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Kabushima Jinja

I have written about Kabushima Jinja before. It is a jinja on the coast in Aomori Prefecture, in northern Japan, and its sanctuary and prayer hall burned down in a somewhat mysterious fire a few years ago. (I do not know much about it, but the impression I get is that people think it was probably arson, but that there is not enough evidence to be sure of the cause, much less pinpoint a culprit if there was one.) They have since been rebuilt, and this post was prompted by an article in Jinja Shinpō written by the head of the Parishioners’ Youth Association, as he is contributing a regular column.

Although “shima” means “island”, the jinja is now on a hill on the coast — I believe the hill used to be an island, but it is now linked to the mainland. The site is famous as a breeding site for seagulls, and twenty to thirty thousand birds gather there every year. It is designated as a national natural monument. (The photographs on the jinja website, which is entirely in Japanese, show the scene.) There are 92 steps up to the jinja, and the gulls nest on the steps, so if you visit in season, you can see them from really close up.

However, he mentioned, in the article, the problem that the seagulls also mess up the steps and railings, and that there is a risk that they will poo on you from a great height. Thus, the jinja provides plastic umbrellas at the entrance to the precincts, so that you can protect yourself from the “kegarë of high-flying birds”, as described in the Ōharaëkotoba, the great purification prayer.

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