A while back, I mentioned that I had written an introductory booklet on jinja for Jinja Honchō. Unfortunately, it is only available at jinja, which meant it was inaccessible to most people reading this blog, particularly over the last couple of years.
However, as part of a revision of Jinja Honchō’s English-language webpages, much of it has now been put online. It has been revised to be web pages rather than a PDF, but most of the content from the booklet is here, along with most of the illustrations.
There is an interesting story about the illustrations. I specifically made sure that the foreign visitors were not all white westerners, because most foreign tourists in Japan are from Asia. When the web pages were being prepared, someone in Jinja Honchō asked why there weren’t any white people. I was a bit puzzled, and pointed out that the man offering a tamagushi was white.
Apparently, he was perceived as Japanese.
So, this is probably why white people in Japanese illustrations almost always have blonde hair and blue eyes — if they don’t, they are not seen as white people.