New Book: The Early History of Shinto

I have just released two more of my past Patreon essays for sale on Amazon, as The Early History of Shinto. These two essays cover the archaeology of Shinto in the Kofun period of Japanese history, roughly 300 CE to 650 CE, and the early records of matsuri, Shinto rituals, as preserved mainly in the early eighth century. The origin of Shinto is a very interesting topic, because it is very controversial. Some people say that Shinto goes back to the Jōmon culture of the Japanese archipelago, back to 10,000… Read More »New Book: The Early History of Shinto

Publicising Shinto

After the Meiji Revolution, in 1868, the government shut down the priests of Jingū who had distributed ofuda and organised the veneration of Amaterasu Ōmikami at Isë by people from across Japan. Without those priests, they needed a new way to link everyone to Jingū, and so, in 1872, a governmental system was set up to distribute the ofuda to every household. This changed several times, and its links to the state were, of course, abolished after WWII. However, Jinja Honchō regards their distribution of Jingū Taima as continuing this… Read More »Publicising Shinto

“What are Kami?”

The July 26th issue of Jinja Shinpō carried a column with the same title as this blog post, written by the chief priest of a jinja in Shikoku. (This is the woman who served as one of the Tennō’s priestesses, and who did not come from a jinja family.) This is interesting in itself, because Jinja Shinpō almost never addresses this kind of issue. I suspect that this was published because, as a personal column, this article is clearly not an official statement from Jinja Shinpōsha (the publishers of Jinja… Read More »“What are Kami?”

Cashless Offerings

Recently, an online group that has a professed aim of helping jinja has caused a problem in the Shinto world, which has raised larger issues. (This was covered in the July 19th and 26th issues of Jinja Shinpō.) The group in question ran a website where people could upload information about jinja, and the goal was to connect jinja in rural areas with people who might want to support them. The group even, it seems, contacted Jinja Honchō about it in advance. The first problem was that anyone could edit… Read More »Cashless Offerings

Shin’yūsha on Kagura

On Sunday, I watched an “online talk session” about kagura (sacred dance) organised by Shin’yūsha. I have mentioned Shin’yūsha before — it is a group that organises sessions about traditional Japanese culture, primarily aimed at children, but with a broader focus now. Before the pandemic, my daughter and I went to quite a few of the sessions, which were practical opportunities to experience some thing, but since the pandemic started they have moved most of the sessions online, and my daughter has become a teenager, and less interested in doing… Read More »Shin’yūsha on Kagura

Expert Committee on the Imperial Succession

When the law was passed to depose the previous Tennō (allow him to abdicate), an appendix was added requiring the government to look, as a matter of urgency, into the problem of the Imperial succession — the problem being that there is only one male member of the Imperial family under the age of fifty, and the law limits succession to men in the male line. The plan was to start looking into this when all the rituals associated with the succession had finished, but they got pushed back a… Read More »Expert Committee on the Imperial Succession