國學院大學
國學院大學デジタルミュージアム

Encyclopedia of Shinto

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カテゴリー1 7. Concepts and Doctrines
カテゴリー2 Research on Shinto
Title
Text The establishment of Japanese Ethnology and Shintō Research
This research deals primarily with Shintō phenomena observed in the daily lives of people. There has been much scholarly output since the founding of the scholarly field of ethnology. In general, Japanese ethnology is said to have begun in 1914 with the publication of Kyōdo kenkyū (Research into Local Life and Customs) by Yanagita Kunio and Takagi Toshio but with the publication of Yanagita's Minkan denshō ron (A Study of Japanese Folk Legends), Kyōdo seikatsu no kenkyūhō (Research Methodology of Japanese Social Life and Customs), and Kokushi to minzokugaku (Japanese History and Ethnology) in the 1930's we can say that the field had become more systematized. Yanagita criticized the document-centered philosophy and the bias toward political history of the historical scholarship of that period, because he believed that the role of ethnology was to reorganize the history of the so-called 'average people' whose name did not appear in the historical documents. Yanagita's criticism of this document-centered philosophy was also leveled at Shintō historical research and in 1918 he and Kōno Seizō debated how Shintō should be viewed and this later developed into the controversy known as 'the debate of personal opinions on Shintō.' Due to this, scholarship was characterized by, and the principal object of this research became the field often called 'the beliefs of the common people' beliefs related to nature that were handed down by the average person, rather than a study of Shintō centered shrines and the systematization of doctrine and rituals. In this field scholars attempted to find the prototype of Shintō, and the intrinsic beliefs of the Japanese people (philosophically, regardless of what kind of entity that prototype might be). Because Japanese ethnology used agricultural society based on rice cultivation as the model for Japanese society, the premise was that the people's beliefs were related to rice or the cultivation of it. However, presently scholars have broadened their view to include non-rice cultivation cultures, such as dry-field agriculture or hunting and gathering. The view of rethinking Japanese society with a multifaceted structure is influential, and even the understanding of Japanese ethnology based on the one-dimensional view of rice cultivation is obligated to undergo fundamental revision.


Tutelary deities (ujigami): ancestral spirits and the argument about marebito
    Ethnological research into Shintō could also be called research into a prototype Shintō based on the premise of a rice cultivating society or research into "common belief" specific to Japan. Based on this, let us now look at three research themes: the concept of kami, festivals, and ritual groups. Regarding the concept of kami, Yanagita Kunio (starting with his study, Senzo no hanashi [About our Ancestors]) developed the tutelary deity as ancestral spirit theory. This argued that the actual state of kami was as ancestral spirits (sorei), and he posited ancestral spirit worship as the center of Japanese belief. As the spirit of the dead passes through anniversaries of their death they gradually lose their individuality, and with the thirty-third anniversary of death as a turning point they sublimate into a general ancestral spirit without any individual identity. Even after the ancestral spirit has passed to the other world, it is not completely cut off from this world where its descendants reside, but possesses a character that allows it to continue to visit this world, being the household kami (ie no kami) which protect their descendants. According to Yanagita, the ancestral spirit is the original source (konkan) of various kami, and he argues that the archetype of the mountain deity (yama no kami) or rice field deity (ta no kami) is an ancestral spirit. In addition, Orikuchi Shinobu (another scholar who, with Yanagita Kunio, can be said to have laid the foundation of Japanese ethnology) proposed the concept of marebito (lit. rare person) as an important element in the foundation of the common beliefs of Japan. Orikuchi labeled raihōshin (kami who come from outside the village to visit) and outsiders who came from other places and visited village after village, bestowing good fortune on these villagers (such as the namahage of Akita, or the Mayunganashi, Akamata, and Kuromata of Yaeyama in Okinawa) marebito, and searched for the archetype in ancestral spirits. Marebito are also believed to be visitors from the other world called tokoyo (the eternal land) that people believed was located beyond the sea. Moreover while the 'outsider' visitors who came from other villages brought with them feelings of fear and contempt, villagers warmly received and viewed them as bringing good fortune. This was based on the marebito belief which viewed the visitor as the embodiment of kami. Inspired by Yanagita's 'Miko-' (A Study of Miko) and 'Kebōzu-' (A Study of Hairy Monks), Orikuchi's 'Marebito' and ethnologist Oka Masao's 'Ijin' (Outsiders) arguments, Hori Ichirō argued that kami would descend and possess humans, or take human form and wander about. He also argued that this 'wandering thought' is part of the original essence of Japanese belief. Later Hori proposed the theory about two concepts of kami: a human deification model where humans are worshipped as kami and the ujigami model, seen in settled communities. Regarding the model of human deification, Miyata Noboru is conducting research that relates emperor worship to the belief in a living deity.


Research on Festivals
    Regarding research on festivals, works like Shintō ronbun sōmokuroku (A Bibliography of Shintō Essays), Zoku Shintō ronbun sōmokuroku (A Bibliography of Shintō Essays, Continued), and Matsuri bunken sōmokuroku (A Bibliography of Festival Texts) which is an addendum to the first volume of Nihon saishi kenkyū shūsei (A Collection of Work on Japanese Festivals) are good references, and these have a plethora of information. Here we will examine four themes: festival days (saijitsu), festival grounds (saijō), the appearance of the kami, and festival constructions. Concerning festival days, in the pioneering work by Yanagita Kunio called 'Saijitsu-' (Thoughts on Festival Days), he points out that festival days reflect the cycle of agricultural life, and most festival days are concentrated in either spring or autumn. This position has spawned much research on events throughout the year. Concerning festival grounds, in "Yama-miya-" (Thoughts on Mountain Shrines), Yanagita writes about the relation between mountain shrines (yamamiya) located on top of or halfway up mountains and village shrines (satomiya) located in villages and hamlets. He argues that yama-miya are the place where the dead are buried as well as the place where the ancestral spirits dwell. In an ujigamisai (festival for the tutelary kami), the ancestral spirits are greeted at the village shrine. Furthermore, in spring and autumn the coming and going of the mountain kami and rice-paddy kami to the mountain and village also coincide with this 'mountain shrine' and the 'village shrine' relationship. This theory has developed into research on the dual-grave system, where the body of the deceased is interred in one grave, and then a repository (or a visiting grave, a place where family make formal visitation) is set up, where the spirit is then worshipped. In relation to the appearance of kami, starting with Yanagita's 'Chūshō-' (Thoughts on the Pine-pillar) and Orikuchi's 'Higeko no hanashi' (A Story of the Beard-box), they have argued that kami descend into some kind of natural or man-made object, called a (yorishiro) which then becomes the physical manifestation of the kami. Furthermore research into group festivals has shown that kami can also possess people, such as children involved in a festival. This research has evolved within the broader context of shamanism.
    According to Orikuchi, festivals are where marebito appear, speak words of blessing, impart a new spirit, and then depart. In contrast to this, Yanagita believed that the central significance of festivals is to conceal things (or abstain from things, monoimi) and then the festival ends with a naorai where people come together and eat the offerings presented to the kami. In addition Kurabayashi Shōji accepted Orikuchi's theory, and concluded that festivals are composed of three elements: worshipping the kami, naorai, and the feast. The research of Yanagita and Orikuchi argued that the elements of frenzied activity and indecency within the festivals, as well as the point of view that a festival is a kind of drama, have been overlooked. Regarding this point of view, Yanagigawa Keiichi, Sonoda Minoru, and others have been inspired by anthropologists like Reach and Turner, and their research into this has further developed.


The Hare-ke-kegare Controversy
    In recent years there has been a debate known as the 'Hare-ke-kegare Controversy.' This has been an attempt to discover the principles that form the basis of the common belief system, though these are not components of festivals. Since Yanagita Kunio, to explain a fundamental element of the structure of Japanese life, the terms hare 'formal' and ke 'informal', have been used to extraordinary and ordinary temporal understanding. In the beginning of the 1970's, Sakurai Tokutarō added to this with the hare-ke idea introduction of the concept of kegare. Kegare was originally believed to point to defilements such as death, birth, menstruation, and others. He proposed the concept of the tripartite structure of hare-ke-kegare that permeates festivals. According to Sakurai,'ke' originates from the word ki (気 or vapor) which is the source of energy that allows agriculture to be productive. In everyday life 'ke' is constantly emitted and when it is exhausted it becomes kegare 'defilement' (from ke and kare, meaning to wither). Holding hare events, or festivals, recharges and reinvigorates things that are in a state of kegare. Accordingly it has been argued that this is how the cycle of kekegarehare comes about. The 'Hare-Ke-Kegare Controversy', originating from Sakura's theory, developed into a debate embroiling anthropologists in the 1980s, but in later years the debate has fizzled, and there has been no conspicuous developments recently until the present.
Research into Festival Groups
    Pioneering research on this topic of festival groups was developed by Yanagita Kunio in the 'Ujigami-Ujiko' (Tutelary kami and parishioners) theory and the main themes of this can be seen in the book "Ujigami-Ujiko." In addition to dividing shrines into ujigami shrines and kanjō shrines, Yanagita argued that uji shrines had special ujibito—households entrusted to perform the festivals, and in the modern era these became known as ujiko. Based on this argument, Wakamori Tarō and Hagihara Tatsuo and others argued that the transition from ujibito to ujiko was connected with a general change from a kinship-based society to one with territorial ties. Regarding this theory Harada Toshiaki took a completely different stance when he argues that in the ujikami belief, the unifying factor was territorial ties and not kinship, arguing that each territorial group only ever had one ujigami and no more.
    From this examination of the relationship of ujigami and the ujiko groups who supported and maintained the relevant festivals, Higo Kazuo, Inoue Yoritoshi, and others conducted research from the mid-1930s developed research into the miyaza (a shrine guild). In the background of this was historiography and agricultural village sociology, spurring on examination of the links between social structure and group construction. In general the term miyaza points to a privileged festival group in a village, but it is difficult to say that there is agreement among scholars on the concept of miyaza. When one examines the historical change of miyaza, the general opinion is that whilst originally a limited kinship based group monopolized the festival, along with the development of the village, the privilege of being associated with the festival was opened to all people of the village. The festival rites spread from the closed group (kabuza) to the open group (muraza). Research on miyaza started with the work of Higo, Inoue, Wakamori, Agihara, and was further developed by the work of social anthropologist Takahashi Tōichi and sociologist Morioka Kiyomi. Particularly worthy of note is the research of Harada Toshiaki. Harada soundly refuted the theory prevalent since the days of Yanagita that ujiko groups and miyaza were originally kinship-related and that the fundamentals of households pervaded these. Harada stressed that ujiko and miyaza were basically territorial groups. He also stated that a specific kinship group came to monopolize the privilege of the festivals only after a certain level of social diversification = class stratification had taken place. Harada also noticed that the core membership in the various guilds were mostly concentrated in the inner areas of Japan proper. He claimed that older traditions remained even in the inner provinces, refuting Yanagita's claim that the further one went from the political center the greater the number of older traditions. This claim is an expansion of Sumitani Kazuhiko's 'Argument for the cone-shaped development of culture'. Beginning with Sumitani, there has been a trend among some scholars to reappraising the research of Harada, but among ethnologists, Yanagita has become something like a religious founder because of the magnitude of his scholarship, and the strength of his political organization. Any theories against his work have had a tendency to be ignored. Movements to critically reevaluate the work of Yanagita appeared from early on, but the belief in Yanagita's theory of sorei (ancestral spirit) as the centerpiece of Japanese belief is still deeply rooted.

— Iwai Hiroshi