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Crowdfunding Trees

I have mentioned the use of crowdfunding in the Shinto community before, and in this post I am going to introduce one that is currently active. This is organised by Daini no Furusato Sōsei Kyōkai (Second Hometown Creation Group, although the official English translation is apparently “The Japanese Festival and Forest Association”), an organisation I have done quite a bit with — they organise the volunteers for Natsumoude at Asakusa Jinja, which I have done several times.

This crowdfunding is for replanting the sacred forest at a jinja in Iwatë Prefecture, in northeast Japan. The site is aimed at people in Japan, and they are not, I think, expecting to get any support from outside Japan, so I am not asking anyone to support this — I just want to talk about it as an interesting example.

The sacred forest needs to be replanted because the whole jinja, Shikariwakë Jinja, has recently moved. The jinja is over 1200 years old, and the forest at the original site included trees of about that age. It is apparently said to be the oldest jinja in Iwatë Prefecture, which could be true. However, it was on the banks of a river, the Kitakami River, which has started to flood more often as a result, probably, of climate change. The state decided that it needed the river banks in this area for flood prevention work, so the jinja had to move.

When the government forces jinja to move, it does pay compensation, as well as providing a new site, so the jinja has been able to build new sanctuaries and administrative buildings, which look quite impressive. It is actually possible that the jinja would have had serious trouble maintaining the buildings had it not been forced to move, given that it is in a (semi-)rural area.

However, the new site does not have a thousand-year-old forest. Indeed, it doesn’t have a forest at all. This crowdfunding aims to gather interest and funds to plant a new forest on the new site. Obviously, it will be some time before it is a thousand-year-old forest, but the sooner they get started, the better. The plan is to actually plant the first tranche of trees on June 30th, and the JFFA has enough money to pay for this year’s planting, no matter what happens with the crowdfunding.

I am contributing to the crowdfunding, and I also hope to be able to go to plant trees, although that will depend a bit on the precise arrangements for it. I may have more to report in the future, but for the moment this is just an example of what jinja are doing with crowdfunding. It is notable that the funding is not for a religious ceremony, and that it is not actually being run by the jinja itself — both of those features are probably significant.

There are a few other jinja-related crowdfundings on the same site at the moment, but I have no idea whether they are genuine. In this case, I know the organisation, and people, running it, but I think it might be difficult for such crowdfundings to reach much outside their circle of acquaintances. This is something else to watch.

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1 thought on “Crowdfunding Trees”

  1. I very much appreciate you sharing this! I wish donation opportunities like this were more readily available to people outside Japan, if at least to be aware of them. It took several weeks of correspondence and troubleshooting to setup donations to a jinja I want to support, and the few crowdfunding options I’ve been aware of were either not available to me or very complicated.

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