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My Books

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Sacred Tokyo 40 Shinto Shrines

1) Sacred Tokyo 40 Shinto Shrines, published July 2021

The book’s core is descriptions of 40 of the most notable Shinto shrines in Tokyo. These are in chapters 2 to 7. Each shrine description is designed to be self-complete, so if e.g., chapter 2, the Ten Tokyo Shrines, is read from beginning to end in one session, the references to damage from the Great Kanto Earthquake, the Great Tokyo Firebombing, etc. may sound repetitive, but I think this is unavoidable. Along with many other events mentioned in the book, these two major calamities are described in detail in the Glossary.

 

For readers who may want to know more of the history and culture behind the shrines I have included a brief history on Shinto (chapter 10) and its multitudinous deities (chapters 11-13). There are at least 1,500 shrines in the 23 wards which comprise Tokyo proper and 4,000 or so in the Greater Tokyo region. So why choose 40? I have relied on three criteria, history, fame, and my personal preferences. Let me begin with the history.

 

Note that Tokyo was known as Edo until 1868 when the feudal government was overthrown and replaced by an administration intent on modernization, and that “Jinja” and “Gu” both mean shrine. There are five commonly recognized historical groups of shrines in Tokyo, and with one exception they are each covered in separate chapters in this book. They are, by chapter number, 2) the Ten Tokyo Shrines, 3) the Seven Edo Hikawa Jinja, 4) the Seven Edo Tenjin, and 5) the Eight Edo Hachiman-Gu. The exception, the 25 Edo Tenjin, is not covered because five of the shrines it included no longer exist and another eight have been merged into other shrines. Each of the Seven Edo Tenjin is a component of the 25 Edo Tenjin.

There is another, informal, group, the Five Major Shrines in Tokyo, which, while arguably not historical—three of its components were founded after 1868—includes what are probably Tokyo’s two most famous shrines, Meiji Jingu and Yasukuni Jinja. All five shrines in this group are described in chapter 6.