The difference between theory and practice....
What I mean is, it is this in theory, but not usually in practice. Usually Shinto is so shrouded in ritual and teachings etc. that the essence is lost.
That may be for all I know, but my understanding is that the essence is somewhat left to the individual to find. Messing with another's destiny is a big no-no in Shinto, so i can see why much might be left to the individual to sort through, even though the ritual is so highly formalized. When I practiced regularly I often heard that what matters in Shinto is the feeling one generates; not how precisely you're able to perform the parts of the ritual. In other words: you get from it what you put in. I took from that the idea that the "trick" is learning how to put more and more of yourself into the activity, physically, mentally, and spiritually.
I was once invited to a matsuri in Mitsucho near Himeji by a family that was a big part of the festivities. The sense I took from the experience was much in keeping with what I learned at Tsubaki America regarding Shinto, which is centered around celebrating our lives as part of a community which itself is part of something larger.