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Spirit of Japan: Shinto & Gagaku – Japanese traditional religion and music – An Introduction to Shinto and Gagaku Music

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While Japan’s Buddhist traditions are well known in the form of temples in Kyoto, Nara and the popularity of Zen, many Japanese also enjoy Christmas and Halloween, and visit Shinto shrines from time to time.

Shinto is the indigenous and traditional religion of Japan, which does not have a founder, dogmas, or central scripture. Shinto has been a part of Japanese life for a few thousand years, and today millions of people visit Meiji Jingu Shinto shrine in Tokyo for their first shrine visit in the New Year.

Shinto priests from Meiji Jingu will come to the University of Toronto and give an introductory talk about Shinto, and its conception of relating to nature, just as the forests surrounding Meiji Jingu, and its connection to the life of Japanese people.

Gagaku (traditional music) has an important role at Shinto ritual ceremonies. Slow and mellow music will lead you to feel Japanese culture rooted deep in the history of the country. In this event, some music will be performed by three musical instruments (Sho, Hichiriki, Ryuteki). Furthermore, the performers (Shinto priests) will give you instructions if you want to try to play them!


Moriyasu Ito graduated from Kyoto University and earned a Bachelor of Law. He entered the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1993 and studied at Trent University in Canada as a trainee, and was posted to Karachi in Pakistan as a cultural attache and vice consul for three years. Back to Tokyo in 1999, he left the ministry in 2003 and entered Meiji Jingu and became a Shinto priest after studying at Kokugakuin University. He is the Chief of the International relations division at Meiji Jingu Intercultural Research Institute. He plays the Sho (a Japanese wind instrument assembling panpipes).


Atsuki Katayama graduated from Kokugakuin University in 2003 and entered Meiji Jingu in the same year. His father is serving at Hitomaro Jinja (Shinto shrine), dedicated to the spirit of a poetry Kakinomoto-no Hitomaro (A.D. 660-724), in Yamaguchi prefecture. He became a Shinto priest in 2008 after serving as a trainee for 5 years at Meiji Jingu. Currently he belongs to the Ritual division. He plays the Ryuteki (dragon flute).


Takanaga Tsutsumi lives a life close to Shinto since his mother was born in the family serving at Kumano-hongu Taisha (Shinto shrine) in Wakayama prefecture. After he studied law at Tokai University, he decided to become a Shinto priest, and entered Kokugakuin University to take one year intensive course for the qualification to be a priest. He has been serving at Meiji Jingu for three years as a trainee, now. He plays the Hichiriki (small double-reed instrument).


September 19, 2018
3:00 pm - 4:30 pm


Jackman Humanities Building, Rm 100
170 St. George St
Toronto, ON M5R2M8 Canada
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