Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Visiting a Shinto Shrine

So, Sunday I took a badly needed day off away from my desk and the almost-finished job of proofing and final revisions that's kept me busy for so many weeks* and joined Janice, Anne, and Sigfried (hi Anne. hi Sigfried) for a trip to a Shinto shrine.

We'd heard about the Tsubaki Shrine up north of here for a while now and have wanted to go to their big ceremony held about this time each year, which is open to visitors, but one thing or another has come up. This time we made it, and it was well worth the trip. I was somewhat hindered by not being able to see or hear the head priest very well from where I was sitting, and of course from not speaking Japanese, but aside from unfamiliar details it wasn't really that different from other times I've attended a religious ceremony of a faith or denomination I don't practice** And I do know a little about Shinto from my reading, and rather to my surprise did recognize a lot of elements from my familiarity with anime and manga, which turn out to reproduce the costumes and ceremonial accouterments with great fidelity. Here's a link to their website:


We were rather surprised, last night, to find that some pictures of the event have been posted to the Shrine's Facebook page that include both of us among the crowd. So if like me you're not on Facebook, here are a few of those photos of the two of us very much out of our natural element but being made to feel very welcome.

Pictures! Of these three photos, the first shows the Shinto priest, the second shows the back of my head in the foreground, and the third shows us both stepping through the CHI-NO-WA, or big green woven circle; Sig and Anne can be seen in the background through the circle.

Also have to say that they picked a beautiful spot for their shrine: near Granite Falls and right alongside a wide, shallow, fast-flowing river (the Stillaguamish, I think) into which they threw the KATASHIRO (paper meeples) we'd each written our names on.

All in all, a memorable occasion, and in a good way. I'd gladly go back there again.

--John R.
currently reading THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER [1999] by Stephen Chboski

*now finished, as of about 1 a.m. this morning, so that now I've moved on to Indexing

**e.g., I've been to Catholic Mass a few times when living in Milwaukee, either at Marquette's Gesu or at the downtown Cathedral, seen a Buddhist Temple in Hawaii, gone through a Hindu Temple on the outskirts of London, and visited a Druid stone circle down at Trout Lake (but not while a ceremony was in progress).  We'd also gotten to see a small Shinto shrine in Hawaii, but nothing to match to a shrine complex like this one. And we'd tried to visit the Taoist temple, but turns out they restrict their holy places to adherents of the faith: no tourists. Fair enough.

1 comment:

Matt Fisher said...


The priest at Tsubaki Grand Shrine is either the first or second non-Japanese Shinto priest ever, an American named Lawrence Barrish. He now is usually referred to as Koichi Barrish; he has also practiced and taught aikido for a number of years (probably close to 40).