What is Shinto?
Shinto is the indigenous faith of the Japanese.
It is a way of life and a way of thinking that has been integral part of Japanese culture since ancient times.
It is the foundation for the yearly life-cycles, beginning with the New Year’s Day visit Japanese pay to a Shinto Shrine to wish for good luck.
Observing the Shinto faith means worshipping ancestors as guardians of the family. It also means showing respect for the myriad kami- a word that corresponds to ‘deity’ in English – residing in the natural world.
There are kami of the mountains, and kami of the sea.
Kami are all around us, in everything and every person. They may be worshipped anywhere, but many people visit Shinto shrines, called jinja, to pray, cleansing their hands and mouth at the entrance to purify the body and mind.
(from Jinja Honcho website http://www.jinjahoncho.or.jp/en)