Dyad guardians at the crossroads 村を守る夫婦

towada giants

Male and female straw effigies stand guard at the entrance to a rural hamlet (Towada City, Aomori prefecture)

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Lift a stone, prove your strength 力石

An older form of entertainment that is now unseen in Japan, was the lifting of heavy stones during a festival. Put simply a test of strength. The rocks come in various sizes, but generally they are all called chikara ishi 力石, literally “strength stones.” I had hear from one older man that the test of strength in his village was to lift the stone up on the shoulders and roll it around the neck three times. But we can imagine that some tests involved carrying or throwing the stone a certain distance as well. This was a popular sport in older times, but now it is often difficult to locate the stones that were used. Even the locals have forgotten and sometimes put the stones to other uses. But if you look carefully sometimes you can still find them at Shinto shrines.

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Climbing Mt. Fuji anytime soon? Forecast the weather yourself!

I have never climbed Mt. Fuji; I have only seen it from afar. I heard that the experience of climbing the mountain is quite exhilarating. When I was researching divination in Japan I came across an article explaining omens¹.  And in a footnote to the article, which referenced a separate book on folklore², was a sampling of the different cloud formations on Mt. Fuji with their respective weather conditions.  Continue reading

Questionnaire: Where they dwell 大学生に対するアンケート(どこに宿る)

This is a questionnaire given to university students.  大学生に対するアンケート.

Do you agree with the following:  あなたの意見は、次のような考え方と一致しますか.

Question  問い

  1. Deities reside in mountains and rivers, trees and plants and the like. 山や川、草や木にはカミが宿っている.
  2. If you do not purify (bless) automobiles, boats, airplanes and the like an accident will occur.  自動車や船、飛行機などはお祓いをしないと事故が起こる.
  3. The rice deity resides in the rice plant.  稲には稲のカミがいる.
  4. The deity of the rice paddy resides in the rice fields.  田園には田のカミがいる.
  5. Calamity will befall you (you will be cursed) if you mistreat or kill animals.  動物をいじめたり殺したりするとたたりがある.
  6. Calamity will befall you (you will be cursed) if the spirit/soul of those who have died (the dead) are not given prayers and offerings.  亡くなられた方(死者)の霊魂に供養しないとたたりがある.
  7. Nature has a “life” and is itself living.  自然は「いのち」をもって生きている.
  8. Everything on earth exists to be used (to serve) humans.  地球上の全てのものは人間に利用されるためにある.
  9. People are one part of nature.  人間も自然の一部である.
  10. It’s possible to have a strong attraction to anime characters bordering on love.  アニメ・ゲームなどのキャラクターに大きな魅力として感じ、恋に近い感情を抱くことはあり得る.

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The Votive Art of the “Your Name” Anime Pilgrimage 『君の名は』のアニメ絵馬(痛絵馬)

The highly successful anime “Your Name” (Highest worldwide grossing anime film)  has given birth to a new anime pilgrimage. Fans astutely discerned the real-world places that were drawn into this anime production. They then quickly embarked on a journey to some of the sites. Thus inaugurating what fans term as a seichi “holy/sacred site”.  One such place that gained the attention of fans is Suga Shrine (須賀神社) in Tokyo’s Shinjuku ward.

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Article about Anime Pilgrimages アニメ・ゲーム聖地巡礼についての論文

An article (in Japanese) titled “Examining the Modern Pilgrimage: Anime and Games Give Birth to Sacred Places” has been earlier published in the Folklore Society of Japan’s journal “Nihon Minzokugaku (Japanese Folklore)” Vol. 51.

「現代巡礼考―アニメ・ゲームから生まれた聖地―」 という論文を日本民俗学会の『日本民俗学』  第 283号に載せることが出来ました。ここで、改めて紹介します。

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