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The Significance of the Ise Shrine to Japanese History
Thursday, April 24, 2014 - 6:00pm

The PSU Center for Japanese Studies Presents

Tales of Ise: the shrines, their priests and patrons in post war Japan

A lecture by
Professor John Breen
International Research Centre for Japanese Studies, Kyoto Japan

Co-Sponsored by Portland JACL  


Thursday, April 24, 2014, 6pm
Smith Memorial Student Union, Room 296/8
1825 SW Broadway, Portland State University

Free and open to the public


A remarkable event took place in Ise in October last year. Amaterasu, the sun goddess, abandoned her shrine - her abode of just twenty years - and made a dramatic entry into the human world. Accompanied by throngs of priests, she progressed through the night to an adjacent plot just 300 metres away. There awaiting her arrival stood a brand new shrine, identical to the one she had just left. Into this new structure, Amaterasu withdrew. Another shrine will be erected on the plot she has abandoned and, twenty years from now, back she will progress. Every twenty years or so, for well over a millennium, the sun goddess has been progressing back and forth from one site to the other. In this talk, Dr. Breen will use Amaterasu’s progresses in 1953, 1973 and 1993 as a technique for exploring Ise’s shifting relationships to the state, the imperial court and the nation in post war Japan.

The Ise Shrine (Ise-jingū), also known as the Grand Shrine of Ise, is a sacred pilgrimage site.  Designated a National Treasure by the Japanese government, it receives millions of visitors each year, attracting both worshippers and tourists. 

Dr. Breen is an eminent scholar of early modern and modern Japanese history, and an expert of early modern and modern Shinto and shrines. He will discuss the historical significance of this famous, ancient shrine.