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Through A Narrow Gate

The April 17th issue of Jinja Shinpō contained a short article about Kitano Tenjinja in Kōnan, Aichi Prefecture. As a jinja that enshrines Tenjin-sama, the jinja is popular with students taking entrance exams, and trying to get into selective schools and universities. In Japanese, this is referred to as “passing through a narrow gate”.

At this jinja, there is a stone torii, with a shimënawa attached. So far, so normal. The gate space in this torii, however, is about 50 cm tall and about 40 cm wide. Even Japanese people have to duck to get through it. (Look, I’m irritated at having to duck to get through all the doors in my home, OK?) According to the article, students write the name of their target school on an ema, and then crawl through the torii holding the ema, as their family look on.

This article on the Chūnichi Shinbun website has a photograph and short video.

This torii was set up about thirty years ago, to celebrate the Jōkō’s accession as Tennō, and the season for such prayers was in January. So why was there an article in that issue?

Personally, I think the reporter went to the jinja for some reason, thought it was cool, and decided to write an article about it. That’s roughly why I wrote this blog post, after all.

I have a Patreon, where people join as paid members to receive an in-depth essay on some aspect of Shinto every month, or as free members to receive notifications of updates to this blog. If that sounds interesting to you, please take a look.

1 thought on “Through A Narrow Gate”

  1. There’s a jinja for backpain. I forget the name but you crawl under a torii about a foot tall. It’s a good back stretch probably.

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