Shinto priests are generally very reticent on the question of the appropriate attitude towards the kami. This is even true of the Shinto establishment, which has a very clear position on the appropriate attitude to the Tennō, but, as far as I can tell, no official position on the appropriate attitude to (other) kami. They do make it clear that you should respect the kami, but that is extremely vague — and I suspect that the vagueness is deliberate. The Shinto establishment does make clear statements about how priests and… Read More »Fear and Trembling
One of the regular columnists in Jinja Shinpō is a Shinto priest and folklorist based in both Okayama Prefecture in western Japan, where he is the hereditary priest of a jinja, and in Tokyo. He apparently uses the Shinkansen a lot. In his most recent column, he talked about some traditional rituals that are performed in the area around his jinja. There are, apparently, three levels of kami. The Ujigami covered a fairly large area (several villages), and people participated in the matsuri based on social ties. The Ubusunagami covered… Read More »Very Local Matsuri
When English texts talk about the Three Sacred Treasures, they always talk about the Mirror, the Sword, and the Jewel. That is what I have always written. It seems that this is wrong. There was an article in Jinja Shinpō the other week about the accession ceremonies for a new Tennō, which referred to some ancient documents about the the jewel, in which there is a clear statement that there are eight jewels. The box containing the jewels has two boxes inside, one over the other, and each of the… Read More »How Many Jewels?
One of my patrons, after watching the videos of the abdication and accession ceremonies, commented that everyone was wearing Western clothes, and asked why. Actually, this wasn’t quite true; the female Cabinet member at the accession ceremony was wearing a kimono. It was, however, overwhelmingly the case — no men, and no members of the Imperial family, were wearing kimono. Given that these were traditional Japanese ceremonies, one might well wonder why. This is something that we see a lot in Shinto. While the formal vestments for priests are closely… Read More »Why No Kimono?
Yesterday, one of the first rituals of the Daijōsai, the most important Shinto ceremony in the accession of a new Tennō, was performed in the Imperial Palace. This ritual is the choice, by divination, of the two regions that will supply the rice and millet that are offered at the Daijōsai. The Yuki region is to the east of the location where the Daijōsai is held, and the Suki region to the west. Today, that means Tokyo, but for over a thousand years it meant Kyoto. Until the Meiji Revolution,… Read More »Yuki Region and Suki Region
With the end of the Japanese academic year in March, Jinja Shinpō has published its normal analysis of newly graduated priests. This year, there were 256 altogether, of whom 61 were women. That is a slightly lower proportion than previous years, if I recall correctly. Of these, 65, including 20 women, found jobs outside Shinto. This is a serious problem for Shinto. Only the two universities give numbers for how many vacancies were reported to them, but there were 290 at Kokugakuin and 217 at Kōgakukan. I have no idea… Read More »New Priests 2019