Today I am going to talk about something that might seems scary and weird, but that I think is a central element in every human culture, and in Japan too. I am talking about death in Japan.Continue reading
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.Continue reading
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.Continue reading
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.Continue reading
I’ve been talking about itako for quite a lot, now… I would like to share with you the experience I had with Matsuda Hiroko, the youngest itako still working today. She is very popular in Aomori, and I have to say she is a very interesting woman, first of all because she is not at all blind.Continue reading
When you plan your trip to Japan, you usually start with the biggest cities, the popular spots, all those places you just can’t miss when you visit the country. Yes, coming to Japan and not seeing Kyoto may not be wise, but there are some unbeaten path you can add to your journey that will help you discover the other side of the moon.Continue reading