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Hikari no Mai

Hikari no Mai is a new sacred dance. Half of the back page of the March 18th issue (yes, this post got significantly delayed) of Jinja Shinpō  was devoted to an article about it, and the article was unsigned, which means that it was produced by core staff. The dance was created at the initiative of the Fukushima Prefecture Young Priests’ Association, which first proposed it in 2016. The idea was to create a dance that could both commemorate people who had died in natural disasters, and pray for the… Read More »Hikari no Mai

Berlin Meeting

This year, the Community of Sant’Egidio held its meeting for peace in Berlin. Last year, when it was in Rome, I was part of the Jinja Honchō delegation, but this year the decision was that I wouldn’t go. I am told that things went well enough, so we will see what happens next year. If they suddenly decide that I should go again, that would suggest there was room for improvement… Anyway, three people went in the end: the director of our department (Revd Ushio), the head of our section… Read More »Berlin Meeting

Hikari no Mai

“Hikari no Mai” (“Dance of Light”) is a particular kagura, or sacred dance. I think a lot of people have an image of kagura as being ancient, but this is not generally the case. Urayasu no Mai, possibly the most common kagura in contemporary Shinto, was created in 1940, and Toyosaka no Mai and Asahi no Mai, the other candidates for the most common contemporary kagura, in 1950. Hikari no Mai is even more recent. It was commissioned by the Shinto Young Priests’ Association to mark their 70th anniversary, and… Read More »Hikari no Mai

Studying Female Priests

The 31st July issue of Jinja Shinpō contained a long article on a study meeting of the national association of female priests, the first one held in person since before the pandemic. The main speaker was Dana Mirsalis, an assistant professor at Pacific University who studies female priests in contemporary Shinto. Her talk covered three topics — menstruation and blood kegarë, external matsuri, and physical labour — and was followed by a discussion session in which the attendees picked up on those questions. On menstruation, Prof. Mirsalis observed that the… Read More »Studying Female Priests

A Miscellany

Normally, I find a single topic for these blog posts, but the July 17th issue of Jinja Shinpō had a number of small points that I want to mention, and they have no connection to each other. The first is the editorial, which was inspired by the Marine Day national holiday (July 17th), and talked about how the sacred forests at jinja should be preserved to help preserve the oceans, and about the need to reduce plastic waste. The short piece by a journalist on the front page was about… Read More »A Miscellany

Ukrainian-Born Priestess

The 3rd July issue of Jinja Shinpō includes a short article about a meeting of ujiko and sōdai in a region of Saitama Prefecture (just to the north of Tokyo). Such reports are a standard feature of Jinja Shinpō, and they are not normally of any interest to the readers of this blog. This one is, because the meeting was addressed by a woman born in Ukraine, on the subject of the Russian invasion. It was sensible to invite her because she is a priest at one of the jinja… Read More »Ukrainian-Born Priestess