Cover image for Historical dictionary of Shinto
Historical dictionary of Shinto
Picken, Stuart D. B.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Lanham, Md. : Scarecrow Press, [2002]

Physical Description:
xxxiv, 285 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BL2216.1 .P53 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Non circulating

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This comprehensive yet convenient guide to the key terms and names of this tradition will assist researchers, students, and the general reader to gain deeper insight into its nature and workings. Picken identifies the principal historical and mythological names that are central to the Shinto tradition and also demonstrates the relationship of Shinto to Japanese culture as a whole, including the relationship of Shinto to Buddhism, sex, death, ethics, Noh drama, and Folk Religion.

Author Notes

Stuart D. B. Picken was educated at Allen Glen's School, Glasgow, and the University of Glasgow, where he majored in philosophy and divinity. He served on the faculty of the International Christian University in Tokyo for 25 years prior to moving to Nagoya University of Commerce and Business Administration. He has served as dean of the faculty of Foreign Languages and Asian Studies since its inception in 1998, and is chairman designate of the Graduate School of Global Business Communication due to open in 2002

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Among the world's religious traditions, Shinto has some unique characteristics. Inextricably linked with the people and geography of Japan, it has no founder, no set of doctrines, and no scriptural basis. Shinto belief is expressed in Japanese culture and ritual practice rather than a set of religious doctrines or theology. Given that so little in the way of reference literature exists in English, the publication of the second edition of Picken's dictionary is an event that merits close attention. The dictionary begins with a chronology of important dates in and a lengthy introduction to this tradition. Of the entries that follow, those for Kami, the object of reverence in Shinto; Nature in Shinto; and Sacredness in Shinto are foundational. Broad in scope, coverage includes entries for historical figures and periods, specific shrines, festivals, rituals, sects, and new religious movements with roots in Shinto. The work concludes with a lengthy bibliography that includes Internet resources. Since the overwhelming majority of entries have no equivalent in English and are arranged alphabetically by Picken's transliteration from the Japanese, an index or thematic grouping of entries would have enhanced the usefulness of the dictionary beyond measure, especially for nonspecialists. . An Encyclopedia of Shinto (Tokyo Institute for Japanese Culture and Classics, Kokugakuin University, ca. 2001-2006) is a three-volume English translation of part of a Japanese reference work for this tradition. A project to provide a web-based, English version of the entire Japanese original including updated entries, links to images, video, sound files, and more, at no cost can be found on the Internet ( Although Historical Dictionary of Shinto may not be as complete nor provide as much detail in its shorter, dictionary-like entries, it is a welcome contribution to the reference literature and recommended for academic collections and large public libraries.--McConnell, Christophe. Copyright 2010 Booklist

Library Journal Review

Amid a recent explosion of texts on this -ritual-dependent Japanese religion, this revised and updated historical dictionary edition seeks to define the major terms, symbols, devotional activities, figures, and places vital to Shinto practice, whose lack of doctrine and tendency toward religious blending has made consistent explanation difficult. Opening with a time line punctuated by ruling periods, Picken (philosophy, International Christian Univ., Tokyo) prefaces the lexicon with an absorbing chronological overview. Eight hundred newly expanded and alphabetized entries skillfully explain Shinto's complex aspects. An essential subject resource and excellent companion to John Breen and Mark Teeuwen's highly regarded A New History of Shinto (Wiley-Blackwell, 2010). (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Pickens, a recognized authority on Shinto, contributes to Scarecrow's extensive series of historical dictionaries covering various world religions, but his book begs comparison to Brian Bocking's A Popular Dictionary of Shinto (1997), still available in paperback. Although there is naturally substantial duplication of entry headings between the two books, each treats the topics in a slightly different way. Bocking, generally more readable, has an excellent index, something Pickens does not have, but lacks many features of the newer work. Pickens's book, printed on slicker paper, includes numerous photos, a chronology of Shinto, and a substantial bibliography. The introduction to Shinto in Pickens is more thorough. The two are comparable in size and scope, although each contains entries the other lacks. Smaller libraries will not need both. For those libraries, Bocking is the first choice, but libraries with strong East Asia collections will want Pickens as well. Recommended for all collections. M. M. Bohn University of Nebraska at Omaha

Table of Contents

Jon Woronoff
Editor's Forewordp. ix
Prefacep. xi
Reader's Notesp. xv
Map of Major Shinto Sites in Japanp. xviii
Chronologyp. xix
Introductionp. 1
The Dictionaryp. 25
Major Shrines Listed in the Dictionaryp. 247
General Shinto Web Sitesp. 249
Shinto Information Sitesp. 250
New Religionsp. 251
Resource Organizationsp. 252
Bibliographyp. 253
About the Authorp. 285