"Shinto is a remarkably complex and elusive phenomenon to which Western categories of religion do not readily apply. A knowledge of Shinto can only proceed from a basic understanding of Japanese shrines and civilization, for it is closely intermingled with the Japanese way of life and continues to be a vital natural religion. This companion to Picken's first volume, Essentials of Shinto: An Analytical Guide to Principal Teachings, provides a selection of important and pivotal documents in the history of the Shinto tradition.
This volume contains a collection of texts and materials related to the Shinto tradition from the classical age of Japan to modern times. Selections from the Japanese classics are followed by liturgical texts and relevant historical documents from the Nara and Heian periods. Next, documents relating to the period of State Shinto are followed by laws regulating Imperial Household Shinto both pre- and post- World War II. This is followed by a brief selection of writings related to Shinto and the New Religions. The remainder of the book is occupied by selections of texts firstly on Shinto Thought from the 13th century to the Meiji Restoration of 1868. The four closing chapters document early and recent western views of Shinto, and a selection of Japanese writings covering the same period. Finally, the appendixes include the official list of Emperors and the nation's oldest shrines."