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The Importance of Time

Last weekend, I went to Kinkazan Koganëyama Jinja in Miyagi Prefecture, as I have done every year since 2013.

The sun setting behind mountains on the mainland, with the strait visible beyond trees on the island in the foreground.

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.

Jinja buildings in a clearing among trees, with two bronze lanterns in front of the buildings.

However, after ten years, the relationship is quite different, in part because we all know what to expect of each other.

A path leading to steps down, which are not visible. Trees line the steps, and in the gap between them the blue sea and the mainland are just visible, under a blue sky.

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…

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2 thoughts on “The Importance of Time”

  1. I’d love to hear more about your efforts with Jinja Honcho regarding people outside Japan. Regardless, I’m very grateful for those efforts. I feel very lucky to have made contact with kannushi of Futahashira Jinja and received Ofuda from there. I reached out to many jinja but only this one corresponded (thankfully, it was the temple I felt most drawn to from the start). My plan for now is to continue with donations and practicing at home (thanks to you) then to go next year and again for their millennial celebration in 2026. But I really wish there was more I could do, and more ways I could engage.

    1. I will post about results with Jinja Honchō as they happen. Things are moving behind the scenes, but there is a lot of preparation needed before they are ready to support jinja that want to engage with people resident outside Japan. I have no idea how long it will take, unfortunately.

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