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 year, and towards the back of the magazine, I think they actually reprint the same material sometimes. So let’s start with that bit.

This is a six-page section. First, there is a single page explaining what Jingū Taima are; the magazine is supposed to be distributed as part of the process of encouraging people to receive ofuda from Jingū. Next, there is a page explaining how to venerate the ofuda on your kamidana. That is followed by a two-page spread about rites of passage, from a baby’s first visit to the local jinja, to marriage. Finally, there is another two-page spread describing the etiquette for visiting a jinja: how to purify your hands, how to pay your respects, and how to offer a tamagushi during a formal gokitō (prayer ceremony).

The pages before that, normally about eight pages, do change from year to year. There are a couple of articles on a theme. Last year it was the accession of the Tennō, and the ceremonies performed in that connection at Jingū, so there were photographs and a list of all the ceremonies connected to the accession, along with an article explaining the connection between the Tennō and Jingū. This year’s theme is “water”, which is still connected to the Tennō — it is the field in which the current Tennō does academic research.

Then there is an interview with a celebrity. This celebrity is normally a fairly young woman: the one interviewed last year was forty; this year’s interviewee is 21. They do not typically have a deep connection with Shinto or jinja, and just talk about how they like Shinto or jinja and how it is suited to them as a Japanese, or something like that.

I suspect that the interviewees are chosen to be people with whom the target audience can identify. Young women, in the 20–40 age range, do seem to be the group that shows most interest in Shinto and jinja, particularly through the so-called “powerspot boom”. Thus, the interviewees are, I think, chosen to be aspirational for those women, rather than to appeal to men. (My practical experience suggests that “famous enough so that people will have heard of them, but willing to do it for what we can afford to pay” is likely to be a very important factor in the final decision.)

The front cover is usually a nice photograph of some part of Jingū, with the natural environment visible. The default back cover is another picture of something at Jingū, with a list of phone numbers for all the prefectural Jinjachō, and websites for Jinja Honchō, Jingū, and Jinjashinpōsha, which actually produces the magazine. However, jinja that order at least 5,000 copies can have their own contact details printed at the bottom of the back cover (free of charge), while if they order at least 10,000 copies, they can have a custom back cover, although that also requires a ¥10,000 design fee. The magazine is ¥29 per copy, and the jinja has to pay shipping costs. However, the magazine is given away, rather than sold, because it is intended as publicity material rather than a source of income.

The title of the magazine, “Musuhi”, is derived from the same place as the name of this website. The ancient word for “generative, creative power” can be read as both “musuhi” and “musubi”, and the “musuhi” reading is thought to be older. I use the voiced “musubi” reading, because that is a pun on “knot”. I also hope to provide rather more substantial information about Shinto than a colourful publicity magazine.

I have a Patreon, where people subscribe to receive in-depth essays on various aspects of Shinto, about once per month. If that sounds interesting to you, please take a look.

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