David Chart

Cashless Offerings Revisited

The September 20th issue of Jinja Shinpō had an interesting article on cashless offerings on its back page, written by the deputy chief priest of Akibasan Hongū Akibajinja. (Fun fact: “Akihabara” was actually “Akibahara”, named after an Akiba Jinja, but the bureaucrat who named the railway station wasn’t a local and got the pronunciation wrong.) The main argument is similar to one that I have made on this blog before: the physical offering has religious meaning, and waving your smartphone around isn’t the same. He does suggest a couple of… Read More »Cashless Offerings Revisited

New Priest Training

Prefectural Jinjachō run short training/orientation courses for newly qualified priests who have just taken up their posts, and these have been disrupted by the pandemic like everything else. Saitama Jinjachō recently ran its course for this year, and it was reported in the September 20th issue of Jinja Shinpō because they had a hybrid version, with part online and part in person. The in-person course was held on two days, with half the priests attending on each day, so that they would not be crowded. I’m writing about it because… Read More »New Priest Training

Attitudes to Shinto

The September 13th issue of Jinja Shinpō had an article on the front page reporting on a seminar, held online, for the national organisation of young (under 40) Shinto priests. There were three speakers, one of whom was from a temple in Tokyo and talked about giving the customers what they want and abandoning traditions if they were not popular. (That provoked one of the journalists to write in a comment piece that maybe they didn’t want to take on all the proposals wholesale.) The speaker I want to write… Read More »Attitudes to Shinto

Shinto Afterlife

I have said before that Shinto has much less to say about what happens after we die than a Westerner is likely to expect of a religion. On the other hand, Shinto is not completely silent on the subject. There is, after all, the myth of Izanaki’s descent to the underworld to retrieve his dead wife (a trip that certainly does not go according to plan — I mean, he literally goes down to hell to rescue her, and she demands a divorce?). However, that myth has very little connection… Read More »Shinto Afterlife

Shinto Funerals

Shinto has a complicated relationship with funerals. First, death is a source of kegarë, pollution, and so people purifying themselves to take part in a matsuri were supposed to avoid the dead, and even the bereaved. Obviously, this creates a conflict if the priest is asked to perform a funeral. Second, historically Buddhism appears to have taken over funerals very soon after arriving in Japan. In the Edo period (1600 to 1868, roughly), almost everyone was required to have a Buddhist funeral, provided by the particular Buddhist temple to which… Read More »Shinto Funerals

Nihon Shinto Shi

Nihon Shinto Shi (日本神道史) (affiliate link, but only to Amazon.jp) is a history of Shinto. The first edition was published in 2010, and a new, revised and expanded edition, was published earlier this year. It is, in my opinion, the best single-volume history of Shinto on the market. It is also, unfortunately, only available in Japanese, but some of the readers of this blog might have enough ability in the language to make use of it. It has multiple authors, all associated with Kokugakuin University, which gives it a unified… Read More »Nihon Shinto Shi