Student: Alexander Cook
Mentor: Penglin Wang
This presentation focuses on the key aspects found within the religion Shintoism, focusing on its main categories, “Kami”, and how Shintoism co-evolved with Japanese society, politics and technology. Firstly, this presentation will try, and concisely explain the ideas that form the foundation of Shintoism. The ideas of Kami, integration of nature, and animism will be integral to forming a strong understanding of this religion. With this we will also focus on the creation myths of Japan, supernatural beings of importance, and the roles of Kami in Japanese life. Along with the spiritual, the physical themes of Shinto will also be addressed, with a focus on Shinto shrines, and activities observed there. This will include priesthood, shrine creation, and rituals. After presenting the common tenants, and beliefs of Shintoism, the presentation will focus on the ways that Shintoism has changed through history. Going from the early creation of Japan’s monarchy, to the age of isolationism, and present day. Part of this section will be devoted to the idea of “State Shinto”, when the Japanese government used Shinto ideals to gain support for action during WWII, especially the notion of the Emperor being a “God King ”. Moving from WWII, we will look at the interesting relations formed between Shintoism, and Buddhism, and how these faiths are expressed in Japan’s modernized population.The goal of this presentation is to bring a more general understanding of Shintoism, and to explore important anthropological topics such as animism, ancestral worship, and ecological relations with belief systems.