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David Chart

Mitama Matsuri

Every summer, Yasukuni Jinja holds a festival called “Mitama Matsuri”. This is one of the most important events in their annual calendar, and a popular summer event in Tokyo; it was reported on the front page of the July 25th issue of Jinja Shinpō. Paper lanterns are hung up throughout the precincts, and there are performances of various kinds — this year, they included a performance of a traditional form of kagura (sacred dance) from Iwatë Prefecture. In years without a pandemic, there are also food and entertainment stands, and… Read More »Mitama Matsuri

The National Council of Female Shinto Priests

As I have mentioned before, Jinja Shinpō has a weekly column called “Komorëbi”, “Sunlight Through Leaves”, which is written by eight or so people who take turns, and take on the task for two years. (Thus, they write a dozen columns each, roughly speaking.) The two year cycle has recently restarted, so people are publishing their first columns. As far as I can recall, there has always been at least one woman among the authors for as long as I have been reading Jinja Shinpō (which is about ten years… Read More »The National Council of Female Shinto Priests

Disputed Presidency

The 1st August issue of Jinja Shinpō carried a couple of articles about the dispute over the presidency of Jinja Honchō. The first reported some legal moves. It seems that Revd Ashihara, the director who was appointed president by the chairman, applied to the Tokyo Legal Affairs Office to record the change of president of Jinja Honchō from Revd Tanaka to himself. (This is a standard procedure, and my understanding is that it is necessary when certain officers of a religious corporation change.) He did this on March 6th. When… Read More »Disputed Presidency

The Chief Priests of Jingū

Jingū, at Isë, is unique among contemporary jinja, at least as far as I know, in having two chief priests. These are called the Dai Gūji (“Great Chief Priest”) and Shō Gūji (“Small Chief Priest”). Both of these people are frequently mentioned in Jinja Shinpō, and as far as I can tell, the distinction between them is as follows. The Shō Gūji is a career priest, and normally someone who has served as a priest at Jingū for years. He (always he) is normally at Jingū, and fills the role… Read More »The Chief Priests of Jingū

Mt Nantai

In the July 4th issue of Jinja Shinpō, there was an article about Nantai Jinja in Ibaraki Prefecture. The article was mainly about a ceremony performed to mark Mt Nantai being opened for mountain climbing after the winter (such ceremonies are fairly common), and the notes on the jinja and its kami at the end were interesting. The notes start by saying that Mt Nantai, because it is also visible from the Pacific Ocean, is venerated as a kami of farming and fishing. It then says that Nantai Jinja enshrines… Read More »Mt Nantai

Laws on Sacred Forests

There have been a couple of articles in Jinja Shinpō on the legal situation around sacred forests, written by a priest who is also a lawyer. (These articles were in the July 4th and July 11th issues.) The first article drew attention to the fact that sacred forests were declining, and that this was generally due to decisions taken by the jinja themselves. The sacred forests are, after all, private property, and so other bodies cannot normally cut them down. (There are occasional exceptions for government-mandated projects.) There are two… Read More »Laws on Sacred Forests

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