Welcome to the International Shinto Foundation
The International Shinto Foundation was established in 1994 as a voluntary organization to promote the academic and cultural study of Shinto and to deepen understanding of Shinto internationally, and was certified as a Non-Profit Organization by the Governor of Tokyo in 2000. The International Shinto Foundation is not a religious organization aiming to propagate Shinto. Neither is it involved in political activities. Those involved in establishing the Foundation shared the belief that without study that takes account of Shinto a true understanding of the Japanese people and Japanese culture will remain inaccessible. In the United States of America, the International Shinto Foundation is registered as a Not-for-Profit Corporation in the State of New York. It is also incorporated in the City of Moscow in the Russian Federation. In 1996 the International Shinto Foundation was recognized as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) by the United Nations Department of Public Information and began to take part in the information services of the United Nations, and later, in 2001, it was recognized as an NGO with special consultative status by the UN Economic and Social Council, and makes recommendations on a variety of international questions.
At the International Shinto Foundation we actively encourage debate and discussion about all manner of Shinto-related topics. The makeup of our international board of trustees is indicative of our open approach to Shinto matters. In addition to members of the Shinto establishment, we have representatives of new religions as well as European, American and Asian scholars of repute. We also encourage debate through regular seminars, symposiums, workshops and conferences, and we hold annual essay competitions on Shinto and Japanese thought and culture in English, Chinese and Russian.
The International Shinto Foundation was founded in response to a perception that Shinto is widely misunderstood within Japan and overseas. Shinto is still widely regarded as the source of the loathsome ideology that drove Japan to war in the middle of the last century. In Asia, Shinto is still seen uniquely as the spiritual prop for Japanese militarism, while, in Western countries, it has until recently been regarded as unworthy of serious academic treatment.