This article explores religious practices and institutional tensions related to the contemporary phenomenon of power spots (pawāsupotto) in Japan. The concept, which holds that certain places emanate special energies from the earth, emerged in the global New Age movement before its transmission to Japan in the 1980s. It has since been shaped by discourse on spirituality and nature, mass media, commercial interests and, more recently, associations with Shinto. This latter development has exposed fissures in the broader Shinto community that concern practice, economics, national symbolism, and issues of authority. Based on field results from a variety of sites between 2015 and 2017, this article provides an overview of the phenomenon before examining the conflicting interests it has exposed among regional shrines, Jinja Honchō (Association of Shinto Shrines), and the Ise Shrines. Ultimately, power spots strike at two fundamental questions facing the Shinto community: how should the religion be defined and whose interests should it serve? The current phenomenon and resulting debate portend a charged landscape for Shinto in the years ahead.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Religious studies