Whereas in many parts of Japan the roadside statues of the Buddhist saint named “Jizo” is left open to the elements, the people of the Hokuriku region (Fukui, Ishikawa and Toyama prefectures) express their strong devotional ties to Buddhism by wrapping up the Jizo statues and shrines.
On February 3rd in homes throughout Japan, family members will walk through the rooms of their home throwing beans (mamemaki) in a purifying ritual. While tossing the beans family members will shout oni wa soto, fuku wa uchi (demons out, good luck in) as if to bring about fortuitous luck in the upcoming year. It is common for one person to
play the role of the oni (demon) in this ritual. Often the father of the household is relegated to this job. During this period of seasonal change, like others, was believed to have been a time when evil spirits and monsters gathered, and caused plagues and other disasters. Family members will also eat an amount of beans in accordance with their individual ages sometimes adding one. The addition of one bean may be a symbolic assurance of living another year or may reflect kazoedoshi (a traditional method of counting age in which the one year is counted for time in the womb). Beans are eaten so as to ward off evil and increase resistance to illness.
An article (in Japanese) examining the one villages shrine system was previously published in Tohoku University’s journal The Bulletin of the Tohoku Culture Research Room.
This is a questionnaire given to university students. (2017 respondents added) 大学生に対するアンケート. （2017年の回答者の追加）
① Do you have a religious belief/faith? あなたは「信仰」をお持ちですか？ Continue reading
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- The rice deity resides in the rice plant. 稲には稲のカミがいる.
- The deity of the rice paddy resides in the rice fields. 田園には田のカミがいる.
- 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.
- 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.
- Nature has a “life” and is itself living. 自然は「いのち」をもって生きている.
- 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.
- People are one part of nature. 人間も自然の一部である.
- 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.
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.
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。
A new article (in Japanese) titled “Where Religion and Politics Converge: The Case of the ‘Election Shaman'” has just been published in the Folklore Society of Tohoku’s journal “Tohoku Folklore” Vol. 51.
Question: When a person dies what sort of being does he/she become? (Respondents allowed to choose multiple answers)
# of respondents / % / response
13 (40.6%) Becomes nothing Continue reading
On January 12, 2017, I was witness to the Mizukaburi Festival of Yonekawa (米川の水かぶり) in the City of Tome, Miyagi prefecture. This is an annual festival which is said to be over 800 years old. Continue reading
Just recently returned from Kamakura City (Kanagawa prefecture). On February 8th, at the Egaraten Shrine (荏柄天神社), the annual memorial service for needles (針供養 hari kuyo) was held. Continue reading
Below is an excerpt from my article The Curse of the Fugitive Samurai: A Look at Social Stratification and Conflict in Rural Japan (for details see Publications 研究業績)
The inhabitants of the inland village of Kogata situated in Japan’s Tōhoku region have for generations on end fought famine, flood, and fire in a climate that is widely-known as being less than hospitable. Their community along with its arable land is largely found wedged between thickly forested mountainous terrains. Continue reading
In Mikawa City, Aichi Prefecture stands a temple named Muryoji 無量寺, which is said to have been established during the Heian Period (794-1185). It is widely known as a place that provides efficacy toward the act of fujiru 封じる (sealing, suppressing, blocking, throttling) against some negative aspect in our lives, for example, ending habits such as gambling or smoking. This temple is alternatively named ganfuji-no-tera (the “Cancer Stifling Temple”) because of the belief in its power to cure or control illness. Continue reading