The Essence of Shinto: Japan’s Spiritual Heart by Motohisa Yamakage
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
If you have a serious interest in Japan, and in the philosophies of Shinto, then I highly recommend this book. Not only is it an excellent translation, it’s as straightforward an approach as you’re likely to get to this complex and subtle system.
I picked this up because, while watching an anime and seeing some characters visit a shrine, I realized–I had no idea what this shrine was for. To whom it was dedicated. I realized, actually, that despite having a passing interest in video games and anime, I had no real cultural frame of reference for what I was watching.
So naturally, I began to search for a way to educate myself. This is what I came up with.
While this was a challenging read, I want to reiterate that I found it extremely worthwhile. Again–if you have an interest in Japanese history and culture, I think this is about as good an entry point as you’re liable to find.