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The 2024 Noto Earthquake 1

As readers of this blog are probably aware, unless they are reading this post some time in the future, there was a serious earthquake in Japan on January 1st. I, my family, and my friends are all fine, because we live on the other side of Japan, but the Noto Peninsula, on the Japan Sea, and neighbouring areas were badly affected; as of the time of writing, the death toll is over 200, and is likely to rise a bit more — although hopefully not much. Jinja Shinpō’s first articles… Read More »The 2024 Noto Earthquake 1

Old Ofuda

What should you do with old ofuda? The standard answer today is that you should return them to the jinja where you received them, where they will be burned. This answer has a long history, and indeed there is a Japanese saying likening something to an old ofuda to mean that it no longer has any use. There have, however, been other approaches. The Komorëbi column in the January 1st issue of Jinja Shinpō was by Matsuo Mitsuaki, a priest who also works as a curator at the Shimanë Museum… Read More »Old Ofuda

Passing on Tradition

Every year, Jinja Shinpō runs a series of short articles from people connected with the Shinto world who were born in the same zodiacal year as the current one — this year, that means the year of the dragon. The first article this year, in the January 1st issue, was from a chief priest born in 1928. The fact that he is still the chief priest of his jinja, rather than emeritus, makes him a bit remarkable, as does the fact that the jinja actually has a full-time working priest… Read More »Passing on Tradition

The Shōgun and Amaterasu Ōmikami

A few weeks ago, I received issue 270/271 of the Journal of Shintō Studies, and I want to pick up on some points from the articles in it for this blog. This issue isn’t themed, so there is quite a range across the five articles, and all of them have something that I think might be interesting to my readers. The first thing I want to pick up is from “The Tokugawa Shogunate and Amaterasu Ōmikami: The Period of Shōgun Iemitsu”, by Tanido Yūki. The article is a bit more… Read More »The Shōgun and Amaterasu Ōmikami

Sacred and Profane

One of the amusing features of working closely with jinja is the official avoidance of language suggesting a commercial transaction when talking about how people get omamori or ofuda. Yes, there is a little label there showing an amount of money, and yes, you hand over that amount of money and get an omamori in return. You can even get change. But this is not a sale. (And, to demonstrate that, you generally don’t get a receipt.) This can lead to some awkward circumlocutions. “We need to prepare new suggested… Read More »Sacred and Profane

Silk for Amaterasu Ōmikami

The autumn issue of The Imperial Family included an article on the preparation of silk for a matsuri held at Jingū twice a year, the Kanmisosai. “Kan” is another reading of the “kami” kanji, “miso” means “clothing” here (I haven’t come across this reading anywhere else, although the kanji are standard), and “sai” is matsuri. This matsuri is very unusual at Jingū in that it is only held at the two jinja enshrining Amaterasu Ōmikami: the Goshōgū (main sanctuary) of the Inner Sanctuary, which enshrines her nigimitama, and Aramatsuri no… Read More »Silk for Amaterasu Ōmikami