Defining Shinto: A Reader, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Defining Shinto

A Reader, 1st Edition

Edited by Mark W. MacWilliams, Okuyama Michiaki


400 pages

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pub: 2019-09-25
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This book provides key official documents alongside political, religious-philosophical, and historical essays, illustrating how the term "Shinto" has metamorphosed terminologically from Japan’s emergence as a modern nation state in the late 19th century to the postmodern Japan of today.

"Shinto" is one of the most contested categories in the field of Japanese religious studies. While the term "Shinto" has a long history in the pre-modern period, this volume focuses on how the term has evolved in modern Japan. Divided into five parts, the book covers:

  • Shinto and the modern Japanese nation state
  • Pre-war Japanese intellectuals on Shinto
  • Shinto ultra-nationalism of the 1930s and 40s
  • Post-war reforms and reformulations
  • Contemporary ways of defining Shinto

Presenting a wealth of documents, many of which have been translated here for the first time, the book is an invaluable resource for scholars and students of Japanese religion.

Table of Contents

Introduction:Defining Shinto in Modern Japan


Parts 1 and 2:Introduction

Part 1: Shinto and the Modern Japanese Nation State: Official Statements Concerning Shinto and Shrine Administration

1 Proclamation concerning the Restoration of the Council of Divinities, March 13th, 1868

2 Ordinance Distinguishing Divine and Buddhist Matters,Proclamation issued by the Council of State, March 28th, 1868

3 Imperial Rescript for the Promulgation of the Great Teachings,January 3rd, 1870

4 Official Notice issued by the Council of State, May 14th, 1871 (Shrine Rituals as a State Fundamental Practice)

5 The Principal Aim of the Great Teachings: Notification issued by the Council of State, July 4th, 1871

6 Three Articles for the Teaching issued by the Ministry of Public Instruction, April 28th, 1872

7 Notification issued by the Council of State, June 4th, 1879. Issued with the Home Ministry and the Ministries of the Army, Navy, and Tokyo Prefecture

8 Notification (no.1 in the fourth category) issued by the Home Ministry, January 24th, 1882

9 Notification (no. 30 in the second category) issued by the Home Ministry, May 15th, 1882

10 Notification (no. 19) issued by the Council of State,August 11th, 1884

11 The Constitution of the Empire of Japan, February 11th, 1889, "Imperial Oath at the Sanctuary of the Imperial Palace," and Articles 1-3, and 28

12 Imperial Edict, no. 220, on the Disposition of the Vacant Properties after the Consolidation of Shrines, Temples or Buddhist Halls August 10th, 1906

13 Dates of Important subsequent ordinances issues by the Japanese imperial state

14 Imperial Edict (no. 736) on the Official Institutionalization of the Board of Divinities (Jingiin) November 9th, 1940

Part 2: Pre-War Japanese Intellectuals on Shinto

15 Kume Kunitake

Shinto as an Ancient Custom of Worshiping Heaven (1891)

16 Kawakami Hajime

Japan’s Unique Form of Nationalism (1911)

17 Yanagita Kunio

My View of Shinto (1918)

18 Katō Genchi

Shintō, A Religion of the Theanthropic Type, as Distinguished from a Religion of the Theocratic Type & Shintō as a National Religion, Not Entirely Devoid of a Universal Aspect, and Remarkably Tolerant (1935)

19 Tsuda Sōkichi

The Various Meanings of the Word Shinto(1937-39)

Suggested Readings (Parts 1 and 2)


Part 3: Shinto Ultra-Nationalism of the 1930s and 40s


20 Kōno Seizō

The Way of Kannagara (1940)

21 Ministry of Education (Monbushō)

The Inherent Character of the People, Ceremonial Rites and Morality, from The Cardinal Principles of the National Polity (Kokutai no hongi) (1937)

22 Ministry of Education (Monbushō)

Practicing the Way of Imperial Subjects, from The Way of Subjects (Shinmin no michii) (1941)

23 Board of Divinities (Jingiin)

National Polity and Shrines, National History and Shrines, The State and Shrines, from The Cardinal Principles of Shrines (Jinja hongi)(1944)

Suggested Readings


Part 4: Recasting Shinto—Post-War Reforms and Reformulations


24 General Headquarters, Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers

The Shinto Directive (December 15th, 1945)

25 Orikuchi Shinobu

A New Direction for Shinto (1949)

26 Watsuji Tetsurō

Feudal Thought and Shinto Doctrine and Representative of the Whole People (1948)

27 Ashizu Uzuhiko

The Various Issues Related to Contemporary Shrines (1951)

28 Murakami Shigeyoshi

The Emperor as a Deity in Human Form and The Development of Imperial House Rites (1977)

29 Kuroda Toshio

Shinto in the History of Japanese Religion (1981)

Suggested Readings


Part 5: Contemporary Ways of Defining Shinto


30 Miyata Noboru

State Shinto (1999)

31 Ueda Kenji

The Structure of Shinto Faith (1995)

32 Sonoda Minoru

Our Way of Shrines and Shinto and The Local Shrine Grove—A Shinto Model of One’s Home (1998)

33 Kamata Tōji

What is Shinto? (1999)

34 Inoue Hiroshi

Introduction and A Syncretism Based Upon Separation: The Formation of ‘Shinto’ (2011)

Suggested Readings

About the Editors

Mark W. MacWilliams is Professor of Religious Studies at St. Lawrence University, USA and has published widely in the field of Japanese religions.

Okuyama Michiaki is Research Fellow at the Nanzan Institute of Religion and Culture and Professor at the Faculty of Humanities at Nanzan University, Japan. He has written extensively on the concept on Shinto in the light of studies on comparative religion.

About the Series

Critical Categories in the Study of Religion

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
RELIGION / General