1. What is Shinto?

Exploring Shinto - Michael Pye

Michael Pye [+-]
Marburg University (Emeritus) and Ōtani University
Michael Pye is Professor (emeritus) of religious studies at Marburg University and a visiting Research Associate of Ōtani University in Kyōto. He is currently the president of the International Shinto Studies Association.His writings have ranged widely over problems in the study of religions, studies in Buddhist thought and many aspects of contemporary Japanese religion. His major publications include Skilful Means and Emerging from Meditation.


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. Jul 2020. ISBN 9781781799604. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=39481. Date accessed: 28 Jan 2020 doi: 10.1558/equinox.39481. Jul 2020

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