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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

Protective Ofuda

Jingū in Isë grants several kinds of ofuda, small sacred panels that are often said to hold the power of the kami. The most common, and best known, are the Jingū Taima, which Jinja Honchō would like every household in Japan to venerate. However, they also grant ofuda that you can only get by visiting Jingū in person — these are called Juyo Taima.  An article in the August 1st issue of Jinja Shinpō reported on an interesting custom that relies on them. The custom is maintained in an area… Read More »Protective Ofuda

Kuroki Torii

There are many different kinds of torii, the open gateways at the entrance to jinja. An article in the July 18th issue of Jinja Shinpō was about the erection of a kuroki torii at a jinja in Kyoto Prefecture. “Kuroki” literally means “black tree”, but it actually refers to wood with the bark still on. Thus, in a kuroki torii the trunks and branches of trees are used in their original form to create the gate. This is described as “the original form of a torii” in the article, but… Read More »Kuroki Torii