Anthropology, Culture tips

New Religions in Japan

Reading Time: 8 minutes

We are back to something very dear to my study, religions and shamanism in Japan. Shamanism in contemporary Japan is a topic of interesting researches expecially among anthropologists and sociologists, and it is now widely connected to the developments of the so-called New Religions Movements, and the figures of the kyōso 教祖, their female charismatic founders

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Mokuren, Buddha and the other world
Culture tips, Field Journal

Itako, Buddha and the other world

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Itako are symbols of the popular, folk-religion; they have loose ties with institutional centers and established sects or schools. However, among the older generation there were some mythological references that linked the itako practices to the Buddhist pantheon, and to Shakyamuni himself. Again, this might end up being a little technical, but it represent a very interesting example of how religious practitioners hold some very significant creative power, so it might worth the reading!

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oshirasama, the girl and the horse
Anthropology, Field Journal

Oshirasama, the girl and the horse

Reading Time: 7 minutes

We said many times that itako are popular for the kuchiyose, the calling of the dead. However, the locals are still familiar with another – somewhat ancient – practice that itako still perform today: the Oshirasama-asobase. This is a very peculiar ritual in which the blind woman uses two wooden stick dressed and adorned with amazing fabrics, and that are supposed to represent a legendary girl Tamaya-goze, and her horse Sendankurige.

Little disclaimer: this is a very technical post… a lot of specific language and citations are employed, so I can understand you if you feel sceptic about it, but i must warn you, the legend is incredible and it’s worth the reading.

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