Spirituality and ancestry are two subjects that are often seen in anime. Whether it is a strong lightning god or an ancestor coming to give you advice, none of us blink at this when we see it. However, this is not just something that is seen or believed in anime, but it is actually a very real and popular religion in Japan called Shinto. As one of the most prominent religions in Japan, Shinto has deep roots in Japanese culture and has made its way into anime around the world. However, this is not a religion to be taken lightly as it teaches meaningful lessons that teach its followers the importance of respecting the world around you.
Brief Introduction to Shinto
In Shinto, there are embodiments of everything including the earth, the wind, the sea and even death. These embodiments are known as kami, or gods, which followers build shrines to in order for the gods to bring them luck for certain aspects of life. For example, if you had a farm you might build a shrine to a rain or agriculture kami for healthy crops in the years to come. Unlike some forms of Christianity, priests can be either men or women and they aid in taking care of the shrines and performing rituals. Shinto is a peaceful religion in which there are no absolutes. Where many religions see the world in black and white, Shinto focuses on the gray because there is no right and wrong but rather sees humans are flawed beings but ultimately, fundamentally good. This understanding leads to a more accepting and pure faith.
Shinto in Anime
Shinto is present in many anime and even when it is not in your face, there are often underlying elements of it. For example, we see Shinto displayed in Sailor Moon when we are first introduced to Rei. She is dressed in a white top with red pants when working at the shrine. She is displayed as the priestess of the shrine and uses spiritual power to fight when she turns into Sailor Mars. Another prominent aspect of Shinto would be in Noragami. There are many kami represented in this anime such as Bishamon, a kami of war and Rabou, a kami of calamity. This list can go on and on, such as witnessing Ryuk from Death Note or Raiju from Kakuriyo no Yadomeshi. These characters represent major aspects of life that extend far beyond their character and give insight into the world outside of the characters exhibited.
While Shinto is often seen in anime, it is important to also understand what it means to be a follower of that religion and what its core values are. Shinto is not just an aspect of an anime but also gives us an inside look into who the characters are and adds development. The more you understand Japanese culture, the more you can appreciate anime. We hope that you have enjoyed this short introduction to Shinto. If you have any questions or comments, we encourage you to leave them below.