New article: Sailor Moon Pilgrimage セーラームーン聖地巡礼

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

“Kamichu!” Votive Prayer Tablets 『かみちゅ!』絵馬

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.

Survey date: April 27, 2008

Number of dedicated votive prayer tablets: 1198



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Workshop presentation ワークショップ発表

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.

オンラインに開催された第8回国際学術会議「Mutual Images (ミューチュアル・イメージズ)」(於 龍谷大学)にて「幻を追う思いー『夏目友人帳』の世界に渡るファンたち」というタイトルで2021年1月24日に発表しました。

Intensive Course at Kwansei Gakuin University 関西学院大学の集中講義

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.

2月24日から28日までの関西学院大学社会学研究科(民俗学と人類学)での集中講義が無事に終わりました。 講義の中で日本のシャーマニズム、日本の農村社会、通過儀礼、アニメ聖地巡礼、ディジタル・フォークロアなどの幅広いトピックに関して講義をしました。 関西学院大学島村恭則先生、そして大学院生の皆さまに大変感謝しております。



Book Review 書評 Imai Nobuharu’s “The Threshold between Otaku Culture and Religion: Information, Consumption, and Place”

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

Imai Nobuharu


Public Lecture 公開講座 「心のケアの多様性―東北地方の巫女(シャマニズム)をめぐって」


tayosei 1

tayosei 2

Repose for Tea Whisks 茶筅供養

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.

Kanazawa kuyo 1

A sign announces the memorial service for tea whisks.

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