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Nigimitama and Aramitama

Kami traditionally have two aspects, called the aramitama and the nigimitama. “Mitama” means spirit or soul, while “ara” means wild and violent, and “nigi” means calm and peaceful. “Aramitama” could be translated as “wild spirit”, and “nigimitama” as “calm spirit”. As kami are often thought of as spirits, it might look as though the aramitama and nigimitama are almost separate kami. Indeed, they are sometimes treated that way. At the Naikū of Jingū in Isë, for example, there are separate jinja for the nigimitama and aramitama of Amaterasu Ōmikami. The… Read More »Nigimitama and Aramitama

What’s In A Name?

This blog is called “Mimusubi”, which is also the name for my general project of publishing about Shinto (and my trademark for both). Why did I choose that name? “Mimusubi” is taken from the name of two of the first kami to arise in the creation myth found in the Kojiki, the oldest surviving record of Japanese legends. According to this text, the first three kami to appear were Amenominakanushi, Takamimusubi, and Kamumusubi (or Kamimusubi). Amenominakanushi promptly disappears from the legends, but the two Musubi kami play important roles later… Read More »What’s In A Name?

Pool of the Fireflies

A couple of weeks ago, Jinja Shinpō carried an article by the deputy chief priest at Hikawa Jinja, in Saitama City, north of Tokyo. This is a large jinja, with extensive precincts, and the story was about their attempts to get genji fireflies breeding in the pond there again. Apparently, in the past, the area was one of the top two areas in Japan for fireflies, but then a city got built on top of the wetlands, and suddenly it wasn’t anymore. He wanted to bring the fireflies back, and… Read More »Pool of the Fireflies

Hot Button Issues

A week ago, Jinja Shinpō carried two opinion pieces that discussed gay marriage. One was part of a regular spot where the journalists on the paper write about their own thoughts. The author mentioned that they were watching a drama in which gay men were the main theme, which provoked them to investigate, and discover that there were three dramas about gay men in the spring season. “It seems to be a bit of a boom at the moment.” They went on to mention a number of prefectures (two this… Read More »Hot Button Issues

Shinto in English

At the moment, I am working on an “Introduction to Shinto” project. It is a fix-up of most of my Patreon essays into a book. That’s over 130,000 words, so it would be about 450 pages as a paperback book. I think it does a pretty good job of introducing Shinto as it is practised today and its place in Japanese society. It is less good at explaining Shinto “beliefs”, but I think it does make it clear that this is not my fault, and shows how contemporary Shinto is… Read More »Shinto in English

Fear and Trembling

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