Each of China's three major religions (Confucianism, Taoism and

REL275: Confucianism, Taoism and Shinto
Essay 3: Shinto
Write a 4-5 page essay (due Friday, March 8) on the following topic:
According to H. Byron Earhart:
Shinto is Japan’s unique contribution to the history of religion. It arose
out of prehistoric practices of the Japanese islands and tended to preserve
these practices in modified forms. To a great extent, the religious life
within Shinto represents a continuity with ancient customs and therefore
has enjoyed a long association with the Japanese nation. However, it
would be a mistake to see Shinto simply as the indigenous religion of
Japan. A historical tracing of Shinto demonstrates that its organization
and much of its content owe a great deal to Chinese and Buddhist
influences. The blending of Japanese and foreign religious elements into
one great national tradition is the distinctive contribution of Shinto.1
How does Earhart’s conception of Shinto as a “blending of Japanese and foreign
religious elements” contrast with the vision of Shinto that was developed by
“National Learning” scholars such as Motoori Norinaga and then widely
disseminated through the “Nationalistic Shinto” of the Meiji era? Were these
attempts to restore the “purity” of the Shinto tradition ultimately successful, or did
“foreign religious elements” continue to influence the rituals of “State Shinto” up
to the end of World War II?
H. Byron Earhart, Japanese Religion: Unity and Diversity, 3rd Edition (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth
Publishing Company, 1982), p. 29