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Academic Overgeneralisation

The second problem (the first problem is here) that I have with English-language studies of Shinto is that they tend to overgeneralise from a limited range of evidence. This problem is certainly not limited to Shinto studies — I read a very interesting book on the “immigrant experience in Japan” that was based on a handful of group sessions with a few dozen people, recruited through about three different groups. My personal experience of the immigrant experience in Japan is broader and deeper than that. However, it is particularly relevant… Read More »Academic Overgeneralisation

Shinto Denial

I read quite a lot of English academic books and articles about Shinto. Not all of them, but a high proportion (there aren’t that many…). I often find them irritating, and I have been thinking about the reasons. It is not usually because they are poorly researched or badly written — neither of those is normally a problem. (Yes, there are occasional exceptions, but that is rare.) At the moment, I think there are two main reasons. One of these is a problem that I would like to see the… Read More »Shinto Denial

Rogue Speech

This year’s main meeting of the Oversight Council of Jinja Honchō was held on May 23rd and 24th, and reported in the June 3rd issue of Jinja Shinpō. If you have been following this blog for a while (or have read the other posts tagged with “Disputed Presidency”) you will know that this meeting used to be a boring, entirely formulaic rubber stamp for decisions made by the central bodies. Now, it… isn’t. Jinja Honchō is formally led by the Chairman, but all the decisions are taken by the President,… Read More »Rogue Speech

Kamidana Norito

I recently finished reading an interesting book: 自宅であげる神棚祝詞 (Kamidana Norito to Recite at Home), by 中澤伸弘 (Nakazawa Nobuhiro). The title is descriptive: the bulk of the book consists of 101 norito for use at your kamidana, with brief commentaries and modern Japanese translations. I think it is a very good book, and I would recommend it (affiliate link), except that it is all in Japanese. It is therefore probably not of much practical use to readers of this blog. I discovered it because it was reviewed, positively, in Jinja Shinpō,… Read More »Kamidana Norito

Matsuri and Animal Welfare

The May 27th issue of Jinja Shinpō had a thought-provoking article about revisions to a centuries-old shinji (sacred rite). The rite in question was (and is) performed at Tado Taisha, a jinja in Mië Prefecture. It dates back to the fourteenth century, and involves people from the areas that were traditionally dedicated to supplying the jinja riding horses up a slope. Before the changes, the slope was steep (about a 15 m rise over 100 m), and finished with a two metre wall, which the horse had to jump over.… Read More »Matsuri and Animal Welfare

Government Support for Matsuri

The front page of the May 20th issue of Jinja Shinpō had an article about government subsidies for matsuri in Ibaraki Prefecture. This is the first example that they are aware of, nationwide, and it is significant because of the legal obstacles to government support for anything that might be described as religious, even when it is also an important part of traditional culture and threatened by social changes. The support has several conditions: The tradition must be passed on within the prefecture, be carried on by local society or… Read More »Government Support for Matsuri