Skip to content

David Chart

Faking Liberties

I have recently read Faking Liberties: Religious Freedom in American-Occupied Japan (affiliate link!) by Jolyon Baraka Thomas. It is very good, and well worth reading if you are interested in the social place of Shinto in Japan since the Meiji Revolution of 1868. His argument is roughly as follows. Japan had just as much religious liberty as any other constitutional democracy of the time under the pre-war Meiji Constitution. This was deeply problematic and often oppressive, but Japan was in no way exceptional in this. Shinto was definitely not the… Read More »Faking Liberties

Sōmen Divination

Sōmen are a popular type of wheat noodle in Japan — thin, and normally eaten cold in the summer. A particularly well-known type of sōmen is Miwa Sōmen, which is associated with Ōmiwa Jinja in Nara Prefecture. Indeed, the noodles are said to have been invented centuries ago by a priest of the jinja based on inspiration from the kami. Every year, the manufacturers’ association comes to Ōmiwa Jinja to have a divination ceremony performed, at which the kami determines whether the price of the noodles will be low, medium,… Read More »Sōmen Divination

2023 Snake

My local jinja, Shirahata Hachiman Daijin, had its annual First Rabbit Festival a few weeks ago (on the first day of the rabbit in March, as always), which means that there is a new snake up on the inner torii. Here are some photographs, which I took the day after it was put up, in nice weather. It still looks very fresh. At some point, I should put up photographs of what it looks like after a few months of being rained on. The festival itself is primarily a divination… Read More »2023 Snake

The Pre-War Ideal

I have mentioned before that the Shinto establishment often seems to think that the ideal state of things in Japan was achieved in 1925, and that we should try to get back to that. One of the organisations that often gives that impression is the ‘Group to Correct the Relationship Between the State and Religion’, which basically wants the state to carry out lots of Shinto rituals. Like it did in 1925. However, the February 27th issue of Jinja Shinpō reported an interesting presentation given at a meeting of the… Read More »The Pre-War Ideal

New Donations Law

The Japanese Diet recently passed a new law, called “The Law Concerning the Prevention of Inappropriate Solicitation of Donations by Corporations and Other Bodies, and Other Issues”. (I think that whoever started the trend for Japanese light novel titles like “That time I was reincarnated as a slime” may have had legal training.) This law was inspired by the actions of the former Unification Church, and thus it is particularly directed at religious corporations. The February 20th issue of Jinja Shinpō included an article reporting on a meeting held by… Read More »New Donations Law

Fractious Board Meeting

The February 20th issue of Jinja Shinpō included a long article on a meeting of the Board of Directors of Jinja Honchō, held on the 9th of February. While some ordinary business was conducted, and there was a discussion of the new law about donations (which will get its own blog post soon), the main event seems to have been a big fight over who was the president. A “big fight” is a slight exaggeration, as they do not appear to have come to blows, but the article explicitly refers… Read More »Fractious Board Meeting

%d bloggers like this: