Writing Echoes

Delijah's Writing Blog

Research Book Review: Shinto: The Kami Way

Title: Shinto: The Kami Way
Author: Sokyo Ono
Publisher: Charles E. Tuttle Company
Pages: 116
Year: 1962
ISBN: 0-8048-0525-3

Contents

  1. The Kami Way: Introduction, mythology, Kami, Scriptures, Types of Shinto, Organisation
  2. Shrines: Shrines and Shrine Paraphernalia , Precincts, Architecture, Priests and Shrine Functionaries, Parishes and Parishioners
  3. Worship and festivals: Worship, Four elements of worrship, Worship in the home, Shrine Worship, Festivals
  4. Political and Social characteristics: Government Policy, the Arts, Economic Life, Relation with other Religions, Everyday Customs
  5. Some spiritual characteristics: Transmission of the Faith, Shrines and nature; World, Man, Salvation and Death, Universality of Shinto

 

I stumbled upon this book quite on accident, and it was not what I was expecting, then again, I am not sure what I was expecting anyway. For the first four chapters of the book Dr. Ono sounds like an anthropologist, describing aseptically, maybe even a bit sarcastically the beliefs of Shinto, while on the last part, he sounds like a fanboy. Neither of them seems very appropriate as he belongs to the Association of Shinto Shrines.

The conclusion one draws from the book is “I was supposed to explain Shinto but as nobody can understand Shinto, I’m going to skip that and describe what you can see of it.” At some points the book is a bit contradictory, classifying Shinto first as a religion, then not, then yes again. Towards the end, Dr. Ono states that Westerners can’t understand Shinto anyway, but it is a universal faith.

Now, I understand that this book was written in the 60s by someone whose first language was not English, so some expressions may be a bit phased out, but I did find some typos that made me chuckle. While interesting, it is a bit of a slow read, that touches many topics but does not delve into any.

All in all, it’s not a must-read, but a nice-to-have-read if you’re a little bit of a geek, I guess.

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