View Full Version : shinto outside japan

11th September 2003, 02:06
This thread is slightly related to the gaijin shinto thread below.
The longer I stay in Japan, and the more I learn about Shinto I wonder whether Shinto beliefs are possible outside Japan. It seems that the rituals deal with gods specific to a certain place. I have also spent time with Okinawan shamanesses and there too, I feel that it is best left in Okinawa, dealing with specific cultural and geographic realities. Would any animistic religion work outside its cultural matrix?

I mean no judgement or controversy. Here in Japan, I definitely "feel" the gods sometimes, especially in the deep forest. But would I feel them among the Navaho in my native New Mexico?

13th September 2003, 12:09
Hi Ted,
Great Question:)

My thoughts as a Shintoist practicing in the UK

I myself think that Shinto is Universal. Firstly, Shrines across Japan accepts visits from people with or without any particular religious affiliation, and welcome the participation of people from foreign countries in Divine ceremonies and Matsuri. Basically you don’t have to be Japanese to visit a shrine and offer prayers.
So how doe’s that work outside of Japan?
I myself belong to the Shinto based organization `World Mate` in this organization we have branch Shrines all over the world. Basically a Kannushi comes from Japan and enshrines various deities into the shrine so this is how we have Kami outside of Japan, but how do Kami benefit us as westerners?, well considering there are myriads of deities, some for business, some for monetary issues, health, etc. as a westerner if I pray to a deity, say for a prosperous business, will the deity not answer my prayer because I am not Japanese?
Because Shinto accepts all religions, it also doesn’t mind borrowing deities from other faiths, In my branch shrine we have over twenty different deities enshrined and not all of them are Japanese deities.

I live in a place called the Forest of Dean and when I walk through the woods I can certainly feel the spirits, obviously they are not Japanese spirits, although there are places in the UK where Japanese deities have been enshrined, the Lake District for example.

I think in the west the meaning of Shinto is still misunderstood, this is why I think it is important for Shinto to be `Universal`, not for the Japanese to build Shrines abroad and try and get westerners to become Shintoist, but to let us as westerners get a better understanding of Shinto.

All the best