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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

New Traditions

The 18th/25th December issue of Jinja Shinpō had an article about the transfer of the kami back to the main sanctuaries at Tatsuta Taisha, in Nara Prefecture. This was because the roofs of the main sanctuaries had been redone, and the kami are always moved out of the sanctuary while that sort of repair is completed, and then moved back, with a lot of ceremony, afterwards. In this case, because Tatsuta Taisha is an ancient jinja and one that the Tennō historically sent a lot of offerings to, there was… Read More »New Traditions


One of the front page articles on the December 11th issue of Jinja Shinpō was about a study session held online by the Shinto Youth Association, on the topic of “The Role of Jinja in Contemporary Society”. This consisted of two talks by Professor Kurosaki of Kokugakuin University. The first was on the role that jinja can, and have, played in disaster response, a topic that Prof. Kurosaki has researched extensively. The second was about “context”. There is a famous distinction in social sciences between “high context” and “low context”… Read More »Context

From Coexistence to Living Together

The main article on the front page of the December 11th issue of Jinja Shinpō was about the annual National Edification Meeting. (What’s “edification” when it’s at home? It’s the translation of a Japanese term that means activities to promote the religious aspects of jinja, but as much in terms of engagement by people who are already there as in terms of finding more people, so it is difficult to translate into English. “Edification” is the term that Jinja Honchō uses in the English title of the department I’m attached… Read More »From Coexistence to Living Together

Titanium Roofs

The December 4th issue of Jinja Shinpō included an article about the donation of a small sanctuary building to a company, for use as the jinja of one of its sites. The kami enshrined there is Inari, which is very common for corporate jinja, and such jinja are, themselves, a common feature of Japan. The interesting features of this article lie elsewhere. First, the building was donated by a vocational training school (“senmongakkō” in Japanese) on Sado Island, an island in the Japan Sea that is part of Niigata Prefecture.… Read More »Titanium Roofs