Jinja: Heart of Japan

Jinja: Heart of Japan

The big project I was working on with Jinja Honchō has just been completed. The big project was a small booklet called “Jinja: Heart of Japan”. This is an English booklet, intended to introduce jinja and Shinto to foreign visitors. Long-time readers of this blog may spot a bit of overlap with the purpose of Mimusubi. The booklet itself is intended to be distributed at jinja and information centres for tourists, and is not, at the moment, available online to…

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Coming to Shinto

Coming to Shinto

One question I am often asked, and indeed was recently asked by one of my patrons on Patreon, is “What first prompted your interest in Shinto?”. This is a reasonable question. After all, when I was growing up in England, there was not much Shinto around. And, oddly, it is not that easy to answer. I have been interested in Japan for as long as I can remember. Indeed, I was interested in Japan before I knew I was interested…

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Matsuri for COVID-19

Matsuri for COVID-19

As COVID-19 continues to spread around the world, Jinja Honchō and jinja in Japan are responding. Jinja have closed their museums, had staff wear face masks, and put restrictions on activities. For example, Ōkunitama Jinja in Tokyo is, for the moment, not writing goshuin directly into people’s goshuin books, but rather handing out pieces of paper with the goshuin already on. This is, presumably, to avoid the risk of infection from the book, and also to discourage people from coming…

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Jinja Honchō and Covid-19

Jinja Honchō and Covid-19

This is a quick follow-up to my last post, because I have now read about Jinja Honchō’s official response to covid-19. This is broadly along the lines of the editorial in Jinja Shinpō, which is not surprising, as those editorials are written by people who are influential in the Shinto world, and thus tend to share opinions with the people making decisions at Jinja Honchō. (They are not, however, the same, and do occasionally disagree.) Most of the advice is…

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Jinja and Covid-19

Jinja and Covid-19

A couple of weeks ago, Jinja Shinpō ran an editorial about the way jinja were responding to Covid-19. The first thing mentioned was special matsuri at which priests were praying for a speedy end to the spread of the disease, and the writer noted that such prayers were the first duty of priests. It went on to discuss miko and priests wearing face masks and using hand sanitiser, and explaining this to visitors as not only for their own sake,…

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Necessary Supplies

Necessary Supplies

Shinto ceremonies need certain sorts of supplies. For example, rice is a central part of all offerings. A jinja that cannot get rice is going to have major problems performing standard matsuri. Fortunately, there is still no problem getting rice in Japan, and it is unlikely to become problematic in the near future. Other supplies are in a much worse situation. For example, sakaki, the evergreen tree whose branches are placed on kamidana beside the ofuda, and used to make…

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Training Centres

Training Centres

There are a number of ways to train for a Jinja Honchō priest’s license: there are courses at the two Shinto universities (Kokugakuin and Kōgakkan), there are intensive courses held across the country, and there are courses at six training centres. The courses at these training centres normally run for two years, and qualify you for Seikai, the middle rank of Shinto priests, and a sufficient qualification to be the chief priest of an ordinary jinja. However, at most of…

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Daijōsai Offerings

Daijōsai Offerings

I have now finished reading the Society of Shinto Studies journal special issue about the Daijōsai, and there were some points that struck me as particularly interesting. For the purposes of this blog post, I am going to assume that my readers know the broad outline of the Daijōsai, and of the debates over its origins and meaning — in short, I am going to assume that you have read my Patreon essays on the subject. If you haven’t, I’m…

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The Names of the Kami

The Names of the Kami

One of the problems with studying Shinto is the names of the kami. First, there are a lot of kami, and they tend to have long names. Masakatsuakatsukachihayahiamëno’oshihomimi no Mikoto, Amaterasu Ōmikami’s son and the mythical ancestor of the Tennō, is a good example. Simply remembering the names is tough to begin with. (Many kami have standard “short forms”; Masakatsuakatsukachihayahiamëno’oshihomimi no Mikoto is normally referred to as Oshihomimi.) Then there is the problem that many kami have multiple names. Amaterasu…

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New Patreon Essay

New Patreon Essay

My patrons on Patreon have just received the paid essay for January, about Miho Jinja. This is a jinja with over 1300 years of history, in the ancient province of Izumo (modern Shimanë Prefecture). The most distinctive thing about it is its matsuri. They are famous for, apparently, preserving a great deal of the ancient forms of local festivals. If you missed this one but want to get it, you can sign up to my Patreon for next month, and…

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