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Written Norito

Norito, the formal prayers offered during Shinto matsuri, are always written down, and the priest reads them from the paper. This is even true for common norito that the priest has almost certainly memorised. (The purification prayers may be read, but they are not, strictly speaking, norito, so it is also common for them to be recited from memory.) The steps of Shinto liturgy include specific instructions on what to do with the paper, and there are particular rules for folding it, and for how the norito should be written.… Read More »Written Norito

Preparing for the Oversight Council

The regular autumn meeting of Jinja Honchō’s Oversight Council is scheduled for October 13th, and it promises, once again, to be “lively”. On September 7th, the Board of Directors met to prepare for it, and the meeting was reported on the front page of the September 19th issue of Jinja Shinpō. A lot of boring but important business seems to have passed without issue. That is one of the most promising features of the current problems — no-one seems to be interested in disrupting the normal operation of Jinja Honchō… Read More »Preparing for the Oversight Council

The Congress of the Leaders of World and Traditional Religions

The Congress of the Leaders of World and Traditional Religions is held once every three years in Astana Nursultan* (*soon to be renamed Astana), the capital of Kazakhstan. The first congress was held in 2003, so this year was the seventh. Jinja Honchō has sent a delegate to all (or almost all) of the full Congresses, and to most of the meetings of the Secretariat, which are held every year. This year, once again, they sent a delegate: Revd Fujië, one of the Executive Directors. (The date clashed with a… Read More »The Congress of the Leaders of World and Traditional Religions

The Izawa Rice-Planting Festival

Izawa-no-Miya is one of the Betsugū of the Naiku at Jingū. (This is explained in the chapter on Jingū in my book. Basically, the Betsugū are important subsidiary jinja, but they can be quite some distance from the main sanctuary — in this case, a bit less than twenty kilometres.) Izawa-no-Miya is the only one of the Betsugū to have its own sacred rice fields, and the rice-planting festival, otauë-shiki, is one of the three largest and most famous in Japan. When it is held at full scale, it involves… Read More »The Izawa Rice-Planting Festival

The Burdens of Sacred Forests

The August 29th issue of Jinja Shinpō had an article written by the chief priest of a jinja in Shiga Prefecture in response to the articles about sacred forests. The jinja is in a town, facing onto the main road through it; the precincts cover about a hectare, and there is a good forest, including a keyaki (Japanese zelkova) with a trunk 4.5 metres in circumference. The woodland is designated by the city as a protected woodland, and people often visit it. However, maintenance is a major task. The trees… Read More »The Burdens of Sacred Forests

“Tales of Sacred Forests”

Over the past few years, Jinja Honchō has produced a number of short (under five minute) videos introducing “ordinary” jinja around Japan, under the title “Chinju no Mori no Monogatari”, or “Tales of Sacred Forests”. They are more about the jinja and the matsuri than the forests as such, but “mori” is Japanese for the sacred space of a kami as well as for a woodland, so that is fair. They were made with a Japanese satellite television company, and broadcast in Japan. Jinja Honchō is now making them available… Read More »“Tales of Sacred Forests”

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