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“Tales of Sacred Forests”: Shōri Daimyōjin

Jinja Honchō has put the English version of the next video in the “Tales of Sacred Forests” series online.

This is the last one I have done, so there won’t be any more for a while now. My understanding is that the series will continue, but I don’t know the details, and those are the sorts of plans that change.

This is an interesting jinja. As you can see, it is very small, it is built on an ancient tomb, and the identity of the enshrined kami is not entirely clear. This is not the sort of jinja that would normally be discussed as a typical example, although it is not, in fact, that unusual. As I have mentioned before, the identity of the kami of rural jinja is not always clear, and there are a significant number of jinja that are associated with ancient tombs (from the third to sixth centuries, roughly). The argument that this is a remnant of ancestor worship is initially very plausible. The jinja and matsuri are clearly important to the community, and this is common.

The link to soldiers in the war is also common, as jinja were a central part of the state’s propaganda mechanism in that period. Much like the prayers held for departing soldiers in churches in the UK or US, in fact.

(When I watched this video, I instantly spotted a typo in the subtitles. They’re hardcoded, so they can’t be changed. Oh well — it’s not a particularly bad typo.)

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4 thoughts on ““Tales of Sacred Forests”: Shōri Daimyōjin”

    1. I think they would probably have said. Also, Bishamonten is generally regarded as Buddhist, so the kami may have been Bishamonten in the Edo period, and then lost that identification at the Meiji Revolution. The identity of kami is often a very difficult problem.

  1. Thank you for sharing this video!
    I found it quite interesting, both to see the small, rather rural jinja and how they handled the matsuri during Covid.
    It was also interesting to see the transfer of the kami. I somehow would have expected that part of the matsuri not to be open to the public.

    1. Glad you enjoyed it! The transfer of the kami is normally supposed to be hidden, but people are almost always present for the ceremony, because it is happening as part of an important event. Things are arranged so that the sacred object itself cannot be seen, often with portable curtains. This is a very simple version, but note that the transfer is filmed from behind the priest, so that his whole body is blocking the camera’s view.

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