O-Sanpo Mairi

“O-Sanpo Mairi” means “visiting a jinja while taking a casual stroll”. An “o-sanpo” is a walk with no particular purpose, and so the whole phrase suggests visiting a jinja without any strong purpose, just as something pleasant to do. As this is basically what I do every day, I am in favour of the concept.

“O-Sanpo Mairi” is also the title of a campaign organised by one jinja in Tokyo, Irugi Jinja in Shinagawa. The jinja emphasises that going for a walk is a safe way to get out and get some exercise during the pandemic, and in its explanatory literature draws the link between losing spiritual energy and enthusiasm, which can be written with characters that can be read as “kegarë”, and the concept of ”kegarë” in Shinto. The idea is that, by visiting the jinja, you can refresh both your body and your mind, and break out of a dark mood.

The jinja also publicised the campaign on social media, and the chief priest is reported, in the July 5th issue of Jinja Shinpō, as saying that it had quite an impact. Such an impact, in fact, that Tokyo Jinjachō is looking at expanding the campaign to cover the whole of Tokyo. Now that it has been in Jinja Shinpō, it may well spread further around the country.

This idea is really a central part of Shinto. The idea that your spirit and energy get lost in daily life, and are restored by visiting a jinja and paying your respects to the kami, is one of the fundamental ideas behind Shinto practice. I think this idea has the potential to spread quite widely, even after the pandemic ends.

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