I have written a work of Shinto-based fiction: Tamao. It’s an urban fantasy, and the blurb is as follows:
Akiko Tanahata liked her normal life in Japan, with a clerical job and a serious boyfriend. Shinto shrines were just places to visit at New Year. But that all changed when she sought shelter from a sudden downpour, and found herself in an impossible space, confronted by a great serpent. Now the serpent will not leave her alone, and she can see the pollution that is slowly corrupting Kawasaki. As her normal life is taken apart by forces beyond her control, Akiko must learn about the kami, and take control of her own future if she is to save her city.
The Kindle version is now available for pre-order on Amazon, and it will be released on November 23rd. If you pre-order, you will apparently get the book delivered to you automatically on that day.
There will also be a paperback version, which should be available at the same time — I’m waiting for the proofs. Despite the claim on Amazon’s page at the moment that the printed version is 826 pages, it’s actually only 576. That does mean that there won’t be a hardcover version, because Amazon can only get up to 550 pages for hardbacks. The paperback will be $24.99, because the printing costs are quite high. (With print-on-demand, there are no reductions for large print runs.) I do not think it is possible to make the paperback available for pre-order; if I am right about that, I will activate it on the 23rd, so it will probably be available shortly after the Kindle version.
Pre-orders are apparently good for the algorithm on Amazon, so if you are interested, I would appreciate it.
The release date is a national holiday in Japan, “Thanks for People Overworking Themselves Day”. (That is not the official translation…) However, it is on the day that is now the day for the niinamësai, the ceremony in which the new grains are offered to the kami with thanks for the products of that year. This is one of the oldest recorded ceremonies in Shinto, and was mentioned in the Hitachi Fudoki. The original date was the second day of the rabbit in the eleventh month of the luni-solar calendar, and so it happened near the winter solstice. When the Meiji government changed to the Gregorian calendar in 1873, it was moved to the eleventh month of that, November. In the first year, it was performed on the second day of the rabbit, but after that it was kept on the 23rd, the day that happened to be the second day of the rabbit in November in 1873. I chose this date as a significant date on which to release a Shinto-related book.
It’s not strictly part of Mimusubi, because it is fiction, but I hope that people who are interested in Mimusubi might also be interested in it.
David san, I look forward to reading and learning the ancient justice of a Shinto Kami served through a modern times deshi with their own personal lives to deal with at the same time, she sounds like a “chosen one” character, making for a captivating read. I’ve a hypothetical question in regard to writing a non-fiction book based on a shrine Kami, or any of the Kamis in the Shinto pantheon,and Kojiki. But to honor and respect the narration subject Kami, is it necessary to have that particular Kami’s permission to do so basically? I ask this because of accounts I’ve known of Kami major deity encounters inside and outside of Japan, and to those who have no involvement with Shinto and/or have never visited a shrine.Also I ask in the light of bad contemporary Kami fiction that for commercial interests, disrespects the Kami. Although as I’m gaigin, this may well be a moot question. Your awesome work much appreciated.
I am not entirely sure that I have correctly grasped the details of your question, so my apologies in advance if my reply slightly misses the point.
I have said before that I don’t think anyone is in a position to tell anyone else how they should practise or make use of Shinto, and that also applies to fiction. Certainly, given the amount of bad contemporary kami fiction in Japan, there are no grounds for Japanese people to criticise foreigners, as such, for writing it. Obviously, you are allowed to criticise a book for being aesthetically bad, but I don’t think you can say “you shouldn’t write about the kami”.
When it comes to my position about my writing, I can have stronger opinions. Tamao is a fictional kami, and one of the reasons for that is that I am not entirely comfortable making real kami into fictional characters. This is independent of the sense in which they are real; there are people who revere the Hachiman kami, for example, and writing a fictional version of the kami feels somewhat disrespectful to them, even if the kami themselves are not the sort of thing that could mind.
Anyway, this is a very interesting question, which probably deserves its own blog post. Thank you for asking it; you may hear more later on.
Arigato,I could not have said it better myself in your respect and honor of the narration Kami,whether fiction or non-fiction.Honestly I believe if a non-fiction book of a Kami were to be written,with or without permission of the particular Kami,that book then must show in way a honorable Kami, to do otherwise dishonors the Kami, and yes, may incur the wrath of the Kami.The gaigin perspective has more to do with Japanese reader acceptance of Kami literature prose by Amerikans,but literature prose not necessarily aimed at a Japanese market.Perhaps I err at this,but besides the entertainment value,I do find it difficult to see how Japanese readers could ever believe a gaigin writer could know of anything of Kamis, though I know of accounts of Inari kitsunis, Japanese onis, kappas, and major deity appearances in America,all in themselves great prose subjects.Truly, I believe the Kamis themselves know of your fine work. Blessings.