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How to Become a Shinto Priest


Kannusi is the person who is responsible for keeping the Shinto temple in order and prises kami, the highest God in the Japanese religion called Shinto. From the ancient times there were 4 main families of the Shinto priests in Japan: Nakatomi, Imbe, Sarume and Urabe. The first 3 ones were supposed to lead their generation directly from Gods who took part in the ceremony of letting the Goddess of the sun called Amaterasu out of her coffin. The Nakatomi family is believed to take its start from the ancient God called Ame-no. Imbe suppose their ancestor to be the God called Futodama and the representatives of the Sarume family praise Udzume as their ancestor.

Today the Shinto priests are the earthly people who lead the special way of life and has got the coordinate education.


Define your aim

First of all you should fully understand the main aim of the Shinto priest called Kannusi. The priest should work as the mediator between the people and God. You should be able to explain the message of God to the people. In the ancient times the Shinto priests were supposed to be somebody like wizards who were able to perform miracles. Today the modern people don't usually wait any miracles but they wish to feel the presence of God when they come to the temple. You should be able to provide such atmosphere with your presence.


To become a Kannusi today the young man should get the necessary education in the University approved by the current Kannusi. Usually it is the Japanese University called Kokugakuen. Instead of attending the University lectures and seminars you may try to pass the complicated exam to prove the commission that you possess enough knowledge to become a Shinto priest.

How to become a priestess

In the ancient times the Kannusi who had been killed in the war was to be replaces by his widow. That has given the start to the practice when the women are also able to become the Shinto priests. Today if the grief happens and the current Shinto priest dies his wife may take his position. The only thing that has changed that the women who are going to become Kannusi are to undergo the full education program and pass the exams as well.


The Shinto priests can marry and in the most cases their children also get the position of Kannusi. This practice doesn't has some official status but it is still quite a wide-spread today.

The Shinto priests should wear the special clothes and attributes of their duty. That is the long coat and the special hat called ebosi. That clothes doesn't carry any religious meaning. Ebosi just copies the traditional clothes of the ancient epoch. That is aimed to underline the connection between Kannusi and the Emperor.


  • Don't try to become a Kannusi if you wish only to get the respected social status and make some money. You should feel the calling to serve the God and the people in your heart.
  • Don't neglect the education if you are not sure that you are able to pass the exams successfully.
  • Don't forget that the life of the Shinto priest should be the good example for the people who visit the temple.



During the religious ceremonies the young girls called miko help the Kannusi to perform them. If you see the girls in white and red clothes you should know that they fulfill the religious rituals. After the current kami gets married another one is invited to take this position.

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