It all makes sense, years ago, and I mean years ago, I was in the mountains surrounding Kyoto. I was staying in a ryokan, (miyamaso) small at the time, it remains the same today. We hiked into the forest to look at some “god trees”, cyprus trees that are enormous and tall. They can be 5 meters in circumference or more, and taller than the sky, or the eye can see.
These trees are scared for Shinto practitioners who believe in nature as a supreme force, a force on earth that is not to be reckoned. In fact Shinto has millions of gods, not just one as we do in the west. Here in Asia no one God can be responsible for the entire universe, so it is spread among many, and nature rules; rocks, trees, snakes, etc.
In the forest of Daihizan off the beat and track, the forest whispers, the waters rustles as we walk. All of a sudden we were met by a viper, I immediately picked up a rock and threw, a clean strike to the head, the snake lay motionless.
After some days of being in the forest (in luxury) we departed to Kyoto. On our way to Kyoto we arrived to the city, and when we got out, my friend fingers was snapped in the door. He said, “I knew it”, we should have never bothered the snake, “I knew it”.
Fact books and statistics typically list some 80 to 90% of Japanese people as Shintoist. However most Japanese non-religious and there are currently less than five million “actual” observers of Shinto in Japan.