The February 5th issue of Jinja Shinpō had a substantial article on the back cover about the third Japan-Iran Religious Dialogue Meeting. The first one was held in 2019 under the auspices of the Iran Culture Centre of the Iranian embassy in Japan and Kōgakkan University in Isë. The second was supposed to be held in Tehran, but the pandemic interfered, and it was ultimately held online in 2022. At that meeting, the Japanese organiser asked Jinja Honchō to coordinate the Japanese side of future meetings, and they agreed.
The meeting itself was about architecture and religion, and there were several presentations from each side. However, the content of the meeting is not the most interesting thing in this case.
There was a photograph at the top of the page. You know you have a gender balance problem when the Iranian delegation includes more women than yours.
More generally, it is important to remember that Japan has significantly better relations with Iran than western countries do, and this has been true since the foundation of the Islamic Republic. This does occasionally lead to friction with the US. That means that this is not a terribly controversial thing for Jinja Honchō to do. In general terms, I think religious dialogue with countries like Iran is a good thing. I am not sure whether it helps to improve conditions there, but cutting off all contact does not seem to, and the dialogue is a good thing in itself. And maybe it will help improve conditions here — maybe Jinja Honchō will think “If Iran thinks it is important to include at least one woman in the delegation, perhaps we should, too”.
Also interesting was the photograph at the end of the article. The Iranian delegation visited two jinja to pay their respects, and there was a photograph of the man who looked like the head of the Iranian delegation (he had special headgear, and was sitting in the middle at the meeting) holding a tamagushi to offer it at Meiji Jingū. This is reported without comment, which is itself the interesting point. The second jinja they visited was Yasukuni Jinja.
It is good to see Jinja Honchō actively engaging in international dialogue, and I hope that we will see this broadening further in the future.