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Japanese religions facts: who are the itako shamans?

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Japanese religions are an interesting topics, being so rich in variations and local traditions; I know, I already discussed this topic plenty, but honestly I think I didn’t quite give you a proper introduction to the practice of itako, so here we go!

Japanese religions facts: itako shamans

As I mentioned (a lot) before, itako are folk practitioner that traditionally work in the Tohoku area, in several prefectures like Aomori, Akita, Iwate, ecc.

They are sometimes considered shamans, given their role as mediators with the spiritual dimension, but there are a few elements of their experience that in the past caused researchers to exclude them from the field of shamanism.

Today, the active itako are quickly decreasing in number (we can barely count 6 the Aomori prefecture), and their practice is undergoing several modifications and transformations.

From an anthropological point of view, these modifications are extremely interesting, and today it’s still very different to have a clear idea about the future of the profession.

You can read more about itako, here in my meeting with Aoyama-san, and with Matsuda-san; you can also have a further reading about the connection between itako and the dead here.

 

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