Shinto began forming around 8000 BCE. It has no official doctrine or founder. Shinto is concerned with purity: Impurity arises from death, pregnancy, menstruation, blood, and disease. Harmony and purity are ensured through rituals and festivals that promote the “proper social order and etiquette” in Japan and maintain a balance among all the universal tiers. Thus, Shinto is concerned more with the right practice than with the right thinking about religion. The orthopraxis of Shinto is concerned with purification, offerings, prayer, and symbolic feasts performed before a shrine, which may be in a home or at a festival. This entry discusses the nature of Shinto belief and practice and the influence of geography on its development, traces the history of Shinto from its earliest origins, ...

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