The most eminent scholar in Shinto and Japanese classics.
His father a textile merchant died when Norinaga was 11 years old but with his mother´s encouragement he studied medicine in Kyoto and became a physician.
In time he came under the influence of the National Learning (Koku-gaku) movement wich emphasized the importance of Japan´s own literature. Moto-ori applied careful philological methods to the study of the Kojiki, the Tale of Genji, and other classical literature, and stressed mono-no-aware (sensitiveness to beauty) as the central concept of Japanese literature.
Moto-ori´s study of Japanese classics, especially the Kojiki, provided the theoretical foundation of the modern Shinto revival. Rejecting Buddhist and Confucian influence on the interpretation of Shinto he traced the genuine spirit of Shinto to ancient Japanese myths and the sacred traditions of the ancient odea of kami is somewhat analogous to the theory of the nonrational factor in the idea of the divine put forth by Rudolf Otto in 1917.
Kami, according to Moto-ori was "anything whatsoever which was outside the ordinary, which possessed superior power or which was awe-inspiring".
Moto-ori also reafirmed the ancient Japanese concept of musubi (the mysterious power of all creation and growth) which has become one of the main tenets of modern Shinto.
Moto-ori revered the sun-goddess Amaterasu Omikami as the supreme deity. While he accepted ethical dualism, he believed that evil existed for the sake of good, as an antithetic element of the dialectical higher good. In his view, life in this world is eternally developing and history has no end. He accepted the world as it is a pure and meaningful and affirmed the importance of here and now. Conversely he held that after this life every man whether virtuous or evil, and not as a consequence of retribution, is destined to go to an eternal state of darkness. To him, faith in Shinto meant living every moment with absolute reliance on the will of the kami, accepting the joy of life and the sadness of death.