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Shinto is a natural indigenous religion of Japan. Shinto gods called kami are worshipped at shrines called jinja. All natural objects and phenomena used to be considered as having kami, so the gods of Shinto were uncountably numerous. Gradually Shinto practice extended to the worship of ancestors. Accordingly, then, there were no specific leaders in Shinto religion, nor any books of scripture.

That the number of Shinto gods was extremely great can be seen from the existence in Japanese mythology of the phrase yaoyorozu no kami, meaning "eight million kami". Later influenced by Buddhism and Confucianism, Shinto became ideologized. From nineteenth century it came to be regarded as the national religion of Japan, and the Emperor became deified. However, after World War Two the practice of religion was separated from the functions of state and worship became limited to the shrines in each locality.

People go to shrines when a child is born, and marriage ceremonies are also conducted according to Shinto rites. Further, people offer prayers at shrines for success in passing university entrance examinations and motorists visit shrines to recieve charms called omamori designed to keep them from harm. Families go to famous shrines at the beginning of a new year. Each shrines has its own religious festivals each year, attended by the people living near the place and served by numerous stalls selling a variety of things.

itsukushima shrine nakamura shrine a front gate meiji shrine


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