Mimusubi™ offers English-language information about Shinto, the native religious tradition of Japan. At present, it consists of this website and a Patreon, and it is a one-person project.
I am David Chart. I was born in the UK, but I have lived in Japan for over fifteen years, and I am a naturalised Japanese citizen, with a Japanese wife and daughter. I have been interested in Shinto since before I arrived in Japan, and I have been studying it seriously since I became able to read Japanese well enough to make that possible, some time in 2004. In 2014, I passed the highest level of the Jinja Kentei, an examination on Shinto offered to lay people by Jinja Honchō, the most important (and, on most measures, the largest) Shinto organisation in Japan. 2014 was the first year in which that level of the exam was held; in total around 600 people had passed it as of the end of 2018. Since July 2018, I have been retained by Jinja Honchō on a consultancy contract to help with their outreach to an English-speaking audience. Mimusubi, however, is a personal project, and is in no way endorsed by, or representative of, Jinja Honchō. Indeed, if you read the posts here you will find several where I discuss points on which I disagree with Jinja Honchō.
The short articles on this website reflect my personal opinions about Shinto; while I make every effort to be accurate, I am not trying to be, in any way, objective. The essays released through the Patreon are different. They are longer (each essay is about ten times the length of an article on the website), and I try to present the reality of Shinto in a fairly neutral manner. It is impossible to be completely objective, because I have to draw conclusions from the evidence, but I try to keep my opinions and evaluations to a minimum.
My writings are overwhelmingly concerned with what is known as “Jinja Shinto”, which could be described as “mainstream Shinto”. This is the version of Shinto that almost all Japanese participate in to some extent. It is clearly part of a continuous tradition going back at least 1700 years (at which point the archaeological evidence becomes harder to interpret), but it is not the only form of Shinto practised today, nor is it clearly a more faithful inheritor of the tradition than some of the other forms — albeit no less faithful, either. (Some of the other forms are clearly different from the tradition, but then one feature of the Shinto tradition is that it includes many different practices.) One distinctive feature of Jinja Shinto is that it is not sure whether it is really a religion, or rather a cultural practice. This is something that priests openly debate, and over which there are differences of opinion. This means that I do not cover clearly “religious” topics as much as might be expected.
I am not writing to convert anyone to Shinto, in large part because that is not an idea that really makes any sense. I would be delighted if readers of Mimusubi decided to come to Japan to visit jinja, because part of my job with Jinja Honchō is to encourage exactly that. For the most part, though, I aim to provide reliable information on an interesting and important living religious tradition.