The standard understanding of honji suijaku up until Yoshida's time was that the kami were local Japanese manifestations of Buddhist entities, which were universal. Kanetomo argued that, to the contrary, it is the kami who are the true forms of the spirits (or deities), and Buddhist entities which are merely alternative manifestations of the kami.
As he wrote, "Buddhism and Confucianism are only secondary products of Shinto. ... Buddhism came east only to reveal clearly that our nation is the trunk and the roots of these three nations [Japan, China, and India]."
- Evelyn Rawski, Early Modern China and Northeast Asia: Cross-Border Perspectives, Cambridge University Press (2015), 212.
- Rawski, 212.