- Minkan Shinko
- 'Folk religion'; 'Folk beliefs'. An academic category used to analyse and understand the complex interrelationships within Japanese religion. Minkan shinko may be defined as a developing substrate of folk-religious beliefs in Japan which incorporates elements from, yet transcends official distinctions between, 'Buddhism', 'Shinto', 'Taoism', 'Confucianism', 'Christianity' etc., and which manifests most powerfully today in the world-views and practices of the 'new religions'. It has been argued (notably by Hori, Ichiro) that folk religion, which Hori also calls 'popular Shinto' represents the true, indigenous and persistent character of 'Japanese religion'. The main features of this 'Japanese religion' may be identified as shamanism or spirit mediumship of various kinds, animistic beliefs, filial piety, reciprocal obligation and ancestor reverence or worship, a syncretic approach to religious beliefs and an 'easy continuity' or absence of clear boundaries between the human and divine worlds. Some purists would argue that Shinto should not be confused with folk religion (see Kodo). Observers of Shinto as it is practised know that Shinto and folk religion cannot be distinguished any more than Buddhism and folk religion, while proponents of the folk-religion-as-substrate thesis might argue that 'Shinto' is itself part of folk religion.
A Popular Dictionary of Shinto. Brian Bocking.