When looking at the religion of Shintoism or Shen-tao/kami no michi which means the “the way of the gods”, “the way of the spirits”, “the way of the kami” it is easy for the contemporary mind to see the mythology of this religious worldview as portrayed in the writings of the Kojiki and Nihongi.

This religion has a polytheistic view which includes a pantheon of gods much like the greek society and yet holds to an animistic belief of eight million million kami which are said to be spirits or gods which inhabit and possess everything from  shrines to swords to everything in-between. This form of animism is a primitive belief system that many of the remote tribal societies have today which through their superstitions have kept them bound in fear.

When looking at these copious amounts of gods and kami’s I’m not for sure how they can accurately account for these numbers especially since the kami should be increasing or multiplying due to ancestral deaths.

Also this religion is not unique or pure as it has borrowed and incorporated syncretistic  elements from both Buddhism and Confucianism which ironically are atheistic in their philosophy. There are also many and varied sects which make up this religious system therefore making it difficult to keep track of or navigate the nuances of belief which has resulted in a lack of uniformity.

Another aspect of Shintoism, which is controversial, was its former practice of emperor worship which was renounced by Hirohito after the downfall of Japan in World War 2. He basically dethroned himself as being any kind of a Demi-god  after his defeat which ultimately proved him to be an impostor concerning his deification.

Is it possible that this wrongful association of divinity that was attributed to the imperial family could be equally applied to the the kami and gods as well who were also conquered as being the creators and protectors of the Japanese people?

Anyway Shintoism has failed to support its truth claims and more than likely the reason why it could no longer be considered a state sponsored religion is because Shintoism couldn’t adapt to explain its defeat to other inferior creatures or cultures therefore destroying the internal structure of its religious agenda. After all was the kami of the West more powerful or was it because the kami of Japan were angry at its devotees and unresponsive therefore not coming to their aid at a critical moment in its history. Maybe it was that these ideas were just man made myths concerning the gods and kami that had been created in the imaginative folklore of religious superstition? In actuality the latter seems to be more of a reasonable explanation which attempted to validate their existence which was ultimately rendered powerless and non-existent due to the kami’s inability to act.

The danger of these tales help depict how that the Japanese people were superior due to the creation of their island and as being direct descendants from the kami. I understand that Japan is a beautiful place and they are an industrious nation but to elevate themselves to being the elite offspring of the kami is egocentric. Its easy to see that there is a much bigger world out there which encompasses the realm of the creation.

I think it is typical for people groups to somehow elevate themselves above others in taking a sense of pride and independency as a special or unique creation.This competitiveness of human nature often takes this kind of prevalent and predominant view among cultures in identifying themselves as the super race.

Unfortunately Japan who had these types of religious ideologies formed an alliance under the tripartite pact with the likes of Mussolini and the evil genius Adolph Hitler who held to this same type of racial elitism. Ironically his philosophy of the Aryan race of white supremacists would be antithetical to its Asian counterpart.

Anyway Hitler’s attempt to proliferate his ideas and take dominion of Europe and perhaps the world resulted from his propaganda campaigns of hatred which brought about a false sense of superiority which ended in all forms of discrimination and prejudice which afflicted others who were under the observation of the Fuhrer’s spectacles as they were viewed as objects of an inferior race.

These atheistic cultures saw mankind as being no different that just another animal and therefore people are reduced to being bags of proteins. This kind of thinking is what has helped to justify some of the horrors that we have seen come out of these Godless societies which has created these mindless genocidal endeavors. After all to those who have taken this evil course of action towards outsiders saw them as no more than lower life forms that are not fit to be classified as human beings. These bigoted cultures fail to recognize the sanctity and value of human life and therefore the labor camps of the Holocaust were no more different to them than the bacterium that was at work in a sewage treatment plant. The final solution towards their actions came from under the influence of Darwinism which supports a view that justifies the survival of the fittest where might makes right.

Japan as apart of this antagonistic regime had taken a position of aggression on Southeast Asia and the Pacific which ultimately failed therefore removing its self acclaimed status of greatness.

This power struggle to establish itself as a world power seems inconsistent with their religious commitment which had portrayed their culture as ethical in being upright in heart, courteous, honest and who were acting as basically good people. Yet their actions speak louder than words as they positioned themselves for domination during World War 2.

4 Today we see evidence of this ethical facade as well due to the moral failures of Japanese culture whether it be the ruling class or the individualism of the rebellious teenager. In Japan there is a rise of anti-social and violent cults along with presence of materialism,drugs and sex slaves which makes it easy to notice that there is something wrong within the so called sacred grounds of Japanese society. Whether it is the cult of  Aum Shinrikyo and their attempts at mass murder or the leftist groups like the Japanese red army and the opposing 1000 or so right wing extremist groups these examples all show the breakdown of Japanese society.

By saying all of this I don’t mean this as an attack on the precious and dear people of Japan but rather these statements serve as a reflection in showing that their cultural  tendencies towards evil is no different than the rest of the world community regardless of their religious intentions. I personally  have enjoyed and loved the people of these asian cultures because of their general warmness but in the final analysis they are people who likewise suffer and struggle under the common human problem of sin which has invaded Japanese culture.

Shintoism has avoided such notions as sin because of its emphasis on the goodness of mankind and yet the evidence shows there’s a lack of support for this claim. Therefore it fails to identify and address the societal evils that is resident even among the land of the shrines. Ironically I do believe that Shintoism does identify at least to some degree a sense of depravity in their society as expressed by the negative prohibitions of the “do not’s” as found in the ten commandments or the ten precepts of Shinto belief.

In conclusion I think that the Japanese society has seen the duplicity of this movement which has left a spiritual void in which the Japanese have been trying to insatiably fill. Its no wonder that this emptiness of religious belief has left them disillusioned and searching for more relevant answers in their quest to find meaning for life. 4 Is it any wonder that every year that there are uprisings of about a 100 new religions?

When looking at this from a biblical perspective their is an association between the new testament text and what we see as a religious phenomena that is underway in Japan. As a part of ancient greek culture the Apostle Paul while visiting Athens saw a plethora of religiosity and gods which resulted in him taking the opportunity to address the Athenians and philosophers on Mars Hill in helping them to solve their religious identity. These Greeks much like the contemporary Japanese were searching for new suggestions or ideas to fit within the religious context of their society and it is within this context that Paul is able to give a defense towards finding a unifying truth behind their religious behavior.

Acts 17:22-31 22 Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you.

24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. 26 From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. 27 God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. 28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’

29 “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by man’s design and skill. 30 In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. 31 For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.”

This discourse that Paul made is a general summary to resolving the religious questions that these philosophers were wrestling with concerning the sozosha “Creator’’ or sozo no kami “creator God”.

Maybe you like them have wrestled over these very same kind of questions as related to existence and the meaning of your life. Perhaps Shintoism has failed to answer your purpose in life “ikigai” or the  relevant questions that resound within the depths of your soul and I hope that you would prayerfully consider and be open to some things which I would like to share with you from my personal testimony.

How to know God

Before God we have a sense of indebtedness because we are all polluted by sin and need to be washed and cleansed by being purified “harai” through spiritual regeneration which is accomplished as Jesus comes to commune with us by the Holy Spirit.

Jesus can bring about this fellowship in your life as you trust in Him to set you free from this law of sin and death which has separated you from God in giving you the gift of eternal life. This is a gift which can not be earned or merited by human achievement or action because a gift is free.

Finally the makoto or truth reality which goes beyond my propositional claim can be readily identified and attested to by my personal life testimony.

Literally when Jesus came into my life it was like taking a bath on the inside resulting  in a pure heart “kokoro” as now I can approach God.

You might be saying to yourself that you can never accept this premise because you  view Christianity as just a foreign religion and therefore resist anything that smacks of Westernized ideas but in reality Christianity had its origin in the East and unlike Shintoism it has proliferated itself beyond its geographical boundaries as a universal movement. Paradoxically, even though Shintoism has remained predominantly isolated as a movement it still sees a value to the world according to its fifth precept which recognizes a big family concept.

Jesus said in John 3:16,17 16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

Jesus is for all peoples and this is evidenced even in Japan where there are around 2 million Christians. So don’t allow the confines of culture to dictate your value as based on the religious ideologies  of Shintoism which as you can see has had many shortcomings. Anyway your society has already broke free of the traditional forms of religion just from its flurry of religious activity which has them searching in other arenas for the essentials of life and in turn I would ask you to seriously consider the content of this post and to believe upon Jesus who is the “Son” that is rising over Japan to bring light to every heart by illuminating their souls.

Mt. 11: 28-30: 28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”



Shintoism Resources

Articles on Shintoism




1 The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996 (electronic ed.) (Ac 17:22–31). Grand Rapids: Zondervan

2 The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996 (electronic ed.) (Mt 11:28–30). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

AMG’s World Religions and Cults, AMG Publishers, Chattanooga, Tennessee

4 Extract taken from Operation World, Copyright© 2001 by Patrick Johnstone. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

What’s the Big Deal about Other Religions, Copyright 2008 by John Ankerberg and Dillon Burroughs, Published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene,OR 97402,, Used by permission

Handbook of Today’s Religion, Copyright 1983 by Campus Crusade for Christ Inc., Published by Thomas Nelson Publishers

Hume, Robert E., The World’s Living Religions, New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, rev. ed., 1959, pp. 172

Smart, Ninian, The Religious Experience of Mankind, New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1969, pp. 192,193.

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