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David Chart

Pamphlet Online

A while back, I mentioned that I had written an introductory booklet on jinja for Jinja Honchō. Unfortunately, it is only available at jinja, which meant it was inaccessible to most people reading this blog, particularly over the last couple of years. However, as part of a revision of Jinja Honchō’s English-language webpages, much of it has now been put online. It has been revised to be web pages rather than a PDF, but most of the content from the booklet is here, along with most of the illustrations. About… Read More »Pamphlet Online


“Ōmisoka” is the Japanese term for the last day of the year. “Misoka” is the last day of the month, when the moon goes into hiding (because in the old Japanese calendar, months always started on the day of the new moon), and so Ōmisoka, or “Great Misoka” is the last day of the whole year. Within Shinto, I very occasionally see “misoka” used to refer to the last day of the month, but that word seems to no longer be used in normal Japanese society. In Shinto traditions, Ōmisoka… Read More »Ōmisoka

Forest Management

The December 6th issue of Jinja Shinpō carried the second article in the series about sacred forests. This one was interesting because the topic had little direct connection to a jinja. There is a jinja in the area, but most of the forest that was being discussed is in a municipal park in Suita, Osaka Prefecture. The park apparently surrounds the jinja, so it is possible that the whole area was originally part of the jinja’s precincts, but if so the article does not emphasise it. In any case, in… Read More »Forest Management

Roadside Shrines

Every day, I go for a walk near my home. The walk is about 5 km, and I chose the route to stay away from main roads and be as pleasant as possible, while also taking me past Shirahata Hachiman Daijin. The number of public roadside shrines I pass may, therefore, be a bit surprising. This does not include shrines inside people’s gardens — just ones that are open to the general public. The first one is by the bus stop near our flat, with a petrol station (gas station,… Read More »Roadside Shrines

Matsuri Timing

The December 6th issue of Jinja Shinpō had a short article about a matsuri held at a jinja in Yamagata Prefecture, Shōnai Jinja. The matsuri involves a procession, which was held this year, at reduced scale, after being cancelled last year. However, from this year the date of the matsuri has been changed from August 15th to October 6th, because of “extreme heat caused by climate change”, to quote the article. This is the first example of such a change that I have seen, but I doubt it will be… Read More »Matsuri Timing

Trees and Mirrors

Imaizumi Tenmangū, in Iwatë Prefecture, was one of the many jinja devastated by the tsunami in March 2011. The jinja buildings were all washed away, leaving only the sacred tree, or shinboku, a great sugi (cedar). Unfortunately, the tree was poisoned by the salt in the seawater, and began dying, so that it had to be cut down. The trunk was left standing to the height reached by the tsunami, 4.5 m from the ground. The November 29th issue of Jinja Shinpō had an article about the next stage of… Read More »Trees and Mirrors

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