Leadership, Authority, and Religious Roles

Do Shinto practitioners revere any persons as especially gifted with wisdom?

Japanese tradition generally has held teachers in high regard. But, in the words of one famous Japanese scholar, Shinto is “caught” rather than “taught.” As a result, sages, scholars, and teachers do not occupy the place of honor in Shinto tradition to which, for example, Confucianism has elevated them. Human beings are made to worship the divine in all things and to respond in gratitude for countless gifts. Thanksgiving is the wisdom of Shinto. One can encourage it, but most of all it is a gift in itself. Shinto tradition emphasizes firsthand experience of the world and of one’s place in it.


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