|Shinto (or kami no michi), which means "Way
of the Gods," is the traditional religion of Japan that focuses on nature
and provides a worldview that has become central to Japanese culture and
national identity. Shinto recognizes no all-powerful deity and is a diverse
set of traditional rituals and ceremonies, rather than a system of dogmatic
beliefs or ethics. Many consider Shinto to be a form of Animism due to
the many similarities found between them. Shinto teaches that there is
a sacredness of the whole universe and that humans can be in tune with
this sacredness. Every mountain, river, plant, animal, and all the diverse
phenomena of heaven and earth have spirits, or kami, which inhabit them.
Reverence is paid to the ancestors through the practice of ancestor worship.
Offerings such as fish, rice and vegetables are presented to the kami and
later eaten. Music, dancing, and praise are also offered, and Shinto priests
bless all with the branch of the sacred sakaki tree dipped in holy water.
Kami: Sacred spirits that are worshipped in the Shinto religion of Japan. They are the powers of nature, primarily associated with such things as animals, trees, mountains, springs, boulders, the sun, and so forth. They also include the ancestors of the Japanese, as well as the souls of the dead.
Hirohito: (1901-1989) Emperor of Japan from 1926 until 1989. He is the last Japanese emperor to be considered divine. Led Japan through World War II.