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
The Dontosai Festival is held every January 14th. The previous year’s talismans and amulets are ritually burnt. Exposing themselves to the cold, a number of men and women parade to the shrine to receive the blessings of the enshrined deities (photo: Sendai, Miyagi prefecture). 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 my 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
The truck is king of the road in Japan. And there is a special breed of truck that is both distinctively fearsome, yet elegant: kind of like Las Vegas on wheels. These trucks are called decotora, which is a melded abbreviation of the words “decorated” and “truck”. Decotora can be seen all throughout Japan though it is said that the original decotora was driven by a trucker from Aomori prefecture. Continue reading
What’s the best way to dry an umbrella? Open it up, of course. Even though I have lived in Japan for over 20 years, to be honest, I am still a bit unnerved by the opening of an umbrella indoors, which is common practice here. Is it just me?
Coming to work on a rainy day I will find the corridors filled with open umbrellas resting quietly in front of each professor’s office. And then arriving home I find the same scene played out in the entrance of my house, where my three children will have opened up their umbrellas leaving me no place to take off my shoes (as is custom in Japan, as you know). I suppose my discomfort with this practice stems from my cultural upbringing. Other things like walking under a ladder or breaking a mirror that we commonly call “superstition” are equally taboo to me.
In Japanese, superstition is often translated as meishin 迷信 (literally, “straying belief”) or zokushin 俗信 (“common belief”), the former having a stronger negative connotation than the latter. In place of the word “superstition,” which denotes a degree of bias or prejudice, I prefer to use the words “folk belief.” I was taught early on by Professor Suzuki Iwayumi (religious folklorist) that any individual’s religious beliefs were always a problem of the heart (kokoro no mondai 心の問題).
Having studied Japan’s religious beliefs and culture, I have been able to reflect on my own beliefs and conceptions: looking out has allowed me to see within. In this blog, I would like to introduce various Japanese cultural phenomenon in order to effect a greater understanding of the world around us.