Confucianism and Shinto

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Confucianism treats relationships just as any real object. Both personal and social factors, such as family connection, friendship, age, and social status determine the level of a relationship. Confucianism not only acknowledges inequality in relationships and categorizes relationships according to the hierarchy, starting with the most important (Molloy, 2012). The Five Great relationships include father-son, elder brother-younger brother, husband-wife, elder-younger, and ruler-subject. Confucians consider family as the foundation of society. The relationship between the father and his son is at the core of family. Parents must play their part in the moral formation and education of their children (Molloy, 2012). Children, on the other hand, must obey and respect their parents, as well as care for them in old age.

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Confucians also recognize the relationship between elder brother and younger brother as key to a family set up. An elder brother must play his part of assuming responsibility for raising the younger siblings. On the other hand, the younger siblings must be compliant. For Confucians, the paternal responsibility often shifts to the eldest son when an elderly father dies before raising all his children (Molloy, 2012). In husband-wife relationship, each person is responsible for care of the other. Confucians maintain that the husband is an authoritative protector whereas the wife a mother and homemaker. Meanwhile, Confucians recognize elder-younger relationship where older people take up responsibility of character formation, care, and support for young people. Younger people should not only show respect to people older than them but must also be open for advice.

According to Confucianism, an Ideal Person must be a well-rounded enthusiast of art, music, history, and poetry. Since Confucianism holds education and books in high esteem, the junzi (noble person) must cultivate all aspects of writing (Molloy, 2012). The person should also acknowledge that all artworks convey a moral aspect.

Finally, Confucianism plays an integral part in the development of Chinese arts. It also acts as a great patron of these arts. Confucianism advocates elitism in modern Chinese society. It also maintains that anyone in society can become a noble person through training. The virtues and behaviors of Confucianism still exist in China and several other Asian countries (Molloy, 2012). Anyone visiting China would acknowledge the importance of Confucianism in the development of art. The tendency to put Chinese calligraphy on the walls of restaurants, hotels, and homes is still strong in areas that Chinese culture has penetrated.

The term Shinto is used in the world today to refer to kami worship, rituals, practices, and associated theologies. Shinto rituals and practices constitute an essential part of most Japanese national festivities (Boyd & Williams, 2005). It is also a central component of virtually all specialized events in the country, particularly those taking place in shrines and many other sacred sites. Male priests perform most of these events and are assisted by a miko, a feminine shrine functionary. Purification is the most common ritual. It involves symbolic cleansing or purification of a person or object before interacting with Shinto gods (the kami). This ritual is done by bathing, washing, or rinsing using water (Boyd & Williams, 2005). Other Shinto rituals and practices that have still exist in the world today include formal reading of prayers from the ancient collections, as well as making drink and food offerings to the Shinto gods.

Furthermore, Shinto rituals have become a vital part of matsuri a large public festival. This is basically the major type of celebration in Shinto (Boyd & Williams, 2005). As community-oriented festival, Shinto rituals and practices mark all sorts of things, including the New Year, cherry blossoms, Japanese history, seasons in nature, and agricultural traditions. Other Shinto practices are often performed during local, smaller or private festivals (Boyd & Williams, 2005). These rituals mark various stages of life, including marriages, funerals, rites of passage, and births. Also, individuals who visit shrines perform common rituals, such as making offerings, bowing, clapping hands, and ritual washing. Meanwhile, Shinto practices recognize the significance of loyalty, love, piety, faithfulness, and other individual moral virtues.

In conclusion, all the Shinto practices and worldview conform to the concept of purity. The design and nature of most of the Shinto festivals and practices often facilitate communication with the kami. Since communication with kami is one-way, these practices enable people to make requests, offer praise to Shinto gods, and express profound gratitude (Boyd & Williams, 2005). In other instances, people use miko or priest as mediator so that they can learn solutions to critical problems or get responses to important questions. The Shinto community also believes that the rituals and practices provide means through which they can worship and encounter any element they consider definitive or divine. The community also believes that kami is the source or basis of human life and existence. Each kami possesses a divine personality and always responds to candid prayers and requests (Boyd & Williams, 2005). Also, the kami reveals makoto (the truthful way) and guides the people to live in accordance with its wishes. Lastly, the Shinto community in Japan believes in musubi, the force that can harmoniously create and connect. Musubi often manifests itself in nearly all of Great Nature, and is directly associated with various kami.


Boyd, J. W., & Williams, R. G. (2005). Japanese Shinto: An interpretation of a priestly perspective. Philosophy East & West, 55(1), 33-63.

Molloy, M. (11/2012). Experiencing the Worlds Religion, 6th Edition.

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