February 1, 2016

Who is the mysterious Inari, and why does this deity occupy such a special place in Shinto? Read more

January 31, 2016

Japan has been busy preparing itself for an influx of overseas visitors as its 2020 Olympic games draw closer. As part of the process, Japanese tourist authorities have been re-examining the standard icons it uses on maps, and proposing replacements to make the symbols more understandable for tourists. One of the icons lined up for reform is the manji, a symbol used to denote Buddhist temples, and more commonly known in the West as the swastika. One can understand why the manji is under scrutiny in this… Read more

January 28, 2016

The first few days of February are significant in a number of cultures and religions. Pagans celebrate February 1st or 2nd as Imbolc, Christians celebrate it as Candlemas or St Brigid’s Day, while America observes February 2nd as Groundhog Day, to name a few examples. Japan is no exception, where February 3rd is celebrated as Setsubun (節分). Commemorating the beginning of spring, the primary theme of Setsubun is cleansing the home and community of negative energy and inviting positive energy in…. Read more

January 26, 2016

  Have you ever had a moment where everything in your life suddenly seemed to fit together like a jigsaw puzzle? For me, it was a summer’s afternoon a few years back. I was walking home from town, when a fox jumped right out in front of me, gazed at me for a few seconds, then disappeared into the bushes. Foxes are considered to be messengers of Inari Okami, the Japanese deity of rice, prosperity and fertility. This particular fox seemed to have a… Read more

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