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“The Jinja’s International Activities”

One of the authors of the “Komorëbi” (“Sunlight Through Leaves”) columns in Jinja Shinpō at the moment is Yamamoto Yukiko, the negi (senior priest) of Tsubaki Ōkami Yashiro in Mië Prefecture. Her column in the July 31st issue is entitled “The Jinja’s International Activities”, so I really have to write about it.

This is quite an important jinja, and has a lot more international activities than most. Revd Yamamoto opens the column with her memory of a Californian theological student spending four months at the jinja in 1970, when it was very rare to see (obvious) foreigners in rural areas. The jinja had been visited by scholars of Shinto before that, but this seems to have started a pattern; she says that, since then, the jinja has hosted a couple of foreign students every year for two or three weeks. (I have no idea how that works, and the column does not say.) The priests aim to promote Shinto’s tolerance internationally as a foundation for world peace.

She also talks about the jinja’s activities in the USA. She says that people connected with them in the US raised the topic of building a jinja, and in 1979, America Tsubaki Ōkami Yashiro began operations in California. However, the negi of that jinja, Revd Barrish, suddenly had to move to Florida to recover from illness, and so it was decided that the jinja would temporarily move to a jinja in Canada, to be with Revd Ann Evans, one of the directors of America Tsubaki Ōkami Yashiro. She reported that the chief priest, deputy chief priest, and senior priest of the jinja (presumably the Japanese one — the text is not explicit) had just returned to Japan after a tough three night, five day schedule, in which they were able to complete the matsuri. She attributes this to the guidance of Sarutahiko Ōkami, and expresses her gratitude.

I know that some readers of this blog were associated with America Tsubaki Ōkami Yashiro, and I thought that they would be interested to hear the Japanese perspective on recent events. I must admit, I had always thought that Revd Barrish was the chief priest of the American jinja, but that does not seem to have been the perception at Tsubaki Ōkami Yashiro.

This column is also a good example of why we shouldn’t let stereotypes govern our view of Shinto. It’s written by a female priest, about a jinja outside Japan and the importance of international activities in general. It is true that Tsubaki Ōkami Yashiro has been exceptionally committed to international activities, but it is important to be aware that such jinja do exist, and do matter.

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1 thought on ““The Jinja’s International Activities””

  1. You’re right, I am very interested in this topic. Thank you for the update. I hate to hear that Rev. Barrish is not doing well. I’ll be praying for his swift and full recovery. If any more information comes up, please keep us posted.

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