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Thread: overview of Shinto

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    Default overview of Shinto

    anyone recommend a good overview? thanks very much.

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    This is a new history, supposed to be good.
    http://as.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTi...405155159.html
    but it's US$100

    There are tons of websites that explore Shinto. Any free, old books will probably cite State Shinto, the prewar version, which is nothing like Shinto today.

    Lance Gatling

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    Here is a bibliography that I published elsewhere.

    There is a vast bibliography in English concerning Shinto. In fact, many of the writers discussed or mentioned in these columns cite works on Shinto in conformity with their own ideas about what they think Shinto is or should be.

    So, to begin with, it is important to find a general basis: a balanced, even-handed, flexible picture of Shinto, but one that is comprehensive enough to place the more quirky interpretations in context. For this kind of picture, a combination of the historical approach with the ‘phenomenological' approach is probably the best, so a good place to start is an introductory book like the one discussed in this essay. Written by Thomas Kasulis, the book reveals both the advantages and the problems in writing about the ‘phenomenology' of Shinto (Thomas P Kasulis, Shinto: The Way Home, 2004, Hawai‘i U P). This book can be supplemented by two books by John Nelson (John K Nelson: A Year in the Life of a Shinto Shrine, 1996, U of Washington Press; John K Nelson, Enduring Identities: The Guise of Shinto in Modern Japan, 2000, Hawai‘i U P). The later historical developments of Shinto are fundamental for understanding Morihei Ueshiba and a good picture is provided by a collection of essays edited by Nobutaka Inoue: Inoue Nobutaka [editor], Ito Satoshi, Endo Jun, Mori Mizue, Shinto -- a Short History, 2003, Routledge Curzon. After this it is important to read another history of Shinto that is ‘revisionist'. A New History of Shinto was written with the intention of showing what was defective in the previous histories and cannot really be understood fully without some acquaintance with these earlier works: John Breen and Mark Teeuwen, A New History of Shinto, 2010, Wiley-Blackwell.

    Having obtained a basic understanding of the general framework, one is better equipped to probe more deeply and also consider how the writers themselves view their subject. Although long out of print and despite a damning review by Carmen Blacker, a weighty book by Jean Herbert is a good place to begin a detailed survey of Shinto practices and myths: Jean Herbert, Shinto: At the Fountain-head of Japan, 1967, Allen & Unwin. This book is a heavily-edited English translation, combined into one large volume, of two original works written in French: Jean Herbert, Aux sources du Japan -- le Shinto, 1964, Editions Albin Michel; and Les Dieux Nationaux du Japon, 1965, Editions Albin Michel. Herbert is somewhat uncritical and this is part of the reason for Blacker's scathing review. The review forms Chapter 35 in her collected essays, the first part of which is devoted to religion, myth and folklore: Carmen Blacker, Collected Writings, 2000, Routledge-Curzon.

    Two classic early works by D C Holtom on State Shinto were often cited in previous columns. Both the titles and the dates of publication convey some idea of how wartime State Shinto was generally regarded by the Japanese: D C Holtom, The National Faith of Japan: A Study in Modern Shinto, 1938, 1995, Kegan Paul International; Modern Japan and Shinto Nationalism, 1943, revised in 1947, Chicago U P. Another classic early work presents a picture of Shinto from a completely different viewpoint to that of Holtom: J W T Mason, The Meaning of Shinto, 1935, 2002, Tenchi Press. There are individual chapters in the multi-volume Cambridge History of Japan, but these do not make one continuous narrative of Shinto.

    Helen Hardacre has written on the new religions (details below) but her book on Shinto deals more with state Shinto than with the religious aspects: Helen Hardacre, Shinto and the State 1868-1988, 1989, Princeton U P. Indispensable for those who wish to delve more deeply is a collection of essays: John Breen and Mark Teeuwen (Eds.), Shinto in History: Ways of the Kami, 2000, Curzon. The articles of Kuroda Toshio are scattered over a number of academic journals, but the article that was most controversial when it appeared is "Shinto in the History of Japanese Religion" and it can be found in a collection of articles: Mark R Mullins, Shimazono Susumu, Paul L Swanson (eds.), Religion and Society in Modern Japan, 1993, Asian Humanities Press.

    It is difficult to read the main Shinto texts in Japanese, but there are various scholarly editions of the Kojiki and Nihongi, with the kanbun text, modern translations into Japanese, and scholarly notes. The best Japanese edition is the volume in Iwanami's Nihon Koten Bungaku Taikei: 倉野憲司, 武田祐吉, 『古事記 祝詞』, 1958, 日本古典文学大系, 岩波書店. As the title indicates, this edition contains both the Kojiki and the Norito from the Engi-shiki. The level of difficulty can be indicated by the fact that some of my Japanese graduate students cannot easily read even the modern translations, let alone the kanbun text. W G Aston and Basil Hall Chamberlain have translated these works into English, but Aston's translation of the Nihongi is far superior to Chamberlain's translation of the Kojiki. For the Kojiki, the translation by Donald Philippi is indispensible. Unfortunately, this is out of print and now rare; even used copies are quite expensive: Kojiki: Donald Philippi, 1956, University of Tokyo Press.
    An accessible resource in English is the online Digital Museum published by Kokugakuin University, in Tokyo: http://k-amc.kokugakuin.ac.jp/DM/dbT...s_name=col_eos.
    It has been stated that Morihei Ueshiba interpreted the Kojiki via kotodama. An example of this thinking can been seen in an interview with Abe Seiseki that appears on the Doshinkai website: http://www.doshinokai.com/Articles_files/Kojiki.pdf
    Peter Goldsbury
    Hiroshima, Japan

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    This site may be of interest:

    http://www.tsubakishrine.org/qanda/index.html
    Yours in Budo,
    ---Brian---

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    Quote Originally Posted by P Goldsbury View Post
    Here is a bibliography that I published elsewhere. There is a vast bibliography in English concerning Shinto. In fact, many of the writers discussed or mentioned in these columns cite works on Shinto in conformity with their own ideas about what they think Shinto is or should be. ....It is difficult to read the main Shinto texts in Japanese, but there are various scholarly editions of the Kojiki and Nihongi, with the kanbun text, modern translations into Japanese, and scholarly notes. The best Japanese edition is the volume in Iwanami's Nihon Koten Bungaku Taikei: 倉野憲司, 武田祐吉, 『古事記 祝詞』, 1958, 日本古典文学大系, 岩波書店. As the title indicates, this edition contains both the Kojiki and the Norito from the Engi-shiki. The level of difficulty can be indicated by the fact that some of my Japanese graduate students cannot easily read even the modern translations, let alone the kanbun text. .... An accessible resource in English is the online Digital Museum published by Kokugakuin University, in Tokyo: http://k-amc.kokugakuin.ac.jp/DM/dbT...s_name=col_eos. It has been stated that Morihei Ueshiba interpreted the Kojiki via kotodama. An example of this thinking can been seen in an interview with Abe Seiseki that appears on the Doshinkai website: http://www.doshinokai.com/Articles_files/Kojiki.pdf
    'It is difficult to read the main Shinto text in Japanese...' Indeed. One of the great understatements on this forum. Thanks for the great post but I can't get the links to work. Have they changed? Lance Gatling

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    Hello Lance,

    Both links were accessible when I wrote the article for AikiWeb. I have just accessed the Kokugakuin link, but the Doshinkai is unavailable on the server I am using. However, I think the interviews with Seiseki Abe relevant to kotodama can be accessed via other links. I would imagine that Kogakkan Daigaku also has information on Shinto and I think Carmen Blacker was a member of an academic study group on shinto.

    Best wishes,

    PAG
    Peter Goldsbury
    Hiroshima, Japan

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    _thanks, I was able to get the Kogakuin link. LGatling

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