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The day an ancient taboo bowed out

June 2, 2014:

More photos from the Ise event at the ARC Flickr page.

Today one of the most traditional religions in the world, the ancient indigenous faith of Japan, took a deliberate step to make a new tradition which in many ways broke more dramatically with the past than anything else that has happened in living memory for this ancient religion.

At the entrance to the sacred bridge which links the outer world of Japan with the inner sacred world of the Ise Grand Shrine, a lone Shinto priest in the traditional white clothes of his calling, watched as led by the banners of eight faiths and the United Nations and the international Alliance of Religions and Conservation advanced towards him.

Between these silken banners walked over 100 delegates including representatives of the eight major world religions drawn from all round the world and secular organizations such as the UN, conservation groups, R20 (Arnold Schwarzenneger’s international cities programme) and representatives of national governments. Until today such an array of other religious symbols and organizations would have been refused entry to this, the imperial sacred shrine of the sun goddess, Amateratsu.

Instead the lone Shinto priest had been sent by the Daiguchi, the high priest of Shintoism, not to block the entrance but, in the traditional Japanese greeting of bowing deeply, to extend for the first time ever in Shinto history an invitation to the religions of the world and to the major national international institutions seeking to create a better world an invitation to come into the shrine.

Led by Daoist priests from China in full regalia, Catholic fathers from Africa, Lutherans from Europe and Africa, Buddhists from Sri Lanka, Hindus from India and the UK, an African American Bishop from Baltimore and others, they all bowed back and a taboo that was centuries if not millennia old disappeared in the smiles with which the Shinto priest turned and led his guests over the sacred bridge and into history.

Useful links

Traditions for the Future

Letter of support from HRH the Prince Philip

Letter of support from The Prince of Wales

Jinja Honcho



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Related pages

June 4, 2014:
ValuesQuest; Culture, Creativity and Values Launched at Ise by Olav Kjørven, Assistant Secretary General of the UN
ValuesQuest; Culture, Creativity and Values Launched at Ise by Olav Kjørven, Assistant Secretary General of the UN
Shinto Faith Statement
A formal statement of Shinto beliefs about creation and ecology: "the relationship between the natural environment of this world and people is that of blood kin, like the bond between brother and sister."
Ise 2014
A major gathering of ARC partners in Japan from May 31 to June 5, 2014, will be hosted at the Grand Shrine of Ise by Jinja Honcho in partnership with ARC.