Thomas Library

Honors Thesis Archive

Author Maria Alexandra Ziton
Title Finding and Welcoming Kami on American Soil: The Presence of Shinto in the United States
Department East Asian Studies
Advisor Jennifer Oldstone-Moore
Year 2012
Honors University Honors
Full Text View Thesis (411 KB)
Abstract Washington State has long been known for its natural beauty, but, since the 1980s, one of the more notable features of the landscape is actually something foreign: The Tsubaki Grand Shinto Shrine of America. The Tsubaki Grand Shrine of American stands as a beacon for the Shinto believing population of North America. While it is not out of the ordinary to find an Asian religious center in America, it is a surprise to find one dedicated solely to Shinto. When looking at religious affiliation in America, Shinto participation or affiliation is so low that it is not even mentioned in the ranking. In addition, the makeup of the "largely non-Japanese" congregation invites attention. There lies two main points of interest: 1. Why has Shinto come to mainland America? 2. Why have non-Japanese become interested in Shinto? I hope to explore the awareness of Shinto in America through the presence of 1) Japanese immigrants 2) Japanese produced media 3) Japanese martial arts instruction and 4) the recent trend of environmental concern in the United States. Given the present Japanese population in America (both native and foreign born) and the current generation's interest in Japanese produced media, it is surprising that there is not a stronger presence of Shinto shrines and communities. One would expect that the mystery as to why Shinto is not yet popular in the United States would fascinate scholars. More research still needs to be done in the field of Shinto in America. Only after that can we begin to measure the growth of Shinto and its spread through various cultural sources. It will be a long time before such data can be amassed, but it would help the understanding of this subject and assist in bringing a fresh perspective to this topic.

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