I wrote before about Amabië, a yōkai who became very popular as a ward against COVID-19 (and, given the low infection and death rates in Japan, maybe it worked…).
There was an interesting article in the November 1st Jinja Shinpō about Amabië in space. Literally.
A company in Tokyo that organises access to space for small groups or companies that want to do experiments is sending a package up to the International Space Station. Part of this package is a small (6 cm by 3 cm) aluminium panel with a picture of Amabië on it, which will be fixed to the outside of the Japanese experimental module. In this way, it will be able to exert its influence across the whole planet.
Before the launch, the company took the panel to Enoshima Jinja in Kanagawa Prefecture (not far from where I live) to have prayers said over it for a safe launch, and the end of the pandemic.
The schedule is to have it launched by the end of March next year (this Japanese fiscal year), and it will spend six months in space, along with the other experiments, before being returned to earth. The plan is to offer the panel to the jinja after it returns to earth, and it will, apparently, be displayed.
Having prayers for a safe journey said over something and then offering at the jinja in gratitude after a safe return is very traditional in Shinto. The adaptation to space travel is, of course, more recent, but this is not the first example. I think it is actually standard to have prayers done for Japanese rocket launches, although I do not have good sources to hand for that claim.
Shinto continues to adapt to changes in society.
When I try to briefly describe Shinto, I say that it is “the native religious tradition of Japan”. . . And some object to “of Japan” because they think it is more localised than that, or, in other cases, because they think it is part of a broader tradition that can be found in other countries.
—David Chart, _Explaining Shinto_
Or, _out_ of Japan, as the case may be . . .