Tag

itako

Osorezan - Where the spirits dwell
Culture tips, Field 2012, Field Journal

Where the spirits dwell | The Osorezan

Reading Time: 6 minutes

For a long time now, the word “itako” has been associated (at least in the popular culture) with that of Osorezan, the Hell Mountain located in Northern Aomori. While their activity is clearly broader thant that performed at the mountain, this is an undeniably powerful element that concurred in recent years to the popularity of itako themselvs. The Osorezan is infact the most important sacred place of Tōhoku, celebrated as the hells’ mountain, and its volcanic slopes are considered the physical representation of the different buddhist afterworlds. 

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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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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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Field 2014, Field Journal

Meeting an Itako: Aoyama-san

Reading Time: 7 minutes

After the first meeting with Nakamura-san, I knew I had to meet more itako in order to have a better understanding of their activity, their life and their world. Since today there are very few itako (probably not even ten) I had to patiently call the phone numbers I had, hoping some of these ladies would agree to meet with me. After a long search and some rejections, I could convince two of them to have an interview with me; one of them is Aoyama-san, an eighty-year-old lady living with her husband in Tsugaru.

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Meeting Itako Nakamura
Documentary, Field 2012, Field Journal

Meeting an Itako: Nakamura-san

Reading Time: 5 minutes

The arrival in Mutsu after a week in Tokyo can only be described as a shock. Visual, first of all. The trip entails three train changes, that give the feeling of slowly leaving modernity behind; once you get of the shinkansen in Hachinohe (roughly three hours from Tokyo), you get on a local train, romantically smaller and older, until finally get on the last, tiny two-coaches train that will finally lead you to Mutsu.

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