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The Chief Priestess and the Sacred Forest

The article about sacred forests in the June 20th issue of Jinja Shinpō concerned Yaëgaki Jinja in Miyagi Prefecture. If you have read my essay about the impact of the Great East Japan Earthquake on Miyagi, you already know about this place, because it was one of my examples: its chief priestess, Revd Fujinami, has been very active. The author of the article was a professor from a university in Osaka (almost certainly also female, but there are very few completely unambiguous Japanese names) who has been visiting the jinja… Read More »The Chief Priestess and the Sacred Forest

Jinja in the Digital Age

The front page of the June 20th issue of Jinja Shinpō had a long article on jinja in the digital age, reporting on a study session held by the Shinto Youth Association. (This is for youngish priests.) The course was given by Dr Kawamura, a researcher at Kokugakuin University, who stressed that he was speaking as an individual, rather than offering any sort of authoritative statements. He made two general points. One was that the key question is whether a particular practice goes against the fundamental principles of Shinto. The… Read More »Jinja in the Digital Age

Ashizu Uzuhiko

The June 13th issue of Jinja Shinpō contained a long article about Ashizu Uzuhiko. He died thirty years ago this year, in 1992, and was probably the most important single figure in post-war Shinto. In the immediate post-war period he was known as “Shinto’s Lawyer”, because he publicly defended Shinto against the attacks launched on it by both the Occupation authorities, and by some elements of Japanese society. Although he worked at Jinja Shinpō and wrote a significant number of editorials for it, he was not a priest. However, his… Read More »Ashizu Uzuhiko

Poems on the Nihonshoki

A week or so ago, I read an interesting article in Monumental Nipponica (Matthieu Felt (2021), Nihongi Banquet Poetry: Rewriting Japanese Myth in Verse, Monumenta Nipponica 76:2, 249–290) about poems written on the Nihonshoki over a thousand years ago. On half a dozen occasions during the ninth and tenth centuries, the court organised official readings of the Nihonshoki, at which the whole work was read over the period of at least a couple of years. Part of the purpose of this was to simply read it out in Japanese; the… Read More »Poems on the Nihonshoki

Presidential Election

OK, back to Jinja Honchō politics. The June 13th issue of Jinja Shinpō had an article about the current state of the election of the new president of Jinja Honchō on the front page. On June 3rd, the last day of the term of the previous directors and officers, the chairman wrote to all members of the Oversight Council and to all the Prefectural Jinjachō saying that he named Revd Ashihara as president and Revd Nishitakatsuji as vice president at the board meeting on May 28th, and that after consultation… Read More »Presidential Election

Kushimitama, Sakimitama

I feel like writing a blog post that isn’t based on Jinja Shinpō or Jinja Honchō politics, so today’s post is about sakimitama and kushimitama. One idea that is occasionally seen in Shinto is the belief that each kami has four spirits, with different characters and functions. These are the nigimitama, aramitama, sakimitama, and kushimitama. “Mitama” means “honourable spirit”, which is why it is the common element. “Nigi” means “calm, harmonious”, “ara” means “wild, chaotic”, “saki” means “happy, fortunate”, and “kushi” means “comb”. Sorry, “miraculous”, although there are puns on… Read More »Kushimitama, Sakimitama

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