Books on Shinto in Japanese

Searching for Books in Japanese / Gif Booklist  / The Authorised Version of Shinto / Non-Authorised Versions / Buying Japanese Language Books

Searching for Books in Japanese

There are a great many books written on Shinto in Japanese. Searching at yields 171 books with Shinto in their title. The Kinokuniya online bookstore says there are 471 hits for "Shinto" but it will only list the first ten. You will need a computer with Japanese language capability to search at either of these sites . My Windows operating system is the Japanese version. There are also Japanese language upgrades for Internet Explorer. I hear that Apple Macintosh Computers handle Japanese Langauge well too.

Gif Booklist of Books on Shinto in Japanese

If your computer does not handle Japanese but you can, then please see this gif file which contains a list of the first 100 books containing Shinto in their title. Some of the titles are too small to read but most of it is readable.

The Authorised Version of Shinto
Books approved by The Association of Shinto Shrines and or the two national shinto Universities where one can train to become a Shrine Priest. Since most shrine priests are educated using the following texts, the views expressed therein will find a great many supporters. My own personal view of these books is mentioned in What Shinto is Not.

Author Kenji Ueda
Title Shinto Shingaku
Publisher Jinjashinpousha
Date 1990/03
Price 1,390
ISBN ??? Not given on the book sites that I have checked.

This book is the required text for the Shinto priests exam and the only book recommended by the National Shrine Shinto Organisation. Any theory not supported by this book is not orthodox, so they say. One priest, who believes in such orthodoxy, called this book the "bible" of Shinto.

The following three books are also used as text books in the Shinto courses for trainee priests and others in attendance at the two Shinto Universities - Kokugakuin University, and Kougakukan University

Author Kenji Ueda
Title Shinto Shingaku
Publisher Daimeido (Not that this book is slightly different from that mentioned above)
Date 1986/10
Price 2500
ISBN 44702002

Author Masahiko Asoya
Title Shinto Shisou no Keisei (The formation of Shinto thought)
Publisher Pelikan-sha
Date of Pub: 1985/05
Price: 2,900

Author: Masahiko Asoya
Title: Shinto no Seishikan (Shinto's view of life and death)
Subtitle: Shinto Shisou to Shi no Mondai (Shinto and the Problem of Death)
Publisher: Pelikan sha
Date: 1996/06
Price: 4000 yen

Author: Shougo Tani
Title: Shinto Genron (Basic Shinto Theory)
Publisher: Kougakukan Daigaku Shuppan-bu
Date: 1995/01
ISBN: 4876440441
Price 3,796
Size: 22cm 323 pages

Non-Authorised Versions
As introductions I would prefer to read more popular low-brow books on Shinto, such as the following. I shall start buying a lot of these and report back on their merit.

Title: Shinto no Subete (Everything about Shinto)
Subtitle: (trans Expeditions into the Dogma-less religion that make Japan Japanese)
333 pages, A5
DoP: 1998/8
Publisher: Nihon Bungei-sha
Authors: Naka? Uriu & Saruhiro? Shibuya
Price: 1400 Yen
ISBN: 4537078162
From the blurb - Introducing the development of Shinto from its unique position among world religions to the formation of State Shinto. The spirituality, rituals, arts, myths and the genealogies are investigated from a variety of angles.
Contents - Prologue: What is Shinto? 1: Seeking the origins of Shinto. 2: Japanese mythology and the genealogies of the gods. 3: Systemised Shinto. 4: State Shinto and Sect Shinto. 5: Unorthodox Shinto. 7: Shinto festivals and Rituals. 8: Shinto Architecture and Arts. 9: Easy to understand Shinto Dictionary.

Title: Shinto ga Yoku Wakaru Hon (How to understand Shinto)
Author: Masamichi Abe
ISBN: 4569557791
209p B6
Dop 1997/08
Publisher: PHP Kenkyusha
From the blurb: Why do we clap when we pray? Learning about Shinto is learning about the Japanese. A thorough explanation from mythology to shrines in 88 item Q&A format.
Contents: 1: What is Shinto. 2: This and that about Shrines and praying. 3: The structure of Shinto. 4: The Development of Shinto.
My impression: I bought a previous edition of this book when I did not read Japanese very well and found it a good introduction to the terminology. There are no photographs in my edition but there are a few good line drawings showing some of the gear and the way to make offerings. I really aught to try and translate it into English or write a better version!

Title: (New Sight Mook) Shinto No Hon (A Book of Shinto)
Subtitle: Yaoyorozu No Kamigami ga Tsudou Hikyouteki Siagi no Sekai
(The arcane ritual world where a myriad gods unite)
ISBN: 4051060241
Publisher Gakushuu Kennkyuusha
DoP: 1992/03
228 pages
Price 971 Yen
My impression: A magazine type book with a lot of photographs and illustrations. Includes some wackier, non-orthodox rituals, mediation and “superstition” (and why not?). Also contains the basic facts and a readable (yes, in Japanese) introduction.

Buying Japanese Language Books (Japanese) is a search facitlity not a book shop. Searches show  books published prior to be begining of the current year. Books cannot be purchased but keyword searches (including by subject word) will yield up to 100 hits on the same page. The Kuruneko Yamato booksearch page (Japanese) shows only 20 hits per page but gives full information without having to go to the book detail page.

Kinokuniya Shoten's Bookweb (Japanese) sells books to people living overseas but you will need a computer with Japanese language capablitity. It is necessary to become a member of their club first at their the registration page for overseas residents or registration page for residents in Japan. They have also have a  booksearch facility. Kinokuniya ships by FedEx at about 750 yen per part 500 grams to US and 1550 Yen per part 500 grams to Europe.

The Overseas Bookshop (English) sells Japanese language books to customers overseas. They seem to cater mainly for Japanese living overseas, jugding by their level of English and the blurb on their site ( "Japanese Books and Magazines, PC Softwares and Hardwares? for "Booklovers" living Overseas out of Japan") They charge 160% -180% of the Japanese cover price for the book including postage.

Kuroneko Yamato (English) one of the major express delivery companies (like Federal Express)  in Japan, offers  overseas book sales in response to Fax orders. The shipping charge is 1200 Yen for each 500g or part thereof to the US, 1800 yen per 500g to the UK. They also have a Japanese book database search page with subject search does not seem to limit the number of hits and came up with 300 hits for the word "Shinto" with 20 hits per page with  full information, including ISBN. is a Japanese product selling "superstore" in California which also sells books. Since it is has stock in the US it may well be the fastest and cheapest way of ordering book with the contintent of North America. Its stock seems to be a little limited however. Entering "Shinto" gives only one dubious match. "Chinmoku" "Bocchan" and "Yukiguni" failed to hit the famous books by these names. I am bemused.

Maruzen's online Bookstore only offers membership and sales to those living in Japan but they do have an online search facility and an email address for ordering books about Japan in English.

Book1, is a new large online bookstore but I don't know whether it ships overseas.

Which is cheapest ?
Kinokuniya's shipping service FedEx is cheaper than Kuroneko Yamato  but it requires a computer with Japanese language capablity.
Kinokuniya gives the following information for reference.

A "46 standard" 340 page book weighs about 0.5Kg
A 440 page "bunko" paper back book wieghs about 03Kg
A Kojien Dictionary weighs about 2.9Kg

For expensive academic books costing more than about 3000 yen Kinokuniya and Kuroneko are probably going to be cheaper than the Overseas Bookstore. They will probably reach you quicker too since they will be sent by express post and Kinokuni will have many books in stock and even have some book distributors in the US.  Kuroneko Yamato say that they will ship books by within 10 days (if  available at the publisher). For cheaper books, however, I think that the Overseas Bookstore will work out less expensive. Their postage prices of 60% -70% of cover price is exactly the same as one pays for  English language books displayed in Maruzen bookstores in Japan, but such books are imported at the bookstores expense with no gaurantee of sale. There is surely an opening for a bookseller to offer lower postage prices but, at the present time, many of the major Japanese internet bookstores are strangely reluctant to send books overseas.

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