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Author: David Chart

Going Online

Going Online

This week’s Jinja Shinpō included a number of articles of interest, including one by me. That one will be the basis of a Patreon essay in a couple of months, so I won’t talk about it here. There was also an article about Jingū starting the distribution of omamori and ofuda again, although they are still not doing formal prayers outside the regular matsuri. However, the articles I want to pick up are about online activities. Two short articles reported…

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The Price of Vestments

The Price of Vestments

Back in May, a company that sells Shinto vestments had an advert in Jinja Shinpō. That is not so unusual; what is less common is that they printed the asking prices for most items. Since these were made public, we can safely assume that they are neither ridiculously high nor implausibly low; while there is bound to be variation depending on the source and the quality, these prices are probably representative. I will give all the prices in yen, as…

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Continuing Adaptation

Continuing Adaptation

As the first wave of COVID-19 comes to an end in Japan, businesses and other activities have started to reopen. The state of emergency has ended across the whole country, but new infections are still being detected, albeit at a fairly low level. This means that there is a lot of caution about restarting things at jinja. Jinja Honchō has gone back to normal working practices, but most jinja still seem to be restricting formal prayers inside the prayer hall,…

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Okayama Peace Museum

Okayama Peace Museum

A few weeks ago, Jinja Shinpō had a full page article about the opening of the Okayama Peace Museum. This facility belongs to Okayamaken Gokoku Jinja: the jinja enshrining the war dead from Okayama prefecture (“ken” in Japanese). The Gokoku Jinja (“Nation-Protecting Jinja”) were, as I have mentioned before, founded before the war to enshrine people who had died fighting for the Tennō, much like local versions of Yasukuni Jinja. They were not really formalised until the 1940s, with some…

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Jinja and COVID-19 Survey

Jinja and COVID-19 Survey

The National Association of Young Priests (for priests under 40, or maybe 45 — “Youngish” might be better) conducted a survey of its members to discover the impact of the pandemic on individual jinja. The survey was conducted from April 24th to 30th, so the results are a bit out of date now, but they had 740 responses with a good coverage of the whole country, so they are probably representative for that period. 75% of the priests reported a…

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New Omamori and Matsuri

New Omamori and Matsuri

A few weeks ago, Jinja Shinpō had a short article about some unique omamori that a chief priest had made for his jinja. The jinja is Takuhirëshi Jinja, in Toyama Prefecture (on the Japan Sea side of central Japan). The jinja’s precincts border on a river, the Shinzū River, which is famous for ayu (sweetfish) fishing, and the chief priest himself is a keen angler, so the new omamori were inspired by this. They are modelled on the nets that…

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Amabië

Amabië

Jinja Shinpō continues to report the impact of COVID-19 on the Shinto world. The latest issue reports that Jingū had closed down all kagura (sacred dance — personal prayers to the kami at Jingū), and the opportunity to pay one’s respects within the outermost fences. Other jinja were holding festivals with fewer people, or with people sitting outside rather than in the prayer hall. One priest wrote an article about the importance of purification in this time (wash your hands!)….

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Matsuri for the Dead

Matsuri for the Dead

A few weeks ago, Jinja Shinpō had a full-page special about a jinja that has recently built a new jinja office. This sort of article is fairly common, because it is an important event for the jinja in question, and positive news to share with the Shinto community as a whole. The jinja in question is in Tokyo, which probably explains how they can afford to do it, and the new building does look nice, and very useful for matsuri…

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An Absence of Worshippers

An Absence of Worshippers

COVID-19 continues to have an effect on jinja and other Shinto organisations, and some of those effects have been reported in Jinja Shinpō. One that was on the front page last week was the fact that Jinja Honchō had to hold its directors’ meeting by sending paperwork to all the directors, rather than having them all meet in one place. That seems to have worked, although at least one of the directors said that they should look into setting up…

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Updating Matsuri

Updating Matsuri

Jinja Honchō has specific projects to help jinja in rural areas of Japan, where the population is declining and all the young people are moving away. These projects encourage those jinja to build on their existing matsuri and events to revitalise the area, and get more people visiting the jinja. A recent issue of Jinja Shinpō reported on some of these efforts, including one at a jinja, Shirasawa Jinja, in Iwatë Prefecture, in northeastern Japan. This jinja had a traditional…

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