Page:Occult Japan - Lovell.djvu/33

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SHINTŌ. 17

the Shintō rites, and of kindly recognizing the more popular Shintō gods for lower avatars of its own. Under this generous adoption on the one hand, and relegation to an inferior place in the national pantheon on the other, very little, ostensibly, was left of Shintō, — just enough to swear by.

Lost in the splendor of Buddhist show, Shintō lay obscured thus for a millenium; lingering chiefly as a twilight of popular superstition. At last, however, a new era dawned. A long peace, following the firm establishing of the Shogunate, turned men's thoughts to criticism, and begot the commentators, a line of literati, who, beginning with Mabuchi, in the early part of the eighteenth century, devoted themselves to a study of the past, and continued to comment, for a century and a half, upon the old Japanese traditions buried in the archaic language of the Kojiki and the Nihongi, the history-bibles of the race. As science, the commentators' elucidations are chiefly comic, but their practical outcome was immense. Criticism of the past begot criticism of the present, and started a chauvinistic movement, which overthrew the Shogunate and restored the