Torii Gates in Japan

While making some maps on Inkarnate for a new Japanese-themed Ravenloft-domain I published on DMS Guild, I was reminded how these kind of Japanese gates often show up in unusual places in Western media, including fantasy media: But these gates aren’t just for decoration, they’re an important part of Japanese Shinto religion, called a toriiContinue reading “Torii Gates in Japan”

New Pilgrimage Books

Hello readers, A while back, I talked about something in Japanese culture called a goshuinchō (ご朱印帳), or pilgrimage book. This is a tradition that started in the late-medieval Edo period, when life in Japan finally stabilized and people could afford to travel the countryside on Buddhist pilgrimages, or just sight-seeing. People would get a “seal”Continue reading “New Pilgrimage Books”

Funerary and Memorial Practices in Japan

Since my mother in law passed away recently, and my wife is back in the US, I’ve had a crash-course on memorial practices in Japanese culture, and wanted to share in case others run into this too. Much of these practices are rooted in a fascinating combination of native Japanese religion, blended with Indian-Buddhist practicesContinue reading “Funerary and Memorial Practices in Japan”

Omamori: Japanese Charms

Since New Year has come and gone, this is a time where people frequently purchase an omamori (御守り) charm for the year, while returning the previous year’s charm for proper, not to mention respectful, disposal. Because my family and I visit Japan every year since 2005 to see my wife’s family, I’ve picked up aContinue reading “Omamori: Japanese Charms”

The Seven Luck Gods

As 2021 draws to a close, this is a nice opportunity to review a fascinating aspect of Japanese spirituality: the Seven Luck Gods! The Seven Luck Gods or shichi-fukujin (七福神) exemplify the syncretic nature of Japanese religion, because the seven gods have different origins including some native Shinto kami to Hindu gods who have undergoneContinue reading “The Seven Luck Gods”

Japanese Pilgrimage Books

While many foreign tourists visit Buddhist temples (otera お寺) and Shinto shrines (jinja 神社), few know about a custom that has been around for centuries: pilgrimage books. The pilgrimage book or shuinchō (朱印帳), often called go-shuinchō (ご朱印帳), is a book for collecting stamps, often accompanied with some calligraphy, called a shuin (朱印). This practice, accordingContinue reading “Japanese Pilgrimage Books”

The Many Many Kami of Shinto Religion

In the past, I’ve touched on the subject of Shinto religion, and its great many kami (神) who range from great deities to little more than nature spirits or revered historical figures. In Japanese Shinto there is a saying: ya-o-yorozu no kami (八百万の神) which means “the Eight Million kami (of Japan)” which captures this sense,Continue reading “The Many Many Kami of Shinto Religion”

Happy Belated New Year!

Hello Readers! Although the first couple weeks of 2021 have been kind of lousy for us all, I wanted to take a moment to say “happy new year!” to you all. In Japanese, people greet one another the first time they meet after the new year with a special greeting. First, people say to oneContinue reading “Happy Belated New Year!”

Ablution in Japanese religion

I follow a certain Japanese taxi company (MK Taxi) based in Kyoto, Japan on Twitter, and they recently posted these photos of rubber ducks swimming in a pool of water. But this is no ordinary pond or pool, this as an ablution pool at Awata Shrine, a small Shinto shrine in Kyoto, Japan. Almost everyContinue reading “Ablution in Japanese religion”