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The October 18th issue of Jinja Shinpō had a full-cover back page special on the opening of “The Sword Treasure Vault Kusanagi-Kan” at Atsuta Jingū in Nagoya. This was part of the jinja’s redevelopment to celebrate the accession of the new Tennō in 2019, and was the last part to be completed. It is a museum, displaying some of the swords that have been donated to the jinja over the centuries. The goshintai, the object housing the kami, at Atsuta Jingū is said to be Kusanagi no Mitsurugi, the sword in the Sacred Treasures of the Tennō, found by Susano’o in the tail of the great serpent Yamata-no-Orochi and presented to Amaterasu Ōmikami. Thus, a lot of people have offered swords over the years, and the jinja holds many that are National Treasures or Important Cultural Properties. It looks like the museum would be well worth a visit if you are interested in swords, and if you are interested in swords and Shinto it is probably a must-see, especially as Nagoya is an easy shinkansen trip from Tokyo. (You could do it in a day trip, although that would be tough, but it is on the route between Tokyo and Kyoto.) Obviously, Kusanagi no Mitsurugi is never on display, being the goshintai, but the other swords should be interesting. Admission is ¥500.

Two amusing points led me to write this post, however.

First, the MC at the opening ceremony was a former actress with the Takarazuka Revue: Kusanagi Kizuki. (She was one of the actresses who play male roles.) I had to look the reading of her name up online, and it seems that she has only just left the revue, and was born in Nagoya. That connection was probably significant, but I would bet that the main reason she was hired was her name.

The line between “kotodama” and “pun” is yet another thing that is not very clear in Shinto.

The other was the opening days of the museum. It is basically open every day, although it is closed from December 25th to 31st. (But, very unusually, open on January 1st — because the jinja precincts are full of people there for hatsumōdë.) But it is closed one day a month.

On the Tuesday before the last Thursday of the month.


2 thoughts on “Kusanagi-Kan”

  1. On the Tuesday before the last Thursday of the month.

    Off the top of my head, mebbe, this could be a variety of needing a regular day off that is late in the month, but at the same time a day that can not be the last day in the month. For one thing, from what I’ve been reading, quite a number of jinja will cite the first day of the month as a really good day to come in and say hullo to the kami. So instead, the jinja gets the late month regular day—Tuesday–but where at least a couple of days of the month can then always continue on after that.

    1. That is a good hypothesis. The idea that they are deliberately trying to avoid the last, or penultimate, days in the month (while the antepenultimate day would be fine) makes a lot of sense.

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