Japanese community is a minority in the US. Thus, Shinto in the West is much different with Shinto in Japan. Shinto has acted as the main source of Japanese culture. However, in the West, the religion is scarce. After the World War II, Shinto practices changed.
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Shinto religion reflects purity of nature, such as rivers, trees, rocks, and sun among others (Mason, 2006). Japanese believe that there are gods, spirits, and kami. Kami oversee various aspects of life and believers can invoke them through rituals.
Descendants and immigrants in the West do not engage much in Shinto. Many Japanese still have cultural relations to their country. They gain knowledge through books, marry Japanese, spend part of their time in Japan, or learn about Japanese cultural in martial art centers.
However, Japanese must change Shinto to fit the US environment. For instance, they have to translate prayers into English, find suitable places to serve as shrines and identify how to relate with spirits of both worlds.
Though Shinto still has followers, its fate remains bleak. This is due to changes in the world and influence from other religions. At the same time, modernization has taken effect on the religion. Fears of morality among Japanese youths have forced decision-makers to rethink about introducing Shinto teachings into the national education system. Today, Japanese youths may seek divine intervention in important issues like examination (Grossman, 2011). However, they regard such teachings as superstition (Easton and Ellington, 2000).
Interview results from two members of Shinto religion
How these individuals view themselves in relation to their peers
Japanese believe that they are minority in the US. However, some whites consider Japanese as “a model minority” due to their hard work.
Japanese developed their culture in the West out of necessity instead of choice. This was because of earlier restrictions, which barred immigrants from entering mainstream community of West.
How the individuals identify with various groups/populations/cultures
Japanese have created a congruent culture within the US. They embraced Buddhism, Christianity, and Shinto.
My impression of the interviews
I realized that the state of Shinto remains uncertain in the US. The young generations consider cultures of their elders as strange. However, Japanese traditions related to Shinto among youths are rare.
How the conversations impacted me
I realized that America is a liberal society based on the rate at which assimilation of Japanese has happened in the US. The rate of coexistence is high among Japanese and whites in the US. Both cultures have accommodated each other.
However, another important issue that influenced my interview is the fate of future generation. The future generation of Japanese Americans may disappear. At the same time, their values related to religion and other social matters may disappear. In fact, the future generation will find it difficult to maintain traditions and pass them to next generation.
Whether the interviewees hold the same values, traditions, and experiences like me
My interviewees have different values as me. They have embraced other cultures more than I have done. Consequently, they are able to coexist with others.
How the interviews impacted the way I view and value differences
This interview made me realize the importance of different cultures and the role of cultures in societies. It is differences that make the world unique and worth exploring.
Easton, S. and Ellington, L. (2000). Japanese Americans. Web.
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Grossman, C. (2011). Japanese look to ancient traditions for strength. Web.
Mason, J. (2006). The Meaning of Shinto. Indiana: Trafford Publishing.
Nieto, J. (2006). The cultural plunge: cultural immersion as a means of promoting self- awareness and cultural sensitivity among student teachers. Teacher Education Quarterly, Winter 2006, 1-20.