Shinto is a celebration of life, lacking
the emphasis on the afterlife that is held by many major world religions. The
sacred texts of the faith briefly mention the "Dark Land", an unclean
world of the dead, but do not go into further detail about it.
Shinto emphasizes the importance of makoto- sincerity or "true heart". Followers try to follow the will of the kami by achieving their powers of creativity and honesty.
There are four sacred "affirmations" in Shinto: Cleanliness and purity, family and tradition, love for nature, and the worship of the gods and ancestors of Japan.
The phrase "Cleanliness is next to godliness" is taken to heart in the Shinto religion. Symbolic washing of the hands, body, and mouth is an important part of ritual. Shinto shrines always have bowls of water in front of the entrance to the shrine for purification before entering the sacred space.
Family is also important to followers of Shinto. The faith's main celebrations are those of birth, marriage and growth.
The third affirmation taken is that of love and reverence for nature. Kami are believed to inhabit all things in nature, and to revere the earth is to worship the kami.
The fourth and final affirmation is known as matsuri. Matsuri represents the devoted worship of the Ancient Ones. These include ancestors as well as kami. Worship and reverence of these beings brings good fortune and happiness.