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David Chart

Tsurugaoka Hachimangū Departure

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, Tsurugaoka Hachimangū, a very large jinja in Kanagawa Prefecture, suddenly announced that it was withdrawing from Jinja Honchō. At that point, the motives were unclear. The July 1st issue of Jinja Shinpō contained a report of a press conference held by the chief priest on June 20th, at which he gave his reasons. These refer to the current problems within Jinja Honchō, in particular the dispute between the president and the chairman, and align him firmly with the chairman. He said that Jinja… Read More »Tsurugaoka Hachimangū Departure

Natsumoude 2024

As I mentioned last week, I volunteered at Asakusa Jinja’s Natsumoude again this year. Scheduling meant that I was able to be there on the 1st and 7th of July, so as well as the Natsumoude goshuin, I was able to get the Tanabata goshuin, which is only available on the 7th (because Tanabata is July 7th). The event is organised by the jinja and a committee created to help run this event, and while they cooperate very closely, their responsibilities are divided. Shinto rituals are done by the jinja,… Read More »Natsumoude 2024

Sacred Tree

A few weeks ago, I visited Suwa Jinja in Kitakami, Iwatë Prefecture. (No English on their homepage.) This is a nice example of a fairly large jinja of significant local importance, but that people outside the area would not normally have heard of. The main jinja has six kami, and there are five subsidiary jinja, two of which share a building, but I am writing this article because it has a very impressive sacred tree. This tree is a sawara (Google says Scomberomorus niphonius  — no, wait, that’s a fish.… Read More »Sacred Tree

Formal Prayers

A few days ago I was talking to the chief priest of Asakusa Jinja about the guide to Shinto through Tokyo jinja that I am currently writing for my Patreon. (I was there because I am volunteering for Natsumoude again, and I will write about that when I have finished volunteering for this year — so probably next week.) While we were talking, he mentioned that he, and other priests, would not want people asking for formal prayers (gokitō) just to see something unusual and Japanese. They are prayers, after… Read More »Formal Prayers

Multi-Jinja Pilgrimages

Continuing the theme of jinja tours, there have been several articles in Jinja Shinpō recently about groups of jinja getting together to create programs on which people visit all of them, acquiring something at each jinja so that you complete a set if you go all the way around. These are normally generated by the priests themselves, sometimes with external help. In the June 10th issue, there was an article about three jinja in Hamamatsu, in Shizuoka Prefecture, that have got together to offer magatama (curved jewel) omamori based on… Read More »Multi-Jinja Pilgrimages

Jinja Tours

The June 10th issue of Jinja Shinpō included an article that was of particular interest to me, in the “Mori ni Omofu” (“Thoughts in the Forest”) column section. It was by Suzue, who is a singer/songwriter and Shinto priest, and it concerned the various people who act as intermediaries between people and the kami. The main topic was people who divine which jinja is your ubusunagami (“personal kami”, I guess, although originally it was the jinja covering the place where you were born), and apparently there are people who make… Read More »Jinja Tours