David Chart

Meiji Tennō and Jingū

Jingū at Isë is one of the most important jinja in Shinto, and is actually a complex of 125 jinja. Of these, two are of central importance: Kōtajingū, generally known as the Naikū, or Inner Sanctuary, which enshrines Amaterasu Ōmikami, and Toyoükë Daijingū, known as the Gekū, or outer sanctuary, which enshrines Toyoükë Ōmikami, a kami of food and daily life who serves Amaterasu Ōmikami. Most of the matsuri at Jingū are actually performed at the Gekū, and although the most important rituals are performed at both, they are performed… Read More »Meiji Tennō and Jingū

Era Names

Japan has a system of era names, and this system is used in parallel with the western system of dates. This year, for example, is Heisei 30. This system goes back to 701, when the Taihō era began. (There are a few possible earlier eras, but there were substantial intervals between them, and some historians suspect that they were later constructions.) Historically, a typical era was about five years long, and eras were almost never changed at the beginning of the year. Thus, for example, the change between the Manji… Read More »Era Names

Cleaning the Sacred Well

Jingū at Isë has a sacred well, from which water is drawn every morning in order to prepare the offerings for the kami. (Actually, there are three, so that there are back-up wells if anything happens to the main one.) This well is supposed to have been brought from Takamanohara, the high plain of heaven, via the Japan Sea coast of Kyoto prefecture. I have to confess that I am not entirely clear on how you are supposed to transport a well. It is contained in a jinja, and according… Read More »Cleaning the Sacred Well

New Contract

I’ve just got back from Jinja Honchō, where I signed a one year consulting contract with them. I will be providing translations between English and Japanese, advising them on their English language publications, and interpreting at presentations and, possibly, on international trips. I am not an employee of Jinja Honchō; I am a freelance consultant, albeit on a one-year contract. I am certainly not a Shinto priest. When I am working on Jinja Honchō’s material, I will, of course, be doing my best to put Jinja Honchō’s official position into… Read More »New Contract

Collecting Goshuin

As I mentioned in an earlier post, my daughter has become interested in collecting goshuin, the vermilion seals that jinja offer as a record of your visit in return for a small donation. At the beginning of this week, we went on a short trip to Niigata Prefecture on the Japan Sea coast of Japan, and one of our main purposes was visiting jinja to collect the goshuin. The first jinja we visited was Yahiko Jinja. This is the Ichi-no-Miya of Echigo province; that means that, around a thousand years… Read More »Collecting Goshuin

The Iwaki Thousand-Fold Ōharae

The third Monday in July is a national holiday in Japan: Umi no Hi, or Ocean Day. Seven years ago, the coastal city of Iwaki in Fukushima Prefecture was still in the early stages of recovery from the Great East Japan Earthquake and subsequent tsunami, and the Shinto priests of the area were also working to rebuild. As part of this, they decided to hold a Thousand-Fold Ōharae on a small hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean, on the weekend of Ocean Day. This week’s Jinja Shinpō includes an article by… Read More »The Iwaki Thousand-Fold Ōharae