Non-Japanese sources of Shinto

Doctrines Buddhist, Taoist, Yin-Yang and Confucian teachings all found their way into Japan from about the fifth century CE onwards and recur in various forms of Shinto. The periodic 'renewal' of shrines such as the Ise Daijingu, and even the names of the main parts of this most 'Shinto' of shrines (naiku: inner shrine, geku: outer shrine) have Taoist origins. The New Year visit (Hatsumode) to a Shinto shrine practised by about 80% of the Japanese population enacts the Taoist or Yin-Yang practice of travelling in a 'lucky direction', and the traditional Japanese calendar of auspicious and inauspicious days which is still widely acknowledged derives from Chinese sources. Unsurprisingly, given the pervasiveness of Chinese ideas in Japan, much of Shinto ethical and mystical thought and practice focuses on the stability of the social group and the purification of one's inner nature and is often strongly Confucian or Buddhist in origin or expression.

History See Chinese religions.

Symbols The most distinctive symbol of Shinto, the sign of the presence of kami, is the torii, an archway of wood, stone or simply poles and rope. The torii, which is found in many different styles (2, 3 or 4-legged, plain wood, red-painted, stone etc.) became part of shrine architecture after the introduction of Buddhism. The word torii is itself derived from a Sanskrit word. With some exceptions (such as the stylised simplicity of Ise) Shinto shrine architecture mainly reflects Chinese Buddhist and Confucian styles of temple building and decoration.

Adherents Eighty per cent of Japan's population of 120 million are classed as Buddhist.

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