Great News from Tsubaki Grand Shrine of America

Tsubaki2

The Inari shrine at Tsubaki Grand Shrine of America

A month ago, I posted about a fundraising campaign to build a second torii gate at Tsubaki Grand Shrine of America. Thanks to tremendous support, the organisation behind the campaign, Inari Faith International, have succeeded in reaching its goal of raising $3,500 and have even exceeded it. This means that the torii construction can begin.

The fundraising is continuing to construct a third torii, so if you are interested in contributing to the development of Shinto outside of Japan, as well as showing reverence for Inari Okami, you can donate to the campaign here: https://www.crowdrise.com/torii

A great accomplishment for Shinto devotees all over the world!

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7 Comments

Filed under Shinto / Japanese Religion

7 responses to “Great News from Tsubaki Grand Shrine of America

  1. EmilyAnn Frances

    I’ve read about this shrine. The High Priest is, I think, one of the few Westerners in this role. Does the sect also encourage women to become Priestesses? Can one of their shrines have a woman in charge or are the women limited in the scope of their activities?

    • Hi Emily! Yes, Rev. Koichi Barrish is a rare example of a non-Japanese ordained Shinto priest! Good question about priestesses… I’m not so knowledgeable about this, but as far as I can tell women still have a bit of a low status within Shrine Shinto. They can become Miko (shrine maidens), but Miko do not seem to have the same level of prestige as the priests. Additionally, women do suffer discrimination when it comes to some aspects of Shinto; for example, they are not allowed to step within a Sumo ring because they may make it impure (Sumo is deeply rooted in Shinto) But it is worth noting that there is a strong tradition of independent female shamans in Shinto – indeed, ancient Shinto is thought to have started with shamanesses. But I’m not 100% clued up on the role of women in Shinto so if you’re interested in this subject it might be good to research around!

      • Regarding your statement that Shinto might have began with female shamans, I don’t know very much about Shinto’s history, but I have noticed this about polytheistic religions in history. It would seem to me that back when Thuban was still the North Star (prior to circa 3200 BCE), most polytheistic systems were primarily matristic and women had much greater roles to play in polytheistic cults. This began to change, however, when the stars Kochab and Pherkad both took Thuban’s place; in most cultures, this seems to have coincided with their polytheisms taking more patriarchal and male-dominated forms (until Polaris became the North Star, after which patriarchal monotheisms became the norm). Bearing these facts in mind, I don’t know what it all means exactly, but I would think based on this that women probably did have a much greater role in ancient Shinto than they did in, say, the medieval era.

    • Just following up from my last comment…you prompted me to do a little research, and apparently, the Shinto priesthood is technically open to women: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/540847/shinshoku

      • EmilyAnn Frances

        Thank you! That answered my question. The only role for women which I was aware of was called Miko. I think it goes back to ancient times. I think they were more shrine maidens who did the sacred dances.

  2. Sorry, what I wrote above should say “circa 1900 BCE,” not 3200. That’s what I get for trying to express big ideas this early in the morning.

  3. EmilyAnn Frances

    G.B. and Trellia: Wonderful discussion. I’m very rusty on all of this but you’re helping me recall the enjoyment I found in studying whatever I could find about Shinto. I think you are both right about the role of women in the earlier stages of this religion’s development. There is a Kami called Ame Uzume No Mikoto who is the only Kami that could coax Amaterasu O Mi Kami out of hiding after her brother Susa no O behaved horribly towards her. Ame Uzume no Mikoto was thought to reflect the role of a shamaness in her role of calling the sun out of darkness and bringing back light to the world. I’ll definitely have to start reading the Nihongi again.

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