Category Archives: Shinto / Japanese Religion

A Shinto Experience in New Zealand

glowworm01In August, my family made a trip to New Zealand. My husband’s a Kiwi, so one of the main purposes of our trip was to catch up with members of his family. But of course we had plenty of opportunities to make the most of all the incredible experiences New Zealand has to offer.

New Zealand is a paradise for nature lovers and we were lucky enough to have plenty of chances to connect withthe country’s wild soul. We bathed in a natural hot spring that we dug ourselves at Hot Water Beach. We got up close and personal with friendly Kea (mountain parrots) and fur seals. We experienced the thrill of sailing under a waterfall at Milford Sound.

But among all these experiences, for me none were quite so profound as our visit to the Te Ana-au Glowworm Caves. From start to finish, it felt less like a mere tourist attraction and more like a spiritual pilgrimage – and in many ways, a Shinto pilgrimage. [Read more]


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Make a Japanese “Weather Ghost” Charm


When I used to teach in Japan, I would occasionally come to school to find the windows of some of my students’ classrooms covered in what looked like little paper ghosts. The students would make them before a school outing, or before their Sports Day. They could appear at any time of the year, so they weren’t Halloween decorations…so what were they? [Read more]

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Moon Gazing At Tsukimi: Japan’s Autumn Festival


It is a beautiful autumn evening. As the cool breeze sweeps over rivers and mountains, a woman creates an altar outdoors in honour of the Full Moon. Offerings of autumn’s bounty – chestnuts, pumpkin, wine, potatoes, and home-made sweets – are carefully stacked upon a raised platform, and beside it is placed a vase of autumn greenery. The woman gazes at the Moon, drinking in its beauty and its mysterious power, and she may even be inspired to write poetry about the scene. Once her contemplation of the Moon is over, she and her family eat the offerings together, thankful for the gifts that Nature provides.

This may sound like a typical Full Moon ritual performed by Neopagans all over the world. But this isn’t a Neopagan ritual. This is a ritual for Tsukimi – Japan’s annual Moon Gazing Festival. [Read more…]

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Celebrating the Neopagan Wheel of the Year in Japan


This Monday July 18th is a public holiday in Japan known as Umi no Hi, or “Ocean Day.” It’s one of 16 public holidays in Japan, which is quite a large number compared with many other countries (on the flip-side, few Japanese take annual leave from work for a variety of reasons). Fortunately for Neopagans living in Japan, not only do many of these public holidays fall on or close to the eight Sabbats of the Wheel of the Year, but several lend themselves to Pagan celebrations in their own right.
So let’s look at how Neopagans in Japan can work their Wheel of the Year around Japan’s own calendar…[Read more]

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Gods and Gratitude


Offerings to the kami at Torigoe Shrine in Tokyo. By 江戸村のとくぞう / CC Wikimedia Commons

Two virtues that are important in Japanese culture are gratitude and generosity. The two are very closely intertwined. The Japanese have a strong sense of obligation and debt towards those who have shown them kindness, going out of their way to make sure no favour goes unrepaid – and the repayment will often be in the form of a physical, and sometimes expensive, gift. [Read more]

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Wish Upon A Star At Tanabata


Throughout July, people in Japan will be gazing skyward as part of the celebrations for Tanabata, a summer celebration often called the “Star Festival” in English. [Read more…]

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Shinto’s Summer Solstice


By Tawashi2006 via Wikimedia Commons

The Summer Solstice is not celebrated much in Shinto, at least when compared with Neopaganism. This is a little surprising for two reasons. [Read more…]


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Is Shinto Truly a Religion for All?


In Japan’s Mie prefecture, there exists an enigmatic shrine. It is visited by 8.5 million pilgrims and sightseers every year, but its central building is hidden from the public. It was established over 2,000 years ago, yet its main structures are never any older than 20 years. It is perhaps the most sacred Shinto site of all, yet is currently surrounded by controversy. Welcome to Ise Jingu, also known as Ise Grand Shrine, where the G7 summit is currently taking place. [Read more]

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Shinto in Emoji


Believe it or not, millions of people all over the world are now being exposed to Shinto on a daily basis. How? Through emoji! [Read more]

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Celebrating the Masculine at Kodomo No Hi


Koi-nobori carp streamers hung to celebrate Children’s Day in Japan. By tiseb/Wikimedia Commons

While I find early spring a feminine time of year, for me, May is very much a masculine month – a time for celebrating the Great God in all His incarnations. Certainly Beltane is quite a “manly” Sabbat, withoak its maypoles and Green Man and Horned God imagery. But in Japan on May 5th, there’s another festival that’s all about celebrating boys and men that shares some similarities with Beltane, and that is Kodomo no Hi. [Read more]

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