Patreon Essay Back Numbers

I have been writing essays for my Patreon for several years now, and all the back issues are available for purchase in one form or another. There is a complete list of all the essays, in chronological order, with details on how to get hold of each one, if you would like to look at them that way.

All the Amazon links on the back issue pages are affiliate links, so I may receive some money if you make a purchase after clicking on them. This is particularly true if you buy one of my books, because I will get royalties.

Getting Started

If you want to get started, the best place is An Introduction to Shinto, which is available on both Amazon and Gumroad.

The book covers contemporary Shinto, describing matsuri, the ceremonies performed to honour the kami, and jinja, the sacred spaces in which most of those ceremonies are performed. It also includes a brief account of some Shinto myths, the history of Shinto, and the current organisational structure, such as it is, of Shinto as a whole. Finally, there are more detailed descriptions of three specific jinja: Jingū, at Isë, arguably the most important jinja in Japan, Yasukuni Jinja in Tokyo, clearly the most controversial, and Shirahata Hachiman Daijin in Kawasaki, an example of a “typical” jinja. If you are interested, you can check a full list of all the essays included in the book, in whole or in part.

If your interest in Shinto is more practical than theoretical, you might also be interested in my essays on Shinto practice for non-Japanese. The main focus of these essays is on practice outside Japan, but they also cover issues affecting non-Japanese who are in Japan and want to practise Shinto.

I wrote two essays on this topic. The first, Shinto for Non-Japanese, is primarily concerned with the broad issues of whether it is acceptable for non-Japanese to practise Shinto (it is), and the sorts of things that they can do to practise it. The second, Practising Shinto Outside Japan, is focused on concrete suggestions for how someone outside Japan could practise Shinto, complete with transcribed norito prayers for use when venerating the kami. These two essays are available combined on Amazon, and individually on Gumroad: Shinto for Non-Japanese and Practising Shinto Outside Japan.

On Amazon, these essays are part of the series Mimusubi Essays on Shinto, which has its own page on this site listing all the back issues available in the series.

Shinto Myths

The main Shinto myths are quite well-known outside Japan, but normally in one version, based on the Kojiki, an eighth-century text. They exist in many more versions, some of which, in the Nihonshoki, were written down only a few years after the Kojiki. I have written several essays about the myths, drawing on multiple sources (primarily the Kojiki and Nihonshoki), to recount the varied traditions and provide some interpretation and information about the historical significance of the legends.

Myths of Creation and Amaterasu covers the early myths, including probably the most famous: the story of Amaterasu and the Cave of Heaven. Myths of Izumo continues the story, covering the story of Susano’o and the dragon, and the adventures of Ōkuninushi. Imperial Origin Myths looks at the descent of Ninigi-no-mikoto from the heavens, and the establishment of the Imperial line. Myths of Jinmu Tennō covers the first Tennō (Emperor), Jinmu, recounting the legends of his journey from Kyushu, in western Japan, to Yamato, in central Japan, and his conquest of the area. Finally, Myths from the Izumo Fudoki retells some of the myths from another source, an early eighth-century gazetteer of the Izumo region, in what is now eastern Shimanë Prefecture, on the Japan Sea coast.

Manga

I have only written one essay on Shinto in Anime and Manga, but it does seem to be a topic that a lot of people are interested in. Shinto is such a pervasive part of Japanese culture that it pops up in manga and anime even if they are actually about something else, but this essay focuses on how Shinto is portrayed when it is a central part of the setting. Even then, there is a wide range, from realistic to fantastic.

I only mentioned a few of the available essays above; please look at the full list if you are interested in seeing what I have written. If you are interested in getting more essays as they are written, please consider signing up for my Patreon. Thank you for looking.