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Category: Shinto

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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New Priests

New Priests

The Japanese academic year ends in March, and every year, in April, Jinja Shinpō publishes an article about the new graduates from the full-time training courses for priests. There are two universities that provide this training: Kokugakuin University, in Shibuya, Tokyo, and Kōgakkan University in Ise. There are also much, much smaller training centres attached to important jinja around the country. The six smaller centres had, in total, 18 graduates this year, while Kokugakuin had 179 and Kōgakkan had 73….

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Aso Jinja

Aso Jinja

At the weekend, I went to visit Aso Jinja, in Kumamoto Prefecture, in Kyushu. Aso Jinja is the Ichinomiya for the old Higo Province, and one of the oldest jinja in Japan. The family of the chief priests goes back over a thousand years, as does the jinja itself. There are twelve main kami enshrined at the jinja, who form a family, and the family of the chief priests is said to be descended from the oldest of these kami….

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