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Shinto is the ancient religion of Japan. Indeed, it is one of the oldest religions in the world that is still followed. Over the centuries it has evolved out of the worship of kami, the divine within the world. Shinto has assumed many forms ranging from its origins as a folk religion to its gradual mixture with Buddhism over six centuries, and from its redefining after the Meiji Reformation in the interests of nationalism to the end of World War II, when it again became a more personal choice. As one of the few ancient religions that still thrives, it is of interest to greater circles than Japan specialists, although it remains difficult to understand and even harder to characterize in western terms. Fortunately however, understanding is greatly facilitated by The A to Z of Shinto, which traces its long historical evolution in the book's chronology and carefully considers the religion from different angles in the introduction. The dictionary includes hundreds of cross-referenced entries on significant institutions, concepts, writings, thinkers, and most importantly, the kami. The bibliography provides an outlet for further study.
About the Author
Stuart D.B. Picken is a leading specialist on Japanese culture and religion, having taught at the International Christian University in Tokyo, served as director of the Centre for Japanese Studies at the University of Stirling, and then concluded his career as Graduate School Dean at the Nagoya University of Commerce and Business Administration. He is a recipient of the Order of the Sacred Treasure by the Japanese government for pioneering research on Japan and for services to Japan-Scotland and Japan-U.K. relations for over three decades.