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October 2023 Oversight Council

The regular October meeting of Jinja Honchō’s Oversight Council was held on October 20th, and reported in the October 30th issue of Jinja Shinpō. It seems that “lively exchanges of views” continued. The most important focus of debate was still the dispute over the presidency, but this issue did not go anywhere. That should not be surprising to anyone who has read my previous posts on this problem (click on the “disputed presidency” tag to see those earlier posts if you are interested). While many of the same arguments are… Read More »October 2023 Oversight Council

Yamatohimë no Miya

Jingū at Isë famously has two main sanctuaries, the Inner Sanctuary enshrining Amaterasu Ōmikami, and the the Outer Sanctuary enshrining Toyoukë Ōmikami. However, the whole complex consists of 125 jinja, some of which are just sacred stones, and some of which are several miles from the Inner and Outer Sanctuaries. The most important of these jinja are called the “Betsugū”, or “Other Sanctuaries”. Some of these are ancient, and may have been earlier sites of the main sanctuaries. Two, enshrining kami associated with winds, were upgraded to Betsugū after an… Read More »Yamatohimë no Miya

The Name of Amaterasu Ōmikami

Jinja Honchō, and the Shinto community in Japan in general, do not like abbreviating “Amaterasu Ōmikami” to “Amaterasu”. A lot of people in Japan outside Jinja Honchō do, and often write it in katakana, but Jinja Honchō always writes it out in full. There are, I think, two reasons for this. The first is the obvious one, that it seems disrespectful to abbreviate the name of the kami. Of course, there are limits to all things: even Jinja Honchō normally refers to Amënikishikuninikishiamatsuhikohikohononinigi no Mikoto as “Ninigi no Mikoto”. However,… Read More »The Name of Amaterasu Ōmikami

Bell Ceremony

The October 9th issue of Jinja Shinpō contained an article about a joint Shinto-Buddhist ceremony with a long history. The ceremony involves Enoshima Jinja, in Fujisawa, and Engakuji, a Buddhist temple in Kamakura, both in Kanagawa Prefecture, west of Tokyo. These two cities are very close together, as are the two institutions. The origin of the ceremony was the creation of a bell, the Ōkanë, or “big bell”. This bell is a National Treasure, and it is 259.4 cm tall. It is, apparently, the largest temple bell in the Kantō… Read More »Bell Ceremony

Enshrining Kami

A while ago, one of my patrons asked me a very good question. How do priests convince kami to enter, and remain in, the goshintai at a jinja? This is quite fundamental, but something that I have not seen addressed at all. In the earliest jinja, the problem does not arise. The belief was that the kami was there already, and the jinja developed in that location as people venerated the kami, and set up a permanent structure for the matsuri. In those cases, the goshintai might be a mountain… Read More »Enshrining Kami

Berlin Meeting

This year, the Community of Sant’Egidio held its meeting for peace in Berlin. Last year, when it was in Rome, I was part of the Jinja Honchō delegation, but this year the decision was that I wouldn’t go. I am told that things went well enough, so we will see what happens next year. If they suddenly decide that I should go again, that would suggest there was room for improvement… Anyway, three people went in the end: the director of our department (Revd Ushio), the head of our section… Read More »Berlin Meeting

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