Japan’s ethnic religion, Shintoism, is dissimilar to other major religions as its belief system revolves around the worship of ancestors as spirits, or kami, which are believed to be drawn to, and physically represented by objects, both man-made and natural, known as shintai. These shintai are found in huge numbers all across Japan, along with associated shrines. The shrines range in size and significance, from one of the most important national shintai, Mount Fuji, to small shrines in homes and along the roadside. Notable shrines, which are tended to by priests, total around 80,000. Almost 80 per cent of the Japanese population practise Shinto customs to some extent but frequently hold elements of their Shinto beliefs in addition to those of other religions, such as Buddhism. In the post-war era many new religions based upon Shintoism have arisen and gained significant followings.
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