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The Grand Renewal of Kasuga Taisha

The Grand Renewal of Jingū at Isë, where the jinja buildings are completely reconstructed and the treasures replaced every twenty years, is famous, and a major focus of the activities of the Shinto world. It started in 690, and has only been interrupted for a century or so, during a period of civil war; there have been 62 in total. It is not the only Grand Renewal, however. The latest textbook for the Jinja Kentei, the Shinto examination for lay people backed by Jinja Honchō, talks about Grand Renewals at… Read More »The Grand Renewal of Kasuga Taisha

Shinto Beliefs

At the beginning of every year, Jinja Shinpō publishes a number of short articles by people in the Shinto world who share that year’s Chinese zodiac animal. As there are twelve animals in the cycle, that means that the articles are written by people who will turn 24, 36, 48, 60, 72, or 84 in the coming year. (I have not yet noticed one by someone heading for 96 or 108, nor by someone about to reach 12.) A lot of them are the chief priests of jinja, but others… Read More »Shinto Beliefs

Aso Jinja and “Migawari”

Aso Jinja is a large and old jinja in Kumamoto Prefecture, in central Kyushu. It is the Ichi-no-Miya of Higo, one of the old provinces of Japan, and its chief priesthood is hereditary in the Aso family, who used to rule the area as well as lead the religious rituals. It is located in the caldera of an active volcano, which is less exciting than it sounds, as the caldera is enormous, and the volcano is much less active now than it was when the caldera formed. In April 2016,… Read More »Aso Jinja and “Migawari”

Shimëkazari: New Year Decorations

New year is a very important period for jinja, and in Japanese culture more broadly. It is the only time of the year that almost everyone takes off, and a shop claiming to be “Open all year, no holidays” means that they are open over the new year period; the sign may even include a note saying that they are closed in August. Most people spend the time with family, particularly with family they do not normally see. It is very common to return to the town in which one… Read More »Shimëkazari: New Year Decorations

The Sacred Plaques of Ise: Jingū Taima

The sacred plaques of Jingū at Ise, officially called Jingū Taima, are distributed through jinja across Japan, with most of the activity happening at the end of the year. Almost any staffed jinja will have Jingū Taima available if you ask at the office, and, particularly in more rural areas, it is common for the priests and other people closely connected to the jinja to go door to door around the area, asking people if they want a Jingū Taima. The distribution of Jingū Taima is a really big issue… Read More »The Sacred Plaques of Ise: Jingū Taima

Beginning the Grand Renewal of Jingū

Jingū, at Isë, is renewed once every twenty years. All the main jinja structures are completely rebuilt, and the sacred treasures are all duplicated, so that the new ones can be offered to the kami, primarily Amaterasu Ōmikami and Toyoukë Ōmikami. The most recent one was in 2013, so the next one is due in 2033. Formally, it is carried out on the dates set by the Tennō, and he may, in theory, choose not to have it done then, but that is extremely unlikely. The Grand Renewal (Shikinen Sengū)… Read More »Beginning the Grand Renewal of Jingū

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