The Essence of Shinto: Japan's Spiritual Heart [NOOK Book]


In The Essence of Shinto, revered Shinto master Motohisa Yamakage explains the core values of Shinto and explores both basic tenets and its more esoteric points in terms readily accessible to the modern Western reader. He shows how the long history of Shintoism is deeply woven into the fabric of Japanese spirituality and mythology--indeed, it is regarded as Japan's very spiritual roots--and discusses its role in modern Japan and the world. He also carefully analyzes the relationship of the spirit and the soul, ...
See more details below
The Essence of Shinto: Japan's Spiritual Heart

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK Study
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$10.49 price
(Save 38%)$16.99 List Price


In The Essence of Shinto, revered Shinto master Motohisa Yamakage explains the core values of Shinto and explores both basic tenets and its more esoteric points in terms readily accessible to the modern Western reader. He shows how the long history of Shintoism is deeply woven into the fabric of Japanese spirituality and mythology--indeed, it is regarded as Japan's very spiritual roots--and discusses its role in modern Japan and the world. He also carefully analyzes the relationship of the spirit and the soul, which will provide informed and invaluable insight into how spirituality affects our daily existence. Through the author's emphasis on the universality of Shinto and its prevalence in the natural world, the book will appeal to all readers with an appreciation of humanity's place in nature and the individual's role in the larger society.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Western visitors to Japan sometimes come away with the idea that Shinto, Japan's indigenous religion, is a "dead" tradition, with shrines preserved as mere historic sites or tourist traps. Not so, claims Yamakage, who represents "the 79th generation of an ancient Shinto tradition" and makes a case for living Shinto as a faith-based religion that is predicated on "the belief in the presence of the kami," or spirits. Yamakage calls for a return to koshinto, the ancient Shinto practice that he says had no shrines at all, and for a rejection of the "secular, materialistic, atheistic society" that he believes modern Japan has become. He offers a strong introduction to Shinto, stressing that it is nondogmatic, nondoctrinal and almost wholly decentralized. Still, Shintoists are united by a reverence for nature and an emphasis on self-purification, particularly through water rituals and cleansing. The book is nicely designed, with an excellent layout and black-and-white photos throughout. At times, Yamakage's voice can be overly strident, as when challenging the faith and motivations of some contemporary Shinto priests. Overall, however, this is a fine primer that makes a compelling case for Shinto as a religion invested with deep meaning. (May)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9784770050083
  • Publisher: Kodansha USA
  • Publication date: 3/14/2007
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 263,632
  • File size: 19 MB
  • Note: This product may take a few minutes to download.

Meet the Author

Motohisa Yamakage was born in 1925 and brought up in an old Shintoist family. In 1956, he became the 79th Grand Master of Yamakage Shinto. Grand Master Yamakage has played a leading role in introducing Shinto to people around the world and many of his essays, translated into German, French, and English, have been published in leading European magazines. In 2005, Motohisa Yamakage retired and was succeeded by hisson, Hitoyoshi Yamakage.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Preface     11
Shinto for the New Millennium     18
Times are changing     20
A wake-up call to the Shinto establishment     22
Revival of original Shinto     23
Exchange and co-existence among religions     25
The idea of child-spirit (bunrei)     26
Reverence towards nature     29
Variety of religious perception     31
The flexibility and tolerance of Shinto     32
What is Shinto?     34
Shinto is a religion unique to the Japanese people     36
Shinto has no founder     38
Shinto has no doctrines     39
Shinto has no precepts or commandments     43
Shinto has no idols     46
Shinto has no organization     51
The tragedy of "not-having-any"     51
Japanese atheists and faithless Japanese     53
Characteristics of Shinto     56
What is koshinto (ancient Shinto)?     159
What is Jinja?     62
No need for a "building"     64
Kannabi, iwasaka, himorogi     66
The mystery of iwakura-rock seat     69
After the Spirit of Kami descends a place becomes jinja     72
The properattitude of mind for welcoming Kami     74
Why jinja avoids kegare (impurity or uncleanness)     78
Opening the path to Kami     79
The domain for the lower-level spirits     81
What is the household shrine (kamidana)?     83
The Idea of Misogi (Purification)     86
Four types of purification (seimei seichoku)     88
Misogi is the cornerstone of Shinto     89
Misogi was originally practiced in the ocean     91
The conceptual level of misogi     94
Purifying materials     99
Cutting off contact with unclean spirits     102
Keeping our thinking "clean and bright"     104
The Idea of Harai     106
What is Harai     108
Harai with heaven or celestial cleansing     109
The mystery of the great purifying words (oharai no kotoba)     112
The great incantation (daijinju) of Yamakage Shinto     114
Harai of the spirit of sounds (otodama)     115
Harai with earth and salt     116
Harai with human beings     117
What is kegare?     121
Human beings have the potential to become Kami     124
The idea of musubi     125
Koshinto: Theory of One Spirit, Four Souls     128
The philosophy of one spirit, four souls (ichirei shikon)     130
One Spirit (ichirei)     130
Four Souls (shikon)     130
The great spirit of the universe of the great circle     131
Systematic table of ichirei shikon     132
The function of shikon     137
The spiritual structure of human beings     140
Death and the theory of Four Souls     142
Koshinto: View of the "Other World"     146
Where do human beings go after death?     148
Ancient views of the world after death     149
The spirit-soul's journey     155
The spirits of kami protect the dead during the transition to the other world (yukai)     157
Why do kannushi not perform the funeral at the Shinto shrine?     159
What is the memorial service for the dead?     163
The Systematic Training Method of Chinkon     166
The Kami within     168
Living in the flow of eternity     169
The meaning of chinkon     171
The sequential order of chinkon     173
The awakening of the soul (furutama)     175
The breathing method     180
How to get rid of worldly thoughts      182
Beginning with "one thought, one mind"     183
Various realms     184
The secret knowledge of Yamakage Shinto     186
Seeking the clean and bright heart/mind     188
What are the characteristics of persons experiencing the deep realm?     189
The path to service     191
What is prayer?     193
Prayer as a dedication of gratitude toward Kami     195
Sincere wishes are truly realized     196
What to do when you visit a shrine to pay respect to Kami?     197
Prayer is chinkon     200
Looking steadily into your inner mind is chinkon     200
Afterword     202
Notes     204
Appendix I     208
The many names of Kami     208
The hierarchy of Kami     211
Polytheism and monotheism     212
Appendix II     215
Practice chinkon at Yamakage Shinto training center     215
Misogiharai no kotoba     216
Oharai no kotoba     217
Daijinju and ajimarikan     221
Ama no kazoeuta     222
Dedication of gratitude toward Kami     223
Additional Terms     224
Biographical Notes      228
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 3 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 4, 2013

    Geet Great

    This is a wonderful overview of Shintoism. The author takes tine to compare and contrast to other religions and philosophies one might be more familiar with.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 2, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)