While Shinto is usually treated as a religion, it is different from most so-called world religions. It does not have a founder. It does not have real scriptures. And it does not have a system of doctrines.
Basically it evolved out of the ancient worship of unique natural phenomena, ancestors and various kinds of kami. This worship did not need to have a name until it was confronted by Buddhism, which was imported from China. Eventually it came to be called Shinto, “the way of the deities,” to distinguish it from the newly introduced Buddhism.
Shinto existed side by side withBuddhism. Sometimes its kami were said to be manifestations of buddhas. Sometimes the two religions became involved in political conflicts. But as a general rule, Shinto continued to be an integral part of everyday life, especially in farming communities. It remains part of Japanese life, partly because it focuses on positive beliefs, purity and hopeful wishes. This makes it assessable to anyone, at any level of belief.