Although few Japanese identify themselves as "Shintoists", Shinto rituals and festivals remain extremely popular in Japan. According to Floyd Ross, this is entirely consistent with the fundamental orientation of the religion towards practice rather than doctrine. As a result, in this study Ross concentrates on the study of "Shrine Shinto", the religion as expressed in formal worship and associated popular festivals, rather than "Folk Shinto", the traditional beliefs of the Japanese countryside, or "State Shinto", the reformed religion developed during the Meiji era and dismantled by the Allied occupation, although he is also clear that the various forms of Shinto are interrelated.
Unfortunately, despite his own explicit statement of distrust in the infallibility of the social sciences, Ross relies on them in practice, to the point of assuming that, when the myths do not fulfill the theories of comparative religion, the myths must have been changed. This dovetails with his preoccupation with a Shinto purified of foreign - primarily Buddhist and Confucian - influences, a Shinto which may never have actually existed and is certainly not the Shinto of today. This results in a presentation which. while interesting and informative in places, overall fails to satisfy, revealing as it does more about the author than the subject.
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