Iyo-san the kamisama of the mountain
Anthropology, Field 2014, Field Journal

The kamisama of the mountain: Iyo-san

Reading Time: 5 minutes

The second kamisama I could meet was an older woman who lives with her daughters in the suburbs of Hirosaki. I visited her on August 4th, 2014 together with a new informant, Noriko, a very nice lady from the city who accepted to conduct me to the kamisama; with me, came a fellow researcher and Aya, the young interpreter from Misawa. Noriko led us to the kamisama’s house, a small building with a wide garage rearranged as a living room, to enjoy some fresh air in the hot summer days.

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Kimura-san, the kamisama of the north
Anthropology, Field 2014, Field Journal

The kamisama of the north: Kimura-san

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Tōhoku area witnessed the development of a different form of shamanism, characterized mainly by the fact that here we have sighted persons (in some case also male practitioners)  called kamisama カミサマ, kamisanカミサン, gomisoゴミソ, etc., who entered the profession through a completely different path and developed different skills and practices. Their number is still higher than that of the itako, and often their popularity is widespread. They usually become shaman as the result of a personal physical or mental trauma that led them to ascetic practice and eventually to the contact with the kami.

I could meet two very different professionals in Aomori-ken, Kimura Fujiko木村藤子 (in Mutsu-shi), a charming and interesting woman in her sixties, and Iyo san イヨさん (from Hirosaki area) an older woman in her eighties who faced a long training in the mountains. Here, I want to share with you my experience with Kimura-san.

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Meeting an itako Matsuda
Anthropology, Field 2014, Field Journal

Meeting an itako: Matsuda-san #2

Reading Time: 3 minutes

I could met Matsuda san a second time in the summer 2014, the 31st July after the Osorezan Taisai; since the Taisai is a very intense and demanding moment for the itako (Matsuda expecially had a great number of clients for all the four days of the taisai), when we called her to ask a new meeting, she asked to arrange it a few days after the festival, so that she could recover from the fatigue and she could perform a proper kuchiyose for me.

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kegare in Japan
Anthropology, Culture tips

Kegare between power and discrimination

Reading Time: 8 minutes

A polluting person is always in the wrong. He has developed some wrong condition or simply crossed some line which should not have been crossed and this displacement unleashes danger for someone

Mary Douglas, Purity and Danger. An Analysis of Concepts of Pollution and Taboo

In every culture, purity, impurity and pollution are concepts with important social implications that go beyond the simple concerns for health and hygene; they imply a more intricate relationship between different actors within a given social structure. Within these relationships, impurity is variously interpreted as the sign of divine rage, as a break in the social order, as a violation of the corporal borders or as the proof of uncertainty and of a threat against the community.

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History of Tohoku
Anthropology, Culture tips

History of Tōhoku

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Given its particular location, the Tōhoku region has an interesting history that slightly differs from the rest of the Japanese archipelago. We can start tracing its history beginning with the Jōmon 縄文 period (from about 12,000 BC to about 300 BC); in this time, in Tōhoku area as in other part of Japan, we have a predominance of such activities as gathering, hunting and fishing, also due to the climate warming of the era.

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