Maybe I've been too lazy to notice, maybe it's another case of it takes a gaijin, but Mr. Halloran's story of a resurgent Shinto makes sense. After all, there's solid evidence of a spiritual malaise begging to be taken care of, from soaring suicides rates to spiritual nostrum peddlers commanding center stage in the mainstream media (yes, I'm talking about the Sopranos-meets-Sylvia-Brown Kazuko Hosogi and the John-Edward-cum-Deepak-Chopra Hiroyuki Ehara*) to the more general dissatisfaction that seems to grip the Japanese mind whenever we are asked to answer opinion polls. We tend to blame the aftereffects of the bubble years. We are unsatisfied with the present, and worried about the future; where else are we to go?
A lesser hand might try to weave it into the surging right, military might, trope that earns space in the English-language mainstream media. Mr. Halloran instead focuses on the Meiji Shrine, and juxtaposes it with the Yasukuni, which has, fairly or unfairly, come to be solely identified in the ELMSM with the dark side of our post-Meiji Restoration history. Indeed, the two shrines surely provide the leitmotifs that weave through Prime Minister Abe's historical narrative, much in the way the pre-1945 and post-1945 biographies of his grandfather Nobusuke Kishi illuminate his personal animus (in the Jungian sense, so the dictionary tells me).
*I suppose I should be happy our low-key, ecumenical, quasi-animistic approach to the supernatural precludes the proliferation of televangelist knock-offs. Then again, some might argue that we have the Tokugawa Shogunate to thank (or curse, depending on your point of view) for being spared the worst effects of a dominant, proselytizing creed.