What Is Shinto?
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||edHelper's suggested reading level:
||grades 4 to 6
||Flesch-Kincaid grade level:
||big-time, brightly-decorated, celestial, Daikoku, sakaki, spats, supernatural, torii, supposedly, reflection, society, patron, sibling, originally, divine, literally
||Itsukushima Shrine, Amaterasu Omikami, Inland Sea, Modern Shinto, Shrine Shinto, Sectarian Shinto, Folk Shinto, General Principles, Shinto Life, Shinto Shrines
What Is Shinto?
By Colleen Messina
1 Caption: A Japanese torii at Itsukushima Shrine appears to float in the water.
2 In the ancient Shinto religion, the universe is populated with many gods and goddesses who take care of the world. Shinto is an ancient religion of Japan, and its name means "the way of the gods." The Shinto religion focuses on nature and beings called kami. Eight million kami take care of everything!
3 Anyone who has brothers or sisters might enjoy a story about the most important Shinto goddess. Apparently, even big-time gods and goddesses had sibling spats! Amaterasu Omikami is the sun goddess. Her brother, the storm god, made her mad. He had been sent out to rule the sea. On his way there, he destroyed his sister's home. He also ruined rice fields. Basically, the storm god was a bad boy.
4 Amaterasu was upset with her brother. She ran off and hid in a cave. She shut the rock door and locked it tight. This made the whole Earth dark! This affected the rest of the gods and goddesses in the world. No one wanted darkness forever. They needed a plan to literally "save the daylight." Eight hundred gods fervently hoped that the goddess would come out. Then, the world would have night and day again.
5 The gods had an unusual plan to make the goddess come out. They dug up a sakaki tree from a heavenly mountain. This type of tree has lovely white flowers in spring, and later, deep red berries. The gods hung a string of 500 jewels on the middle branches of the tree. They also hung a large mirror on its lower branches. One celestial goddess did a beautiful dance that made the gods laugh with delight. They told Amaterasu that there was a goddess even lovelier than she outside the cave.
Paragraphs 6 to 12:
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