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New Priests

The Japanese academic year ends in March, and every year, in April, Jinja Shinpō publishes an article about the new graduates from the full-time training courses for priests. There are two universities that provide this training: Kokugakuin University, in Shibuya, Tokyo, and Kōgakkan University in Ise. There are also much, much smaller training centres attached to important jinja around the country. The six smaller centres had, in total, 18 graduates this year, while Kokugakuin had 179 and Kōgakkan had 73. Of these newly qualified priests, 60 are women, about 22%.… Read More »New Priests

Aso Jinja

At the weekend, I went to visit Aso Jinja, in Kumamoto Prefecture, in Kyushu. Aso Jinja is the Ichinomiya for the old Higo Province, and one of the oldest jinja in Japan. The family of the chief priests goes back over a thousand years, as does the jinja itself. There are twelve main kami enshrined at the jinja, who form a family, and the family of the chief priests is said to be descended from the oldest of these kami. These days, its main benefit is said to be safe… Read More »Aso Jinja

An Article in Jinja Shinpō

I have a short article in the latest Jinja Shinpō. (It’s on page 5 of the April 3rd issue, if you happen to have access to it.) The article is about foreign tourists at jinja, a topic that has been receiving quite a bit of discussion in the pages of the paper recently. Since I have been a foreign tourist at a jinja, I wrote a bit about it from that perspective. I think that there is a problem. I think most foreign tourists see jinja as a collection of… Read More »An Article in Jinja Shinpō

“Looks Foreign”

Jinja Shinpō has a weekly column called “Thoughts in the Forest”, written by a small group who take turns. Last week’s was by “Sunami Tomoto” (possibly), which I believe is a pseudonym. (Some of the authors have photographs, and others don’t, and my understanding is that the ones without photographs are pseudonymous. That understanding may, however, be wrong.) The title of the piece was “Looks Foreign”. In the column, he reports that he was asked by some part of the mass media how many foreign Shinto priests there were, and… Read More »“Looks Foreign”

Hië Jinja and the Shinto Seiji Renmei

One of the associations that is very closely linked to Jinja Honchō is the Shinto Seiji Renmei. Its Japanese name means “Shinto Politics Association”, but the official English name is the “Shinto Association for Spiritual Leadership”. The Shinto Seiji Renmei’s political position could be described as the conservative edge of the mainstream; it is a mainstream political group, but any group that is significantly more conservative or right-wing is on the fringes. Politically, I disagree fundamentally with a lot of their positions, and disagree about the importance they attach to… Read More »Hië Jinja and the Shinto Seiji Renmei

Ohinasama and Oharai

Today, we put up Mayuki’s Hina Matsuri dolls. These dolls are traditionally given to Japanese girls by their maternal grandmothers, and are displayed for the Hina Matsuri every year. The matsuri itself is on March 3rd, but you are supposed to put the dolls away on or around that date, so we put them up about a month in advance. We (with the help of Mayuki’s grandmother) bought them soon after Mayuki was born, and we have put them up every year, so that this was the tenth time. Mayuki… Read More »Ohinasama and Oharai