Academic journal article Ethnologies

Locating Transcendence in Japanese Minzoku Geino: Yamabushi and Miko Kagura

Academic journal article Ethnologies

Locating Transcendence in Japanese Minzoku Geino: Yamabushi and Miko Kagura

Article excerpt

* Dans la societe japonaise contemporaine, les arts populaires de la scene, minzoku geino, sont associes au matsuri, ou festival. Des membres de differentes communautes, ouvriers ou etudiants, repetent et jouent dans des types varies de minzoku geino en preparation pour des festivals locaux. Cependant, un regard sur l'histoire des minzoku geino nous revele qu'a l'origine leurs acteurs etaient des membres marginalises de la societe, qui utilisaient l'expression extatique pour presider a differents rites tels que des guerisons, des exorcismes ou des benedictions. De plus, les attitudes envers les specialistes de ces rites etaient souvent negatives : en fait, ces pratiques chamaniques furent prohibees durant la periode Meiji (1868-1912). En reponse a ces attitudes sociales, les acteurs extatiques du Japon premoderne ont negocie leurs pouvoirs d'expression de multiples facons pour pouvoir survivre. Cet article initie le lecteur a la typologie des minzoku geino impliquant des performances extatiques presentees par les yamabushi, hommes pratiquant l'eremitisme et l'acetisme et les miko, femmes chamanes que l'on associe generalement au culte shintoiste. De plus, cet article argumente et illustre la maniere dont la performance extatique s'est modifiee a travers l'histoire au point que de nos jours elle soit rarement realisee par des specialistes marginalises des rites. Les participants aux minzoku geino contemporains sont des membres bien acceptes de la societe. Qui plus est, ce sont a la fois les acteurs et le public des minzoku geino qui se trouvent soumis au pouvoir de transformation de l'expression extatique.

* Contemporary minzoku geino (folk performing arts) in Japanese society is associated with the matsuri, or festival. Community members, such as workers and students, practise and perform various types of minzoku geino in preparation for local festivals. However, a look at the history of minzoku geino reveals that originally its practitioners were marginalized members of society, who used ecstatic expression to perform various rites such as healings, exorcisms, and blessings. Furthermore, the attitude toward ritual specialists was often negative; indeed, shamanistic practices were prohibited during the Meiji period (1868-1912). In response to social attitudes, ecstatic performers of Japan's premodern period negotiated their expressive powers in a variety of ways in order to survive. This article introduces the reader to the typology of minzoku geino that involves ecstatic performance presented by yamabushi, male mountain-dwelling ascetics, and miko, female shamans generally associated with Shinto shrines. Moreover, the discussion in this paper illustrates how ecstatic performance changed throughout history to the extent that it is now seldom performed by marginalized ritual specialists. Performers of contemporary minzoku geino are accepted members of society. Furthermore, both the performers and the audience of minzoku geino are affected by the transformative nature of ecstatic expression.

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This paper (1) will introduce the reader to the type of person who mediated human and divine boundaries in Japanese minzoku geino (folk performing arts). Examining scholarly attitudes toward premodern and contemporary minzoku geino and its practitioners, and relying on secondary historical and ethnographic sources, as well as personal fieldwork experience, I will explore expressions of ecstatic performance (shamans) in premodern and contemporary minzoku geino and illuminate how ecstatic performers negotiated their own experiences as practitioners of ritual performance. In particular, I will highlight two premodern ritual performance traditions that are considered to be examples of this typology. The performers of these traditions were the yamabushi, practitioners of an ascetic local religion called shugendo, who dwelled in mountains and provided religious services such as healings and blessings to local communities, and the miko, female shamans who were generally associated with Shinto shrines. …

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