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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

LGBTQ Course

People who have been reading this blog for a while may remember that there was a scandal a while back when the Shintō Seiji Renmei, the political campaigning organisation closely linked to Jinja Honchō, distributed a leaflet to members of the Diet that included a summary of a speech saying that LGBTQ people were mentally ill. The January 30th issue of Jinja Shinpō includes an article on a couple of training sessions held online by the Osaka Prefecture Shinto Youth Association and Prefectural Shintō Seiji Renmei. One was on SDGs,… Read More »LGBTQ Course


The September 26th issue of Jinja Shinpō included a short article from Kanzaki Noritakë, a priest and folklorist who writes regularly for the “Mori ni Omofu” (“Thoughts in the Forest”) column. His columns are always interesting, and this was no exception. It was about Konsei-sama, also known as Konsei-kami (or Konsei-no-kami), Konsei Daimyōjin, Kinmaro-sama, Kanamaro-sama, or Kanamara-sama. There are signs of the veneration of Konsei-sama all across Japan, and the practice survives widely today, particularly, he says, in the area of Okayama Prefecture where he lives — he was able… Read More »Konsei-sama

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