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Author: David Chart

Online Matsuri

Online Matsuri

As I have mentioned in the past, Jinja Honchō is generally extremely cautious about having any sort of online matsuri. However, the fact that COVID-19 has made it extremely unwise to hold many important matsuri in their normal forms, with large crowds of people, has led a number of important jinja to stream matsuri and other events online, so that people can maintain their connection to the jinja. In some cases, the priests introducing the live streams even ask people…

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Kami of Sport

Kami of Sport

A while back, I wrote about an opinion piece in Jinja Shinpō that suggested that the jinja enshrining the war dead could move their focus to sport, since many of the kami enshrined there were sportsmen while they were alive. I also said that I thought this was a very positive idea. The other day, I read this year’s issue of Mahoroba, a glossy free magazine put out once a year by Jinja Honchō to publicise Shinto and Jinja. (Jingū…

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Floods

Floods

From the beginning of this month, there has been serious flooding across a wide area in Japan. Kyushu, in the southwest, has been the hardest hit, but there has been serious flooding as far east and north as Nagano Prefecture, not too far from Tokyo. This was caused by the rainy season front, not a typhoon, and so the rain continued for about a week, from the 3rd to the 10th. Over the course of that week, some places had…

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Presidential Address

Presidential Address

Twice a year, the highest body of Jinja Honchō, the Hyōgi’inkai, meets to approve the budget and rule changes that have been prepared by the directors. Normally, they also make a few proposals of their own. As the Hyōgi’inkai is over a hundred people, it normally functions as a rubber stamp, and that is even more true this year, when the meeting was held remotely and most of the members were not even consulted. One feature that was preserved was…

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Straw Men

Straw Men

As it looks like Japan is heading into the second wave of COVID-19 infections, Jinja Shinpō is continuing to report the activities of various jinja. There were two interesting articles, with a common thread (straw men!) in the latest issue. The first was about Kashima Jingū, an important jinja in Ibaraki Prefecture, a short distance to the northeast of Tokyo. The jinja displayed ten “Ōsukë” figures in its precincts in June. These are simple human figures made of straw, with…

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Uniformity of Matsuri

Uniformity of Matsuri

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post about a booklet of instructions for matsuri that Jinja Honchō had prepared for sōdai across the country. One of my readers asked a very reasonable question: given that matsuri vary a lot from place to place across Japan, is it actually possible to provide instructions that apply to everyone? The short answer to this question is “yes”, but things are a bit more complex than that suggests. While it is true…

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The Gion Goryōë

The Gion Goryōë

The Gion Matsuri is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, matsuri in contemporary Shinto. It takes place every summer in Kyoto, with massive processions of decorated floats, called Yamaboko, and also involves processions of mikoshi. The float processions are thought to symbolically purify the city before the mikoshi, carrying the kami, also process, and the procession of the kami is thought to increase their power before the final ritual that closes the week of ceremonies. It is one…

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Daijōsai Essays Available

Daijōsai Essays Available

The two essays I wrote about the Daijōsai for my Patreon are now available from Amazon. The Daijōsai is a ritual performed by a new Tennō soon after his accession, and it is performed in special halls that are built for the rite, and demolished immediately afterwards. It has traditionally been described as a secret rite, but it is not clear how much of it is actually secret now. These two essays cover what we know about how the rite…

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Principles of a Life Honouring the Kami

Principles of a Life Honouring the Kami

In 1956, to mark the tenth anniversary of the establishment of Jinja Honchō, the organisation created and adopted a text that laid out the fundamentals of Jinja Shinto as a religion. My translation is as follows. Principles of a Life Honouring the Kami The way of the kami (Shinto) is the great way of the eternal heavens and earth, cultivating a noble spirit and serving as the foundation for the creation of peace and harmony. We fulfil our duties by…

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Jinja Leaving Honchō

Jinja Leaving Honchō

In the last couple of weeks it has been reported, both in Jinja Shinpō and in the general media, that a jinja in Kagawa Prefecture, on the island of Shikoku, Kotohiragū, has started the process of leaving Jinja Honchō. This is a big story, so I will try to briefly explain its significance. First, Kotohiragū is an important jinja. It is the central jinja for the Konpira tradition, which has jinja across Japan, and is especially associated with travel. Originally,…

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