An Article in Jinja Shinpō

An Article in Jinja Shinpō

I have a short article in the latest Jinja Shinpō. (It’s on page 5 of the April 3rd issue, if you happen to have access to it.) The article is about foreign tourists at jinja, a topic that has been receiving quite a bit of discussion in the pages of the paper recently. Since I have been a foreign tourist at a jinja, I wrote a bit about it from that perspective. I think that there is a problem. I…

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“Looks Foreign”

“Looks Foreign”

Jinja Shinpō has a weekly column called “Thoughts in the Forest”, written by a small group who take turns. Last week’s was by “Sunami Tomoto” (possibly), which I believe is a pseudonym. (Some of the authors have photographs, and others don’t, and my understanding is that the ones without photographs are pseudonymous. That understanding may, however, be wrong.) The title of the piece was “Looks Foreign”. In the column, he reports that he was asked by some part of the…

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Hië Jinja and the Shinto Seiji Renmei

Hië Jinja and the Shinto Seiji Renmei

One of the associations that is very closely linked to Jinja Honchō is the Shinto Seiji Renmei. Its Japanese name means “Shinto Politics Association”, but the official English name is the “Shinto Association for Spiritual Leadership”. The Shinto Seiji Renmei’s political position could be described as the conservative edge of the mainstream; it is a mainstream political group, but any group that is significantly more conservative or right-wing is on the fringes. Politically, I disagree fundamentally with a lot of…

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Ohinasama and Oharai

Ohinasama and Oharai

Today, we put up Mayuki’s Hina Matsuri dolls. These dolls are traditionally given to Japanese girls by their maternal grandmothers, and are displayed for the Hina Matsuri every year. The matsuri itself is on March 3rd, but you are supposed to put the dolls away on or around that date, so we put them up about a month in advance. We (with the help of Mayuki’s grandmother) bought them soon after Mayuki was born, and we have put them up…

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Hatsumōdë

Hatsumōdë

Hatsumōdë is the first visit to a jinja (or Buddhist temple, but normally jinja) of the New Year. In one use, it simply refers to a person’s first visit in a year, no matter when it happens. The most common use these days, however, is to refer to the custom of visiting a jinja in the first three days of the New Year (or maybe a few days later if you are away). This is an extremely popular custom; the…

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A Foreign Shinto Priest

A Foreign Shinto Priest

A commenter on my Japanese blog sent me a link to an interview with Florian Wiltschko, an Austrian-born Shinto priest (link is to the English translation). I’ve actually been mistaken for Revd Wiltschko, despite being a lot older, not blond, and not a Shinto priest. I agree with a lot of what he says in the interview, although in the end I come down on the side of thinking that it is more helpful to describe Shinto as a religion….

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Your Name

Your Name

Your Name is a Japanese animated feature film written and directed by Makoto Shinkai that is currently doing extremely well in Japan. It was released in August, and when I went to see it with my nine-year-old daughter on Sunday, the cinema was full. It is, apparently, the second-highest-grossing Japanese animation in Japan, behind Spirited Away, and as it is still showing it is possible that it could become top. It was shown briefly in Los Angeles earlier this month,…

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Matsuri Essay

Matsuri Essay

My Patreon has properly started: today, I sent the first paid essay, about the matsuri that are performed at jinja, to all my patrons. The topic was chosen by the higher-level patrons, because they were interested in hearing more about the practical things that priests did at jinja. Since matsuri are the main religious activity, that’s what I wrote about. I’m currently talking to the higher-level patrons about what to do next, so if you are interested in joining that…

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Rei Torii

Rei Torii

This will be a slightly unusual post, because I want to introduce an active Japanese artist, Mr Rei Torii. His surname is, indeed, “torii”, as in the gate to a jinja, and Shinto themes are very important in his art. Recently, he has completed a large number of works, and a number of large works, recording the great renewal at Jingu in Ise. The Association of Devotees of the Jingu at Ise has given out reproductions of his work as…

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Can I Convert To Shinto?

Can I Convert To Shinto?

“Can I convert to Shinto?” This is a question I occasionally see online, or the variant “How can I convert to Shinto?”. They both seem like reasonable questions: to convert to Christianity you should be baptised and, according to my understanding, you cannot convert to Zoroastrianism, because the existing community will not accept you unless you are born a Zoroastrian. However, neither question really applies to Shinto. Shinto is not an identity, it is a group of related activities. This…

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