Shinto scripture (神典)

Shinto scripture is a general term for the literature which provide the basis for religious belief in Japanese Shinto.


Shinto in Japan has no official scripture to describe its definite doctrine, like the sutras for Buddhism, the Bible for Christianity and the Koran for Islam; but it has a body of literature that is widely accepted as the legitimate religious standard. These 'old books on Shinto' are collectively called Shinto scriptures.

The literature called Shinto scriptures was mainly written by the Heian period, and the term is used only for those with records of God's deeds in a mythological age and little influence of Buddhism and Confucianism. The literary works by Shintoists of various schools in the medieval period and the early-modern times are not classified as Shinto scripture, because they state their own doctrine but lack objectivity.

Nippon Decimal Classification has set, under middle classification '170 Shinto,' small classification '173 Shinto sacred classics.'

Keichu (a scholar of the Japanese classics) argued that this literature 'just mentions the traditions that have been told since a mythological age,' and that to learn the essence of Shintoism attention needs to paid to official events (religious services in particular) held at the Imperial Court and religious services held at shrines; about the latter, the approach has been passed down in folklore since Kunio YANAGITA's generation.

The literature classified as Shinto scripture

The following works are generally classified as Shinto scripture.

"Kojiki" (The Records of Ancient Matters)
"Nihonshoki" (Chronicles of Japan)
"Fudoki" (description of regional climate, culture, etc.)
"Kotai jingu gishikicho" (register of the Ceremony of Kotai-jingu Shrine), "Toyukegu Gishikicho" (Register of Ceremonies for Toyuke-gu Shrine)
"Kogo-shui" (History of the Inbe clan)
"Sendai Kujihongi" (Ancient Japanese History, also known as "Kujiki")
"Takahashi Ujibumi" (record of the history of the Takahashi clan)

In addition to the above, old Shinto-related records contained in "Manyoshu" (the oldest anthology of Japanese poetry), "the Ritsuryo codes," "Shoku Nihongi" (Continuation of Chronicles of Japan) and newer Chronicles of Rikkokushi (the Six National Histories), "Shinsen Shojiroku" (Newly Compiled Register of Clan Names and Titles of Nobility), "the Engishiki" (an ancient book for codes and procedures on national rites and prayers), "Ryonogige" (Clarification of the Civil Statutes), "Ryonoshuge" (Commentaries on the Civil Statutes), and "Shaku Nihongi" (annotated text of the Nihonshoki) are also classified as Shinto scriptures.

[Original Japanese]