One of the questions I frequently get from back home is to about the relation between Shinto, Buddhism, and Japanese life. Luckily for us, the Japan Times just ran an excellent special series of articles about Shinto in Japan. All three were written by Michael Hoffman.
First, there’s “In the Land of the Kami,” an explanation of the history of Shinto 神道, the concept of kami, and relationship between the state and Shinto.
Second is “Buddhism’s Arrival, Shinto’s Endurance,” which covers how Buddhism came to Japan and the early conflicts between Buddhism and Shinto.
Finally, “Symbols of Heaven on Earth” discusses the relation of the state to of the two most famous Shinto shrines, Ise Jingu 伊勢神宮, the most sacred, and Yasukuni Jinja 靖国神社, the most controversial.
The three articles are excellent introductions to Shinto–concise, to the point, and easy to understand. 勉強になりました。(I learned something!)
Leah Zoller is a first-year CIR in Anamizu and now knows things about Shinto!