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Deposing the Tennō

At midnight tonight, the Tennō will be deposed. Most western reports talk about his “abdication”, but legally, that is not what is happening. Legally, the Diet passed a law to depose the Tennō, and the Tennō signed it (not that he had any choice). It is happening this way because, under the Constitution, the Tennō has no legal power at all, and may not influence any political or legislative events. The status of the Tennō is defined in the Constitution, and is thus one of the things that the Tennō… Read More »Deposing the Tennō

The Tennō at Jingū

On the 18th of this month, the Tennō and Kōgō (the Emperor and Empress) visited Jingū at Isë, and paid their respects at the Gekū and Naikū. The purpose of the visit was to inform the kami of the Tennō’s upcoming abdication, on the 30th of this month. As the main kami of the Naikū, Amaterasu Ōmikami, is, according to myth, the ancestor of the Tennō, important events in the Imperial family are always formally announced to the kami. This includes such things as foreign trips, but for relatively minor… Read More »The Tennō at Jingū

The Sword and the Jewel

The accession of the next Tennō is getting very close; it will happen at the end of this month and the beginning of next. Given the importance of the Tennō to the Shinto establishment, at least, it should come as no surprise that they are putting a lot of effort into preparing for the event, and ensuring, as far as they can, that it is celebrated appropriately. There are a lot of ceremonies associated with the succession, and while they start on April 30th, some of the most important ones,… Read More »The Sword and the Jewel

The New Era Name

The name for Japan’s next era, which starts on the first of May with the accession of the new Tennō, was announced yesterday: Reiwa (令和). The announcement was made at 11:41 yesterday morning, and it has dominated the news since. Much of this news has been about people’s impression of the name. My daughter (age 11) was unimpressed, and thought that it sounded like it had been chosen by a bunch of old guys. Which is accurate. As a sound, it has grown on me, and I think it will… Read More »The New Era Name

Getting Ofuda Outside Japan

An “ofuda” is an item that contains the spirit of the kami of a jinja, which devotees can receive from the jinja in order to venerate the kami in their own home. Physically, they are wooden boards, with the name of the kami or jinja written on, and the spirit of the kami is instilled in a special matsuri at the jinja. Ofuda are the only essential item on a kamidana, a shelf where kami are venerated in the home; if you have no ofuda, you have no kami on… Read More »Getting Ofuda Outside Japan

Jinja and Immigrants

I have had an article published in the latest Jinja Shinpō. It is a response to a review of a book about foreigners moving to Japan and taking over that was published a few weeks ago. Earlier drafts were a lot less temperate than the final one… In the end, I focused on a genuine problem that was mentioned, and that jinja can actually do something about. The problem is this. It is not uncommon for immigrants to a country to gather in areas with many people from the same… Read More »Jinja and Immigrants