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Category: Shinto

Why No Kimono?

Why No Kimono?

One of my patrons, after watching the videos of the abdication and accession ceremonies, commented that everyone was wearing Western clothes, and asked why. Actually, this wasn’t quite true; the female Cabinet member at the accession ceremony was wearing a kimono. It was, however, overwhelmingly the case — no men, and no members of the Imperial family, were wearing kimono. Given that these were traditional Japanese ceremonies, one might well wonder why. This is something that we see a lot…

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Yuki Region and Suki Region

Yuki Region and Suki Region

Yesterday, one of the first rituals of the Daijōsai, the most important Shinto ceremony in the accession of a new Tennō, was performed in the Imperial Palace. This ritual is the choice, by divination, of the two regions that will supply the rice and millet that are offered at the Daijōsai. The Yuki region is to the east of the location where the Daijōsai is held, and the Suki region to the west. Today, that means Tokyo, but for over…

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New Priests 2019

New Priests 2019

With the end of the Japanese academic year in March, Jinja Shinpō has published its normal analysis of newly graduated priests. This year, there were 256 altogether, of whom 61 were women. That is a slightly lower proportion than previous years, if I recall correctly. Of these, 65, including 20 women, found jobs outside Shinto. This is a serious problem for Shinto. Only the two universities give numbers for how many vacancies were reported to them, but there were 290…

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Rites of Abdication and Accession

Rites of Abdication and Accession

Two days ago, the Jōkō abdicated (sorry, “was deposed”), and yesterday the Tennō ascended to the Imperial dignity. There were, as you might expect, ceremonies involved. (“Jōkō” is the current title for the person who was Tennō until the end of April. It is a very traditional title for such people, and I think it was a good choice. The official English translation, on the other hand, is “Emperor Emeritus”, which I do not think was a good choice, so…

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Deposing the Tennō

Deposing the Tennō

At midnight tonight, the Tennō will be deposed. Most western reports talk about his “abdication”, but legally, that is not what is happening. Legally, the Diet passed a law to depose the Tennō, and the Tennō signed it (not that he had any choice). It is happening this way because, under the Constitution, the Tennō has no legal power at all, and may not influence any political or legislative events. The status of the Tennō is defined in the Constitution,…

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The Tennō at Jingū

The Tennō at Jingū

On the 18th of this month, the Tennō and Kōgō (the Emperor and Empress) visited Jingū at Isë, and paid their respects at the Gekū and Naikū. The purpose of the visit was to inform the kami of the Tennō’s upcoming abdication, on the 30th of this month. As the main kami of the Naikū, Amaterasu Ōmikami, is, according to myth, the ancestor of the Tennō, important events in the Imperial family are always formally announced to the kami. This…

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The Sword and the Jewel

The Sword and the Jewel

The accession of the next Tennō is getting very close; it will happen at the end of this month and the beginning of next. Given the importance of the Tennō to the Shinto establishment, at least, it should come as no surprise that they are putting a lot of effort into preparing for the event, and ensuring, as far as they can, that it is celebrated appropriately. There are a lot of ceremonies associated with the succession, and while they…

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The New Era Name

The New Era Name

The name for Japan’s next era, which starts on the first of May with the accession of the new Tennō, was announced yesterday: Reiwa (令和). The announcement was made at 11:41 yesterday morning, and it has dominated the news since. Much of this news has been about people’s impression of the name. My daughter (age 11) was unimpressed, and thought that it sounded like it had been chosen by a bunch of old guys. Which is accurate. As a sound,…

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Getting Ofuda Outside Japan

Getting Ofuda Outside Japan

An “ofuda” is an item that contains the spirit of the kami of a jinja, which devotees can receive from the jinja in order to venerate the kami in their own home. Physically, they are wooden boards, with the name of the kami or jinja written on, and the spirit of the kami is instilled in a special matsuri at the jinja. Ofuda are the only essential item on a kamidana, a shelf where kami are venerated in the home;…

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Jinja and Immigrants

Jinja and Immigrants

I have had an article published in the latest Jinja Shinpō. It is a response to a review of a book about foreigners moving to Japan and taking over that was published a few weeks ago. Earlier drafts were a lot less temperate than the final one… In the end, I focused on a genuine problem that was mentioned, and that jinja can actually do something about. The problem is this. It is not uncommon for immigrants to a country…

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