Trees that Fight Back: Shinto & the Environment in Japan

Trees that Fight Back: Shinto & the Environment in Japan

Environmentalism #4 of 4. Shinto – In Japan, recognizing the spirit of all things – from trees to mountains to interestingly shaped rocks – is part of Shinto. Older than writing in Japan, Shinto is the root of Japanese values and ways of thinking. Shinto is why the concepts of purity and impurity govern daily life, in the simple acts of gargling, hand washing, and removing shoes upon entry to a home. Shinto grounds the rites of passage in an individual’s life, like blessing children at ages 3, 5, and 7, and all birthday milestones – 14 or 15; 20; 60, 70, and 88 – thereafter. Many of the major festivals still celebrated in Japan are Shinto, and the practice of opening ceremonies – annually opening hiking trails, annually opening the sea, or the purification of new buildings – are also Shinto. And, of course, the centrality of nature in art and literature are Shinto. The pervasiveness of Shinto is fascinating – and that’s what today’s story is about.

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