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How do Shinto refer to their god?

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Hello,

I am writing an English language story based on a Japanese family. I have a question on how do Shinto refer to their god because I have a few lines where the protagonist speaks about his god like "Please god ..." Or "why do this god" etc. is it acceptable for me to use the term "god"? Also in a home environment what things can be used as hints to know if a family is Shinto?

Thanks

Mayur
 

Mike Cash

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Your post makes it sound as though you think Shinto is a monotheistic religion, with a god with whom people have an interpersonal relationship and to whom they pray for intercession.

If that's the case, you need first to go read something about Shinto and the role of religion in Japan.
 
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Your post makes it sound as though you think Shinto is a monotheistic religion, with a god with whom people have an interpersonal relationship and to whom they pray for intercession.

If that's the case, you need first to go read something about Shinto and the role of religion in Japan.
Thanks got the reply. What I should have asked is, is it normal for a Shinto believer to say the word "god" in context with anything like the ones I mentioned of is it not going to happen because Shinto isn't a religion based on worshipping a god but following rituals? In my story a family is going through hardship and they want to know why it is happening. They are asking god out in anger on why it is happening. Same with another person who is dying, he asks god to look after his family. Could this be a normal saying for shintos or will it not happen because they don't really follow a god? Like I said it is for dialogue for a story and I want to make sure it's correct. Or could it be possible they refer to the spirits rather than god as there isn't really anyone to preach?
 
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Please don't use the word Shinto (or shintos) like a person (for example, Christian). You do that more than once, and it clearly shows you don't even know what Shinto is.

As for answering your question, Mike has done it nicely. No, they will not act/react anything at all like that.

This part of Wikipedia explains all that you need to know.

Shinto practices were first recorded and codified in the written historical records of the Kojiki and Nihon Shoki in the 8th century. Still, these earliest Japanese writings do not refer to a unified "Shinto religion", but rather to a collection of native beliefs and mythology.[6] Shinto today is a term that applies to the religion of public shrines devoted to the worship of a multitude of gods (kami),[7] suited to various purposes such as war memorials and harvest festivals, and applies as well to various sectarian organizations....
Shinto is the largest religion in Japan, practiced by nearly 80% of the population, yet only a small percentage of these identify themselves as "Shintoists" in surveys.[7][11] This is due to the fact that "Shinto" has different meanings in Japan: most of the Japanese attend Shinto shrines and beseech kami without belonging to an institutional "Shinto" religion,[12] and since there are no formal rituals to become a member of folk "Shinto", "Shinto membership" is often estimated counting those who join organised Shinto sects.[13]
Shinto - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

As for the part I put in bold, my own Japanese wife confirms that very very very few Japanese have Shinto beliefs. She certainly doesn't, and she had to look at the kanji spelling from Wikipedia to even know what I was talking about.

Your story characters would probably just mutter "Woe is me!" and nothing more.
 

Mike Cash

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You're applying characteristics of the Judeo-Christian God.

1. People have a direct interpersonal relationship.
2. People can ask for intercession.
3. God is concerned with the daily lives of people and protects or punishes them.

None of those apply in the scenario you suggest with Shinto.

The closest thing to what you want would be to switch the religion to Buddhism and have the people addressing Kannon, perhaps. The asking for intercession thing would work, but not the "why did you let this happen" bit.

Why not just make the family Christian? There are Christians in Japan, you know.
 
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Mayur, as the posts above say, Shinto isn't simply a matter of inserting Japanese nomenclature into a Judeo-Christian framework. That trips up a lot of Westerners who try to get a quick thumbnail sketch of Shinto. For starters, I'd suggest looking at Shinto more in terms of spirituality than religiosity. I can recommend sources of info, but don't know how deep you want to go.

Why are you writing this story (school assignment, short story for possible publication, etc.)? How long will it be, and how central is the characters' spirituality? Have you spent time in Japan?
 
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Hi guys, apologies for lateness and thank you for your replies. It is a story for publication and religion isn't a big part of the story. Just needed to know if in Japan a person would refer to god in certain situations, but in the replies you gave me it is not the case so I will change the dialogue to not mention god.

Thank you all for the help.
 

Mike Cash

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Would you like someone to read the draft to check for other cultural implausibilities? You almost certainly have some, I would imagine.
 
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No it's okay, nothing else has anything referencing the culture of Japan. Thank you for the offer though :)
 
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