Introduction to the International Shinto Foundation (ISF)
The International Shinto Foundation (ISF) was established to promote the academic and cultural study of Shinto and to deepen the understanding of Shinto internationally; it was certified as a Non-Profit Organization by the State of New York.
The ISF is not a religious organization aiming to propagate Shinto. Neither is it involved in political activities. The foundation was established on the principal that without study of Shinto, true understanding of the Japanese people and Japanese culture would continue to remain inaccessible. In 1996 the International Shinto Foundation was recognized as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) by the United Nations Department of Public Information and began to take part in the information services of the United Nations. Later, in 2001, the foundation was recognized as an NGO with special consultative status by the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) which makes recommendations on a variety of international issues.
The foundation was also founded in response to a perception that Shinto has been misunderstood within Japan and overseas. Shinto has been regarded as a source of the abhorrent ideology that drove Japan to war in the early part of the twentieth century. In Asia, Shinto is still seen uniquely as the spiritual prop for Japanese militarism, while in Western countries, it has until recently been regarded as unworthy of serious academic study. At the ISF we actively encourage debate and discussion about all manner of Shinto-related topics.