The Essence of Shinto

Japan’s Spiritual Heart

  • Motohisa Yamakage
The Essence of  Shinto

Size: 189×132 mm, 370 g
Binding: Hardcover
Pages: 232
15 photos and 10 illustrations
ISBN10: 1-56836-437-7
ISBN13: 978-1-56836-437-7
Release date: Sept. 7, 2012

List price: $22.00

Buy online:

We can find in Shinto a universal meaning and
a practical ethos for the world of today. It can attune us
to see the connection between the well-being of
the natural world and our own spiritual well-being.
—Motohisa Yamakage

The long history of Shinto is deeply bound to Japanese spirituality and mythology, and indeed the religion is regarded as Japan’s very spiritual roots. In THE ESSENCE OF SHINTO: Japan’s Spiritual Heart, revered Shinto master Motohisa Yamakage explains the core values of Japan’s unique religion, paying particular attention to its spiritual aspects, as well as exploring the very profound roots of the original Shinto of ancient times.

Motohisa Yamakage was initiated in the mysteries of ancient Shinto and its various rituals and customs from an early age. Through years of dedicated study and practice, he has become one of the most famous and renowned writers on Shinto, with an unrivaled authority to explain its role in modern Japan and the world. Through thoughtful discussions and careful analyses, the author explores how the teachings of Shinto distinguish it from other world religions, from its lack of any all-encompassing doctrines or injunctions to its affirmation that any human being can acquire the noble characteristics of Kami—Shinto’s highest spiritual being.

The author also carefully analyzes the relationships of the spirit and soul, which will provide readers who have an interest in the spiritual world with informed and invaluable insight into how spirituality affects our daily existence. Through the author’s emphasis on the universality of Shinto and its prevalence in the natural world, this book will also appeal to the more general reader with an appreciation of humanity’s relationship with nature and the individual’s role in a larger society, as espoused in Yamakage's own words: “we can find in Shinto a universal meaning and a practical ethos for the world of today. It can attune us to see the connection between the well-being of the natural world and our own spiritual well-being. In the ancient wisdom of Japan, we can find a ‘missing link’ that restores our awareness of nature, and so give us the wholeness we crave for in a world dominated by material and mechanical notions of progress.”


“A fine primer that makes a compelling case for Shinto as a religion invested with deep meaning.”—Publishers Weekly

“Renowned Shinto master Motohisa Yamakage takes us to the core of Japan’s most ancient religion.”—Clear

“...will function as an introduction to ideal Shinto practice...”—Choice

About the Author

MOTOHISA YAMAKAGE was born in 1925 and brought up in an old Shintoist family. At the age of eighteen he was initiated in the mysteries of Shinto, and in 1956 became the 79th Grand Master of Yamakage Shinto. He graduated in economics from Asia University of Tokyo.

 Grand Master Yamakage has played a leading role in the promotion of Shinto on the world stage. Many of his essays have been translated into German, French, and English, and published in leading European magazines. The Grand Master has also collaborated with Western scholars and artists, such as Jean Herbert of the University of Geneva, and Michael Random of the French Broadcasting Corporation.

At the end of 2005, Motohisa Yamakage retired from his position as Grand Master and was succeeded by his son, Hitoyoshi Yamakage. His book (in Japanese) include The Modern Significance of Shinto, Yoga and Shinto, Prayer and Miracle, An Introduction to Shinto (5 volumes), and a Japanese version of The Essence of Shinto.