The Japanese Dutch Shinzen Foundation is today celebrating its 30th anniversary in an invitation-only event at the city hall in Amsterdam. It’s a historic day for the internationalisation of Shinto, for it marks the establishment of the first shrine founded outside Japan by a non-Japanese.
Paul de Leeuw studied with the Yamakage Shinto School in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka-ken. The Yamakage shrine is not a member of Jinja Honcho and follows a type of ‘koshinto’ or old-style Shinto. You can read about it in The Essence of Shinto by Motohisa Yamakage, the 79th Grand Master (now retired and succeeded by his son).
When Paul de Leeuw was granted a license as a priest in 1981, he was the first Caucasian Shinto priest in history. (There may have been non-Japanese citizens acting as priests in Hawaii or elsewhere, but as far as is known they were all racially Japanese.) In the same year Paul founded the Japanese Dutch Shinzen Foundation in Amsterdam and gave instruction in spiritual exercises and performed ceremonies. For the past thirty years he has been able to carve out a unique living as a Shinto priest in Europe.
In 1989 the Foundation acquired a location near the waterfront in Amsterdam where Paul was able to set up a shrine and dojo. As well as giving regular lessons in spiritual practices such as meditation and purification, he is in demand from Japanese companies across Europe for ceremonies such as jichinsai (ground-breaking ceremonies). He also acts for Japanese expatriates in such matters as weddings, 7-5-3 and officiates over a large New Year gathering each year at Hotel Okura in Amsterdam.
Green Shinto wishes to extend a big congratulations and wish the Amsterdam project all the best for the coming years!!