Month: February 2010

  • Becoming a Civil Servant

    Yesterday I received a letter from the mayor of Kawasaki, informing me that I had been selected to serve as a representative on the eighth session of the Kawasaki Representative Assembly for Foreign Residents. My term of office starts in April, and runs for two years, until March 2012. Apparently, while I am a representative, […]

  • New Immigration System

    Japan is changing its immigration system (probably). The law was passed last July, and within three years of that it will be brought into force by cabinet order. There is an article on the Japanese Immigration website about it, which is my source for what I’m writing here. That article is in Japanese, and has […]

  • Shrine Shinto Confronts Internationalisation, Part One

    Last Sunday (February 21st, just in case this draft takes longer than anticipated and I forget to edit the beginning) I attended a small symposium at Kokugakuin University on the subject “Shrine Shinto Confronts Internationalisation”. I found out about it because Professor Havens, one of the participants, posted about it on the English-language Shinto mailing […]

  • Mortgage

    Today I signed the contract for my mortgage. Apart from well and truly confirming that I am now middle-aged, why is this significant? Well, I got it from a big Japanese bank (Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ (MUFG), one of the three megabanks), I’m foreign, and I don’t have permanent residence. According to received wisdom in […]

  • Kamimeguro Hikawa Shrine

    Kamimeguro Hikawa Shrine is a fairly ordinary urban shrine, its precincts sandwiched between high buildings and lacking in old, impressive trees. “Kamimeguro” is the name of the area, and the “kami” just means “upper”; it is, apparently, not connected to the word for Shinto kami, although quite a lot of people have thought it was. […]

  • Interview

    On Sunday, I was interviewed for the Kawasaki City Representative Assembly for Foreign Residents. In the past, the normal situation has apparently been that they have had trouble finding enough people, but this time they had around fifty applicants, and the assembly has a maximum membership of about twenty five. Thus, I suppose, the need […]

  • Mitake Shrine, Miyamasu

    The first actual shrine that I passed walking along the ÅŒyama Kaidō was Mitake (mee-ta-kay) Shrine, on Miyamasu Hill in Shibuya. This is the main road on the opposite side of the station from the famous junction with the enormous screens that it almost always used as an establishing shot of Tokyo in foreign films. […]

  • Toyokawa Inari Tokyo Betsuin

    The first shrine I visited on my walk along the ÅŒyama Kaidō last month was not, in fact, a shrine at all, at least not strictly speaking. Toyokawa Inari Tokyo Betsuin is formally a Zen Buddhist temple. It is also, very clearly, an Inari establishment, and Inari is almost always a Shinto kami. So, what’s […]

  • Natural Helper Cells

    All animals have some way to fight off infections by bacteria, viruses, and parasites. If they didn’t, they would soon die. In mammals, this system is quite complex, and includes two main branches. One, the adaptive immune system, learns about infections the first time they are encountered, and then can deal with them quickly if […]

  • A Year in the Life of a Shinto Shrine

    Here we have another example of a book that does what it says on the cover; a recounting of one year’s festivals and activities at a Shinto shrine, together with comments from various of the priests on matters connected to Shinto, Japan, and the shrine’s operation. The writing is clear and lively, and it gives, […]