Uden Shinto

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Uden Shinto (烏傳神道), a movement advocating for equality of the four social classes (士農工商), was founded in the 1830s. Its leader, Umetsuji Norikiyo (梅辻規清, 1798-1861) was exiled. His teaching was denounced by the shogunate but they later pardoned him! He influenced a generation of rebels (c.f. Winston Davis, Japanese religion and society 58-9).

"Uden" is the "Raven Tradition", referring to the raven Yata-no-Karasu who was sent by Amaterasu to Jimmu. Norikiyo said he recieved his doctrine from the Raven. He wrote: "Shinto is the National Way. This was not called Shinto at first, but after the importation of the doctrines of Buddhism and Confucianism the National Way came to be called Shinto ... the National Way is not something shameful and contentious, that makes trial of the gods. It is ethics and keeping one's household in order. The operation of the government is the National Way." He aimed to make Shinto the moral and political standard for human affairs. (D.C. Holtom, The National Faith of Japan pp.45-7) He also wrote: "Prayers to the Deity accompanied by monetary gifts secured by injustice are sure not to be granted. Pray in all righteousness and the Deity will be pleased to listen to your supplication. Foolish is he who, in impatient eagerness and without following the path of righteousness, hopes to obtain divine protection." (Genchi Katō, A study of Shintō p.167)

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