View Full Version : Quick Questions

23rd July 2001, 16:42
What are a few good websites about Shinto, and are there any good books on the subject? (In English, seems obvious, but I tried a few searches and got Japanese webpages.)

23rd July 2001, 17:49
Hi, Michael,
Do a google search or other engine, read some which peek your interest, then come back with what you have, and then ask the same question.

I know you think the experts in this area may come flocking around to help, but most may be further inclined if you do the work yourself.

I'm not trying to be flippant but it usually gathers more of a crowd his way, and you may get more recommendations for running down information yourself first. Most like to lead to the websites which help if you give an idea of what you want to know, not simply "Shinto."


24th July 2001, 15:22
Lots of websites on Shinto. One I recommend is at www.shinto.org (http://www.shinto.org) . It is available in both English and Japanese. If you search on Yahoo for 'Shinto', you should get about 15 matches. As to books in English, can't help much off the top of my head- perhaps some of the Shinto sites have recommended reading. Also try searching for kamidana, kamiza, or shimenawa..

24th July 2001, 18:55
Well, reason I ask is because there are lots of pseudo-experts out on the net, and even when you get an expert, you get conflicting stories. For instance, let's take Hinduism.

Hinduism can be considered a polytheistic religion, because it worships a variety of Gods/goddesses.

It can be a monotheistic religion, because it recognizes only one supreme God, the panentheistic principle of Brahman, that all reality is a unity. The entire universe is one divine being, who is simultaneously one with it, and transcending it as well.

It can be a trinitarian, because Brahman is visualized as a triad, Brahma the Creator, who creates new realities, Vishnu (Krisna), the preserver, who preserves the new creations and comes to Earth in one of ten incarcerations when the Dharma is threatened. Then there's Siva, the Destroyer, who is sometimes compassionate, sometimes destructive, and sometimes erotic.

Or, you can even go further and say that Hinduism is a henotheistic religion, one that recognizes a single diety, but also recognizes that all gods/goddesses are manifestations or aspects of that one supreme God.

Then, there are the two "urban" groups of Hinduism, Vaishnavaism, and Shivaism.

So, if you give a newb a book on Shivaism, he'll have a somewhat different idea of Hinduism.

The same applies to the more Christian orientated society of Western ideals in Christian mythos. If you give someone unfamiliar with Christianity a fundamentalist Christian website and/or book, they'll have the idea that Christians want everyone to burn in eternal torment, eaten by worms, screaming, gnashing their teeth, and only those who believe an exact certain way get to go to heaven. On the other side, if you take them to a Christian apologist, they'll think that God is all-loving and caring. Or, if you really want to confuse this person, tell them about the Paul-paradox, that Paul was viewed as a heretic, and conversely, Paul's the Apostle that preaches the most about God's love.

So, what seems like a really dumb and stupid question might not be that dumb and stupid of a question.

24th July 2001, 19:42

I've found Shinto: the Kami Way to be quite good. It's fairly simple (maybe too simple for someone deeply involved with Shinto); however, it provides a good sketch as to what Shinto is.

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0804819602/qid=996000414/sr=2-1/ref=aps_sr_b_1_1/002-0050645-8756875 Cost: $8.05 new; $6.26 used.


P Goldsbury
25th July 2001, 12:21
I suppose it depends somewhat on whether you want to know about Shinto as a living religion, for want of a better word, i.e., for someone who practises it, or about Shinto as the cultural background of Japan's martial arts.

The International Shinto Foundation at www.shinto.org has many members who have written serious scholarly works on Shinto, Japanese religion and early Japanese history. The first two volumes of the Cambridge History of Japan contain detailed chapters on early Japanese religion (also with detailed bibliographies) and a relatively new collection of essays edited by John Breen and Mark Teeuwen, entitled "Shinto in History", also with extensive bibliography, is probably the only work of its kind in English or Japanese.

But it really depends on what you are looking for.

Yours sincerely,

Peter Goldsbury
P A Goldsbury,
Graduate School of Social Sciences,
Hiroshima University