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Jinja Honchō Finances

Jinja Honchō has recently convened a committee to look into how it is funded, and how it spends the money. It has been about fifteen years since this was last done, and the immediate trigger was a change in the availability of statistics: one of the measures that Jinja Honchō used to ensure that its demands for payments were fairly distributed across Japan has not been updated since 2015. (I don’t know why it took them eight years to look for a replacement. I assume that the change looked temporary,… Read More »Jinja Honchō Finances

Hikari no Mai

“Hikari no Mai” (“Dance of Light”) is a particular kagura, or sacred dance. I think a lot of people have an image of kagura as being ancient, but this is not generally the case. Urayasu no Mai, possibly the most common kagura in contemporary Shinto, was created in 1940, and Toyosaka no Mai and Asahi no Mai, the other candidates for the most common contemporary kagura, in 1950. Hikari no Mai is even more recent. It was commissioned by the Shinto Young Priests’ Association to mark their 70th anniversary, and… Read More »Hikari no Mai

Sword Jewel Matsuri

The September 4th issue of Jinja Shinpō carried an article about the revival, after 150 years, of a matsuri at Hirota Jinja, in Hyōgo Prefecture. The matsuri in question is centred on the public display of a jewel: a crystal with a flaw in it that looks like a sword. According to the jinja’s account, this crystal is the “wish-fulfilling jewel” that Okinagatarashihimë (also known as Jingū Kōgō) is said, in the Nihonshoki, to have found before travelling to conquer the Korean peninsula. As Okinagatarashihimë is also said to have… Read More »Sword Jewel Matsuri


Baseball is very important in Japanese culture. It was first developed in the Kofun Period, and… No, OK, it was imported from the USA in the nineteenth century. But it’s still really important. The baseball results are the ones reported on the national news every morning, and the national high school baseball championships in spring and summer (known as Kōshien, after the stadium in which they are held) are shown live on television. (This year’s summer victors had their second victory, after a 107 year wait.) It does not have… Read More »Baseball

Hachiman Asami Jinja

A couple of weeks ago I went on holiday to Beppu, in Kyūshū, with my daughter, and while I was there I visited a jinja, Hachiman Asami Jinja, several times. One reason for making multiple visits was that the jinja is putting a lot of energy into its goshuin. The main sanctuary is a merger of two jinja, Hachiman Jinja and Onsen Jinja, and so they have two regular goshuin, one for each. These are ¥300 each, and I got them on my first visit. They also have two special… Read More »Hachiman Asami Jinja

Seki Semimaru Jinja

The August 21st issue of Jinja Shinpō had an article about Seki Semimaru Jinja, a jinja in Shiga Prefecture, on the shore of Lake Biwa. There are two sanctuaries, an upper and a lower, and the main kami is Semimaru. Semimaru is a famous, and semi-legendary, early poet, and some legends say that he was blind but recovered his sight, so the jinja is connected to the arts and to eye conditions. One of Semimaru’s poems is in the Hyakunin Isshu, the collection of one hundred poems by one hundred… Read More »Seki Semimaru Jinja

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