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The Great Kantō Earthquake

Today is the 100th anniversary of the Great Kantō Earthquake. It struck southwest of Tokyo at lunchtime, and the strong shaking and subsequent fires are estimated to have killed over 100,000 people, and destroyed about 290,000 buildings. September 1st is now Disaster Prevention Day in Japan. To mark this, Jinja Shinpō had a special two-page article in the August 21st issue, reporting a dialogue between two academics who have studied the role of jinja (and other religious groups) in disaster relief: Professor Inaba of Osaka University and Professor Fujimoto of… Read More »The Great Kantō Earthquake

The Birth of a Jinja

Some jinja were founded at particular times by particular people, and we have clear records of who and when. Others, however, developed naturally, and the oldest jinja are believed to fall into that category — even the ones, like Jingū, that have very mythical foundation myths. It is natural to think of this process as something that happened in the distant past, and not today. That may not be entirely correct. The August 14th issue of Jinja Shinpō includes an article about a very interesting process. During the pandemic, a… Read More »The Birth of a Jinja

Kokugakuin University

The back page of the August 7th edition of Jinja Shinpō is devoted to introducing the Department of Shinto Culture at Kokugakuin University, and encouraging people to apply. The main part is an interview with three current students, two men and a woman, in which they talk about how wonderful their university is and how much they like being able to attend lectures in person. I am ready to believe that they are entirely sincere in everything that they say — and that that is why they were chosen as interviewees.… Read More »Kokugakuin University

“The Jinja’s International Activities”

One of the authors of the “Komorëbi” (“Sunlight Through Leaves”) columns in Jinja Shinpō at the moment is Yamamoto Yukiko, the negi (senior priest) of Tsubaki Ōkami Yashiro in Mië Prefecture. Her column in the July 31st issue is entitled “The Jinja’s International Activities”, so I really have to write about it. This is quite an important jinja, and has a lot more international activities than most. Revd Yamamoto opens the column with her memory of a Californian theological student spending four months at the jinja in 1970, when it… Read More »“The Jinja’s International Activities”

New Book: Shinto Portrayals in Manga

Shinto Portrayals in Manga is the latest book in the Mimusubi Essays on Shinto series. The two essays it collects were written about five years apart, and reading them over I can tell. The problem with these essays is that there are a lot of manga series written about Shinto, often with more than a dozen volumes, and every author takes a different approach. I have tried to cover a significant number of manga, and different genres of manga, but even so I am not sure just how general these… Read More »New Book: Shinto Portrayals in Manga

Studying Female Priests

The 31st July issue of Jinja Shinpō contained a long article on a study meeting of the national association of female priests, the first one held in person since before the pandemic. The main speaker was Dana Mirsalis, an assistant professor at Pacific University who studies female priests in contemporary Shinto. Her talk covered three topics — menstruation and blood kegarë, external matsuri, and physical labour — and was followed by a discussion session in which the attendees picked up on those questions. On menstruation, Prof. Mirsalis observed that the… Read More »Studying Female Priests

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