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Category: Shinto

Another Back Issue Available

Another Back Issue Available

I have just made the essay about the impact of, and recovery from, the Kumamoto earthquakes of 2016 available for purchase on Gumroad. There were two very strong earthquakes in quick succession, so that the second earthquake, which was the stronger, destroyed a lot of structures weakened by the first. That included a substantial number of jinja, in whole or in part, and the essay is about how the Shinto community responded to this disaster. Almost all of the past…

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Cow-Related Matsuri

Cow-Related Matsuri

This year is the year of the cow according to the Chinese zodiac, and so the back page of the year’s first issue of Jinja Shinpō introduced several matsuri and other events associated with cattle. The first was about an area in Niigata Prefecture where they have traditional bull fights. These fights are between two bulls, and they are primarily a Shinto ceremony, so they are not allowed to go on long enough for there to be a winner, or…

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Safe Purification

Safe Purification

I have mentioned that, during the pandemic, a lot of jinja have removed the ladles from their purification fonts, and typically drained the water from the font, to avoid the risk of infection from people using ladles that other people have used. Some jinja have set up alternative arrangements, so that people can rinse their hands without touching anything. Most of these have been at larger jinja, but not all. A few days ago, when I was visiting my local…

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San’yo

San’yo

There is a position in Jinja Honchō called “san’yo” (参与). This title turns up from time to time in Jinja Shinpō, particularly in obituaries, but I hadn’t managed to work out what sort of position it was. There are a lot of other titles, but over time it became clear from context what they were, at least in general terms. For example, a sanji is a fairly high-ranking employee of Jinja Honchō, while a chōrō is an elderly and eminent…

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Hatsumōdë Under COVID

Hatsumōdë Under COVID

In normal years, hatsumōdë mainly happens in the first three days of the year, and they are over, so we are starting to hear how that period was different this year. And it was different. To start with the least surprising one, reports say that Meiji Jingū in Tokyo has had about 20% of its normal visitors. It normally has about three million, so that’s still a lot, but the jinja is also pretty big. I hear from someone who…

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More Back Issues

More Back Issues

I have made some more back issues available for purchase. This includes a very, very recent back issue, as last month’s essay is now available on Amazon. The two issues available there, in Explaining Shinto, cover the reasons why it is difficult to explain Shinto, particularly in English. The first problem is that Shinto does not have an “essence”; there is nothing that one can point to as the heart of Shinto, and that unifies all the detailed explanations. The…

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The Purpose of Jinja

The Purpose of Jinja

What are jinja for? This is a question that members of Jinja Honchō’s Oversight Council have raised recently, and that has been addressed in editorials in Jinja Shinpō, but I do not think that there is an official answer. Here are some of the options that seem to be popular in the Shinto world — they could all be true at the same time. Jinja are places to venerate the kami. This is the most purely religious answer, and probably…

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Happy New Year

Happy New Year

Happy New Year! I hope 2021 is a lot better for everyone than 2020 was. Traditionally, millions of people across Japan would be visiting jinja today, often returning from the cities to their hometowns to do so. This season, however, has seen the government actively discouraging that. In a few weeks, when the reports start coming in, we will see what sort of impact this has had on jinja. I hope that it will be fairly minor. I have a…

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New Back Issue

New Back Issue

I have made another back issue available on Gumroad: Experimental Theology. This is rather different from the normal essays, because it is about my experimental studies of Shinto. The essay explains why I am doing the experiments, how I am doing them, and why I am doing them in that way. It also has the first set of results, but those results are not terribly interesting. The experiments are ongoing, and the results are reported to my patrons on Patreon…

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Distributing Jingū Taima

Distributing Jingū Taima

Every year, the Shinto world distributes Jingū Taima, the ofuda associated with Jingū, and more specifically with the Naiku, which enshrines Amaterasu Ōmikami. People are expected to place this ofuda on their kamidana, and venerate it for one year, before replacing it at the end of the following year. Thus, in theory, jinja would distribute one Jingū Taima per household per year. In some areas (although not the area where I live), the priests and adherents of the local jinja…

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