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I have written before on this blog about hemp. Hemp is historically important in Shinto ritual, being used in traditional offerings and purifications, and it is also the plant that produces cannabis. This has caused problems, because Japan’s anti-drug, and anti-cannabis, laws are really strict. They are so strict that, until very recently, it was essentially impossible to get new permission to grow hemp with no psychoactive content. There were a few growers who had been grandfathered in, but they were not finding successors, and sometimes were being strangled by… Read More »Hemp


I recently received the latest issue of the Journal of Shintō Studies (April 2022), which contains several interesting articles. This post, however, is inspired by something mentioned in passing in one of them. The article itself is about the function and origin of tamagushi, and I have already written about that research, because a summary of an earlier stage was published a year or so ago. The bit I want to pick up concerns “tasuki”. This is the Japanese for a sash: a loop of cloth worn over one shoulder… Read More »Tasuki

Gravel from Jingū

Every issue of Jinja Shinpō includes a short column written by someone at Jingū, and the December 12th instalment was about the gravel on the paths. Look, they have to produce one of these every week. Cut them some slack. Actually, it did have a very interesting part. Gravel gets caught in the tread of shoes, or even gets inside the shoe itself. That’s just the nature of the stuff. It means that people often take some of the gravel home with them, without even noticing. The interesting part is… Read More »Gravel from Jingū

Pray for Today, Ask for Tomorrow

Jinja Honchō has released a couple of very short videos on their channel. One is 15 seconds: And the other is 30 seconds: These are actually publicity videos for Jingū Taima, and Jingū Taima do appear, on modern-style kamidana, right at the end of the video. The tag line is “Kyō ni Inoru, Ashita ni Negau”, which means something like “Pray for Today, Ask for Tomorrow”, and “Jinja Honchō” appears on the screen at the end. Because these commercials are targeted at a Japanese audience, I had nothing to do… Read More »Pray for Today, Ask for Tomorrow

Written Norito

Norito, the formal prayers offered during Shinto matsuri, are always written down, and the priest reads them from the paper. This is even true for common norito that the priest has almost certainly memorised. (The purification prayers may be read, but they are not, strictly speaking, norito, so it is also common for them to be recited from memory.) The steps of Shinto liturgy include specific instructions on what to do with the paper, and there are particular rules for folding it, and for how the norito should be written.… Read More »Written Norito

The Izawa Rice-Planting Festival

Izawa-no-Miya is one of the Betsugū of the Naiku at Jingū. (This is explained in the chapter on Jingū in my book. Basically, the Betsugū are important subsidiary jinja, but they can be quite some distance from the main sanctuary — in this case, a bit less than twenty kilometres.) Izawa-no-Miya is the only one of the Betsugū to have its own sacred rice fields, and the rice-planting festival, otauë-shiki, is one of the three largest and most famous in Japan. When it is held at full scale, it involves… Read More »The Izawa Rice-Planting Festival

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