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Home » 6. Belief and Practice » Associations and Organizations
Sōdai
The name referring to someone who represents other believers. It is used throughout religion, but as it concerns Shinto it is a person other than a priest (shinshoku) who plays the role of a sponsor or a representative and who comes from among the ujiko (shrine parishioners) or sūkeisha (worshippers coming from outside the shrine parish) who support that certain shrine. The representative of a group of Buddhist parishioners (danka sōdai) is also referred to as ujiko sōdai. Sōdai is a title born from the modern shrine system. By the present Jinja honchō (Association of Shintō Shrines) rules, a sōdai is to be selected from among "people of serious virtue." At shrine festivals and rituals they assist the priests and they must be accommodating to the rest of the ujiko and sūkeisha. Although it was also dependent on the number of ujiko, by the pre-war rules, in the case of shrines having a status below prefectural shrine, normally upwards of three ujiko sōdai per shrine were selected. These sōdai would jointly sign that shrine's pledges and so they would bear the obligation of doing their utmost to support that shrine. Nevertheless, it was still prohibited for them to interfere in the activities of the priests.

— Inoue Nobutaka
"Establishment of a National Learning Institute for the Dissemination of Research on Shinto and Japanese Culture"
4-10-28 Higashi, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, 150-8440, Japan
URL http://21coe.kokugakuin.ac.jp/
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