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A Foreign Shinto Priest

A commenter on my Japanese blog sent me a link to an interview with Florian Wiltschko, an Austrian-born Shinto priest (link is to the English translation). I’ve actually been mistaken for Revd Wiltschko, despite being a lot older, not blond, and not a Shinto priest. I agree with a lot of what he says in the interview, although in the end I come down on the side of thinking that it is more helpful to describe Shinto as a religion. Revd Wiltschko is (to the best of my knowledge) unique… Read More »A Foreign Shinto Priest

Your Name

Your Name is a Japanese animated feature film written and directed by Makoto Shinkai that is currently doing extremely well in Japan. It was released in August, and when I went to see it with my nine-year-old daughter on Sunday, the cinema was full. It is, apparently, the second-highest-grossing Japanese animation in Japan, behind Spirited Away, and as it is still showing it is possible that it could become top. It was shown briefly in Los Angeles earlier this month, in order to qualify for the Oscars, and won the… Read More »Your Name

Matsuri Essay

My Patreon has properly started: today, I sent the first paid essay, about the matsuri that are performed at jinja, to all my patrons. The topic was chosen by the higher-level patrons, because they were interested in hearing more about the practical things that priests did at jinja. Since matsuri are the main religious activity, that’s what I wrote about. I’m currently talking to the higher-level patrons about what to do next, so if you are interested in joining that discussion and getting the resulting essay, please head over to… Read More »Matsuri Essay

Rei Torii

This will be a slightly unusual post, because I want to introduce an active Japanese artist, Mr Rei Torii. His surname is, indeed, “torii”, as in the gate to a jinja, and Shinto themes are very important in his art. Recently, he has completed a large number of works, and a number of large works, recording the great renewal at Jingu in Ise. The Association of Devotees of the Jingu at Ise has given out reproductions of his work as rewards for contributors, and a number of important jinja have… Read More »Rei Torii

Can I Convert To Shinto?

“Can I convert to Shinto?” This is a question I occasionally see online, or the variant “How can I convert to Shinto?”. They both seem like reasonable questions: to convert to Christianity you should be baptised and there are said to be some religious communities that do not accept converts — you have to be born a member. However, neither question really applies to Shinto. Shinto is not an identity, it is a group of related activities. This may be why there is no word in English for someone who… Read More »Can I Convert To Shinto?

Shichi-Go-San

Today, I went to my local jinja to pay my respects, and the precincts were positively overflowing with families in suits and small children in kimono. It’s Shichi-Go-San (7-5-3) season. Shichi-Go-San is a rite-of-passage festival for children, held at age 3 for both boys and girls, and again at age 5 for boys, and age 7 for girls, hence the name. Traditionally, these ages were Japanese “counted years” ages, in which you count every calendar year in which you have been alive. Thus, you are born at age 1, because… Read More »Shichi-Go-San

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