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Jinja Shinpō continues to report the impact of COVID-19 on the Shinto world. The latest issue reports that Jingū had closed down all kagura (sacred dance — personal prayers to the kami at Jingū), and the opportunity to pay one’s respects within the outermost fences. Other jinja were holding festivals with fewer people, or with people sitting outside rather than in the prayer hall. One priest wrote an article about the importance of purification in this time (wash your hands!). However, the article I want to write about concerned Amabië.… Read More »Amabië

Matsuri for the Dead

A few weeks ago, Jinja Shinpō had a full-page special about a jinja that has recently built a new jinja office. This sort of article is fairly common, because it is an important event for the jinja in question, and positive news to share with the Shinto community as a whole. The jinja in question is in Tokyo, which probably explains how they can afford to do it, and the new building does look nice, and very useful for matsuri preparation: it has a kitchen for preparing offerings, for example,… Read More »Matsuri for the Dead

An Absence of Worshippers

COVID-19 continues to have an effect on jinja and other Shinto organisations, and some of those effects have been reported in Jinja Shinpō. One that was on the front page last week was the fact that Jinja Honchō had to hold its directors’ meeting by sending paperwork to all the directors, rather than having them all meet in one place. That seems to have worked, although at least one of the directors said that they should look into setting up online meetings. I tend to agree that that would be… Read More »An Absence of Worshippers

Updating Matsuri

Jinja Honchō has specific projects to help jinja in rural areas of Japan, where the population is declining and all the young people are moving away. These projects encourage those jinja to build on their existing matsuri and events to revitalise the area, and get more people visiting the jinja. A recent issue of Jinja Shinpō reported on some of these efforts, including one at a jinja, Shirasawa Jinja, in Iwatë Prefecture, in northeastern Japan. This jinja had a traditional event, called the “Otameshi Shinji”, which was held every year… Read More »Updating Matsuri

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