East Asian Mythology: China and Japan

Sources of Japanese Mythology

What is Shinto?

Shinto, or kami-no-michi (“Way of the kami”), is the indigenous religion or spiritual system of Japan. At its center are the kami, the spirits who sometimes take individual form as gods and sometimes animate the natural world. The term Shinto comes from the Chinese shén dào for “spirit path”—that is, shin (spirit) to (path), thus shinto. Shinto is not dogmatic. Its rituals and myths are meant to establish connections between the past—including the ancestors—and the present, especially between the ancient kamis and the imperial family.


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