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David Chart

To The Next Generation

A couple of weeks ago (in the September 9th issue) I had another article published in Jinja Shinpō. This article was mainly about Shin’yūsha, an organisation that was set up primarily to run workshops for children at which they could encounter Japan’s traditional culture. It is fairly new — less than ten years old — but it has already developed to offer some events aimed at adults. I have attended quite a few of the events, often with my daughter, and she has generally enjoyed them. The event that inspired… Read More »To The Next Generation

Rebuilding in Fukushima

It is now over eight and a half years since the Great East Japan Earthquake, and rebuilding is still in progress across the affected region of Japan. The longest delay has been in Fukushima Prefecture, where the accident at the nuclear reactor meant that work on rebuilding could not even start for years in some areas, and there are still areas close to the reactor that are closed due to radioactive contamination, and likely to remain so for many years yet. However, there is progress, and an article in the… Read More »Rebuilding in Fukushima

The Traditional Religion of Japan

Shinto is the traditional religion of Japan. As is normal with real-world situations, every single word (even “is”, “the”, and “of”) in that sentence is controversial, and potentially misleading, but it is still the best place to start. I believe that Shinto is best thought of as a religion, but that word tends to create an inaccurate image. Shinto does not have a founder. It also does not really have sacred texts; the oldest collections of Shinto legends are eighth century, and almost nobody within Shinto believes that they are… Read More »The Traditional Religion of Japan

Kami of Sport?

A couple of weeks ago, one of the regular opinion columns in Jinja Shinpō was extremely thought-provoking. Japan has fifty or so jinja enshrining soldiers and other people associated with the military who have died on active service since the mid-nineteenth century. Yasukuni Jinja in Tokyo is by far the most famous (and controversial), and I wrote a whole essay about it for my Patreon. However, almost every prefecture has its own jinja, called a Gokoku Jinja, “Country-Protecting Jinja”, enshrining the war dead from that prefecture. (Tokyo does not have… Read More »Kami of Sport?

Signs of Environmental Awareness

The editorial in the August 12th issue of Jinja Shinpō (I’m catching up, slowly) was about “Oceanic Pollution and the Role of Jinja People”. That’s a direct translation of the title. The content started from the G20 Osaka Summit, at which one of the main topics was plastic pollution in the ocean, and how it should be reduced. The editorial outlined the problem, accurately, and the necessary actions, while also noting why plastics were so widely used. It wrapped this up by saying that Japanese people were, in general, insufficiently… Read More »Signs of Environmental Awareness

Female Trainee Priests

A few weeks ago (July 22nd — I am a bit behind at the moment), Jinja Shinpō devoted its entire back page to female priests. The main article was a round-table discussion between five young women training at Kokugakuin University to be priests, with another article interviewing a fairly recent graduate (seven years ago) who is now the chief priest of a jinja in Saga Prefecture. (Saga Prefecture and other parts of northern Kyushu suffered from record-breaking rain as I was writing this earlier in the week. It seems, from… Read More »Female Trainee Priests