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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Rebuilding Jinja

Rebuilding Jinja

Japan, as you may be aware, has a lot of natural disasters. It has so many, in fact, that Our Imperial Family, a quarterly magazine published with a lot of support from Jinja Honchō (if you are a Honchō-accredited priest, it is my understanding that a subscription is basically compulsory, although not officially compulsory) has a column in every issue about jinja recovering from the effects of natural disasters. The disasters and jinja change, but there is always enough material….

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Social Attitudes

Social Attitudes

This week’s Jinja Shinpō included an article about several surveys of Japanese social attitudes that have been carried out regularly over several decades. The one it was reporting in particular was carried out by NHK, the Japanese national broadcaster (like the BBC in the UK), and has been carried out every five years since 1973. Last year’s results showed clear majorities (60 to 70%) for statements like “You don’t have to get married”, “You don’t have to have children if…

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Matsuri in China

Matsuri in China

The latest Jinja Shinpō has an interesting article about the performance of a matsuri in China. The matsuri was to mark the beginning of construction work on a ship, asking the kami for safety. It is probably no surprise to hear that the project was a joint venture between a Chinese company and a Japanese one, and that the initiative came from the Japanese partner. The priests were invited from a jinja in Shikoku, presumably due to a personal connection…

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State Support

State Support

The Daijōsai to be held in November as part of the accession of the new Tennō is one of the most important Shinto rituals, and thus of great interest to the Shinto world, and particularly to the Shinto establishment. I will almost certainly write an essay about it for my Patreon, but some smaller points that come up are good for blog entries. One that has come up before is the question of state support for it. As I mentioned…

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This Year’s Hatsumōdë

This Year’s Hatsumōdë

The most recent issue of Jinja Shinpō included a long article on hatsumōdë, and how it went at various jinja. This is a standard feature at this time of year. In the past, it focused on the larger jinja, but recently it has spent more time on jinja in regions that have suffered natural disasters recently, and on jinja that have some particular link to the year. This year, the first three days of the New Year saw good weather…

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Tamakazura Jinja

Tamakazura Jinja

Last week’s Jinja Shinpō had an article about the dedication of a new jinja, Tamakazura Jinja, in Nara Prefecture. This is interesting for a couple of reasons. The first is that it is the establishment of a completely new jinja. The kami was not transferred from another jinja, but rather called down directly to this site. This is unusual, but, as this event shows, it does still happen. It also seems to be uncontroversial, as the report in Jinja Shinpō…

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