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
The Essence of Shinto: Japan's Spiritual Heartby Motohisa Yamakage
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… See more details below
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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.
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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.
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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.