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“Shōzoku”: The Shintō VestmentsToya Manabu

The clothing worn by priests and priestesses at Shintō shrines is unlike anything you will see elsewhere in Japan. Here we describe the styles of traditional vestments that are part of the Shintō experience.

“Shamusho”: The Shrine OfficeToya Manabu

When not engaging in religious rites, priests and shrine personnel may rest in the shamusho, or shrine office. Here visitors can also obtain talismans to protect their homes and selves with the blessing of the shrine’s kami.

“Shintai, Shinboku”: The Divine Object or TreeToya Manabu

At the heart of the shrine, never viewed by visitors, is the shintai, the “divine body” of the kami. At some shrines this is an object, like a jewel or sword; at others, it is a natural feature like a mountain or shinboku, a divine tree.

“Honden”: The Main Sanctuary StructureToya Manabu

The structure called the honden is the heart of the Shintō facility, where its kami is enshrined. Observing the details of honden architecture can tell the visitor much about the nature of the shrine and its deity.

Ramadan in Japan: A Day in the Life of a Muslim Businessman

Ramadan this year fell during the summer, when the days are longest. For Muslims in Japan, this meant fasting for more than 16 hours a day, a special challenge in Japan's corporate culture. In this close-up of a day in the life of a Muslim businessman, we see how he and his employer are meeting such challenges.

Torii: Gates to the Sacred SpacesToya Manabu

The torii gate at the entrance to a shrine's grounds is a sight known to everyone who has visited Japan. Whether made of wood or concrete, unvarnished or painted bright red, the torii is a sign that the worshipper is leaving the profane world behind.

Your Virtual Guide to the Shintō ShrineToya Manabu

Every component of a Shintō shrine exists for a reason, and understanding the significance and function of each part is key to a more meaningful shrine experience. In this series of illustrated guides, Shintō priest and writer Toya Manabu introduces the elements of the Shintō shrine in the order in which they appear to you, the visitor, from the distinctive torii gate to the shamusho, the shrine office.

Translating the Impossible Dream: “Don Quixote” and JapanGonzalo Robledo

This year marks the four-hundredth anniversary of the death of Miguel de Cervantes, author of Don Quixote, in April 1616. Originally published as El ingenioso hidalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha (The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha), this novel is the most universally acclaimed work in the Spanish literary canon, and the anniversary of the author’s death is the occasion for renewed tribu…

UN Security Council Reform: A Challenge for Japanese DiplomacyVitaly Portnikov

The years 2016 and 2017 promise to be special ones for Japanese diplomacy. During this period Japan is serving as a nonpermanent member of the United Nations Security Council. This gives us a chance to take another look at the situation in this organization and at the way impactful decisions are made in the present-day world. Somewhat ironically, Japan's UNSC membership coincides with its hosti…

Abe’s Indo-Pacific “Security Diamond” Begins to ShineSuzuki Yoshikatsu

Last December Prime Minister Abe Shinzō wrapped up his 2015 diplomatic agenda with two events highlighting his “diamond” strategy for regional maritime security: a state visit to India and talks with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in Tokyo. The concept of a partnership between Japan, the United States, Australia, and India began to take on substance after Abe’s visit to Washington i…

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