Skip to content

Rings of Reeds

Epidemics have been a repeated feature of Japanese history, and so there are many traditional ways of responding to them. Unsurprisingly, a lot of them are being dusted off and brought out at the moment, and in this blog post I want to talk about one that is particularly widespread, and that has developed beyond its initial association with epidemics. This custom involves a ring woven of reeds, a “chi no wa”. The custom is normally traced back to a legend recorded in the fudoki for Bingo Province (yes, “Bingo”… Read More »Rings of Reeds

New Priests 2020

A few weeks ago, Jinja Shinpō published an analysis of the newly-graduated priests, as it always does in April. This year there were 232, including 59 women, of whom 184 took jobs at jinja. (39 of the women went to work at jinja.) The overwhelming majority of these priests graduated from the two Shinto universities, Kōgakkan in Isë (63) and Kokugakuin in Tokyo (154). As normal, the number of people going to work in jinja offices or as miko, rather than as priests, was overwhelmingly dominated by women (13 out… Read More »New Priests 2020

Epidemic Ofuda and Heisoku

A week or so ago I wrote about the kami of smallpox, and mentioned the red gohei, or heisoku, that my local jinja had set up on top of the offering box. At that point I didn’t have a picture, but now I do. This picture is at my home, because I asked the priests to perform a matsuri asking for an end to the epidemic, and today I picked up the ofuda (on the left) and red heisoku (on the right) that they prepared during the matsuri. Normally, one… Read More »Epidemic Ofuda and Heisoku

New Book

I have just published An Introduction to Shinto, a book based on the first two years or so of essays for the Mimusubi Patreon. It is available as a Kindle e-book from Amazon, from any of the various national Amazons. (The link is to the US site, because I think most potential readers are in the US, but I think it will automatically give you a link to your local site if that is different; I get one for the Japanese site, for example.) The book, I hope, does what… Read More »New Book

COVID-19 and the Future

Last week’s Jinja Shinpō contained an editorial about COVID-19 and the response to it, which had some very interesting content. In Japanese, people are asked to avoid “fuyōfukyū” trips out. This means trips that are not necessary and urgent: that is, things that you do not need to do right now. So, the editorial asks whether paying one’s respects at a jinja is “fuyōfukyū”. As you might expect, given that this is an editorial in the Shinto newspaper, the conclusion is “not necessarily”. The reasons given are sensible. People are… Read More »COVID-19 and the Future

The Kami of Smallpox

In the midst of the impact of COVID-19, I am still visiting my local jinja every day. This is fine: it is part of my walk, and I do not get close to anyone while doing so, which means that social distance is being maintained. (I wouldn’t visit a jinja I couldn’t walk to at the moment, though.) Today, I arrived to find that a small red gohei had been set up on the offering box. (A gohei, or heisoku, is two pieces of paper, both folded into lightning-bolt shapes,… Read More »The Kami of Smallpox

%d bloggers like this: