Traditional Values Of Shinto

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Shinto religion is at the core of Japanese culture and history and is frequently a theme in Japanese film, manga, anime, and video games. In my essay I will focus on the portrayal of the theme Shinto in relation to Japanese Fantastic Fiction based on analysis of the anime Noragami: Stray God. This topic approaches to assert notions of Japanese Fantastic Fiction where the ‘other’ comes from the self, reflected through characters’ development. I will also explore on the subversive visions of Japanese society through issues such as ijime in the backdrop with Shinto in modern Japan.

Noragami is a modern Japanese fantasy exploring the world of Shinto and the Kami in Japan today. It is a shōnen manga series created by Adachitoka first published in Japan in 2011, and the anime series was launched in 2014.

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It’s context fits into Jackson’s idea of fantastic fiction in which the story initially starts in a realistic world in a school but soon some “unrealistic” elements are introduced as gods and spirits appear. There are two layers to the world of Noragami: the layer that we all live in, and the spirit layer that exists in the same place at the same time, invisible to normal humans. The spirit world is full of gods, ghosts, and monsters and has a society built mostly around gaining more followers in the human world.

One of the protagonists Yato, is a homeless and long forgotten kami that does not have a shrine of his own. He advertises on public walls trying to gain followers and will do any 'job' for them for five yen in order to build his own shrine. However, alone, he can do very little and therefore needs a weapon to channel his power. The weapons of the spirit world are the actual spirits of deceased humans and thus Yato finds the wandering spirit of a young boy, Yukine, to be his sword. The final main character of the story is our audience proxy, a human girl, high school student Hiyori who is able to leave her body and exist as a spirit after a car accident. This again reflects Jackson’s idea of fantastic fiction where supernatural occurance makes Hiyori feel fear, unsureness and attempt to solve this mystery by hiring Yato to fix the problem.

Since the middle of the 1980’s, school bullying has received much attention as an emerging social problem in the Japanese society. The issue of Ijime is explored in one of Yato’s cases where a high school student who experienced bullying is encouraged by an evil spirit with the intent to kill, demonstrating the “other” coming from the self whose strong negative emotions and hatred affected the character. The student later overcomes the evil spirit with Yato’s help, saving his humanity.

Science and technology in Japan grew rapidly after the Meiji Restoration of 1868, however during this process, traditional value of Shinto preserved along with thousands of shrines and temples in Japan today. This concept shown through Noragami provides an example of how the past and present so closely intertwine in Japanese society, which help to deepen the understanding of the aspects of Japanese culture.

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Traditional Values Of Shinto. (2022, February 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved July 15, 2024, from
“Traditional Values Of Shinto.” Edubirdie, 17 Feb. 2022,
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