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Author: David Chart

Cashless Offerings

Cashless Offerings

The advance of the cashless society, which is slower in Japan than many places but finally happening, poses a particular practical problem for jinja. When one visits a jinja to pay one’s respects to the kami, one is supposed to make an offering. On an ordinary visit, it would just be a few yen (a few cents), often five yen, throwing some small change into the offertory box. For a formal prayer, the offering must normally be at least ¥5,000,…

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Paying for the Daijōsai

Paying for the Daijōsai

The Daijōsai is a large-scale Shinto ceremony held to mark the accession of a new Tennō. It has over 1300 years of (interrupted) history, and, for the Shinto establishment, it is one of the most important of all Shinto ceremonies. Indeed, were you to ask a member of that establishment which ceremony was more important, the Daijōsai or the Grand Renewal of Jingū, I suspect they would find it difficult to answer. That’s not a political matter; the two ceremonies…

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Jinja Shinpō and Shinto Scandals

Jinja Shinpō and Shinto Scandals

In the 12th November issue, Jinja Shinpō ran an editorial about the trouble at Yasukuni, in which they explained their policy on such issues, and said something about their view of the Yasukuni problem. Both parts were very interesting. First, they said that, as a matter of policy, they avoid reporting the details of “dark and dirty events”. This was referred back to an event in the 1950s. While the editorial, naturally, avoided reporting the details, it did mention that…

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Preparing for the Daijōsai

Preparing for the Daijōsai

Japan will be getting a new Tennō at the beginning of May next year. There are, as might be expected, many ceremonies associated with this, but from the Shinto perspective the most important is the Daijōsai. This will be held next November, and I will almost certainly write an essay about it for my Patreon when it gets a bit closer. There are, however, many preparations needed for the ceremony, and Jinja Shinpō published an article about the first last…

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Trouble at Yasukuni

Trouble at Yasukuni

Recently, there has been trouble at Yasukuni Jinja, and the chief priest has had to resign. Jinja Shinpō reported it, but they were very coy, and only said that he had made “improper remarks” in an internal meeting at the jinja. So, obviously, I had to Google it to find out what he had said. It appears that he said that when the Tennō travels to distant places to honour the war dead, it pushes Yasukuni Jinja further out of…

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Maintaining Matsuri

Maintaining Matsuri

Matsuri can be difficult to maintain. Unlike buildings, which will stand there for at least a few years even if no-one does anything to look after them, a matsuri needs people to perform it. Those people need to know how to perform it, and need to have the necessary items. Naturally, this makes more elaborate matsuri more difficult to preserve, as there are more things to learn, and more items to prepare and maintain. On the other hand, a more…

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Imperial Offerings

Imperial Offerings

The Tennō often visits different areas of Japan, to open major events, or see the victims of natural disasters. This is a major part of his job. When he visits a prefecture in Japan, he almost always sends offerings to certain jinja, the ones that received state offerings before the end of the war, in each prefecture. These offerings are not widely reported, but Jinja Shinpō always has a detailed account. The word used to describe them strongly suggests that…

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Meiji Jinja Policy

Meiji Jinja Policy

Jinja Shinpō is currently running a series of articles on important Shinto figures of the Meiji period. This has included people who are very famous generally, such as Meiji Tennō, and also people who are almost unknown even within Shinto circles now, but were important at the time. (They are up to eighteen without covering any women, as far as I recall, but this is no cause for surprise; the Meiji government was not keen on important women.) Last week,…

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Scandal! Scandal! Read All About It!

Scandal! Scandal! Read All About It!

In the shadows of the jinja precincts, the chief priest’s brother lies in wait, katana gripped in his hand. The rage and resentment that has festered ever since he was forced to resign almost boils over, and he glances at his wife, the woman he met in the city’s pleasure quarter. Her katana catches the light for a moment. The chief priest arrives, and the two of them leap from the shadows. In moments, the priest lies bleeding to death…

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Meiji Tennō and Jingū

Meiji Tennō and Jingū

Jingū at Isë is one of the most important jinja in Shinto, and is actually a complex of 125 jinja. Of these, two are of central importance: Kōtajingū, generally known as the Naikū, or Inner Sanctuary, which enshrines Amaterasu Ōmikami, and Toyoükë Daijingū, known as the Gekū, or outer sanctuary, which enshrines Toyoükë Ōmikami, a kami of food and daily life who serves Amaterasu Ōmikami. Most of the matsuri at Jingū are actually performed at the Gekū, and although the…

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