The essence of Shinto is the Japanese devotion to the spiritual entities and powers known as kami, to shrines, and to various rituals.
In Shinto, the rituals performed play a central role which enable its followers to communicate with kami. Kami are not God or gods. They are spirits which are concerned with human beings - they are attentive to people's interest in them and wish everybody to be happy. It is believed that if treated properly they will intervene in people's lives to bring good luck and benefits such as good health and business success, among other rewards.
Shinto is a very localized religion, with f9ollowers more concerned with their local shrine than the whole religion. Many Japanese people own a small shrine-altar in their homes.
Shinto is not an official national religion. As ritual rather than belief is at the heart of Shinto, Japanese people don't really think of Shinto specifically as a religion - it's simply an aspect of Japanese life. This has enabled Shinto to coexist with Buddhism for centuries with no problems or conflicts.