and for each there is a section on 1) Origins and Historical Development, 2) Aspects of the Divine, 3) Sacred Texts, 4) Sacred Persons, 5) Ethical Principles, 6) Sacred Space, 7) Sacred Time, 8) Death and the Afterlife, and 9) Society and Religion.

The strength of this approach, from a sociological standpoint, is that religious practices receive as much attention as religious doctrines and beliefs.For instance, Dipavali, the Necklace (or Festival) of Lights, which was recently celebrated, is covered in the Sacred Time sub-section of the Hinduism section.For instance Laozi, fabled author of the Tao te Ching, is worshipped as a god by Taoists in China, which I'm sure is news to many in the West who read the Tao te Ching as philosophy and are informed that Laozi may never have existed as a singular historical person at all.The reader learns of the Three Teachings tradition of China, which combines Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism.Here's where the strength becomes a weakness, though -- the China expert has to write the Taoism and Confucianism sections separately, and so while some of the material overlaps (for instance qi, yin and yang), it remains unclear exactly how they are (or were) combined in the everyday life of the Chinese people, let alone how they combine with Buddhism which has a separate author altogether.And the Chinese "popular religion" is mentioned as well, but never explained at all, because it doesn't fit the framework.

Credit where credit is due:the Hinduism section is written by Vasudha Narayanan, Professor of Religion at the University of Florida, the Buddhism section is written by Malcolm David Eckel, Associate Professor of Religion at Boston University, the Shinto section is written by C. Scott Littleton, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at Occidental College in Los Angeles, and the sections on Taoism and Confucianism are written by Jennifer Oldstone-Moore, Assistant Professor (of what the book jacket does not say) at Wittenberg University in Ohio. ... Read more

18. Shinto: A Short History
Hardcover: 240 Pages (2003-07-22)
list price: US$200.00 -- used & new: US$178.54
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Asin: 0415311799
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Shinto: A Short History provides a running history of Shinto as a religious system from prehistory to the present day. The introduction explains the concept of a religious system, followed by four chapters that treat different periods in Shinto history. The book has been written with both the scholar of Japanese studies and the non-specialist in mind, thereby offering an excellent introduction to the subject. ... Read more

19. Occult Japan: Shinto, Shamanism and the Way of the Gods
by Percival Lowell
Paperback: 379 Pages (1990-04)
list price: US$12.95
Isbn: 0892813067
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20. Shinto: Origins, Rituals, Festivals, Spirits, Sacred Places
by C. Scott Littleton
Hardcover: 116 Pages (2002-05-02)
list price: US$19.95 -- used & new: US$159.95
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Asin: 0195218868
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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In Japan, two religions predominate--Buddhism and Shintoism--and the Japanese people see no contradiction in practicing both: worshipping Buddha even as they revere the kami, the divine beings that populate the country and define the indigenous faith of Shintoism. In Shintoism and the Religions of Japan, C. Scott Littleton illuminates this unusual spiritual pluralism and shows how it has fertilized a vast and varied religious landscape. Littleton describes the origins and development of Shinto (or Kami no Michi, "Way of the Gods"), the introduction of Buddhism a millenium and a half ago, the rise of various sects of Buddhism (some indigenous to Japan), and the role of the imperial court and the shogunate in the nation's religious life. Here too is a clear and succinct summary of Shintoism's teeming pantheon of spiritual figures, the holy writings of Shintoism, and the islands' landscape of holy sanctuaries. Littleton explains how Buddhism has been reinterpreted in light of Japan's indigenous traditions (some monumental statues of the Buddha are worshipped as manifestations of kami), and describes the "new religions" that flourished during the Meiji period of the late nineteenth century, after Japan once again opened up to the outside world. Writing with grace and clarity, he captures the essential features of Japanese religious life, including the countless local festivals and rituals, the importance of harmony and enlightenment, and concepts of death and salvation.Lavishly illustrated with some thirty color photographs, sprinkled with boxed features that focus on fascinating issues, this volume offers a marvelous tour of Japan's distinctive spiritual experience. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (10)

5-0 out of 5 stars Fanastic Soruce to use for Information
This book is a fanastic source to use for infomration about Japan Religion of Shinto. The book does a execllent job in explain origins, rituals, festivals, spirits, and sacred places that are related to number one religion of Japanese Cultures. If you are interested in japanese religions, japanese cultures, have school paper to write or a college research paper I would defentively recommend purchase this book. The company who I order my book from sent it in the condition as describe Used-Like New and it arrived early than they had said it would.

2-0 out of 5 stars I'd pass on this one
If you're a western tourist, who's never read anything about Shinto, you might be able to get something out of this book. Anyone with a little knowledge of the spiritual practice should probably pass on this one. It's too condensed to really discuss the topic in anything more than a superficial way. It has some pretty pictures, but they do little to illustrate anything being discussed.

I also felt it suffered from being written by someone who was clearly from the West and seemed to be struggling to interpret it too much through the viewpoint of our own value systems and philosophy, rather than on it's own terms. If he'd used the terms "ambiguity tolerance" or "contradictory" as a shorthand way of describing Shinto one more time, I think I'd have chucked the book in the waste bin.

3-0 out of 5 stars A Good Starting Place
This is a very good survey of Shintoism. If you know nothing about the religion, this book will walk you through the most basic information. The book is separated into different topics and enplanes it through the lens of Shintoism, like: sacred texts and the afterlife.

Even if you know a few things, this book is a good refresher. And you never know what basic detail you didn't know.

4-0 out of 5 stars Shinto for the uninitiated only...
Those who have little to no background in Japanese religion, culture and history can gain a decent foundation with this short book. Others who have such background, even a cursory one, should look elsewhere for more detailed information. "Shinto: Origins, Rituals, Festivals, Spirits, Sacred Places" represents a good zero level launching pad for the study of Shinto. But it's a bad place to stop for those seeking deeper understanding.

The book, divided into 9 short chapters, tends to repeat itself throughout. This will either facilitate learning or increase monotony, depending on one's disposition. Nonetheless, the text reveals a high-level history of Shinto from prehistoric Jomon culture deity worship, the emergence of Shinto elements in Yayoi culture (300 BCE - 300 CE), Motoori Norinaga's 18th century scholarly revival, the Tokugawa Shogunate (1603 - 1867), the Meiji Restoration of 1868, to modern day Shinkyo Shukyo or "new religions." Shinto was and is a dynamic religion of multifarious forms. It even absorbed Buddhism's 538 CE arrival in Japan. So much so that some people think Japan is a Buddhist country (Ibaraki province does contain one of the largest statues of Buddha in the world). But the Buddhist pagodas and Shinto Torii gates peacefully co-exist. Some Buddhist deities even get worshiped along with Kami, or Shinto deities.

Chapter three gives brief summaries of two Shinto sacred texts, the "Kojiki" and the "Nihonshoki." These present the story of Japan's creation by Izanagi and Izanami (via spear dipping), the birth of Shinto's primary deity, Amaterasu (the Sun Goddess), which led to the birth of Japan's first emperor, Jimmu Tenno. The Meiji Restoration used these stories to establish "State Shinto" which lasted until the end of World War II (and some claim was used to justify Japanese superiority and imperialism).

The book also discusses Shinto ethics, many of which are reflected in everyday Japanese culture: the subordination of the individual to the good of the group, personal and ritual purity, reverence for nature, and regeneration. Shinto presents a more "this worldly" viewpoint than the Abrahamic religions. Thirty three years following death, individual souls ("tama") join a family's ancestral souls and become more of an abstract grouping. But these souls exist to assist the living more than to nurture an afterlife.

Other topics touched on include: Shinto's lack of a founder, Shinto's most sacred places (the shrines of Ise and Izumo), ghosts ("obake"), Shinto festivals ("matsuri"), the status of women in Shinto, the controversial Yasukuni shrine, why some Shinto shrines get torn down and rebuilt every twenty years, household shrines ("kamidana"), and Shinto temple rituals. Numerous photos provide appropriate eye candy along the way.

Any understanding of Japanese culture, no matter how basic, must include familiarity with Shinto. It pervades everything. Though this book only provides a limited (bordering on superficial) knowledge of Shinto, it at least presents a groundwork for further study. Look to thicker and more detailed books to fill in the nuances and gaps.

3-0 out of 5 stars Not to Be Taken Too Literally
Shinto is a religion that is never the same way depending on who one asks.One could get thousands of responses, all different, from Shintoists all over.This book may seem like the foundation for Shinto, but Shinto is a religion that really was never founded in the first place, and it cannot be condenced into such a small book.To accurately put Shinto to words would take many volumes of literature. ... Read more

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