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David Chart

Rei Torii

This will be a slightly unusual post, because I want to introduce an active Japanese artist, Mr Rei Torii. His surname is, indeed, “torii”, as in the gate to a jinja, and Shinto themes are very important in his art. Recently, he has completed a large number of works, and a number of large works, recording the great renewal at Jingu in Ise. The Association of Devotees of the Jingu at Ise has given out reproductions of his work as rewards for contributors, and a number of important jinja have… Read More »Rei Torii

Can I Convert To Shinto?

“Can I convert to Shinto?” This is a question I occasionally see online, or the variant “How can I convert to Shinto?”. They both seem like reasonable questions: to convert to Christianity you should be baptised and there are said to be some religious communities that do not accept converts — you have to be born a member. However, neither question really applies to Shinto. Shinto is not an identity, it is a group of related activities. This may be why there is no word in English for someone who… Read More »Can I Convert To Shinto?


Today, I went to my local jinja to pay my respects, and the precincts were positively overflowing with families in suits and small children in kimono. It’s Shichi-Go-San (7-5-3) season. Shichi-Go-San is a rite-of-passage festival for children, held at age 3 for both boys and girls, and again at age 5 for boys, and age 7 for girls, hence the name. Traditionally, these ages were Japanese “counted years” ages, in which you count every calendar year in which you have been alive. Thus, you are born at age 1, because… Read More »Shichi-Go-San

Tsunekiyo Tanaka, Head of Jinja Honchō

I have a subscription to Jinja Shinpō, which is effectively the house newspaper of Jinja Shinto. The priests of the 80,000 jinja affiliated to Jinja Honchō (The Association of Shinto Shrines) all have subscriptions, and almost nobody else does; most articles assume that the readers are Shinto priests. This provides an interesting window on what is important to Jinja Honchō, and a less direct view of what is important to Shinto priests in general. In the October 17 2016 issue, there is a long interview with Tsunekiyo Tanaka. He is… Read More »Tsunekiyo Tanaka, Head of Jinja Honchō

Patreon is Live

My Patreon for essays describing Shinto as objectively and accurately as I can manage is now live. Please take a look. Posts on this site will be more about my personal opinions or individual approach to Shinto, while the Patreon essays will be about facts that, in theory, anyone who studied the subject could agree on. I hope you find them interesting.

Launch on Saturday

I am going to formally launch the new project, to write essays introducing Shinto supported through Patreon, on Saturday this week. That day is the anniversary of my arrival in Japan, which I think makes it a suitably significant day on which to begin a new venture. Ahead of the launch, I went to my local jinja today to have a ceremony asking the kami to support the project. I took along a printout of the first essay, the one that all patrons will get free when they sign up,… Read More »Launch on Saturday