Amabië

Amabië

Jinja Shinpō continues to report the impact of COVID-19 on the Shinto world. The latest issue reports that Jingū had closed down all kagura (sacred dance — personal prayers to the kami at Jingū), and the opportunity to pay one’s respects within the outermost fences. Other jinja were holding festivals with fewer people, or with people sitting outside rather than in the prayer hall. One priest wrote an article about the importance of purification in this time (wash your hands!)….

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Matsuri for the Dead

Matsuri for the Dead

A few weeks ago, Jinja Shinpō had a full-page special about a jinja that has recently built a new jinja office. This sort of article is fairly common, because it is an important event for the jinja in question, and positive news to share with the Shinto community as a whole. The jinja in question is in Tokyo, which probably explains how they can afford to do it, and the new building does look nice, and very useful for matsuri…

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An Absence of Worshippers

An Absence of Worshippers

COVID-19 continues to have an effect on jinja and other Shinto organisations, and some of those effects have been reported in Jinja Shinpō. One that was on the front page last week was the fact that Jinja Honchō had to hold its directors’ meeting by sending paperwork to all the directors, rather than having them all meet in one place. That seems to have worked, although at least one of the directors said that they should look into setting up…

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Updating Matsuri

Updating Matsuri

Jinja Honchō has specific projects to help jinja in rural areas of Japan, where the population is declining and all the young people are moving away. These projects encourage those jinja to build on their existing matsuri and events to revitalise the area, and get more people visiting the jinja. A recent issue of Jinja Shinpō reported on some of these efforts, including one at a jinja, Shirasawa Jinja, in Iwatë Prefecture, in northeastern Japan. This jinja had a traditional…

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Rings of Reeds

Rings of Reeds

Epidemics have been a repeated feature of Japanese history, and so there are many traditional ways of responding to them. Unsurprisingly, a lot of them are being dusted off and brought out at the moment, and in this blog post I want to talk about one that is particularly widespread, and that has developed beyond its initial association with epidemics. This custom involves a ring woven of reeds, a “chi no wa”. The custom is normally traced back to a…

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New Priests 2020

New Priests 2020

A few weeks ago, Jinja Shinpō published an analysis of the newly-graduated priests, as it always does in April. This year there were 232, including 59 women, of whom 184 took jobs at jinja. (39 of the women went to work at jinja.) The overwhelming majority of these priests graduated from the two Shinto universities, Kōgakkan in Isë (63) and Kokugakuin in Tokyo (154). As normal, the number of people going to work in jinja offices or as miko, rather…

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Epidemic Ofuda and Heisoku

Epidemic Ofuda and Heisoku

A week or so ago I wrote about the kami of smallpox, and mentioned the red gohei, or heisoku, that my local jinja had set up on top of the offering box. At that point I didn’t have a picture, but now I do. This picture is at my home, because I asked the priests to perform a matsuri asking for an end to the epidemic, and today I picked up the ofuda (on the left) and red heisoku (on…

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New Book

New Book

I have just published An Introduction to Shinto, a book based on the first two years or so of essays for the Mimusubi Patreon. It is available as a Kindle e-book from Amazon, from any of the various national Amazons. (The link is to the US site, because I think most potential readers are in the US, but I think it will automatically give you a link to your local site if that is different; I get one for the…

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COVID-19 and the Future

COVID-19 and the Future

Last week’s Jinja Shinpō contained an editorial about COVID-19 and the response to it, which had some very interesting content. In Japanese, people are asked to avoid “fuyōfukyū” trips out. This means trips that are not necessary and urgent: that is, things that you do not need to do right now. So, the editorial asks whether paying one’s respects at a jinja is “fuyōfukyū”. As you might expect, given that this is an editorial in the Shinto newspaper, the conclusion…

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The Kami of Smallpox

The Kami of Smallpox

In the midst of the impact of COVID-19, I am still visiting my local jinja every day. This is fine: it is part of my walk, and I do not get close to anyone while doing so, which means that social distance is being maintained. (I wouldn’t visit a jinja I couldn’t walk to at the moment, though.) Today, I arrived to find that a small red gohei had been set up on the offering box. (A gohei, or heisoku,…

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