Membership, Community, Diversity

Where do Shinto practitioners live today? Any estimates of numbers available?

By far the majority of people who identify themselves with Shinto tradition still live in Japan. Some eight in ten Japanese practice a religious syncretism of Buddhism and Shinto. There are also Shinto shrines in many areas of Asia (and a few elsewhere as well) in which significant Japanese communities have developed. Honolulu’s Shinto shrine, for example, is a highly visible sign of a large and prosperous Japanese community there. Accurate statistics as to membership are hard to come by, largely because an increasing number of Japanese do not identify themselves as religious at all—even if they continue to engage in some traditional Shinto practices. We do, however, have fairly reliable information about numbers of shrines and active priests from which we have some idea of the tradition’s vitality today. Some twenty thousand priests serve between eighty thousand and a hundred thousand shrines.


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