Elacqua, Joseph, et. al. "State Shinto." Faithology.com. Faithology, 20 March 2013. Web. 9 October 2015.

Elacqua, J., et. al. (2013, Mar 20). State Shinto. Faithology. Retrieved from http://faithology.com/denominations/state-shinto

Elacqua, Joseph, et. al"State Shinto" Faithology, LLC. Last modified March 20, 2013. http://faithology.com/denominations/state-shinto

Elacqua, Joseph, et. alState Shinto. Faithology, LLC, 2012. http://faithology.com/denominations/state-shinto (Accessed Oct 9, 2015).

  • Hardacre, Helen. Shintō and the State, 1868-1988. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1989.
  • Inoue, Nobutaka, ed. Shinto: A Short History. London: RoutledgeCurzon, 2003.
  • Shillony, Ben-Ami. The Emperors of Modern Japan. Leiden: Brill, 2008.
  • Last Updated: March 20, 2013
  • Originally Published: March 20, 2013
  • State Shinto


The year 1868 CE gave rise to a series of historical reforms known as the Meiji Restoration. Political power was reinvested within the emperor, who then systematized the Shinto religion. Under Emperor Meiji,  Shinto became the highest religion and the supreme unifying force of the Japanese nation. All previous denominations of Shinto (Ryobu, Watarai, Yoshida, and others) were completely replaced by State Shinto; for all intents and purposes, each of these denominations then ceased to exist.

State Shinto?

Shinto became the supreme unifying force of the Japanese nation under Emperor Meiji, pictured here”

State Shinto became an extremely nationalistic movement, eventually serving as the motivation for the Japanese invasion of Korea and also Japan's participation in World War II. In the aftermath of the war, State Shinto was dissolved and forbidden under the new Japanese constitution composed by American General Douglas MacArthur and his senior army officers.

Main Beliefs

  • State Shinto was believed to be the single primordial religion of the entire world. It was then promoted as the official religion of the Japanese people and was believed to establish the spiritual unity of the entire country.
  • Shinto was not seen as a religion that could be chosen; instead, it was promoted as an essential part of Japanese culture and nationalism.
  • The Japanese emperor was believed to be a crucial part of an unbroken tradition extending from the past through the age of the kami, and also extending forever into the future.

Religious Texts

While some state officials attempted—ultimately unsuccessfully—to produce State Shinto doctrine, the denomination did not promote any additional sacred texts. Aside from reverence given to the Kojiki and the Nihon Shoki, it is not known which other texts—if any—were utilized within State Shinto.


During the height of its popularity, State Shinto had no branches. Although State Shinto has been forbidden by Japan's postwar constitution, there are a few small revivalist groups extant in modern Japan.