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Author: David Chart

Gokoku Jinja

Gokoku Jinja

Pretty much anyone who knows anything about Japan has heard of Yasukuni Jinja, the jinja in Tokyo enshrining Japan’s war dead, even if they know nothing about Shinto. The Gokoku Jinja, which also enshrine the war dead, are much less well known. “Gokoku Jinja” means “Country Protecting Jinja”, and these jinja were set up by the government of Japan before the war. The idea of enshrining people who had died fighting for the Tennō first appeared among the people pushing…

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Red Torii

Red Torii

Almost all jinja have a torii to mark the entrance, a simple gateway with two vertical pillars, one either side, and two lintels across the top. There are a number of variations in the design, but in this post I want to focus on the colour. A lot of torii are red, but not all. Why? Now, at first sight it might not seem that you really need an explanation for this. Some torii are painted red, and others are…

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New Patreon Essay: Izumo Yogoto

New Patreon Essay: Izumo Yogoto

I have just sent all my patrons (from my Patreon) the links to December’s essay, about the Izumo Yogoto. This is an ancient norito, which was recited by a new chief priest of Izumo Ōyashiro to the Tennō on his (the priest’s) accession to the role. It was important enough to be recorded in the Engishiki, a compilation of the details of the implementation of the law made in the tenth century that is an extremely important source for the…

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The Tombs of the Tennō

The Tombs of the Tennō

Tennō die, and are buried. Their tombs are important in Shinto practice, and are under the control of the Imperial Household Agency. In myth, the first Tennō, Jinmu, became Tennō in 660 BC, and the current Tennō is the 126th. All of these Tennō (apart from the 125th and 126th, who are not yet dead) have official tombs, and most of these tombs are fairly large mausolea, or tumulus earth mound graves. In some cases, there is no doubt that…

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Society of Shinto Studies Meeting

Society of Shinto Studies Meeting

This weekend, I went to half of the annual meeting of the Society of Shinto Studies. Unfortunately, it was being held over the weekend, and I have to work on Saturdays, so I could only attend the Sunday. Sunday was the day for individual research presentations, and there were four parallel sessions; obviously, I could only attend one. There were five presentations in the session I attended, and they were all interesting. The first presentation was about Shinto and the…

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“Second Hometown”

“Second Hometown”

This week’s Jinja Shinpō included an article about “Dai Ni no Furusato Sōsei Kyōkai”, “Second Hometown Creation Group”, an organisation of volunteers that has recently started up, based at a jinja in Tokyo. (They have a web page, but it is entirely in Japanese.) The group plans to engage in two kinds of activity. The first is sending small groups of volunteers to help out at matsuri, and the other is to plant new woodlands, based on the sacred woodlands…

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Kinkasan Koganëyama Jinja

Kinkasan Koganëyama Jinja

Over the weekend, I visited Kinkasan Koganëyama Jinja again. This is a jinja on an island off the coast of Miyagi Prefecture in northeastern Japan, and the closest land in Japan to the epicentre of the 2011 earthquake. I first visited in 2013, and I have been at least once every year since, so I have seen the progress of the rebuilding, and I have talked about it on the blog before. The jinja is interesting in several ways. One…

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The Daijōkyū

The Daijōkyū

Today it was cold and raining heavily, and I went to see the Daijōkyū. The Daijōkyū is the complex of buildings in which the Daijōsai is held; it is built specially for the ceremony, and demolished again soon afterwards. However, for a few weeks it is possible for anyone who happens to be in Tokyo to go to see it. The Daijōkyū was first opened yesterday, when it had, according to the news, 20,000 visitors. One advantage of going in…

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Too Sacred To Hear

Too Sacred To Hear

There are many ceremonies connected to the accession of a new Tennō, and last week’s Daijōsai is the most important Shinto ritual among them. The whole series is concluded with a performance of kagura, sacred music and dance, before the Kashikodokoro, where Amaterasu Ōmikami is enshrined within the Imperial palace. This time, the kagura will be offered in December, over the course of about six hours, starting around sunset. Jinja Shinpō carried a couple of articles about this on the…

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