Comparison chart

Shinto versus Taoism comparison chart
Edit this comparison chartShintoTaoism
Place of origin Japan China
Place of worship Shrines. Taoist monasteries, temples, shrines.
Practices Visit to shrines to pay homage to Shinto deities; Shamanism, etc. Philosophical maturity, virtuous conduct, internal alchemy, and some sexual practices.
Belief of God Numerous deities. Tao literally means the Way, which indicates the movement of a dynamic existence that is composed of opposing forces. Taoists do not believe in a personal God.
Use of statues and pictures Permitted. Common
Life after death Yomi If immortality isn't attained during life, the Tao will continue to evolve and manifest in different forms, in accordance with the entity's general conduct during a state of existence. This applies to all sentient and insentient beings.
Goal of religion To serve the Shinto deities, or Kami, as they are known. To be one with the Tao.
Clergy Priests, miko, etc. Taoist clergies are led by the daoshis, masters of the Tao, and followed by daojiaotus, followers of Taoism who also support the clergy, although it is not common.
Literal Meaning The Way of the gods. To follow the Tao.
Founder No founder. Lao Tzu
View of the Buddha Buddha is followed by many Shintoists. Some Taoists argue that the Buddha was a student of Lao Tzu, although there is no concrete evidence for it. Most Taoists respect and follow the Buddha's teachings.
Concept of Deity Numerous deities. The sun is one of the most important ones(they believe that the sun is a goddess). Being manifestations of the Tao, Gods are seen as higher life forms.
Scriptures Kojiki, Nihon Shoki Daozang, a collection of 1400 texts organized in 3 sections which includes the Tao Te Ching, Zhuang Zi, I Ching, and some others.
Status of women Women may become priestesses. But are still seen as less than men No distinctions between men and women, as both are seen as manifestations of the Tao.
Original Language(s) Japanese Old Chinese
Geographical distribution and predominance Shinto has influenced Japan for several millenia, with the height appearing before World War 2 China, Korea, to lesser extent Vietnam and Japan.
Followers Shintoists. Taoists
Principle The essence of Shinto is the Japanese devotion to invisible spiritual beings and powers called kami, to shrines, and to various rituals. The Tao is the only principle. The rest are its manifestations.
Means of salvation By serving the Kami. Following the Tao.
Marriage Between one man and one woman. A social bonding, applicable with clerics as well.
Confessing sins Shinto has harae (purifying rites), which can be performed with water, salt, or a stick with paper dangling from its end. Sin is not a Taoist concept.
Religious Law N/A The Tao.
Symbols The Torii gate reliligous symbol, mark the entrance to sacred space. Representing the transition between the finite world and the infinite world of the gods. The Yin and Yang.
Time of origin Approx. 700 B.C. Approx. 550 B.C.E (before common Era)
Views on other religions Shintoists usually follow Buddhism or another religion too. Taoism teaches that all religions are as anything else; manifestations of the impersonal Tao.
Holy days/Official Holidays The Japanese national holidays, as well as local shrine festivals (matsuri). Chinese New Year, 3 Day Festival of the Dead, Ancestor Day.
Can atheists partake in this religion's practices? No. Yes.
Population From 4 Million to 110 Million, debated. Most people that practice Shinto also practice Buddhism. 30-40 million.
Use of statues Permitted. They can be used as meditation objects, but they are not that common.

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