From Shin, meaning god or gods, and to, the way. The ancient religion of Japan, and founded on the worship of ancestors and nature. It acknowledges a Supreme Creator and numerous subordinate gods called Kami, many of whom are the apotheoses of emperors and great men. It believes in the immortality of the soul, and in its ritual uses symbols, such as the mirror--which is the symbol of an unsoiled life--and lustrations symbolic of moral purification.. Like the early Grecian mythology Shintoism has deified natural objects, such as the sun, the air, earth, fire, water, lightning, thunder, etc It is a system much mixed up with the philosophy of Confucius and with myths and legends.
About the sixth century, 522, Buddhism came by way of Korea from China to Japan and thereafter continued side by side with Shintoism for three hundred years when the two were united in the doctrine of Ryobu-Shinto, the Dual Shinto. From the ninth century the two grew together intimately until the middle of the seventeenth century when a determined effort was made to return to the pure Shinto of the Kojiki. The Record of Antiquity, the Kojiki and the Record of Japan, the Nihonyis, both completed in the eighth century, are the sacred books of Shinto and contain picturesque accounts of prehistoric events. Such ethics as are taught by them and their adherents may be briefly expressed as the advice to follow the pure impulses of one's heart. Buddhism for a time suffered temporary eclipse by the later reaction toward primitive Shintoism but was too deeply planted for complete uprooting. Slowly Buddhism regained much of its former prominence.
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