Introduction
To understand Japan and the inner forces that shape her and the
problems with which she wrestles within her own borders it is essen-
tial to know something of the ramifications of Shinto in the thought
and practices of the people. Support for such a statement can be
found in the fact that from childhood the Japanese are taught that
attitudes and usages connected with the shrines of Shinto are vitally
related to good citizenship. To be a worthy subject of the realm
requires loyalty to certain great interests for which the shrines are
made to stand. These attitudes are deliberately fostered on a large
scale by the government. The shrines and their ceremonies are magni-
fied in the state educational system as foremost among recognized
agencies for the promotion of what is commonly designated kokumin
otoku, or national morality. They are thus accorded a place of chief
distinction among the approved means for representing to the people
the values of good citizenship and for firmly uniting the nation about
the Imperial Throne.— DANIEL C. HOLTOM,
The National Faith of Japan, 3–4
‘‘To understand Japan and the inner forces that shape her . . . it is
essential to know something of the ramifications of Shint¯ o in the thought
and practices of the people.’’∞ In his classic The National Faith of Japan
(1938), Daniel Holtom identified the Shint¯o religion as the defining
characteristic of a distinctly Japanese civilization. Shint¯o literally means
the ‘‘Way of the Kami,’’ or the ‘‘Way of the Gods.’’ The kami were the
objects of worship of the Japanese people prior to the introduction of
divinities derived from foreign religions originating on the Eurasian con-
tinent. At the center of this kami worship were the divine beings that
created the universe and their descendants, the divine ancestors of the
Japanese people.
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