Does Shintoism focus on any gods?

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pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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This is a difficult question to answer since it is very difficult to define exactly what a "god" is.  It is certainly possible to argue that Shintoism has gods and that some of them are the focus of more veneration than others.  It is also possible, however, the call the kami that are the object of Shinto worship "spirits" rather than "gods."

Shinto belief holds generally that there are huge numbers of kami that can have an impact on the lives of human beings.  In this sense, the kami can be seen as gods since they affect our lives and since devotees of Shintoism believe that their favor can be obtained through proper ritual practice.

Of these many kami, some are more important than others.  Perhaps the most important is Amaterasu, the "sun goddess."  She is seen as the progenitor of the Japanese royal family and has been one of the most important kami in Shintoism.

akannan's profile pic

Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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As its own form of worship, Shintoism does not focus on any specific and particular deities of transcendence.  There is much in Shintoism regarding a reverence for the natural world.  The creation myth in the Shinto religion reveres the building and development of the land of Japan and the islands surrounding it, reason enough why there is so much emphasis on the idea of natural piety.  The beliefs of purity, sacrifice, visiting a shrine, and wearing particular clothes are done so without exact deference to a specific transcendent, identifiable deity.  Rather, they are done so in a general belief system in which one identifies themselves.  The force of the divine is seen in the natural phenomena such as winds, clouds, or mountains and in this natural representation, followers of Shinto believe in the idea of spiritual transcendence of which they, as human beings, are  apart.  This makes the religion difference because there is not really any specific focus or reference to any exact God or deity, but rather a spirit in which this power is manifested of which the individual is a part.

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