Last weekend, I went to Kinkazan Koganëyama Jinja in Miyagi Prefecture, as I have done every year since 2013.
I was welcomed the first time I went, because I had made a significant effort to get there despite continuing disruption to public transport after the earthquake.
However, after ten years, the relationship is quite different, in part because we all know what to expect of each other.
These visits bring home to me the importance of time in building relationships in Japan, and possibly particularly in Shinto. If you are interested in participating in Shinto deeply, you need to build a relationship with at least one jinja, and that takes years. (Maybe not ten of them, but several years at least.) This is, obviously, difficult if you live outside Japan and are not rich enough to visit every year. At the moment I am still working with Jinja Honchō to make it easier for people outside Japan to have their initial experiences of Shinto ceremonies and matsuri. Longer term and deeper relationships that build on those experiences would be good, but there is no easy way for people outside Japan to do it.
I hope I can find a way to enable that as well, but it will, naturally, take time…