New Book

New Book

I have just published An Introduction to Shinto, a book based on the first two years or so of essays for the Mimusubi Patreon. It is available as a Kindle e-book from Amazon, from any of the various national Amazons. (The link is to the US site, because I think most potential readers are in the US, but I think it will automatically give you a link to your local site if that is different; I get one for the…

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COVID-19 and the Future

COVID-19 and the Future

Last week’s Jinja Shinpō contained an editorial about COVID-19 and the response to it, which had some very interesting content. In Japanese, people are asked to avoid “fuyōfukyū” trips out. This means trips that are not necessary and urgent: that is, things that you do not need to do right now. So, the editorial asks whether paying one’s respects at a jinja is “fuyōfukyū”. As you might expect, given that this is an editorial in the Shinto newspaper, the conclusion…

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The Kami of Smallpox

The Kami of Smallpox

In the midst of the impact of COVID-19, I am still visiting my local jinja every day. This is fine: it is part of my walk, and I do not get close to anyone while doing so, which means that social distance is being maintained. (I wouldn’t visit a jinja I couldn’t walk to at the moment, though.) Today, I arrived to find that a small red gohei had been set up on the offering box. (A gohei, or heisoku,…

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Further Impact of COVID-19

Further Impact of COVID-19

As COVID-19 continues to affect the world, it is, naturally, having more effects on jinja. These effects are being reported in Jinja Shinpō, which means that I can tell you what is happening. The advice is still that matsuri should be carried out, as it has been from the beginning, but jinja are asked to seriously consider only having priests present, or to restrict the number of other people who attend, to avoid crowding in the prayer hall. On the…

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COVID-19 Developments

COVID-19 Developments

As COVID-19 continues to spread around the world, I want to write another post to bring readers up to date on how it is affecting jinja. One important thing to be aware of is that the situation in Japan is, at present, much less critical than it is in most European countries or the USA. The total number of deaths is still under 200, the total number of confirmed infections is still under 10,000, and nowhere in the country is…

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Shinto for Non-Japanese

Shinto for Non-Japanese

My patrons on Patreon have just received the March essay, on Shinto for non-Japanese. This essay discusses whether non-Japanese should practise Shinto, and how they can do it, despite the practical problems that arise. If you are not yet a patron but are interested in seeing it, you can sign up at the $2 tier, and claim this essay as your back issue for April, when the charges go through in early May.

The Fate of Goshuinchō

The Fate of Goshuinchō

At the moment, there is something of a boom for goshuin in Japan. A goshuin is a vermilion stamp that you can receive at a jinja or Buddhist temple to record the fact that you visited there and paid your respects. They were originally Buddhist, and recorded the fact that you had copied and offered a sutra. I am not sure how they work at Buddhist temples these days, but at jinja they are a record of your sanpai: visiting…

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Jinja: Heart of Japan

Jinja: Heart of Japan

The big project I was working on with Jinja Honchō has just been completed. The big project was a small booklet called “Jinja: Heart of Japan”. This is an English booklet, intended to introduce jinja and Shinto to foreign visitors. Long-time readers of this blog may spot a bit of overlap with the purpose of Mimusubi. The booklet itself is intended to be distributed at jinja and information centres for tourists, and is not, at the moment, available online to…

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Coming to Shinto

Coming to Shinto

One question I am often asked, and indeed was recently asked by one of my patrons on Patreon, is “What first prompted your interest in Shinto?”. This is a reasonable question. After all, when I was growing up in England, there was not much Shinto around. And, oddly, it is not that easy to answer. I have been interested in Japan for as long as I can remember. Indeed, I was interested in Japan before I knew I was interested…

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Matsuri for COVID-19

Matsuri for COVID-19

As COVID-19 continues to spread around the world, Jinja Honchō and jinja in Japan are responding. Jinja have closed their museums, had staff wear face masks, and put restrictions on activities. For example, Ōkunitama Jinja in Tokyo is, for the moment, not writing goshuin directly into people’s goshuin books, but rather handing out pieces of paper with the goshuin already on. This is, presumably, to avoid the risk of infection from the book, and also to discourage people from coming…

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