Shinto priest joins Nagasaki remembrance service at Aylesford

Friday, 18 August 2017

For more than 30 years people have gathered at Aylesford Carmelite Priory on either 6th or 9th August to remember the uses of atomic bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan in 1945. People of other faiths or none have always been welcome to come and remember alongside the Catholics who organise the events. However, a special “flavour” was provided this year by their contributions to the liturgy.

Ba'hai and Pagan members of the local Medway Inter-Faith Action project were joined by a Shinto priest, currently studying in London, who intoned a special prayer that had earlier been set down on a folded scroll. Shinto is the indigenous faith of Japan. It remains Japan's major religion, alongside Buddhism.

Taishi Kato is a young Shinto priest, undertaking a postgraduate course at SOAS in London. He is keen to give talks and presentations about Shinto while in the UK. He became licensed as a Shinto priest by following a one-year course at Kokugakuin University, immediately after graduating from Keio University. His family acquired the right of managing the Hattori Tenjingu shrine in Osaka after it was ruined during the war, and his father is the current head priest.


l-r: Fr Francis Kemsley, Phil Kerton, Taisho Kato


Taisho is pictured with Fr Francis Kemsley, Prior of the Carmelite Community at Aylesford, and Phil Kerton, co-ordinator of Justice and Peace activity in the Kent Area of the Southwark Diocese. Phil says, “These annual events stem from a remark made by the late Bishop John Jukes to the effect that, while we may not agree about how to remove the threat of nuclear war, we can agree to pray for guidance and remember what has happened in the past. We are especially grateful to the Carmelites for their consistent welcome at this historic place of prayer.”

Source: Phil Kenton