This study investigates Yoshida Shinto founded by Yoshida Kanetomo (1435-1511), which reached its peak in the 17th and 18th centuries. Yoshida Shinto is credited as the first religious school that chose "Shinto" (way of the gods) as its denomination and regarded itself intrinsically different from Buddhism. Therefore Yoshida Shinto called itself also the "One-and-Only Way of the Gods." The study analyses the actual religious innovations of Yoshida Kanetomo and their historical and intellectual background. Thereby it addresses the general question to which extent Yoshida Shinto implied a new consciousness of Shinto as an autonomous religion. It is well known among experts of Japanese religion that Yoshida Shinto was heavily influenced by Buddhism and Taoism alike. The author argues, however, that there is a tendency to underestimate the degree, by which these influences were integrated into a comprehensive religious system that also involved indigenous ("Shinto") elements, such as ritual and mythology. The study is the first monograph of Yoshida Shinto in a Western language and includes also translations of three important Yoshida texts. It contributes to the present discussion about the notion of "Shinto," which has become the object of a critical re-evaluation in Japan as well as in the West.
Open access Publikation (Verlag der ÖAW)