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New Shimënawa

My local jinja, Shirahata Hachiman Daijin, has just hung a new shimënawa at the entrance to the prayer hall. I chatted with the priests about it, and learned that this is only the fourth one in the fifty years since the sanctuaries were rebuilt. This shimënawa is made of rice straw, so it is the “real thing”, but it seems that those are not easy to get. The company that made the last one is no longer in business, and it seems it was not straightforward to find another one.… Read More »New Shimënawa

My Hopes for Shinto

A week or so ago I wrote a post saying that I thought Shinto was on the verge of radical change. One of my patrons, quite reasonably, asked me what change I would like to see. This blog post is about that. The first thing I should say is that I am not in a position to do much about these hopes. I am not a priest, and I do not have influence in Jinja Honchō. This is just what I think would be good for Shinto, and the people… Read More »My Hopes for Shinto

Shichigosan Across the Generations

It has been a while since I posted about the articles in issue 269 of the Journal of Shinto Studies, but there are still a couple I want to write about, and one of them is about Shichigosan, so this seems like a good time to cover it — November is still the peak of Shichigosan season, even if it has become rather extended. The article, “On Shifts in the Celebration and Meaning of Shichigosan: An Examination from the Perspectives of Grandmother, Mother, and Child” by Taguchi Yūko, has a… Read More »Shichigosan Across the Generations

Sakaki Matsuri

The October 30th issue of Jinja Shinpō included an article about the annual reisai (grand matsuri) at Hiyoshi Jinja in Akishima City, Tokyo. This matsuri takes place on the 17th of September, and includes a mikoshi parade through the streets of the city in the afternoon. So far, so standard, but this matsuri also includes a less common element. The previous night, a “sakaki mikoshi” is taken along the same route. The sakaki mikoshi is created by local residents from sakaki branches that they cut down themselves. The final sakaki… Read More »Sakaki Matsuri

The Future of Shinto

The October 30th issue of Jinja Shinpō contained two articles that provoked me to think about the future of Shinto. One was the report of the Oversight Council meeting, as recounted in my last post, where the councillors squabbled over the presidency before hearing a plea to do something about the jinja that are failing because of rural depopulation. The other was the column by Yamamoto Yukiko, the senior priest (negi) of Tsubaki Ōkami Yashiro, in Mië Prefecture. She commented that more young people were coming to the jinja, and… Read More »The Future of Shinto

Formal Prayer Videos

Jinja Honchō has just put two new English videos on its official YouTube channel, about participating in a formal prayer at a jinja. The first is about how to offer a tamagushi. This is a standard part of almost any formal prayer, but it is something that most Japanese people have no idea how to do. Hence the need for the instructional video in Japanese, which created the opportunity to prepare one in English as well. The second is a bit of a novel departure for Jinja Honchō. It’s a… Read More »Formal Prayer Videos

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