Department of Divinities

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The Department of Divinities (神祇官, Jingi-kan), also known as the Department of Shinto Affairs, was a Japanese Imperial bureaucracy established in the 8th century, as part of the ritsuryō reforms.


This Shinto administrative hierarchy was an intentional mirror of its Chinese counterpart, the Ministry of Rites (禮部).[1] The Jingi-kan was charged with oversight of Shinto clergy and rituals for the whole country. It was headed by the Jingi-haku (神祇伯). From the 10th century to the 15th, the Shirakawa Hakuo family held this position continuously.

In feudal Japan, the Jingi-kan became the final surviving building of the Heian Palace. During the Jōkyū War in 1221, most of the palace was evacuated and fell into disrepair; the Jingi-kan alone remained in operation. A 1624 memoir by a Jingi-haku reports that the Jingi-kan was still being used as late as 1585 and was demolished during renovations. In 1626, a temporary building was constructed to perform additional ceremonies.[2]

It was reinstated in 1869 with the onset of the Meiji period, but was quickly replaced with a more "modern" system paralleling Western institutions. A system of regular offerings (hōhei) to 3,132 kami enshrined across the nation was instituted.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Breen, John and Mark Teeuwen (2000) Shinto in History: Ways of the Kami, p. 47., p. 47, at Google Books
  2. ^ Ponsonby-Fane, Richard Arthur Brabazon (1956). Kyoto: the Old Capital of Japan, 794-1869. Kyoto: Ponsonby Memorial Society. p. 50. 
  3. ^ Ueda Kenji "Concepts of Emperor and the State." Encyclopedia of Shinto; retrieved 2011-08-22

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