Shinto: A History
Shinto: A History
  • The first comprehensive history of Shinto in any language, tracing the tradition's ancient origins through to modern day practice
  • Heavily illustrated, as is appropriate to this highly visual tradition
  • A newsworthy topic that continues to provoke controversy in Japan and elsewhere
  • Written by a world-renowned expert in Japanese religion and culture

From time immemorial, the Japanese people have worshipped Kami—spirits that inhabit or represent a particular place, or embody natural forces like the wind, rivers, and mountains. Whenever a new settlement was founded a shrine would be erected for the spirits of that place to honor them and ensure their protection. It was believed that Kami could be found everywhere, that no place in Japan was outside their dominion. Shinto encompasses the doctrines, institutions, ritual, and communal life based on Kami worship. The ideal of Shinto, central to this study, is a construct in which a monarch rules through rituals for the Kami, a priestly order assists the sovereign by coordinating rituals, and the people who fulfill their obligations to the collective are in turn blessed by the Kami. Center and periphery join together in untroubled harmony through this theatre of state. 
Helen Hardacre offers for the first time in any language a sweeping, comprehensive history of Shinto, which is practiced by some 80% of the Japanese people. The basic building blocks of this vast and varied tradition, she shows, include the related concepts of imperial rule and ritual, the claim that rituals for the Kami are public in character, and the assertion that this complex web of ideas and institutions devoted to the Kami embodies Japan's "indigenous" tradition. This study addresses the story of the emergence and development of these elements and the debates that surround them to this day. 
Because Shinto is centered on the Kami, it might be assumed that it is a religion, but Hardacre resists that assumption, instead questioning the character of the tradition at each stage of its history. She analyzes and deconstructs the rhetoric of Shinto as a defining feature of Japan's racial identity, inextricably woven into the fabric of Japanese life. This definitive study represents a first, momentous step towards a more developed understanding of Shinto.


Chapter One: Shinto in the Ancient Period
Chapter Two: The Kami in Myth
Chapter Three: The Coalescence of Early Shinto
Chapter Four: Shinto During the Middle and Late Heian Period, Tenth Through Twelfth Centuries
Chapter Five: The Esotericization of Medieval Shinto
Chapter Six: Medieval Shinto and the Arts
Chapter Seven: The Late Medieval Period
Chapter Eight: Early Edo-Period Shinto Thought and Institutions
Chapter Nine: Edo Period Shrine Life and Shrine Pilgrimage
Chapter Ten: Shinto and Revelation
Chapter Eleven: Shinto and Kokugaku
Chapter Twelve: Shinto and the Meiji State
Chapter Thirteen: Shinto and Imperial Japan
Chapter Fourteen: Shinto From 1945 Through 1989
Chapter Fifteen: Shrine Festivals and their Changing Place in the Public Sphere
Chapter Sixteen: Heisei Shinto


Helen Hardacre is Reischauer Institute Professor of Japanese Religions and Society at Harvard University. Concentrating on Japanese religious history of the modern period, she has done extended field study of contemporary Shinto and Buddhist religious organizations, the religious life of Japan's Korean minority, and contemporary ritualization of abortion. She has also researched State Shinto and directs a research project on constitutional revision in Japan.

CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title for 2017 


"Hardacre's achievement in this work will be hard to supersede. This book could be used in all kind of courses, from introductory or advanced undergraduate to graduate seminars, not only on Japanese religions but Japanese culture in general and even on comparative subjects. Students will benefit from the comprehensive and in-depth narration, while the book provides ample clues and opportunities for additional research and revisions. Shinto: A History, which in its comprehensive and encyclopedia nature does not even have a counterpart in Japanese, is a scholarly milestone that will orient for years the study of Shinto and Japanese religions as a whole."--Fabio Rambelli, Journal of Religion in Japan

"At nearly seven hundred pages, it is difficult to think of any adjective other than 'magisterial' to describe Hardacre's new survey on Shinto As the single most comprehensive book on Shinto, Hardacre's book is a must-read her focus on the problems of indigeneity and the public/private distinction moves the field forward considerably."--Jolyon B. Thomas, H-Net Reviews

"This work has been long anticipated. The culmination of a lifetime's dedication to the study of Japanese religions by a major scholar in the field, Shinto: A History is both authoritative and comprehensive. Professor Hardacre manages to lead us carefully and judiciously on a long journey through what can often be recalcitrant, complex material. The notoriously difficult question 'What is Shinto?' has finally been answered." --Richard Bowring, Professor Emeritus, Japanese Studies, University of Cambridge

"Shinto: A History is a milestone work for the study of Shinto. Hardacre provides a comprehensive vision to integrate the usually unrelated research on Shinto in the West and in Japan. Calling into question our conventional wisdom about Shinto, the author masterfully demonstrates that Shinto is a heterogeneous tradition that changed with time, and it encompasses not only shrine Shinto and state Shinto but also popular cultural practices including public festivals seemingly unconstrained by the Japanese emperor system." --Jun'ichi Isomae, Study of Religions, Research Department, International Research Center for Japanese Studies

"Hardacre's study is particularly useful for understanding the religious resources that the Japanese people drew on to build and maintain their local communities. Her subject is their worship of spirits. She argues that spirit worship emerged in earliest times at the core of nativist (Shinto) beliefs. This leads her to investigate in chronological sequence Shinto debates, rituals, and the practices of its priesthood in which the emperor was the chief priest. The result is a very rich, comprehensive account." --Herbert P. Bix, Professor of History, Binghamton University

"Hardacre, a professor of Japanese religions and society at Harvard, surveys the history of Shinto from ancient Japan to the present in this even-handed and detailed treatment of the topic. Few single-volume histories are this comprehensive... this will serve as a valuable primer for college classes, or for those simply interested in Shinto, and it will be sure to stand as the definitive factual treatment for years to come."--Publishers Weekly


ISBN : 9780190621711

Helen Hardacre
720 ページ
156 x 235 mm





Shinto: A History

Shinto: A History

Shinto: A History