Japanese Priest Speaks on Dialogue Between Shintoism and Christianity

May 19, 2008

Author: Staff Writer

Source: Independent Catholic News/Fides


Japanese priest Fr Yuji Sugawara SJ, professor at the Pontifical Gregorian University, outlined the relationship between Shintoism and Christianity in Japan, in an interview with Agenzia Fides.

Fr Yuji said that Shintoism is the oldest traditional religion in Japan, begun by the pre-historic peoples living in central Asia, and has been left as it is today after a long co-existence shared with Buddhism. In Shintoism, there are no doctrines or explicit ethical norms. It is based on an animist vision, the Kami, spiritual essences or gods that are manifested through nature. The worship of ancestors and the Emperor (until the modern reform), who was considered to have divine origin, are also at the center of this religion.

Today, he said, Shintoism continues to play a key role in Japanese culture, however those who practice it are dwindling in number and there is a development of something called sincretism, a "homemade" blend with Christianity. Many Japanese, although they may not accept Baptism, seem interested in its teachings and consider themselves Christian. This offers the Church a fertile ground in dialoguing with Shintoism and in general, with religions and the modern culture.