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Mimusubi in Jinja Shinpō

The February 12th issue of Jinja Shinpō includes an article about Mimusubi.

Admittedly, I wrote it, but they have printed it, and so now people in mainstream Shinto who carefully read Jinja Shinpō every week know about this website. It also mentions my tendency to rely on articles in the newspaper for content for the blog, so we can now safely assume that they are happy with that.

The article is about my efforts to make Shinto culture more widely known and accessible overseas, and talks about Mimusubi as the central pillar of those efforts.

As the framing for the article, I explain that I think that there are three steps in bringing Shinto to the rest of the world.

The first is making people aware of Shinto’s existence. Most people outside Japan have never even heard of it, and even if they have seen a jinja in anime, they probably think it’s Buddhist. Which is certainly not true now, however ambiguous things may have been in the past. In order to create awareness, Shinto must be visible, and draw attention, in something that people are interacting with for other reasons. This is one reason why I wrote Tamao, but as An Introduction to Shinto is selling better than the novel, Tamao has not done this job.

The second step is to make it easy for people who have heard of Shinto, and have a bit of interest in it, to learn more about it. This is the main function of Mimusubi.

The third step is to provide ways for people who have learned something about Shinto, and remained interested, to participate. That is something I hope to contribute to through my work at Jinja Honchō. I think I have contributed already, to some extent, but there is still a long way to go.

The biggest hurdle, however, is the first step. I am extremely limited in what I can do to help with that, because I do not have anything like the media presence it would require. I will keep trying things, but, in the end, I just have to wait for something to draw people’s interest and attention.

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.

4 thoughts on “Mimusubi in Jinja Shinpō”

  1. I’m deeply grateful for your efforts. I believe I would not be able to practice here in Southern California if it were not for the work you’ve done. Thank you. Please keep it up!

  2. As I see it, there are two problems. There are few shrines outside Japan, and there are also few priests willing to move to open a shrine. The few who do usually have to also have a day job as the donations aren’t really enough to support a full time priest (because there is no physical shrine building). Based on what I’ve seen, it takes around twenty years to have a shrine that is self funding.

    In addition, non-Japanese who might wish to become Shinto priests have a huge barrier and more or less need to be independently wealthy. Yes, there are a few who go to Japan work and become priests, but mostly they stay in Japan and work at Japanese shrines. We get this question fairly often but once they understand the hurdles, their interest in becoming a Shinto priest stops.

    My opinion is the first step would be for one or more of the larger shrines to recruit one or more of their priests who are willing to relocate and build a shrine. Perhaps they could do it the way Japanese corporations do: have a priest serve a five year overseas term and then be relocated back to Japan. That way the priest would not move permanently, and the problem of succession would be eliminated.

    1. Most jinja in Japan, with buildings and a firm grounding in the culture, do not get enough income to support a full-time priest, so it is hardly surprising that you get the same problem overseas. The number of jinja that could afford to subsidise a “branch jinja” overseas is small, and so I don’t know how much difference it would make if they did create a jinja — there are already three in continental North America, after all, and two have strong links to Japanese jinja.

      I think the first step is to make jinja in Japan more accessible to interest from overseas, at all levels.

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