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David Chart

The Practice of Haraë

Haraë is a central concept and ritual in Shinto. It is normally translated as “purification”, and this is not a bad translation; haraë is how one gets rid of kegarë, or impurity. Haraë is very closely linked to misogi, which is also a way to get rid of kegarë. Indeed, in contemporary Shinto it is not clear that they are really different, and it is not uncommon to see references to “misogiharaë” or “haraëmisogi”. The main difference is that misogi involves water, and haraë does not. I have written a… Read More »The Practice of Haraë

The Miko Experience

In the last few days, I’ve come across a couple of jinja running events at which women can experience being miko. In both places, the stated intent is to counteract the image of miko that comes from manga and anime by providing an opportunity to see what it is really like. One of them is Amagasaki Ebisu Jinja, in Amagasaki City, which is just to the west of Osaka. Their miko experience is one hour, and while the website, which has English and Chinese as well as Japanese, does not… Read More »The Miko Experience

Tsukuyomi, the Kami of the Moon

The fiftieth anniversary of Apollo 11 turned our thoughts to the moon and thus, in the context of Shinto, to Tsukuyomi (or Tsukiyomi) no Mikoto, a brother of Amaterasu Ōmikami and generally accepted to be the kami of the moon. In the Kojiki myth of the birth of Amaterasu Ōmikami, she is born when Izanaki washes his left eye, and Tsukuyomi is born when he washes his right eye. (Susano’o is born when he cleans out his nose.) Amaterasu Ōmikami is clearly a kami of the sun in some sense;… Read More »Tsukuyomi, the Kami of the Moon

Nigimitama and Aramitama

Kami traditionally have two aspects, called the aramitama and the nigimitama. “Mitama” means spirit or soul, while “ara” means wild and violent, and “nigi” means calm and peaceful. “Aramitama” could be translated as “wild spirit”, and “nigimitama” as “calm spirit”. As kami are often thought of as spirits, it might look as though the aramitama and nigimitama are almost separate kami. Indeed, they are sometimes treated that way. At the Naikū of Jingū in Isë, for example, there are separate jinja for the nigimitama and aramitama of Amaterasu Ōmikami. The… Read More »Nigimitama and Aramitama

What’s In A Name?

This blog is called “Mimusubi”, which is also the name for my general project of publishing about Shinto (and my trademark for both). Why did I choose that name? “Mimusubi” is taken from the name of two of the first kami to arise in the creation myth found in the Kojiki, the oldest surviving record of Japanese legends. According to this text, the first three kami to appear were Amenominakanushi, Takamimusubi, and Kamumusubi (or Kamimusubi). Amenominakanushi promptly disappears from the legends, but the two Musubi kami play important roles later… Read More »What’s In A Name?

Pool of the Fireflies

A couple of weeks ago, Jinja Shinpō carried an article by the deputy chief priest at Hikawa Jinja, in Saitama City, north of Tokyo. This is a large jinja, with extensive precincts, and the story was about their attempts to get genji fireflies breeding in the pond there again. Apparently, in the past, the area was one of the top two areas in Japan for fireflies, but then a city got built on top of the wetlands, and suddenly it wasn’t anymore. He wanted to bring the fireflies back, and… Read More »Pool of the Fireflies

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