Shinto Absurdities

shinto temple

1. You are Izanami, the Japanese creator goddess. You died giving birth to the fire god, and your husband has come to the underworld to save you. You ask him not to look at you, while you talk to the gods of the underworld, but he accidentally does and sees your flesh has rotted. You want to come back to the land of the living, so how will you react?

A. Keep your cool. Finish talking to the gods of the underworld as you promised, and return to the land of the living with the man who loves you. Create lots of babies and islands, and have stories to tell with gods and humans. Shinto is all true, so there are definitely plenty of magical objects that can improve your looks or health.

B. Chase your husband through the underworld trying to murder him for peeping on you when you were vulnerable. Promise when he escapes to kill a thousand Japanese every day. Force your husband to cover Hades with a rock, permanently sealing you off from the land of the living. Make your husband into a widow and become his arch-enemy, and the enemy of everything you tried to create.

If you choose B, Shinto will make perfect sense to you.


2. Japanese used to worship caterpillars. They justified the crazy faddish cults with a word, whereby you would naturally stop worship once the god stopped giving benefits.

3. Japanese used to pray to the god of small pox to stay away

4. The creator goddess died of genital burns giving birth to hinogami, the fire god.

5. Half the shrines are devoted to the god for samurai, but the mythology is full of contradictions.

6. By the time the folklore for Japanese gods were written down, it had so thoroughly mixed with Buddhism that the gods were theorized as manifestations of Buddhist saints. (I.e. They had the same theory as Catholics, whereby every other god was either a manifestation of their God, Mary, the devil, a saint, or a demon.)

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7. The Japanese emperor is descended from a god who fucked a Japanese woman. (This is how a family justified the family’s rule.) Because one of his ancestors choose to only marry one of two godly wives, the father of the wife cursed his and his descendants to have mortal lives. (It might also be why humans do not live forever.)

8. The Greek god of the north wind passed into Buddhist China through the silk road, and then became one of the oldest gods in Shinto. Yes, he looks like a lizard.

9. Swords and hundred year old shoes can have spirits.

10. In the Japanese world-view the celestial gods live in heaven at top (because how can you explain the sun/moon’s movement if it’s not moved by god?), Earth is in the middle, and there is an underworld (because people usually buried bodies in tombs historically. Kami lived on Earth and in the land of the dead too though, but Buddhism seems to have come and changed the conception of the afterlife.)

Japanese heaven:
Japanese Earth: (Land of the reeds)
Japanese Underground Hades:

Hell as a place of punishment, or the idea of human spirits going to heaven develops much later once these places have been conceptualized and articulated. Hell started with a purgatory called Naraka, and then an eternal hell called Avici was developed for a few of the very worse offenses.

Shinto originally did not have a hell. Later the idea was developed that the creator Izanami inhabits the country of the dead where the worse creatures are buried, and that the reason evil spirits exist on Earth is that the master of that hell doesn’t care about bringing them back. Which is why Shinto/Buddhist monks occasionally need to exorcise them.

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11. There is a Japanese god of sweets that is primarily worshiped by workers in the confectionery industry.

12. Real people are deified as kami when they die. General Toyotomi Hideyoshi is god.

13. Japanese worship the best Hindu god, Ganesha (elephant god of wisdom).

14. Sickness and mental illness were explained by primitive people as possession by evil spirits.


15. Sakura-bime lit herself on fire when she gave birth to prove her kids wouldn’t be hurt because they belonged to her husband Ninigi. Sakuya-bime also  has the power to prevent mount fuji from errupting, and yet her shrines at Kirishima have been repeatedly destroyed by volcanic erruptions.

16. There were 3 sacred treasures of Japan, supposedly given down by the sun goddess, and they are family heirlooms that prove the emperor’s divine lineage. A mirror, a jewel, and a sword. (These first two were rare items to a culture that was far less sophisticated than China.)

Except the sacred mirror was destroyed in a fire, and was supposedly remade from the ashes. (Somehow?)

The sword (kusanagi) was supposedly once used to control the wind in a fight.

In 1185 the sword and the jewel were thrown into the sea during a battle to prevent them from being taken by the enemy (why a sword that can control the wind wasn’t used to sink ships is a mystery). However, supposedly divers recovered the jewel.
After that either a replica was forged, or the sword returned to the land by supernatural forces.

No one has ever seen the 3 sacred treasures, and during Emperor coronations they’re covered with boxes so it could be a hoax. No one knows if the 3 treasures still exist, or are the originals, but it would be strange if the gods would allow their treasures to be destroyed.

17. The sun goddess Amaterasu once moodily trapped herself in a cave like a hikikomori, shrouding the world in darkness. She was lured out by a mirror that reflected herself, and when by the gods’ laughter when another goddess gave a strip dance.
She also gave birth to gods with her brother’s sword…




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