Shinto "resurrection," tree cloning, or eternal kami?

April 16, 2010

April 16, 2010

A recent story from the Economist tells of the apparent "rebirth" of a fallen 800 year old Gingko tree in the ancient Japanese capital of Kamakura. "An Easter story from Japan" asks the question, "Can Japanese technology be used to revive the holy spirit?" This event is a striking an example of the intersection of Shinto beliefs regarding the presence of kami in the natural world, (classically defined as 'anything that elicits a sense of awe or wonder,' but often simply understood as divinity) and 21st century technology. As the article indicates, when a scientist cloned the fallen tree, in an effort to replant a historically famous object, Shinto priests saw this as propagating the holy. Does this suggest that gene splicing is a sacred endeavor? Thousands initially flocked to the shrine (jinja) to pay their respects, whereas now they return to perhaps witness a "miracle." If you happen to be in Kamakura stop by and let me know how the 'old one' looks.

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