What Is Shinto
Shinto is Japan’s indigenous faith. Shinto is centered on a great reverence for the natural world, and is integral to Japanese culture. The Japanese regard the many forms of nature’s life force as different manifestations of the divine, and worship each of them as kami, or Shinto deities.
Shinto has no doctrine, no sacred texts and no founder. It originated with the ancient Japanese people who lived off the land, growing rice, farming, and fishing. They gave thanks for nature’s bounty and were accepting of its strength and rage. Shinto places great value on maintaining a harmonious connection with the world around us, centering on respect for the myriad kami and gratitude for the blessings of nature. Ancestor worship plays a key role in Shinto, with ancestors regarded as guardians of the family.
Today, there are approximately 80,000 Shinto shrines in Japan. These sacred spaces enshrine many different kami, including some historical figures who are worshipped as kami for the great contributions they made to society or the state. Dazaifu Tenmangu enshrines Sugawara Michizane (845–903), a key historical figure worshipped as Tenjin, the deity of learning, culture, and the arts.