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Shinto ("the way of the gods") is the indigenous faith of Japanese people. It is a form of nature worship, but it is more properly categorized as "animistic" in the sense that everything has a spirit.
In practice, Shintoism uses many small shrines to both spirits of ancestors and natural forces. It uses folk remedies and prayer for healing. Its rituals, songs, and dances are primarily life affirming. Celebrations of birth and marriage are generally from Shinto traditions, while funerary celebrations are generally from Buddhist traditions.
Although Shinto Shrines exist within North America, many Japanese have shrines in their homes. As such, ritual worship is more home based than centralized around Shinto Shrines, such as the ones found in Honolulu, the northwest United States and Vancouver, Canada. In fact, Shintoism is so much a part of Japanese lifestyle and culture that it is difficult to distinguish the two. See Japanese people profile.
Japanese, even those who say they’re not religious, typically blend Shintoism in a syncretistic mix with Buddhism and other religions. As a result, Shinto practices are more of a way of like and remain alive, however loosely, among many of the roughly ethnic Japanese people.
Still, unlike in Japan, formal Shinto shrines are difficult to find in North America. Shintoism is not an organized religion like Christianity, Judaism or some forms of Buddhism. Instead, it’s an amalgamation of ancient folk practices that include elements of Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism.
USA State with Most Shrines: Hawaii
USA Metro Area with Most Shrines: Honolulu
Canada Metro Area with Most Shrines: Vancouver
Shinto Shrines - a wikipedia list of Shinto Shrines in the United States.
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