All Patreon Essays

This is a full list of all the essays that I have published through the Mimusubi Patreon, in chronological order. The description of each essay includes links to the places where it can be purchased. Note that I did not write an essay every month in the early years of the Patreon, so there are some gaps in the dates.

What is Shinto? (October 2016)
A general introduction to Shinto, available free to anyone who pledges their support. This essay is included in An Introduction to Shinto, my book, which is available on Amazon and Gumroad.
Matsuri: The Heart of Shinto Practice (November 2016)
A description of the central activities at a Shinto jinja. This essay is included in An Introduction to Shinto, my book, which is available on Amazon and Gumroad.
Tennō: The Emperor in Shinto (January 2017)
The role of the Japanese Emperor in Shinto. Part of this essay is included in An Introduction to Shinto, my book, which is available on Amazon and Gumroad.
Kegarë and Harae: Pollution and Purification (March 2017)
The concepts and rituals around purity and impurity in Shinto. Part of this essay is included in An Introduction to Shinto, my book, which is available on Amazon and Gumroad.
Attitudes to Shinto (April 2017)
What typical Japanese people think about Shinto, based on a survey carried out by Jinja Honchō. Part of this essay is included in An Introduction to Shinto, my book, which is available on Amazon and Gumroad.
Shinto from the Shore (May 2017)
A bit on my personal view of Shinto, based on a talk I was asked to give, in English, to a Japanese audience. It is available on Gumroad.
Shinto People (July 2017)
From priests to casual visitors, this essay describes the various types of people associated with jinja. It covers both the very well known but peripheral miko, and the absolutely central but almost completely unknown sōdai, but focuses on priests. This essay is included in An Introduction to Shinto, my book, which is available on Amazon and Gumroad.
Kami (August 2017)
What are kami? They are not “gods”, but that is not very helpful. This essay explains how kami are seen in contemporary Shinto, and introduces four of the most popular: Hachiman Ōkami, Amaterasu Ōmikami, Tenjin-sama, and O-Inari-san. This essay is included in An Introduction to Shinto, my book, which is available on Amazon and Gumroad.
A History of Shinto (September 2017)
A very quick history of Shinto, from its origins to the present day, focusing on the historical elements that are most important in understanding contemporary Shinto. This essay is included in An Introduction to Shinto, my book, which is available on Amazon and Gumroad.
Yasukuni Jinja (November 2017)
A discussion of Yasukuni Jinja, the place where the war dead are enshrined and the most controversial jinja in Japan. This essay is included in An Introduction to Shinto, my book, which is available on Amazon and Gumroad.
Shinto in Anime and Manga (January 2018)
The portrayal of Shinto in anime and, mainly, manga, from realistic depictions of life at a jinja to fantasy stories. It is available on Gumroad
Norito (February 2018)
The formal prayers offered as part of every matsuri. This essay is included in An Introduction to Shinto, my book, which is available on Amazon and Gumroad.
At A Jinja (March 2018)
The buildings and other features of a jinja. This essay is included in An Introduction to Shinto, my book, which is available on Amazon and Gumroad..
In A Jinja (April 2018)
Significant items in a jinja, from o-mamori amulets to the goshintai that houses the kami. This essay is included in An Introduction to Shinto, my book, which is available on Amazon and Gumroad.
Household Rituals (May 2018)
The Shinto rituals that are supposed to be performed within private households. Part of this essay is included in An Introduction to Shinto, my book, which is available on Amazon and Gumroad.
Shinto Myths (June 2018)
A general discussion of the role of myths in Shinto, and the main sources for them, together with a description of the creation myths found in the central texts. A small part of this essay is included in An Introduction to Shinto, my book, which is available on Amazon and Gumroad. The whole essay is available in Myths of Creation and Amaterasu, on Amazon.
Shinsen (August 2018)
The food and drink offered to the kami, both the standard offerings found at all jinja, and some examples of special offerings unique to a particular matsuri. Part of this essay is included in An Introduction to Shinto, my book, which is available on Amazon and Gumroad. The entire essay is available on Amazon in Offerings for the Kami.
Shirahata Hachiman Daijin (September 2018)
My local jinja, and a good example of a “typical” jinja. This essay is included in An Introduction to Shinto, my book, which is available on Amazon and Gumroad.
Kagura (December 2018)
The sacred music and dance of Shinto ceremonies. Part of this essay is included in An Introduction to Shinto, my book, which is available on Amazon and Gumroad. The entire essay is available on Amazon in Offerings for the Kami.
Ōharaëkotoba (January 2019)
A transcription, translation, and basic commentary for the most important Shinto prayer (norito). This essay is available on Amazon in Ōharaëkotoba and Izumo Yogoto.
Myths of Amaterasu (February 2019)
A description of the myths of Amaterasu as found in the oldest sources for Japanese mythology, with some discussion of the significance of the events and the differences between the versions. Part of this essay is included in An Introduction to Shinto, my book, which is available on Amazon and Gumroad. The whole essay is available in Myths of Creation and Amaterasu, on Amazon.
Jingū (March 2019)
Jingū, in Isë, the main jinja dedicated to Amaterasu Ōmikami, and the most important single jinja in contemporary Shinto practice. This essay is included in An Introduction to Shinto, my book, which is available on Amazon and Gumroad.
The Shinto Establishment (April 2019)
Jinja Honchō, the Shintō Seiji Renmei, and Jinja Shinpō. Organisations that play a critical role in contemporary Shinto, and serve to a great extent as its public face. This essay is included in An Introduction to Shinto, my book, which is available on Amazon and Gumroad.
Izumo Myths I (June 2019)
The first part of the myths of Izumo, including Susano’o and the Dragon, and the trials of Ōkuninushi. This essay is available on Amazon in Myths of Izumo.
Izumo Myths II (July 2019)
The second part of the myths of Izumo, including Ōkuninushi and Sukunabikona, and the transfer of rulership to the ancestors of the Tennō. This essay is available on Amazon in Myths of Izumo.
Myths from the Izumo Fudoki (August 2019)
Some of the myths included in the Izumo Fudoki, an eighth-century text describing the province of Izumo in western Japan (modern Shimanë Prefecture). This essay is available on Gumroad.
Izumo Ōyashiro (September 2019)
One of the oldest and most important jinja in Japan, with a line of high priests that claims descent from Amaterasu Ōmikami. This essay is available on Amazon in Izumo Ōyashiro and Miho Jinja
The Ritual of the Daijōsai (October 2019)
The Daijōsai is an ancient Shinto ritual performed at the accession of a new Tennō. This essay describes what actually happens, as far as is generally known. This essay is available on Amazon in The Daijōsai.
The Meaning of the Daijōsai (November 2019)
The ritual of the Daijōsai is believed to have great significance, but there is considerable debate over what, precisely, it signifies. This essay discusses the most important suggestions. This essay is available on Amazon in The Daijōsai.
The Izumo Yogoto (December 2019)
An ancient norito, recited before the Tennō by the Izumo Kokusō, the chief priest of Izumo Ōyashiro, when he took up his role. The content sheds light on ancient forms of Shinto ritual, and the Izumo traditions about the kami. This essay is available on Amazon in Ōharaëkotoba and Izumo Yogoto.
Miho Jinja (January 2020)
A jinja in the ancient province of Izumo (modern Shimanë prefecture) that hosts some ancient and distinctive matsuri. This essay is available on Amazon in Izumo Ōyashiro and Miho Jinja.
Mirrors, Swords, and Jewels (February 2020)
These are the items that make up the Sacred Treasures of the Tennō, and this essay discusses their significance within Shinto, both in general and as the Sacred Treasures. It is available on Gumroad
Shinto for Non-Japanese (March 2020)
Is it all right for non-Japanese people to practise Shinto? (Yes) And how can they do it? (That’s a bit more complicated.) This essay is available on Gumroad as an individual essay, and on Amazon in Shinto Practice for Non-Japanese.
Descent from the Heavens (April 2020)
Further Shinto myths, concerning the descent of the ancestor of the Tennō from the heavens to found the imperial line. This essay is available on Amazon in Imperial Origin Myths.
Experimental Theology (May 2020)
Something a bit different: an experimental investigation of Shinto. The essay is available on Gumroad.
Meiji Jingū (June 2020)
Meiji Jingū is the most popular jinja for hatsumōdë in Japan, with around three million visitors a year. It is also only a century old, having been dedicated in 1920 to enshrine Meiji Tennō. This essay is available on Gumroad.
The Hyūga Generations (July 2020)
The myths told about the ancestors of the Tennō from the period when they lived in Kyushu, before moving to central Japan. This essay is available on Amazon in Imperial Origin Myths.
Shinto Without Essence (August 2020)
An explanation of why it is so hard to define Shinto, to say when it started, and distinguish things that are Shinto from things that are not. This essay is available on Amazon in Explaining Shinto.
Practising Shinto Outside Japan (September 2020)
A companion piece to Shinto for Non-Japanese, focusing on the practical things one can do to practise Shinto outside Japan. This essay is available on Gumroad as an individual essay, and on Amazon in Shinto Practice for Non-Japanese.
The Kumamoto Earthquakes (October 2020)
In April 2016, Kumamoto Prefecture in southwestern Kyushu was struck by two powerful earthquakes in quick succession, causing a lot of damage. This included damage to jinja, and over the following four years there have been notable recovery efforts. This essay is available on Gumroad.
Jinmu’s Journey (November 2020)
The myths telling the story of the journey of Jinmu, the first Tennō, from Kyushu to Yamato, in central Japan. This includes the story of Yata-no-Karasu, the crow sent to guide Jinmu through the mountains of Kumano. This essay is available in Amazon in Myths of Jinmu Tennō.
Translating Shinto (December 2020)
Many words used in Shinto are difficult to translate into English. This essay explains why, and gives examples of words that are hard to translate, with a discussion of how I handle the problem. This essay is available on Amazon in Explaining Shinto.
The Conquest of Yamato (January 2021)
The myths of Jinmu’s conquest of Yamato, which include some valuable descriptions of early Shinto rituals. This essay is available in Amazon in Myths of Jinmu Tennō.
Shinto Ethics (February 2021)
Although ethics is not a central concern of Shinto, priests and the Shinto establishment do have something to say about it. This essay collects what I have been able to gather about their ethical positions from their public statements and actions. It is available on Gumroad.
The Accession of Jinmu Tennō (March 2021)
After Kamuyamatoiwarëbiko had conquered the Yamato region of Japan, he became the first Tennō, Jinmu. The legends tell interesting stories about his wife, and about the rituals that were performed at his palace. This essay is available on Gumroad individually, and on Amazon as part of Myths of the First Emperors.
The Archaeology of Shinto (April 2021)
The written history of Shinto starts in the early eighth century, but there is reason to think that the practice goes back to the fourth century. This essay introduces some of the most important archaeological evidence for that. It is available on Gumroad.
Myths of Sujin Tennō (May 2021)
In the traditional list, Sujin Tennō is the tenth Tennō, although he has a title that means “First Tennō to Rule the Country”. The myths of his reign have a lot to say about the kami and Shinto rituals, on topics including including sacred marriages, oracles, and sacred treasures. This essay is available on Gumroad individually, and on Amazon as part of Myths of the First Emperors.
Early Matsuri (June 2021)
What were the earliest Shinto rituals, “matsuri”, like? Shinto seems to have begun around the fourth century, and developed in the fifth century. Around the turn of the eighth century, there is evidence for major changes in the Shinto rituals performed by the Japanese state, which in turn influenced other matsuri. So, the question for this essay is what we can say about matsuri between the fourth and seventh centuries. All of our written sources are from the eighth century or later, but there are reasons to think that some of them provide information about earlier practices. This essay looks at the evidence and what can be said. It is available for purchase on Gumroad.