Exploring Shinto - Michael Pye

Exploring Shinto - Michael Pye

1. What is Shinto?

Exploring Shinto - Michael Pye

Michael Pye [+-]
Marburg University (Emeritus) and Ōtani University
Michael Pye (born 1939) first resided in Japan from 1961 onwards. From 1968 he taught Religious Studies in England and, in 1982, became professor for the Study of Religions at Marburg University, Germany. On retirement he returned to Japan for several years, being associated with Ōtani University, Kyōto. He was president of the International Association for the History of Religions from 1995 to 2000 and is currently President of the International Shinto Studies Association. His major publications include Skilful Means (1978 and 2003), Strategies in the Study of Religions (2013) and Japanese Buddhist Pilgrimage (2015).


This paper explores ways in which the term “Shinto” has been used, and contested, both in Japan, within the world of Shinto itself, and in international discussion. While cognizant of the difficulties, the argument proposes a broad working characterization of Shinto as it is today, giving essential introductory information. It is then suggested that the question “What is a shrine?” could be seen as a more focused way of asking “What is Shinto?” This question is pursued both generically and with detailed reference to a specific shrine, Himukae Daijingū, in an outlying area of Kyoto. The paper then concludes with a discursive statement which is intended as a tentative answer to the question “What is Shinto?” from an observer’s point of view.

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Pye, Michael. 1. What is Shinto?. Exploring Shinto. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. 3-33 Jul 2020. ISBN 9781781799604. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=39481. Date accessed: 20 Sep 2020 doi: 10.1558/equinox.39481. Jul 2020

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