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Togakushi Jinja

Today’s video is brought to you, indirectly, by the YouTube algorithm. It is longer than the ones I normally introduce, and was put online about two years ago by Togakushi Jinja.

Togakushi Jinja is, I think, the most important jinja about which I know nothing. Obviously, I am exaggerating slightly. I know that it was an extremely important centre for shugendō, the heavily Buddhism-influenced form of Shinto in which mountains played a crucial role. (Some people might describe shugendō as a Shinto-influenced form of Buddhism, and I can’t say that they are necessarily wrong.) It is still an important place today, and the cedar avenue that appears at around 12:30 is famous.

However, it almost never comes up in my reading, and I don’t know why. It could be that it is in the middle of nowhere in Nagano Prefecture, so that the people who write books about Shinto never get there. It is also possible that it is not affiliated with Jinja Honchō, so that it doesn’t get written about in Jinja Shinpō, although it could also just be that no-one at Togakushi Jinja bothers to write articles for them. [Edit: It is affiliated with Jinja Honchō — I remembered that I could check for important jinja. So it isn’t that.] Finally, it could just be chance. There are lots of important jinja in Japan, and Togakushi Jinja is not one that you must mention if you are writing about Shinto, so maybe the authors of most of the books I have read just decided not to mention it, but many of the books I have not read, do.

It is on my list of jinja that I would like to visit, but, as noted, it is in the middle of nowhere up in the mountains, and not easily accessible.

In any case, the video is beautiful.

11 thoughts on “Togakushi Jinja”

  1. Considering Jinja Honcho’s predecessor organization banned Shugendo, I would understand if they refused to join the Jinja Honcho like Izumo Oyashiro refuses.

    1. As noted in the update to the post, Togakushi Jinja is affiliated with Jinja Honchō, and is a Beppyō Jinja. So is Izumo Ōyashiro (or at least it was a few years ago, and I think I would have heard if it had left) — you are probably either thinking about Fushimi Inari Taisha, or Izumo Ōyashirokyō. The latter separated in the Meiji Period, when the chief priest of Izumo Ōyashiro objected to the government’s prohibition of religious activities for priests. Fushimi is a post-war thing, though.

      1. I WAS thinking of Izumo Oyashirokyo, thank you. I guess I just assumed they returned to running the Izumo Grand Shrine after the war and Shinto was privatized. I guess not. I know they have a jinja in Hawaii. What’s their presence in Japan like? Also, why did Fushimi Inari Taisha leave? Because their rituals are Shingon influenced?

        1. Izumo Ōyashirokyō have a presence in Japan, but my understanding is that, like all the old Sect Shinto groups, they are in serious decline. It is an area I will have to study in more detail eventually, but I haven’t had time yet.

          My understanding is that Fushimi Inari Taisha never joined Jinja Honchō, and that the reasons were theological. They objected to Jinja Honchō’s stance that Amaterasu Ōmikami was the best kami, when it was obvious that Inari was the best kami. However, most other Inari jinja are part of Jinja Honchō, so there may have been other, more personal or political, reasons as well.

          1. This is the second time I’ve heard something that greatly fascinated me about Fushimi Inari. The first is that Shigeru Miyamoto grew up near here, and felt a connection with Inari.

  2. However, it almost never comes up in my reading, and I don’t know why. . . . .

    I’m writing about Shinto; Here Is Shinto!!
    I’m writing about Shinto; Here Is Shinto!!
    I’m writing about Shin—Ooooohhh . . . . _this_ Jinja has been doing Shinto _And_ Buddhism and . . . Um . . Um . . . Oh, nevermind, I’m gonna write about a _different_ Jinja, and then keep going from there . . . .

  3. Thank you for the link to this restful and lovely video. I particularly like that the wood in the structures is left wood-coloured. I think that respects the location.

  4. Thanks for the video.

    I have been there as a tourist in autumn 2016, and it is a bit out of the way, but mostly because Nagano is a bit out of the way. It was quite easy to go there by bus from Nagano station and it really is this beautiful. A great day out if you ever get the chance.

    1. It might not quite be a practical day out if there’s a bus from Nagano station, but it does sound relatively easy. I will have to look into it. Thanks!

      1. We were in Nagano for a few days, so the bus was very convenient, and we had all the time we wanted to enjoy the scenery. It’s probably a very long day if you start from Tokyo.

        Let me also thank you for writing this blog. Now I wish I had known more about Shinto before my trips to Japan, but at least I will be better prepared next time.

        1. I’ve done Kinkasan as a day trip from Tokyo-ish, and there’s a shinkansen to Nagano, so it should be possible — but, as you say, a long day.

          Thank you for your kind words about the blog.

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