Nihon Ryōiki

Nihon Ryōiki

The Nihon Ryōiki is a collection of myths written around 800 by a Buddhist monk called Kyōkai. It is not often mentioned in the context of Shinto, despite its age, because it is normally described as a collection of Buddhist “setsuwa”, or exemplary tales. And, “obviously”, if it is a collection of Buddhist stories, it can’t be of any relevance to Shinto. As I oh-so-subtly indicated by my use of scare quotes, I do not entirely agree. I have just…

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Paying Dues

Paying Dues

All jinja that are affiliated with Jinja Honchō have to pay annual dues. I am not sure how much they are, but they are significant, because Jinja Honchō has an annual budget of around ¥5 billion, which would make the average contribution per jinja about ¥60,000, or $600. Bear in mind that this includes tiny jinja out in rural areas with no income. The average contribution per priest is about ¥250,000, or about $2,500. When jinja are struck by a…

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Jinja and Depopulation

Jinja and Depopulation

One of the major social problems facing Japan at the moment is the depopulation of rural areas. In fact, the underlying problem is the depopulation of anywhere that isn’t greater Tokyo, but it is not yet a crisis for regional cities. In rural areas, however, there are villages where the average age is over seventy, and the youngest people are in their fifties. The general consensus is that almost all of those communities will vanish in the next couple of…

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Practical Pictograms

Practical Pictograms

Quite a bit of the work I do for Jinja Honchō is internal translations, and the most recent pamphlet I developed for them wasn’t put online, so I haven’t been able to introduce any of my work in detail for quite a while. However, I now have a chance. Jinja Honchō has prepared a set of pictograms for jinja to use to provide guidance to visitors about the jinja’s COVID-19 precautions. You can download them from the Jinja Honchō website….

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Musuhi

Musuhi

Every year, the publicity department at Jingū produces a magazine called “Musuhi”. This is a very lightweight publication, about sixteen pages, with a lot of colour photographs and nice images of Jingū. I will base this post on last year’s; this year’s has just been published, and was announced in last week’s Jinja Shinpō, which is why I decided to write about it even though I don’t have it yet. However, the content is broadly the same from year to…

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Matsuri Under COVID-19

Matsuri Under COVID-19

In this week’s Jinja Shinpō, there are a lot of articles about jinja and Shinto groups that have taken various steps to make sure that they can still hold a matsuri, while minimising the chances of spreading COVID-19. In some cases, it was very simple. Miyagiken Gogokoku Jinja simply reduced the number of people attending its annual memorial matsuri by 90%. (This is one of the regional jinja to the war dead, and thus holds a matsuri on August 15th,…

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Ōharaëkotoba and Izumo Yogoto on Amazon

Ōharaëkotoba and Izumo Yogoto on Amazon

I have just put two more of the past essays from my Patreon up for sale on Amazon. These essays cover two Shinto prayers, with transcriptions, translations, and basic commentary. These two prayers are not strictly norito, because they have slightly different functions, but they are, in terms of structure and vocabulary, important examples of how norito are written now, and were written in much earlier times. The Ōharaëkotoba is the most important purification prayer, and is still an important…

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Dissension in the Ranks

Dissension in the Ranks

“Calling on Jinja Shinpō and its Readers while Lamenting the Current State of Jinja Honchō” This is not the sort of title I expect to see on an article in Jinja Shinpō, and indeed the first sentence of the article says, basically, “I am not at all sure whether this article will be printed in Jinja Shinpō”. As I have mentioned before, Jinja Shinpō rarely publishes anything critical of the Shinto establishment, or even anything that might be awkward for…

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A Jinja in Animal Crossing

A Jinja in Animal Crossing

A few days ago, I wrote a post explaining that Kanda Myōjin is a rather unconventional jinja. A couple of days after that, I found that they have done something even less conventional. They have set up a festival inside Animal Crossing. The video is all in Japanese, but the visit to the sacred horse is cute, as is the little miko character’s attempt to pay her respects. Obviously, people will have to ask the publishers to add the proper…

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Out to Sea

Out to Sea

The Ieshima islands are a group of islands in the Seto Inland Sea, southwest of Himeji. The main island, also called Ieshima, has a jinja, called Ieshima Jinja, and towards the end of last month, the jinja held its main annual matsuri. Most years, this involves decorated boats, and appears to be something of a tourist attraction, but this year, of course, things had to be toned down and reduced in scale. The decorated boats were cancelled, as were other…

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