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David Chart

Moidan, Kamiyama, Utaki

The article about sacred forests in the April 4th issue of Jinja Shinpō was about sacred sites in the southern parts of Japan. They are not all sacred forests, but many of them are, and they are all connected to the natural landscape. One interesting feature of this article is that it starts in Kagoshima, in southern Kyushu, and then moves through the Amami islands to Okinawa. It is not clear whether the native religious traditions of Okinawa are best described as a variety of Shinto, while those of Kagoshima… Read More »Moidan, Kamiyama, Utaki

Priestly Structures

The editorial in the March 28th issue of Jinja Shinpō was a very interesting discussion of the possible future structure of jinja within Jinja Shinto. Since the end of the war, when jinja ceased to be run by the government, they have been religious corporations. The basic concept is that each jinja is its own religious corporation, and has has its own priest or priests. As I have noted before, things are more complex than that, with subsidiary jinja both within and outside the precincts attached to a single religious… Read More »Priestly Structures

Sacred Forests and Regional Regeneration

The article about sacred forests in the March 21st issue of Jinja Shinpō was, once again, not particularly about sacred forests. It was, nevertheless, interesting. The author, a professor at Kyoto University, starts by noting the increased importance that has been placed on social diversity recently in Japan (where it means something completely different from what it currently means in the USA), and on biodiversity worldwide. He notes the importance of preserving biodiversity and habitats, including their influence on the origins of pandemics. He then connects the idea of “yaoyorozu… Read More »Sacred Forests and Regional Regeneration

Paths to the Priesthood

The 21st March issue of Jinja Shinpō carried an interesting article about a program at Osaka Tenmangū to support people who are working at the jinja as miko or in an administrative capacity as they train and qualify for the priesthood. The program started in 2020, and the idea is that people who are interested in the Shinto priesthood, but are not qualified, are hired at the jinja in another role. As part of that job, they are involved with planning and carrying out events at the jinja, and with… Read More »Paths to the Priesthood

Close to the Kami

A couple of weeks ago, I received the April issue of the quarterly “magazine” of Kinkasan Koganëyama Jinja, in Miyagi Prefecture. (It only has four pages, hence the scare quotes.) This describes recent happenings, mostly matsuri, at the jinja, and also talks about upcoming events. One of those is the “first snake festival”, which happens for a week at the beginning of May, and thus often overlaps with Golden Week. This is one of the most important matsuri at the jinja, and one of the significant features is that, during… Read More »Close to the Kami

Bamboo and Deer

The article about sacred forests in the March 14th issue of Jinja Shinpō was, in a way, a sequel to the article the previous week. That article, which I talked about last time, covered the question of preserving sacred forests in a general sense, while the March 14th article was about two specific examples: bamboo, and deer. The bamboo in question is mōsō bamboo, which was introduced to Japan from China during the Edo period (1600-1850ish). It can be used in manufacturing a wide range of goods, and the shoots… Read More »Bamboo and Deer

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