Essay by Billy Bob Joe Bob JrHigh School, 11th gradeA+, November 1996

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The Shinto religion was started in the Tokugawa period

(1600-1868) of Japanese history. The Tokugawa "Enlightenment"

inspired a group of people who studied kokugaku, which roughly

translated means "nativism," "Japanese Studies," or "Native

Studies." Kokugaku's intent was to recover "Japanese character"

to what it was before the early influences of foreigners, especially

the Chinese. Some of these influences include Confucianism

(Chinese), Taoism (Chinese), Buddhism (Indian and Chinese), and

Christianity (Western European). The kokugakushu ("nativist")

focused most of their efforts on recovering the Shinto religion, the

native Japanese religion, from fragments of texts and popular

religious practices.

However, Shintoism is probably not a native religion of

Japan (since the Japanese were not the original "natives" of

Japan). There really is no one thing that can be called "Shinto,"

The name itself is a bit misleading because it is made up of two

Chinese words meaning "the way of the gods"(Shen : "spiritual

power, divinity"; Tao : "the way or path").

The word for this in

Japanese is kannagara : 'the way of the kami .'

Many things can be said about Shinto. First, it was a tribal

religion, not a state one. However, even when the tribes were

organized into coherent states, they still retained their Shinto

beliefs. Second, all Shinto cults believe in Kami ("the divine")

Individual clans worshipped a single Kami which was regarded as

the principal ancestor of the clan. As the clan spread, it still

worshipped it's Kami, but when one clan conquered another

clan-the defeated clan had to worship the Kami of the victorious

clan. What the Kami consist of is hard to define. Kami refers to

the gods of Heaven, Earth, and the Underworld. But Kami also

are all those things that have divinity in them to some degree.

Third, all Shinto involve...