Jinja shinto

Doctrines Jinja shinto is the form of Shinto commonly practised at the nearly 100,000 recognised shrines throughout Japan. Shinto doctrines are hard to identify; one of the strengths of Shinto is said to be its inherent vagueness. Emphasis is placed on intuitive feelings and spiritual emotions expressed through ritual rather than in articles of belief. However, in 1956 following the disestablishment of 'state Shinto' which had fostered prewar emperor worship and Japanese nationalism, Jinja Honcho, the central organising body for Shinto shrines produced a credal statement entitled 'General characteristics of a life lived in reverence of the kami'.
Its main points are
  1. to be grateful for the blessings of the kami and the benefits of the ancestors, and to be diligent in the observance of Shinto rituals, applying oneself to them with sincerity, cheerfulness and purity of heart;
  2. to be helpful to others and in the world at large through deeds of service without thought of reward, and to seek the advancement of the world as one whose life mediates the will of the kami;
  3. to bind oneself with others in harmonious acknowledgement of the will of the emperor, praying that the country may flourish and that other peoples too may live in peace and prosperity.
History The history of Shrine Shinto cannot be summarised. Individual shrines have their own peculiar history, legends, ritual calendar, enshrined kami and associated beliefs. Broadly speaking, shrines are more likely to rise to prominence or decine into obscurity through the benefits they are believed to confer upon the worshipper than through the identity of the enshrined kami. Some shrines are very ancient, predating any written records, while some of the most famous shrines have been built in the last 150 years, and others known since antiquity destroyed in the shrine mergers of the early twentieth century. The function of shrines ranges from enshrinement of the war dead to conferment of easy childbirth or business success, from the development of a region to the prevention of foreign influences. Shrines are built in a variety of architectural styles from the stylised plain wood and thatch simplicity of the Ise Jingu to the richly ornamented lacquerwork of the Gongen-style shrine at Nikko.

Symbols The universally symbol of shrine Shinto is the torii or archway marking the approach to a shrine. Torii come in many sizes and styles, and shrines vary substantially in layout and appearance, reflecting the era in which they were built or rebuilt, the character of the surrounding district or perhaps features of the natural landscape. Most shrines have at least a honden, a hall in which the symbol of the kami is enshrined. Larger shrines have a heiden or hall of offerings, where devotees make ritual offerings to the shrine, and a haiden or hall of worship. While some of the largest shrines receive a more or less constant stream of visitors, most shrines are used only occasionally, principally at the time of seasonal festivals or matsuri, when the deity may be ceremonially escorted from the shrine in a mikoshi (palanquin) to an o-tabisho (resting-place). There, worship is offered to the deity before it is returned to the shrine. Such matsuri, which alternate serious and worshipful rituals with celebration, entertainment, drinking and eating, involve members of the local community in a variety of roles which vary according to sex, age and status.

Adherents Adherents of Shinto are estimated at around 80 million. Most people who identify themselves as followers of Shinto are also Buddhist.

Main Centre
 Jinja Honcho (Central Shrine HQ or 'Association of Shinto Shrines') is located near the Meiji Jingu, Tokyo