David Chart

“Inactive” Jinja in Saga Prefecture

Saga prefecture is a rural area on the island of Kyushu, a long way from Tokyo. As a result, it is losing population, both to natural decline (Japan’s population is falling overall), and to the cities (Tokyo’s population is rising). This, obviously, has a profound effect on society, and part of that effect touches the jinja. One manifestation of this is the problem of “inactive jinja”. This is actually a translation of a technical legal term, and means that a jinja that has the legal status of a religious corporation… Read More »“Inactive” Jinja in Saga Prefecture

Women and Matsuri

Jinja Shinpō has a weekly slot called “Komorebi”, which means “dappled sunlight falling through leaves”. About half a dozen people connected to Shinto in some way take turns to write it, and the whole set of writers is changed every two years. One writer in the current set is Kumiko Hanyū, a woman and an officer of the national Ujiko youth association. (The official definition of “youth” is, I think, “under fifty”, or “under forty” if they are being strict.) She is from Niigata Prefecture, and associated with Yahiko Jinja,… Read More »Women and Matsuri

Rebuilding Koganëyama Jinja

Koganëyama Jinja is on the island of Kinkasan, in Miyagi Prefecture. It is the nearest inhabited piece of land to the epicentre of the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011, and the jinja was badly affected. Fortunately, the island is a mountain, and the jinja itself is located part way up the mountain, and thus out of reach of the tsunami, but the waiting room and other facilities at the piers were destroyed, many torii and stone lanterns collapsed in the earthquake, and the whole island sank a couple of… Read More »Rebuilding Koganëyama Jinja

The Tennō at Koma Jinja

The lead story on the front page of the October 2nd issue of Jinja Shinpō was a report of a visit by the Tennō and Kōgō to Koma Jinja, in Saitama Prefecture, on September 20th. Personal visits to a jinja by the Tennō are always front page news in Jinja Shinpō, because they are not that common. The immediate reason for this visit appears to have been the 1,300th anniversary of the jinja, but while such events are very often marked by an offering sent by the Tennō, it is… Read More »The Tennō at Koma Jinja

What Is Shinto?

OK, so this looks like a fairly fundamental question. I’m in the process of writing an essay on the history of Shinto for my Patreon, and that reminded me of just how difficult this question is. I’m not talking about the question of the “real essence” of Shinto; I’m talking about the much more basic question of whether a particular activity is part of Shinto. For example, is Shugendō Shinto? I think most people these days would say “no”, but it was central to the practices of many jinja, and… Read More »What Is Shinto?

The State of Jinja in Iwatë Prefecture

This week’s Jinja Shinpō has an article on the back page reporting the results of a survey carried out by the Iwatë Prefecture Jinjachō. Iwatë Prefecture is in northeast Japan, and it is one of the prefectures that were badly hit by the earthquake and tsunami in 2011. The purpose of the survey was to find out how the depopulation of rural Japan was affecting jinja in that area. The answer appears to be “badly”. In the rural areas of the prefecture, about 80% of jinja have fewer than 500… Read More »The State of Jinja in Iwatë Prefecture