Yakumo regarded the dawn of all civilizations as cults, and only after that, turning into “religion.”
Ask any Japanese what their “religion” is, and they will all say, “We don’t have one.”
For the Japanese do not have a “religion,” and never have.
The Japanese have an indigenous way of life, which has continued for millennia until this day, and has been labeled a “religion” by others.
In fact, Japanese society, just like every other civilized society, is founded upon the common theme of Ancestor Worship.
Shinto is not an ancient term used to describe the Japanese Way from time immemorial, but came about to distinguish between Way of the Gods (Shinto), from Buddhism (Way of Buddha).
In the Japanese Way, there are three distinctive rights of purely Japanese origin, and are the foundation of Japanese society.
The Domestic is first in the evolutionary order, with the other two iterations being later developments.
In the earliest development of the Domestic, ceremonies were performed irregularly at the grave site only, and this represents the most ancient form of Japanese ceremony and ritual protocols, the dawn of the Japanese Way.
Japanese settlements of the Domestic included 100s, if not 1000s of households, then around the eighth century spirit-tablets were introduced, when the Domestic was properly established.
The earliest Ancestor Worship, the root of all religion, began with the cognitive capacity to conceptually believe in ghosts.
Furthermore, primitive Ancestor Worship could not have formed the notion of a supreme deity, and all evidence existing to these primitive forms of worship have recognized no difference whatsoever between the concept of ghosts, and the concept of gods.
Consequently, there were no belief in future eternal reward or punishment, nor of a shadow underworld (hell) or a blissful celestial paradise (heaven), which evolved much later.
In fact, Japanese mythology never evolved the idea of an Elysium (abode of the blessed after death) or Tartarus (section of Hades reserved to punish the wicked), nor has it even developed a notion of heaven or hell.
Indeed, no more so than the primitive Ancestor Worship of the Occidental, did the early Japanese think of their dead as ascending to some extra-mundane region of light and bliss, or as descending into some realm of torment.
The Japanese thought of their dead as still inhabiting this world, or at least maintaining constant communication with those left upon in the material world, and still do so, until this very day.
The ghosts of the departed were thought of as constant presences, and all able in someway to share the pleasure and the pain of the living.
They required food and drinking, and in return for these, they could confirm benefits.
The bodies of the dead melted into earth, with their spirit power still lingered in our upper world, where they moved in its winds and waters, and delighted in the fruits of the material world.
In death they have acquired mysterious force, they become “superior ones” Kami, gods.
It was not even necessary to have been a virtuous man, as the wicked man became a god as well as the good man, both became Kami.
The history of all religious sacrifices can be tracked back to the ancient custom of offerings made to ghosts.
Indeed, the entire Indo-Aryan race had at one time no other religion than the religion of the spirits.
In fact, every advance human society has, at some period in its history, passed through the stage of Ancestor Worship.
Truly, it is to Japan we must look today to find Ancestor Worship protocol coexisting with an elaborate civilization.
Here are the three core tenants which persist in Ancestor Worship regardless of where the “religion” was born.
1: The dead remains in this world, haunting their tombs, and their former homes, sharing invisibly in the life of the living descendants.
2: All dead become gods, in the sense of acquiring supernatural power, but they retain the characters which distinguish them during life.
3: The happiness of the dead depends upon the respectful service rendered them by the living, and the happiness of the living depends upon the settlement of pious duty to the dead.
The following two tenants may be added to these early beliefs, as later developments.
These can be considered to have exercised immense influence on the evolution of the indigenous Ancestor Worship Protocol of the Japanese.
4: Every event in the world, good or evil, fair season or plentiful harvest, flood or famine, tempest and tidal-wave and earthquake, is the work of the dead.
5: All human action good or bad, are controlled by the dead.
The first three beliefs have survived from the dawn of civilization, or before it, from the time the dead were the merely gods, without distinction of power.
The later two would seem to be of the period in which a true mythology, an enormous polytheism, has been developed out of the primitive ghost worship protocol.
Japanese Ancestor Worship has undergone many modifications over the past 2000 years, however, the essential character in relation to conduct, and the whole framework of society rest upon it, and continues to be the moral foundation of which Japanese society is built upon.
Almost everything in Japanese society, derives directly or indirectly from this ancient worship protocol, and in all matters, the dead, rather than the living, are the rulers of Japan, and the shapers of her destiny.
Japan, An Attempt At Interpretation
Patrick Lafcadio Hearn
THE ANCIENT CULT