Japan is a country that is home to polytheistic religions, namely Buddhism and Shintoism. However, in comparison to Buddhism, which is spread widely, Shinto is mainly found in Japan. Thus, foreign visitors are most likely to encounter Shinto and Shinto shrines for the first time when they visit Japan. It can be argued that developing an understanding of the major religion(s) of a country can enhance cultural understanding. However, a clear definition of Shinto is an ongoing debate in Japan and among scholars across the world. Hence, this research tries to understand through Content Analysis of English and German language travel / guidebooks how Shinto is presented to foreign tourists. Previous research showed that these texts can be a major source to learn about other religions. The ‘Shinto Paradigms’ as identified by Aike Rots build a framework to analyse the content. He identified six paradigms, each attributed to certain themes which can be used to define Shinto. The results show that most western travel information sources present Shinto in the context of the ‘Ethnic Paradigm’ that portrays Shinto as an indigenous religion which is deeply intertwined in the Japanese life. However, some of the same sources also show traits of a more recent definition approach, the ‘Environmental Paradigm’ which strongly connects nature and the environment with Shinto. These findings have implications for marketing Shinto shrines for tourism, as a common presentation of Shinto does not exist that can shape the tourist’s experience and understanding of the host culture. Further, the paper shows that the paradigms of Rots provide a base framework for further tourism related Shinto studies, while reflecting the difficulties of portraying a congruent definition of Shinto.

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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.





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