What is Shinto?
Shinto-the way of Kami (the gods)-is said to be the indigenious belief we Japanese have had deep in our minds without noticing since the beginning of Japanese history.
Shinto shrines are the places in which we worship Shinto gods. In Shintoism, gods are called Kami that are sacred spirits taking the form of many things important to our lives in the nature, for example, rain, wind, rivers, mountains, trees and so on. Humans also become Kami after death and are respected by families as ancestral Kami.
Japanese people visit shrines in order to pray for good fortune when we are in need or we want to be encouraged by Kami. People also visit shrines when special annual events are held such as New Year, Setsubun, Shichigosan and many other seasonal festivals. These events are deeply rooted in the Japanese history and traditions, and people are fond of getting together to celebrate them.