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Shinto, which means the way of the gods, is not exactly a "national religion", but rather one that influences almost every aspect of Japanese culture and society. It has neither a founder nor sacred scriptures, like sutras or the bible. Preaching or propaganda is also not common, as Shinto is already a part of the Japanese people's lives. All Japanese people are Shinto by the fact of their birth.

The "kami" are objects of worship in Shinto. They are sacred spirits and can take various forms, such as natural elements (sun, trees, and the wind) or abstract things (fertility, ancestors, and national heroes).

Shinto is a very optimistic belief. It is thought that all humans are good and that evil spirits causes all evil. Most of the rituals are performed to avoid evil spirits through purification, offerings, and prayers. The Confucian ethics had blended in with Shinto over the centuries, although there is no confirmed written code of morals and ethics in the Shinto religion.

It is the duty of the Shinto priests to perform rituals. Although they are considered private people, they are allowed to marry and have children. Female priests are also accepted in the Shinto religion. It is customary for young ladies, or miko, dressed in white kimonos to support these priests in performing the rituals. The miko must be unmarried, and more often than not, they are the daughters of the priests.

Most people seek support, protection, and good fortune at shrines before important events, such as the opening of a new business. One should never visit a shrine if they are feeling unwell, have an open wound, or are mourning, as these things are considered impure.

Amulets, charms, and postcards can also be bought for a small fee. Pieces of paper that predict your fortunes can also be bought. If you tie the piece of paper to the branch of a tree, good fortune will come true or predicted bad luck can be avoided. Wishes can also be written on small wooden plates, which are then left on the shrines.

There are a few set patterns when praying at Shinto shrines or at home. One of them is to purify yourself by cleaning your hands and your mouth with clean water. You then give your offerings, such as coins at a public shrine or food at home shrines, bow twice deeply, clap your hands twice, bow deeply once more, and pray.

Shinto shrines are places of worship and the dwellings of the kami. Sacred symbols, which represent the kami are stored in the innermost chamber of the shrine where they cannot be seen by anyone. A torii, the entrance gates to a shrine, is a characteristic element of Shinto shrines. It separates the secular world from the spiritual.

A shrine usually includes an innermost chamber and an offering hall, along with other buildings, such as the priest's accommodations, a stage, and auxiliary buildings. However, Shinto shrines do not include a cemetery, as death is thought to be evil. In fact, most Japanese cemeteries are found in Buddhist temples.

The most significant features in Shinto art are the architecture of the shrines and the cultivation and preservation of ancient forms, such as Noh theater, calligraphy, and court music. However, most Shinto shrines are a combination of both the shrines' and Buddhist temple's architecture. Only a few Shinto shrines are considered pure Japanese style. The Great Shrines at Ise and the Itsumo Shrine are such examples.

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