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Multi-Jinja Pilgrimages

Continuing the theme of jinja tours, there have been several articles in Jinja Shinpō recently about groups of jinja getting together to create programs on which people visit all of them, acquiring something at each jinja so that you complete a set if you go all the way around. These are normally generated by the priests themselves, sometimes with external help.

In the June 10th issue, there was an article about three jinja in Hamamatsu, in Shizuoka Prefecture, that have got together to offer magatama (curved jewel) omamori based on the “Sanja Takusen”. The “Sanja Takusen” could be translated as “Three Jinja Oracle”, and it was very popular in pre-modern Japan. It often took the form of a hanging scroll with images of the three kami (Amaterasu Ōmikami, Hachiman Ōkami, and Kasuga Ōkami), and written oracles associating them with honesty, purity, and compassion (respectively). These three jinja offer an omamori each, with the word for the appropriate virtue on, and there is a round case into which you can insert all three to create a unified omamori.

The June 17th issue had a couple of articles about Yamatohimë, the imperial princess who founded Jingū at Isë after taking Amaterasu Ōmikami on a tour of central Japan, looking for an appropriate location for her veneration. One was about a seminar, but the other was about a special goshuinchō, produced with cooperation from Toyota, which takes you around several of the locations where Yamatohimë temporarily venerated Amaterasu Ōmikami while on her way to Isë. There is apparently quite a lot of detail about the various jinja, as well as a route map — this is not just an ordinary goshuinchō. It seems that you do, however, collect the jinja’s standard goshuin.

Finally, the June 24th issue had an article about young priests at eight jinja in Nagano Prefecture who have cooperated to create a reason to visit all of their jinja. This is the third time they have done this (the projects run for a limited term), and this year they have a special sheet of paper and stamps (not, it seems goshuin) for each jinja. If you fill it, you get a commemorative item, and a specially made gohei. Each jinja also offers a sort of ema, which comes in two parts. You write your prayer on one, and leave it at the jinja, and take the other one home for veneration on your kamidana, or near the entrance to your house. If you get all eight, the pictures on the ones you take home connect to each other, and they can be put together into a small eight-panel screen. In this case, there doesn’t appear to be any connection between the jinja themselves — indeed, one has dropped out and another joined since last year. (The priests are unlikely to be full time, so one may well have just been too busy at work to do it this time.)

These sorts of projects seem to be increasingly common. By that, I mean that I have the impression that Jinja Shinpō is reporting on more of them now than it did ten years ago. I don’t have any statistics to back that up (PhD project! With a built-in excuse to go to lots and lots of pretty rural places in Japan!), but it would make sense. If anything, Japanese people love these “go around places to collect the set” activities even more than people in other countries. Thus, having the activity might get people who would not have visited even one jinja to visit all of them.

A lot of priests are making positive efforts to help their jinja survive in the modern world, and I hope they are successful.

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1 thought on “Multi-Jinja Pilgrimages”

  1. Interesting, I think this is a fun idea to encourage people to visit. I’ve also done a multi-Jinja pilgrimage on purpose when I visited Ise Jingu and Ise city, I purposely visited as many Jinja as I could as I walked from Ise City station to Ise Jingu (although the walk was a few km), and then took a bus to Futamiokitama Jinja. So I think there’s people who will like it, myself included

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