Religion: Kami Comeback

In thousands of Shinto shrines across Japan last week, sober-faced girls in white robes and vermilion skirts practiced the stately postures of the ritualistic Kagura dance. Musicians wearing eboshi (ceremonial headgear) thumped out an accompaniment on wooden drums, played the ancient ceremonial songs on reedy bamboo flutes. At Tokyo's huge Meiji shrine, the 190 fulltime staff members and 100 temporary helpers put in twelve-hour days cleaning up the building and consecrating tiny religious symbols for sale to worshipers. The week-long New Year's festival—Japan's most important religious event—was coming, and Shinto was gearing...

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