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Publisher's Summary

Nine out of ten Japanese claim some affiliation with Shinto, but in the West the religion remains the least studied of the major Asian spiritual traditions. It is so interlaced with Japanese cultural values and practices that scholarly studies usually focus on only one of its dimensions: Shinto as a "nature religion", an "imperial state religion", a "primal religion", or a "folk amalgam of practices and beliefs". Thomas Kasulis' fresh approach to Shinto explains with clarity and economy how these different aspects interrelate.

As a philosopher of religion, he first analyzes the experiential aspect of Shinto spirituality underlying its various ideas and practices. Second, as a historian of Japanese thought, he sketches several major developments in Shinto doctrines and institutions from prehistory to the present, showing how its interactions with Buddhism, Confucianism, and nationalism influenced its expression in different times and contexts.

In Shinto's idiosyncratic history, Kasulis finds the explicit interplay between two forms of spirituality: the "existential" and the "essentialist". Although the dynamic between the two is particularly striking and accessible in the study of Shinto, he concludes that a similar dynamic may be found in the history of other religions as well.

Two decades ago, Kasulis' Zen Action/Zen Person brought an innovative understanding to the ideas and practices of Zen Buddhism, an understanding influential in the ensuing decade of philosophical Zen studies. Shinto: The Way Home promises to do the same for future Shinto studies.

©2004 University of Hawaii Press (P)2012 Redwood Audiobooks

Critic Reviews

"An outstanding introduction to the basics of the Shinto tradition and its many practices." ( Philosophy East and West)
"Kasulis takes a comparative, philosophical approach, identifying both Japanese and universal characteristics of ‘Shinto spirituality'.... The book has a clear thematic structure, reads well, and will certainly provoke lively classroom discussion." ( Journal of Asian Studies)
"Through illustration and example, Kasulis explains Shinto as have few previous scholars. As in his earlier Zen Action/Zen Person, the author demonstrates without recourse to jargon and agreed-upon models. His concern is not that you be impressed but that you understand, and the result is one of the finest books on Shinto now available." ( Japan Times)

What listeners say about Shinto: The Way Home

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Limited information on actual Shinto practice.

This book focuses heavily on dissecting the history of Shinto and comparing essentialism versus existentialism. It has limited information on Shinto practice and mythology. Narrator was pleasant to listen to.

4 people found this helpful

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A scholarly intro to Shinto

If you've ever listened to one of the Great Courses lecture series, this is very similar in its structure, delivery, and technical complexity. The author states at the beginning that this is intended as an introduction to the changing philosophy and social function of Shinto through Japanese history, and it works very well as that. If you are looking for a more approachable or detailed discussion of source texts, shrines, and religious practice, keep looking.

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Informative and well read

The start of the book is a bit bland amd takes some effort to get though but most of the book is well written and informative. There are times, however, that the author tries to use a $2 word rather than a 2 cent one but then follows up with a description. I think this is an annoying habit. Either use the word and expect that your audiences are at the level of understanding or just switch to using the normal phrasing.

2 people found this helpful

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Suitable for Audio?

This may be one of the very few books I have run into out of the 400 that I have listen to from Audible, that I might say is not as suitable for audio. It really needs to be read very slowly and studied. It’s one of those books I would read the paragraph, do some underlining, make notes in the margin and so on. It’s excellent but I found myself rewinding sections or even chapters a couple times. I was not familiar with Shinto before.

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A good book on Shinto.

A good recording of the book on Shinto that is precise and informative, but largely a heavy read that seemed to be more than an introduction!

This book was great to read, and the audio, while dry at times, was engaging nonetheless.

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A Great Way To Understand Shinto

This is the best book I've read on Shinto and the Japanese way. It makes so much sense as to how Japanese people have a good sense of balance and appreciation for nature. Having a long history with Japan, and filtering through the eyes of foreign missionaries, I now understand why it's so difficult for Christians to totally convert people that are already grounded in a set of beliefs that are more visible and don't rely on fantastic promises.
Read it to understand and be entertained. Now I have to buy the print copy for a solid reference book!

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Illuminating

Very deep and thought provoking. This book may be challenging to those who aren't used to philosophy and the associated ways of approaching description and arguement. If you are willing to put in the work though, I think you will be well repaid with a new understanding of this spiritual practice and the remarkable differences it has to what we in the West are used to thinking of as "religion."

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The Best Starting Point Shinto Studies

Overall, the performance of the narrator was consistent and enjoyable throughout the work. "Shinto: The Way Home" is not a look at what practices are Shinto and how they are done. Instead, it is looking at the philosophical development of Shinto and why it is what it is. of course, ove the course of the book you may learn various practices, but they are not the main concern. After listening, you'll have a better understanding of the feeling of Shinto, spirituality, and how people think about relgions today.

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enlightening

The author puts some of the deeper and more difficult concepts of Shinto spirituality into modern terms and analogies easier to understand.

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great way to understand shinto

it's not a monotone Voice so it's easy to follow. he gives great example for westerns to understand stand

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  • Sam
  • 08-10-16

Informative but dry delivery

The information itself was interesting but as a British listener the narration was a turn off. Sadly the dry monotone voice just resulted in my brain switching off. The content however I thought was useful for my purposes.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-08-19

enjoyable introduction to shinto

the reader does a good job of delivering the material which can be dense to understand.

it sometimes required a few passes of certain sections as it was challenging to follow. enjoyed the book a lot and filled in a whole host of questions about shinto that a trip to japan only raises rather than answers.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 12-17-20

Wonderful book

Very informative book about Shintoism. Emotive and easy to listen to narration. Definitely recommend for anyone with an interest in Japan and/or Shintoism.

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  • Jeremy J
  • 10-15-19

The spirituality of awe and wonder!

A great introduction to the spirituality of awe and wonder. It gives insight into the everyday practices, place in Japanese culture and it's evolution. Well narrated.