Encyclopedia of Shinto Kokugakuin University
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Daoist Elements in Shinto
Shinto has been greatly influenced by both Confucianism and Buddhism. It is also not without Christian influence. However, despite the fact that Daoist influence on Shinto has been far greater than that of Christianity, to date there has been a dearth of penetrating studies into Shinto-Daoist interactions. Despite the fortune of still having Hirata Atsutane's work intact (an Edo period scholar who conducted pioneering studies into Shinto-Daoist interaction), it has not been given its fair due in contemporary Shinto Studies. One of the reasons for this is that Daoist traditions were not taken as either a single religious organization or a consistent philosophy. Additionally, because Daoist traditions in China, like Shinto traditions in Japan, are an amalgam of various elements, there is no clear institutional standard in either against which to compare the two. Recently, however, scholars focusing on the influence of Daoist traditions on Japanese religion have emerged, and they have found many suggestive similarities in various magical incantations, fortune telling and divination techniques (uranai), purification rites (harae), and other fortune-increasing and disaster-preventing rites. As comparative studies of East Asian folk religions continue, the field of Shinto Studies will become all the more interesting.
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