Focused Dissent and Deep Dissent

Focused Dissent and Deep Dissent

Jinja Shinpō is continuing to publish articles from individual priests criticising, or at least questioning, Jinja Honchō’s recent actions. At the end of September, they published two more. One, from a chief priest in Okayama Prefecture in western Japan, is focused on the recent problems over the sale of employee accommodation. He gives a summary of what he has picked up about the events, but notes that there has been no substantive statement from Jinja Honchō, and even Jinja Shinpō…

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Yōhai Gohei

Yōhai Gohei

The hatsumōdë jinja visit at the beginning of the new year is a firmly established tradition in contemporary Japan. Anywhere from dozens to millions of people descend on each jinja to pay their respects, receive ofuda to venerate in the new year, and provide the foundation for the jinja’s financial survival over the following year. This presents jinja with a major problem this time. They cannot afford to simply cancel hatsumōdë, in most cases; the income is vital to paying…

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Yakumo Koto

Yakumo Koto

A few weeks ago, Jinja Shinpō ran a pair of articles on the Yakumo Koto. This is a particular kind of koto, a stringed instrument with strings stretched over a long (1 metre or more) sounding board. The strings are plucked, and held at various points to make different notes. Koto have been associated with Shinto ritual since the earliest legends: a koto is used in a ritual described in the Nihonshoki. The Yakumo Koto does not go back that…

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Abë at Yasukuni

Abë at Yasukuni

According to the 28 September issue of Jinja Shinpō, Abë Shinzō, the former prime minister of Japan, visited Yasukuni Jinja on September 19th. This does not seem to have raised the same amount of international controversy as his previous visit, on December 26th 2013, possibly because he was not prime minister this time, having formally resigned on September 16th. It did still make the front page of Jinja Shinpō, however. I am raising it here, because I think this visit…

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Shinto Practice for Non-Japanese

Shinto Practice for Non-Japanese

I have made two more of the back numbers of the Patreon essays available on Amazon: Shinto Practice for Non-Japanese. (Note that the links to Amazon are affiliate links, which means that I may get money if you buy something else after clicking on them, as well as, obviously, getting royalties if you buy my book.) This includes the essay for last month. I’ve made it available this quickly because these essays address questions that get asked a lot: can…

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Further Dissension

Further Dissension

A few weeks ago, I wrote about an article published in Jinja Shinpō that was indirectly critical of the Shinto establishment, and wondered whether there would be any follow-up. There was. A couple of weeks ago, Jinja Shinpō carried two articles that were explicitly responding to that one. One of them was from a retired priest in his eighties, who lives in Yamaguchi Prefecture in western Japan. His main argument was that Shinto priests today weren’t as good as they…

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Umbrellas for All

Umbrellas for All

As regular readers of this blog will know, Jinja Shinpō has recently carried a lot of articles about jinja that have adapted their matsuri to COVID-19, with details about how they have done it. A couple of weeks ago, they published one that struck me as a particularly practical and interesting idea. The jinja in question, Nishinë Jinja in Fukushima City, seems to be fairly large (although I had never heard of it before — with 80,000 jinja in Japan,…

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Local Beer

Local Beer

A couple of weeks ago there was an interesting little article in Jinja Shinpō about a jinja that has been involved in the creation of a local craft beer. The jinja is Haijima Tenjinja, and it is in Akishima City, which is part of Tokyo Metropolitan Prefecture, right on the edge of the urban area in the west. (Tokyo Metropolitan Prefecture has a rural bit in the Tama region, to the northwest of the main urban area. Akishima is pretty…

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Guidelines for Jinja

Guidelines for Jinja

Two prefectural Jinjachō, Saitama and Osaka, have worked together, with support from Jinja Honchō and in consultation with an expert on infection prevention, to create a set of guidelines for jinja to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 while continuing their activities. This is described as “A New Form of Jinja Reverence”, and their slogan is “For Unchanged Prayers”. They have a logo for this, as well. The guidelines themselves are very practical, and largely what you would expect. For…

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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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