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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Informative Overview From A True Believer
Motohisa Yamakage's The Essence of Shinto is a unique work in the annals of exploring Shintoism, the folk religion of ancient Japan. Unlike scholarly works that explore the religion from position of a researcher's emotional sterility, Yamakage writes from the perspective of the true believer as he is the 79th Grand Master of Yamakage Shinto and a respected and celebrated...
Published on August 12, 2007 by Craig Alan Loewen

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15 of 28 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Two-Dimensional Beginner's Guide
In writing a book on any religion, an author must confront the great difficulties posed by the transmission of conveying what is often necessarily "spiritual" subject matter. In the case of Shinto, this problem is compounded by a lack of any comprehensive written history or organized worship; even the history of most every Kami in Shinto is distorted and obfuscated by...
Published on February 8, 2009 by I. James


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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Informative Overview From A True Believer, August 12, 2007
This review is from: The Essence of Shinto: Japan's Spiritual Heart (Hardcover)
Motohisa Yamakage's The Essence of Shinto is a unique work in the annals of exploring Shintoism, the folk religion of ancient Japan. Unlike scholarly works that explore the religion from position of a researcher's emotional sterility, Yamakage writes from the perspective of the true believer as he is the 79th Grand Master of Yamakage Shinto and a respected and celebrated expert on Shintoism, its history and practice.

However, being that close to the subject also carries with it some inherent problems as the author finds it difficult to remain unbiased in discussing the classic religions of the western world. A well-earned mastery of Shintoism does not necessarily make one an expert in evaluating other paradigms.

Nonetheless, The Essence of Shinto is a wonderful addition to the library of any researcher who wants a readable and accessible overview of a folk religion that has played a major role in the shaping of the culture Japan. One caveat though. It is helpful, though probably not totally necessary, to have a basic understanding of Japanese culture before reading this work.

Sadly, this is the only volume written by Motohisa Yamakage that has been translated into English. His five-volume An Introduction to Shinto is available only in Japanese and it is this reviewer's hope that someday this important work will also be made accessible to Western reader. Until then, we can be grateful The Essence of Shinto fills an important niche in the Shinto library presently available.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Essence of Shinto, January 24, 2008
By 
Spica (Tokyo, Japan) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Essence of Shinto: Japan's Spiritual Heart (Hardcover)
"respect for great nature" - that's the very essence of this brilliant book. Especially, Chapter 2 "What is Shinto?" and Chapter 3 "What is Jinja?" help you understand the way of thinking and feeling among Japanese. These two chapters summarize the spirit of Shinto (For beginners, it would be helpful to try reading these two chapters).
This book is the translated one from the Japanese original version and written in a kind of "Japanese style English", but it excellently carries the essence.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Clear Exposition of the Essence of Shinto, July 17, 2007
By 
Samuel Makaya (Santa Fe, New Mexico) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Essence of Shinto: Japan's Spiritual Heart (Hardcover)
The clear exposition of Shinto in this book has an authentic feel of a genuine transmission. Many books give bits and pieces of Shinto philosophy but do not hit the heart. The translation into English is clear and succinct. Due to the clarity of the understanding that is transmitted, I can easily adopt a 'Shinto perspective' to my own spiritual practice.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent account of current state of Shinto, October 18, 2011
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This review is from: The Essence of Shinto: Japan's Spiritual Heart (Hardcover)
I teach a course in Comparative Religion at Castleton State College here in Vermont. Most available short introductions to Shinto deal with ancient history. This book is a great, lively yet short and highly readable account of Shinto practice today, with a much more universal message than one usually gets from other sources. It is the best thin volume intro to the tradition that I have found. Shinto is often viewed as chauvinistic, closed-minded religion for Japanese only. The author offers insights from Shinto tradition that would be of use to anyone interested in healing the world.--Rabbi Doug Weber
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Find your own Shinto, April 27, 2009
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This review is from: The Essence of Shinto: Japan's Spiritual Heart (Hardcover)
The Essence of Shinto is more than I expect, Master Motohisa Yamakage explain Shinto in a comprehensive language, so you can understand the meaning of Shinto, in a deep way. So you can coexist with Shinto in these modern days, in the book, Master Motohisa Yamakage tells; we can find our personal Shinto in the place we lived.
I'm very great full with this book, if you are looking for spiritual knowledge, know more about Japanese society and culture The Essence of Shinto don't disappoint you.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "The Essence of Shinto: Japan's Spiritual Heart" by Motohisa Yamakage is a biast introduction to Japan's religious ideals, July 5, 2013
By 
Lori Parker (Franklin, North Carolina) - See all my reviews
Motohisa Yamakage, as a master of an ancient form of Shinto, spends a portion of his book in complaint about the West and the lack of devotion to Shinto in contemporary Japanese society. However, he does provide a wellspring of knowledge on the kami -- Shinto gods -- and their interactions with the world and their devotees. He discusses how Buddhism changed modern Shinto, and explains that, because of this interference, there are different forms of Shinto. The Japanese religious holidays are covered thoroughly. No description of religious practice/worship is provided as a guide, because the author gives the opinion that this subject is offered in too many other books.

This is a valuable reference book on Japanese religion, but will provide little as an instruction manual in learning how to perform Shinto.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You already 'know' this., March 17, 2013
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If you want a clear and precise explanation for this Spiritual Experience, this is the book you need. The Author doesn't talk down to you, if you begin by knowing nothing. He begins with "Kami" and being in tune with this spirit - but, more like an experience. Motohisa Yamakage goes step by step to bring the order of this Nature based religion to the reader's understanding - A book that you can read a little each day and change - if that is your goal.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enlightening, May 10, 2009
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This review is from: The Essence of Shinto: Japan's Spiritual Heart (Hardcover)
This is wonderful short book on Shinto, which well represents the very cultural soul of Japan, even in these horrid "modern" times in which we live, and which must be understood so as to enable one to grasp some notion, even if a limited one, of the same.
Written by the 75th successor of family lineage within Shinto and providing a personal expression of that one's understanding and thoughts, for which this one is greatful and feels honored to have been allowed to hear/read the same, the perspective is as if one is receiveing guidance from one's beloved uncle or grandfather.
This book is Shinto.
This book does not teach one the ritual practices of Shinto, which must be lived to be so learned, however, this one speaks to the spirit and impotance of Shinto.
namaste
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9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Philosophy of Shinto, January 13, 2010
This review is from: The Essence of Shinto: Japan's Spiritual Heart (Hardcover)
I once checked this book out at my local library but was unable to finish it due to other distractions but I liked what I had read thus I ordered it. After reading the entire book I still liked the information provided.
It has been translated into English from the original Japanese for the western reader of which is difficult for Westerners to obtain unless they can read Japanese Kana (Hiragana, katakana, & kanji).

The author is also a Shinto Priest so one is getting it straight from a practitioner.

Overall it is good....but here comes my biggest complaint!

Being a longtime student of Metaphysics and the Occult as well as a practitioner of such for over 30 plus years, I neither liked the authors attitude towards the Occult nor felt it pertinent for him to mention such since to many Westerners who do not understand it Shintoism is "Occult" as well!

In his criticism of the such the author reminded me too much of the typical Uber-Conservative Juedo-Christian Westerner who is not only xenophobic of anything they deem "foreign" to their beliefs and/or religion, but close-minded as well!

The author needed to bare in mind how Shintoism is viewed to non-Japanese often in the same way he presented his negative views of anything Occult of which again gives me pause since much of Shintoism is very 'Mystical' in nature not to mention that Shinto can be called the Paganism of Japan!

I'd recommend this book for anyone interested in Shintoism and it's philosophy but would alos advise the reader to overlook the authors attitude towards the "Occult".

I'm sorry to sound redundant on that one point but it was difficult for me to get past that!
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5.0 out of 5 stars great info, July 4, 2013
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I wanted a nice overview and this gave me general info and it was a good read...I ordered several books and this one is one of the best
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The Essence of Shinto: Japan's Spiritual Heart
The Essence of Shinto: Japan's Spiritual Heart by Motohisa Yamakage (Hardcover - May 1, 2007)
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