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shinto ?!

December 2, 2014

Shinto is the native religion of Japan. Although I have in the past watched many documentaries about Japan, and taken interest in Japanese culture, martial arts and Zen Buddhism, I have as yet not learned much at all about Shinto.

But I’ve been thinking about it for years.

Why?

I’m not generally an anime fan, but I watched two anime classics many years ago, which I thought were wonderful!  “Princess Mononoke” and “Spirited Away.”

Alright, well, on the youtube picture for the film, there’s gore. Not exactly a lovely picture. Yes, there is some gore in the film, but lots of beauty too.

 

 

I found myself quite moved by both films. I still feel this way.They are both quite beautiful, and have a lot more depth to them than average Disney cartoons. (These were both made in Japan, but Disney owns the distribution rights to one or both of them). “Princess Monoke” is too violent for small children.. just wanted to let people know that.

What these films both have is a lot of spirits in them. Nature spirits, spirits of the forests (I especially like those pale little bobble-headed creatures in “Princess Mononoke”), animal spirits, and many other kinds of spirits.

There is a two-film supernatural action story for adults called “Karas.”

 

Both films are violent. The first one, called “Karas: The Prophecy,” is Awesome otherwise, apart from being a bit difficult to understand.. actually, I had a hard time understanding what the hell was going on.  The second film is one of the most horrible I have ever seen. It has no heart, almost no story, and is horribly horribly violent, much more so than the first.

The first “Karas” film is quite interesting for me, because of the different ways the spirits are portrayed. One example from the film really got me thinking.

In one scene, there are some spirits who look like aged and tired humans, only smaller. They, like us, are just struggling through their day. I wonder if there is a spirit world that is quite diverse. Maybe spirits exist right alongside us, and maybe the spirits are like humans.. just going about their lives. Hmm..

Shinto is a practice of honoring the “kami.” Sometimes this word is translated as “gods,” and sometimes “spirits.” I don’t like the word “gods” much, but I am curious about the Japanese version of the spirit world.

I plan on learning more about Shinto. There is a book on the subject at the local library, which I hope to check out today.

Here is a rather amusing (and potentially offensive) short video comparing Catholicism with Shinto. I really like this video!

Wow! This looks like a religion for me! Although, I could do without all the phallic images. I knew Hindus were into that, but I was unaware that Shinto practitioners were as well. Other than that though.. looks like Shinto will be really worth exploring.

What about Shinto for Americans?

Some Japanese claim that since Japan is the only true land of the gods, Shinto can only be correctly practiced in Japan. I think that the whole earth and universe is the land of the gods or spirits, etc. So I can practice Shinto here in Idaho if I want, even if I am not Japanese.  Or at least I can sort of practice Shinto.. go about it in an American way. That’s what we Americans do.. adopt a religion and tweak it to suit our needs and hearts. Japanese people might not like this, I don’t know. But that does not worry me.

I will give this some thought and study. I plan on helping in ESL classes soon. Maybe I will meet some Japanese people in these classes. Maybe I can ask them about Shinto.

For more information on this religion, here is a lengthy audio only video from youtube. I will add more videos as I find them.

 

Shinto.. hmm…

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