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David Chart

Himeji Jinja

Most readers of this blog have probably heard of Himeji Castle. It is the most spectacular of Japan’s surviving castles, and a World Heritage Site. I doubt anyone has heard of Himeji Jinja. Well, you are going to. But first, a bit of background. As readers probably do know, I work for Jinja Honchō as a consultant. Earlier this year, I suggested that I could offer assistance to jinja, particularly smaller jinja, that wanted to strengthen their ability to accommodate foreigners, both visitors and residents. Nothing will really happen at… Read More »Himeji Jinja

Holy Water

The August 15th issue of Jinja Shinpō included a substantial article about the Gion Matsuri in Kyoto. This is one of the largest and most famous matsuri in Japan, with roots going back over a thousand years, and it happens over the course of July. It is the main matsuri of Yasaka Jinja, and the centrepiece, as far as most people are concerned, is two processions of elaborate floats, called “yamaboko”. I have written about it before, because it had to be radically altered to respond to the pandemic —… Read More »Holy Water

Environmental Issues

A few articles in the August 15th issue of Jinja Shinpō addressed environmental issues. Several of them were about the Mt Hiei Religions Summit, which had “Climate Change and the Responsibilities of Religious People” as its theme. One was about sacred forests, and their potential to operate as OECMs under the CBD. I’ll explain what that means later. The Mt Hiei Religions Summit has been happening for 35 years, although it seems that it is only held once every five years. (That part of the description was a bit complex,… Read More »Environmental Issues

Protective Ofuda

Jingū in Isë grants several kinds of ofuda, small sacred panels that are often said to hold the power of the kami. The most common, and best known, are the Jingū Taima, which Jinja Honchō would like every household in Japan to venerate. However, they also grant ofuda that you can only get by visiting Jingū in person — these are called Juyo Taima.  An article in the August 1st issue of Jinja Shinpō reported on an interesting custom that relies on them. The custom is maintained in an area… Read More »Protective Ofuda

Kuroki Torii

There are many different kinds of torii, the open gateways at the entrance to jinja. An article in the July 18th issue of Jinja Shinpō was about the erection of a kuroki torii at a jinja in Kyoto Prefecture. “Kuroki” literally means “black tree”, but it actually refers to wood with the bark still on. Thus, in a kuroki torii the trunks and branches of trees are used in their original form to create the gate. This is described as “the original form of a torii” in the article, but… Read More »Kuroki Torii

New Book on Izumo Myths

The latest short book in the Mimusubi Essays on Shinto series is Myths from the Izumo Fudoki. The Fudoki are descriptions of the ancient provinces of Japan, commissioned by the Tennō in the eighth century, and thus valuable records of what Japan was like in the distant past. The ones that survive are, at least. There should have been somewhere between sixty and seventy of them (the number of provinces was changing around the period when they were being written, so it is hard to say how many were expected),… Read More »New Book on Izumo Myths

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