Rebuilding Koganëyama Jinja

Rebuilding Koganëyama Jinja

Koganëyama Jinja is on the island of Kinkasan, in Miyagi Prefecture. It is the nearest inhabited piece of land to the epicentre of the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011, and the jinja was badly affected. Fortunately, the island is a mountain, and the jinja itself is located part way up the mountain, and thus out of reach of the tsunami, but the waiting room and other facilities at the piers were destroyed, many torii and stone lanterns collapsed in…

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The Tennō at Koma Jinja

The Tennō at Koma Jinja

The lead story on the front page of the October 2nd issue of Jinja Shinpō was a report of a visit by the Tennō and Kōgō to Koma Jinja, in Saitama Prefecture, on September 20th. Personal visits to a jinja by the Tennō are always front page news in Jinja Shinpō, because they are not that common. The immediate reason for this visit appears to have been the 1,300th anniversary of the jinja, but while such events are very often…

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What Is Shinto?

What Is Shinto?

OK, so this looks like a fairly fundamental question. I’m in the process of writing an essay on the history of Shinto for my Patreon, and that reminded me of just how difficult this question is. I’m not talking about the question of the “real essence” of Shinto; I’m talking about the much more basic question of whether a particular activity is part of Shinto. For example, is Shugendō Shinto? I think most people these days would say “no”, but…

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The State of Jinja in Iwatë Prefecture

The State of Jinja in Iwatë Prefecture

This week’s Jinja Shinpō has an article on the back page reporting the results of a survey carried out by the Iwatë Prefecture Jinjachō. Iwatë Prefecture is in northeast Japan, and it is one of the prefectures that were badly hit by the earthquake and tsunami in 2011. The purpose of the survey was to find out how the depopulation of rural Japan was affecting jinja in that area. The answer appears to be “badly”. In the rural areas of…

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Buddhas at a Jinja

Buddhas at a Jinja

There is an interesting article in this week’s Jinja Shinpō about the dedication of a new building at a jinja in northern Japan. This happens a lot, but the building in question is called the “Thousand Buddhas Hall”, and it has been built to house over two hundred Buddha images. The jinja in question is Dewa Sanzan Jinja, a complex of three jinja on three mountains (which is what “sanzan” means), in the western area of northern Japan (which is…

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The Shinto Art Work

The Shinto Art Work

The book collecting Rei Torii’s art has an official English title: The Shinto Art Work. I was given a copy by one of my students, so I’ve been able to look through it. I still like the art a great deal, and even the “Dances of the Land of Eternal Youth” series, which is in a very different style from the others, has grown on me. There is a significant amount of Japanese commentary, explaining the background to the pictures,…

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Kanda Myōjin

Kanda Myōjin

Kanda Myōjin is an old jinja in Tokyo. It claims to date back to the eighth century, and thus predate the city by about nine centuries. It may well be that old; it is certainly known to have existed before the Tokugawa shoguns moved their capital to Edo and turned it into a city. It claims to be the general tutelary jinja for the city of Tokyo as a whole, with a focus on the people who live there, rather…

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Shinto People

Shinto People

I have just released a new essay funded by my Patreon. This one is about the types of people associated with jinja, from priests and miko to casual visitors. What do you have to do to become a priest? What sort of people become priests? What is a sōdai, and why do they play an important role? It answers all these questions, and more. If you have missed this essay, don’t worry. You can get back numbers.

Rei Torii

Rei Torii

Today, I was sent a notification of the publication of an art book containing Rei Torii’s Shinto pictures. I’ve mentioned Mr Torii before; he has painted a lot of works based on Jingū at Ise, as well as other aspects of Shinto. I plan to get the book, although I don’t plan to get it through Amazon. It only seems to be available on Amazon Japan, and the book is in Japanese. However, as it is primarily an art book,…

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Shinto from the Shore

Shinto from the Shore

At the beginning of this month I released a new essay to my patrons on Patreon. This essay is a bit different from normal, because I was asked to speak, in English, to a Japanese audience, about Shinto, and the essay is based on my notes for that. As a result, it says more about what I personally think about Shinto, rather than simply reporting the current situation as accurately as I can. If you are interested, back numbers of…

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