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David Chart

Matsuri Weather

The Komorëbi column in the December 19th/26th issue of Jinja Shinpō is about the “Month with Kami” in Izumo. That is the tradition that all the kami of Japan gather in Izumo in the tenth month of the lunar calendar, which is accordingly called the “month without kami” (kan’nazuki) elsewhere. The author is the chief priest of a jinja in the area, and this is one of the jinja that welcomes the visiting kami. He says that, this year, immediately after he had completed the ceremony to welcome the visiting… Read More »Matsuri Weather

Terminal Care

The April 2022 issue of the Journal of Shintō Studies included an article asking “Why Has Shinto Not Been Engaged in Terminal Care?”, by Kaneda Iyo. This is a reasonable question: Christian and Buddhist clergy have been, and are, deeply involved in care for the dying, but Shinto priests are not, and never have been. The contrast needs an explanation. She splits the reason into three broad causes. The first is the social role of Shinto priests. The job of a priest is to perform matsuri for the kami, and… Read More »Terminal Care


The December 19th/26th issue of Jinja Shinpō had an article introducing the following YouTube video. This was made by the Northern Tama Young Priests’ Association with Suzuë, a singer who is also a priest. (Northern Tama is the rural area of mainland Tokyo.) In this video, Suzuë sings the “Hifumi-no-Haraëkotoba” several times. The “Hifumi-no-Haraëkotoba” consists of all 47 unvoiced Japanese syllables, once each. The first ten are the numbers one to ten in their Japanese readings (or, at least, the first syllables of them), but they could be read in… Read More »Hifumi-no-Haraëkotoba


I recently received the latest issue of the Journal of Shintō Studies (April 2022), which contains several interesting articles. This post, however, is inspired by something mentioned in passing in one of them. The article itself is about the function and origin of tamagushi, and I have already written about that research, because a summary of an earlier stage was published a year or so ago. The bit I want to pick up concerns “tasuki”. This is the Japanese for a sash: a loop of cloth worn over one shoulder… Read More »Tasuki

Government Grants

I have recently completed some more translation for another jinja as part of my work for Jinja Honchō. This one was a rush job, because the jinja had received a grant from the local government to renovate their toilets, and one condition was that they provide informational signs in four foreign languages: English, Korean, Traditional Chinese, and Simplified Chinese. They were getting a bit close to the deadline. This is interesting for two reasons. First, the local government gave a religious corporation a grant to do something. I am guessing… Read More »Government Grants

Gravel from Jingū

Every issue of Jinja Shinpō includes a short column written by someone at Jingū, and the December 12th instalment was about the gravel on the paths. Look, they have to produce one of these every week. Cut them some slack. Actually, it did have a very interesting part. Gravel gets caught in the tread of shoes, or even gets inside the shoe itself. That’s just the nature of the stuff. It means that people often take some of the gravel home with them, without even noticing. The interesting part is… Read More »Gravel from Jingū

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