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Author: David Chart

Matsuri in China

Matsuri in China

The latest Jinja Shinpō has an interesting article about the performance of a matsuri in China. The matsuri was to mark the beginning of construction work on a ship, asking the kami for safety. It is probably no surprise to hear that the project was a joint venture between a Chinese company and a Japanese one, and that the initiative came from the Japanese partner. The priests were invited from a jinja in Shikoku, presumably due to a personal connection…

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State Support

State Support

The Daijōsai to be held in November as part of the accession of the new Tennō is one of the most important Shinto rituals, and thus of great interest to the Shinto world, and particularly to the Shinto establishment. I will almost certainly write an essay about it for my Patreon, but some smaller points that come up are good for blog entries. One that has come up before is the question of state support for it. As I mentioned…

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This Year’s Hatsumōdë

This Year’s Hatsumōdë

The most recent issue of Jinja Shinpō included a long article on hatsumōdë, and how it went at various jinja. This is a standard feature at this time of year. In the past, it focused on the larger jinja, but recently it has spent more time on jinja in regions that have suffered natural disasters recently, and on jinja that have some particular link to the year. This year, the first three days of the New Year saw good weather…

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Tamakazura Jinja

Tamakazura Jinja

Last week’s Jinja Shinpō had an article about the dedication of a new jinja, Tamakazura Jinja, in Nara Prefecture. This is interesting for a couple of reasons. The first is that it is the establishment of a completely new jinja. The kami was not transferred from another jinja, but rather called down directly to this site. This is unusual, but, as this event shows, it does still happen. It also seems to be uncontroversial, as the report in Jinja Shinpō…

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New Year Thoughts

New Year Thoughts

In January every year, Jinja Shinpō, the newspaper of the Shinto community in Japan, publishes a number of short articles giving people’s New Year thoughts. In order to write one of these, you must be a “Toshi Otoko” or “Toshi Onna”. “Toshi” means “year”, while “Otoko” is “man” and “Onna” is “woman”. A “Man/Woman of the Year” is anyone who was born with the same Chinese zodiacal animal as the current year. The editors reach out to senior priests at…

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Descent from the Kami

Descent from the Kami

The Tennō, the Emperor of Japan, claims descent from the kami of the sun, Amaterasu Ōmikami. The current Tennō does not put any emphasis on that claim, but the Shinto establishment does regard it as important. This is also fairly well known outside Japan. What is less well known is that this is not at all uncommon. The Sengë, the hereditary priests of Izumo Ōyashiro (also known as Izumo Taisha, in a different reading of the same characters), also claim…

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The “Shinto Establishment”

The “Shinto Establishment”

In these blog posts I sometimes refer to the “Shinto establishment”. In this post, I hope to explain why I do that, and what I mean by the phrase. Shinto has no prophets, no holy scriptures, and no creed. There are rough equivalents to these things, but they are only rough, and do not play the roles that these things play in Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam). One effect of this is that Shinto, as a whole, does not…

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Shinto and the Constitution

Shinto and the Constitution

One of the issues that the Shinto establishment has a strong opinion on is the revision of the Japanese constitution. They believe that it should be revised, as soon as possible, and are very actively engaged in campaigns to bring about that change. To understand their position, a bit of background on the current Japanese constitution is important. It was written, in English, by a handful of Americans over the course of a few days, translated into Japanese, and then…

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New Year Activities

New Year Activities

As I have mentioned before, Hatsumōdë is one of the most important times of year for most jinja, when many people visit and make offerings that are essential to their financial viability for the next year. It is natural, therefore, that many jinja try to think up ways to get more people to visit, and make more offerings. This can be as simple as advertising; large jinja near Tokyo take out advertisements on the underground trains, and smaller ones may…

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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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