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Gokoku Jinja

Pretty much anyone who knows anything about Japan has heard of Yasukuni Jinja, the jinja in Tokyo enshrining Japan’s war dead, even if they know nothing about Shinto. The Gokoku Jinja, which also enshrine the war dead, are much less well known. “Gokoku Jinja” means “Country Protecting Jinja”, and these jinja were set up by the government of Japan before the war. The idea of enshrining people who had died fighting for the Tennō first appeared among the people pushing to restore Imperial rule to Japan in the mid nineteenth… Read More »Gokoku Jinja

Red Torii

Almost all jinja have a torii to mark the entrance, a simple gateway with two vertical pillars, one either side, and two lintels across the top. There are a number of variations in the design, but in this post I want to focus on the colour. A lot of torii are red, but not all. Why? Now, at first sight it might not seem that you really need an explanation for this. Some torii are painted red, and others are different colours. Why do the red ones need a particular… Read More »Red Torii

New Patreon Essay: Izumo Yogoto

I have just sent all my patrons (from my Patreon) the links to December’s essay, about the Izumo Yogoto. This is an ancient norito, which was recited by a new chief priest of Izumo Ōyashiro to the Tennō on his (the priest’s) accession to the role. It was important enough to be recorded in the Engishiki, a compilation of the details of the implementation of the law made in the tenth century that is an extremely important source for the history of Shinto, but it is certainly older than that.… Read More »New Patreon Essay: Izumo Yogoto

Happy New Year

Happy New Year. As usual, my local jinja, Shirahata Hachiman Daijin, was busy with people coming to hatsumōdë. I hope that you find this year’s information about Shinto interesting and useful.

The Tombs of the Tennō

Tennō die, and are buried. Their tombs are important in Shinto practice, and are under the control of the Imperial Household Agency. In myth, the first Tennō, Jinmu, became Tennō in 660 BC, and the current Tennō is the 126th. All of these Tennō (apart from the 125th and 126th, who are not yet dead) have official tombs, and most of these tombs are fairly large mausolea, or tumulus earth mound graves. In some cases, there is no doubt that the tomb is genuine. For example, Shōwa Tennō died in… Read More »The Tombs of the Tennō

Society of Shinto Studies Meeting

This weekend, I went to half of the annual meeting of the Society of Shinto Studies. Unfortunately, it was being held over the weekend, and I have to work on Saturdays, so I could only attend the Sunday. Sunday was the day for individual research presentations, and there were four parallel sessions; obviously, I could only attend one. There were five presentations in the session I attended, and they were all interesting. The first presentation was about Shinto and the environment, and it drew my attention to some more possibilities,… Read More »Society of Shinto Studies Meeting