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Hōchō Shiki

Last week, I volunteered at Asakusa Jinja’s Natsumoude event. I did this last year as well, and last year I was able to attend a special matsuri at a well in the jinja precincts. This year, I was able to watch the Hōchō Shiki. This is a ceremony in which a fish is prepared for the kami without the chef touching the fish with his hands even once. Instead, it is manipulated with long chopsticks and the knife. This event was clearly ceremonial — it was held outside the prayer… Read More »Hōchō Shiki

Shinto and LGBT Scandal

I’m afraid this is going to be a long post. One of my patrons asked me about The Shinto Association of Spiritual Leadership (Shintō Seiji Renmei, literally “Shinto Political League”) distributing a pamphlet saying that homosexuality was a mental disorder. This is not entirely wrong, but it is also a bit misleading. So, let us clarify what actually happened. (TL, DR: It was an internal pamphlet reporting an invited talk given by a Christian professor at a study session, not a statement of Shintō Seiji Renmei policy.) Back in early… Read More »Shinto and LGBT Scandal

Kabushima Jinja

I have written about Kabushima Jinja before. It is a jinja on the coast in Aomori Prefecture, in northern Japan, and its sanctuary and prayer hall burned down in a somewhat mysterious fire a few years ago. (I do not know much about it, but the impression I get is that people think it was probably arson, but that there is not enough evidence to be sure of the cause, much less pinpoint a culprit if there was one.) They have since been rebuilt, and this post was prompted by… Read More »Kabushima Jinja

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

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