Jinja Personnel

Jinja Personnel

One important feature of personae is their relationship to the jinja. Kannagara assumes that all personae have a close relationship with a particular jinja, just as Ars Magica assumes that all characters have a close relationship with a particular covenant, and the stories develop around that jinja.

There are several different close relationships that a persona can have to a jinja. The first is to be a shinshoku at the jinja. In this case, “priest” is actually a perfectly good translation, but as there are no good English terms for the other relationships, it would be odd to avoid the Japanese for just this one. Shinshoku are specially trained, which normally takes a few years, and there are several levels of training, levels of job, and levels of status that they might hold. Those will be important in the game, but I will deal with them later. Shinshoku lead the matsuri, typically performing the harae, offering the mikë, and reading the norito. Sometimes they also perform the kagura, but not always. In most jinja, the shinshoku also do most of the management tasks, and even in the largest the office is typically headed by a shinshoku.

For local jinja, the post of shinshoku is very often hereditary in practice. There are no rules requiring the son or daughter of the old shinshoku to take over, but it is made particularly easy if they want to do so, and many jinja want shinshoku who were born into a jinja family, even if that family is responsible for a different jinja. This means that shinshoku often have a very close relationship with the jinja, and with the surrounding area. However, there is currently a shortage of people who want to be shinshoku, which means that jinja cannot always get such a shinshoku, so some are new arrivals.

The next group of people are the ujiko. These are lay people, with no special training, but they live within a defined area around the jinja, and help to manage it. They normally provide financial support, and assist at large matsuri. In most cases, the ujiko’s family have been ujiko for generations, possibly for as long as the shinshoku family have been there, and maybe even longer. At some jinja, the ujiko managed all the ceremonies until the late nineteenth century, so that shinshoku are something of an innovation. Ujiko have a long-standing relationship with the jinja, but it is not always very close.

Sūkeisha are lay people who strongly support the jinja, but are not ujiko. Someone who does not live within the defined area around the jinja cannot be an ujiko, no matter how strongly she supports the jinja, and so will remain a sūkeisha. In many cases, someone who is not from an ujiko family cannot easily become an ujiko, even if she lives in the right area. There are no general rules restricting this, however, so the jinja can change this if the people in charge want to. In Kannagara, a sūkeisha might want to get the rules changed so that she can become an ujiko, or so that she can take on a particular role despite being a sūkeisha, if she does not want to move into the jinja’s area.

The final group of people are the miko. All miko are female, and they are almost without exception young, under 25. Historically, they communicated directly with the kami, but in the present day they assist the shinshoku. They wear a distinctive outfit, of bright red hakama (trouser skirts) over a white kimono. Miko need have no formal qualifications, but they often perform the kagura, so many of them learn to dance. Some miko, particularly at larger shrines, are actually fully qualified shinshoku, but have not yet been able to find a job as such. In Kannagara, of course, miko are likely to find themselves taking on their traditional roles.

Each relationship creates certain assumptions. A shinshoku knows a lot about Shinto and matsuri. An ujiko has a family connection to the shrine. A sūkeisha is deeply committed to the shrine. These relationships will be developed as the game progresses, and the jinja develops under the personae’s direction.

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