Shintō is the Indigenous religion of the world: Deguchi Onisaburo and his "shinto universalism"

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


This article responds to a call for more research on the theme of "universality" in Japanese religion as articulated by Michel Mohr in his recent monograph (2014). The article focuses on Deguchi Onisaburō and examines the ways in which he utilized "Shintō" as a self-universalizing framework. He argued that Shintō is the spiritual foundation of the entire world, a kind of cosmic principle that pervades the universe. Based on this, he claimed that all religions around the world are merely different forms of Shintō. Onisaburō was not the first to advance this type of universalizing argument, as a number of Shintō thinkers had made comparable claims since the medieval period. What was at stake for Onisaburō and his predecessors, in other words, was not Shintō's "indigeneity" to Japan, but its universality. This observation helps to further relativize and historicize the prevailing characterization of Shintō as Japan's "indigenous religion.".

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)57-81
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Religion in Japan
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Deguchi Onisaburo
  • Omoto
  • Shinto
  • Shintō universalism
  • Universality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Religious studies


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