I have written an article examining the votive prayer tablets dedicated at Azabu Hikawa Shrine in Tokyo. The shrine which featured in the manga and anime series Sailor Moon drew the attention of fans who began a “pilgrimage.” Through an exploration of the tradition carried on by fans of dedicating Sailor Moon votive prayer tablets, the author suggests considering the importance of visuality in the process in which Sailor Moon characters become cultural icons.
Article: “Fan Created Tradition: The Votive Prayer Tablets of the Sailor Moon Pilgrimage” Tohoku Gakuin University Faculty of Liberal Arts Review, No. 187, 2021, pp. 43-60. PDF
The anime Kamichu! is the story of a junior high school girl who one day suddenly becomes a goddess. The Misode Tenmangu Shrine (Onomichi, Hiroshima Prefecture) was pictured in the anime and became a fan pilgrimage site. Here are some selected votive prayer tablets (痛絵馬 itaema) dedicated by fans at Misode Tenmangu Shrine.
on January 24, 2021, I presented at the online VIII – International Research Workshop “Mutual Images” hosted by Ryukoku University Kyoto. The workshop theme was “Japan Pilgrimages: Experiences and motivations behind cultural and spiritual peregrinations from and to East Asia.” My presentation title was “Ghostly Musings: When Anime Fans Traverse into the World of “Natsume’s Book of Friends.”
I extend my deep gratitude to the organizers and to my fellow participants.
I have just completed an intensive course at Kwansei Gakuin University’s Graduate School of Sociology (Folklore and Anthropology Department) from February 24th thru the 28th. Over the course of fifteen lectures, the graduate students and I explored various topics under the broad themes of Japanese shamanism, Japanese rural society, Rites of passage, and Anime pilgrimages. My gratitude goes out to Prof. Shimamura Takanori for his kind invitation for me to lecture, as well as the graduate students who untiringly engaged with me throughout the 6 hour lecture days.
I had the honor of reviewing Imai Nobuharu’s 今井信治 book titled “Otaku bunka to shūkyō no rinkai: Jōhō, shōhi, basho o meguru shūkyō shakaigakuteki kenkyū” 『オタク文化と宗教の臨界—情報・消費・場所をめぐる宗教社会学的研究』(“The Threshold between Otaku Culture and Religion: Information, Consumption, and Place,” 2018. Kyoto: Kōyōshobō) for the Journal of Religion in Japan.
Review: Journal of Religion in Japan 8 (2019), 179-224. Journal link
Bamboo tea whisks, known as chasen 茶筅, are delicately crafted tools which produce many a fine cup of tea. On occasion, memorial services are given to those whisks who have retired from service. In Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture on June 4, 2010, I witnessed as a small group of devotees to the art of making tea bid farewell to their whisks which were sent off through a ritual burning.
A sign announces the memorial service for tea whisks.