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David Chart

Shinto from the Shore

At the beginning of this month I released a new essay to my patrons on Patreon. This essay is a bit different from normal, because I was asked to speak, in English, to a Japanese audience, about Shinto, and the essay is based on my notes for that. As a result, it says more about what I personally think about Shinto, rather than simply reporting the current situation as accurately as I can. If you are interested, back numbers of the essays are available through the Patreon, so please take… Read More »Shinto from the Shore

Attitudes to Shinto

I have just released the latest essay to be funded by my Patreon. This is about popular attitudes to Shinto in Japan, and is based on a survey conducted under the auspices of Jinja Honchō. If you missed it, but would like to read it, don’t worry: you can get hold of back numbers.

New Priests

The Japanese academic year ends in March, and every year, in April, Jinja Shinpō publishes an article about the new graduates from the full-time training courses for priests. There are two universities that provide this training: Kokugakuin University, in Shibuya, Tokyo, and Kōgakkan University in Ise. There are also much, much smaller training centres attached to important jinja around the country. The six smaller centres had, in total, 18 graduates this year, while Kokugakuin had 179 and Kōgakkan had 73. Of these newly qualified priests, 60 are women, about 22%.… Read More »New Priests

Aso Jinja

At the weekend, I went to visit Aso Jinja, in Kumamoto Prefecture, in Kyushu. Aso Jinja is the Ichinomiya for the old Higo Province, and one of the oldest jinja in Japan. The family of the chief priests goes back over a thousand years, as does the jinja itself. There are twelve main kami enshrined at the jinja, who form a family, and the family of the chief priests is said to be descended from the oldest of these kami. These days, its main benefit is said to be safe… Read More »Aso Jinja

An Article in Jinja Shinpō

I have a short article in the latest Jinja Shinpō. (It’s on page 5 of the April 3rd issue, if you happen to have access to it.) The article is about foreign tourists at jinja, a topic that has been receiving quite a bit of discussion in the pages of the paper recently. Since I have been a foreign tourist at a jinja, I wrote a bit about it from that perspective. I think that there is a problem. I think most foreign tourists see jinja as a collection of… Read More »An Article in Jinja Shinpō

“Looks Foreign”

Jinja Shinpō has a weekly column called “Thoughts in the Forest”, written by a small group who take turns. Last week’s was by “Sunami Tomoto” (possibly), which I believe is a pseudonym. (Some of the authors have photographs, and others don’t, and my understanding is that the ones without photographs are pseudonymous. That understanding may, however, be wrong.) The title of the piece was “Looks Foreign”. In the column, he reports that he was asked by some part of the mass media how many foreign Shinto priests there were, and… Read More »“Looks Foreign”