SHINTO by Jean Herbert


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Sukiyaki, Kurosawa, Zen, Karate--Japan's chic cultural exports are almost as popular here as those from Italy or England. No doubt that has something to do with explaining the appearance of this bulging twenty dollar volume concerning Shinto, the ethnic cult and religion of the Japanese. Certainly, however meritorious as scholarship, Professor Herbert's mammoth study hardly makes graceful reading, and one would have to be inordinately interested in things Japanese to get through its congested pages. Of course, Herbert's survey, which considers the mythology of Shinto as well as the religion, is an exhaustive and rewarding undertaking, if for no other reason than that the literature in English on the subject is rather scanty. Indeed, there's not one reference made to Shinto in the whole of Huston Smith's influential The Religions of Man. Herbert accents the pre-Buddhist nature of Shinto, the superhuman relations between the Kami (Gods) and men, the pantheistic properties, the importance of ritual, its lack of eschatological thinking, the ethical, metaphysical, and nationalist concepts, the various creation and evolution doctrines, temple practices, etc. An esoteric blockbuster.

Pub Date: June 21st, 1967
Publisher: Stein and Day