Shintoism in Japanese literature

Archive of messages exchanged on the pmjs mailing list from 9 March, 2000.

Question raised by: Christian M Hermansen
Discussants: Jeremy Roland Robinson, Jacqueline Stone, Wayne Farris, Janine Beichman, Leith Morton, Karel Fiala

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From: Christian M Hermansen
Date: Thu, 23 Mar 2000 11:31:23 +0100
Subject: Shamanism in Jps. lit.

A student of mine wants to take a closer look at shamanism, out of body experiences, and dreams in Japanese literature, and for a start she is looking at Ueda Akinari's Muoo no rigyo. Any suggestions as to what standard or major studies I should direct her attention to, in Japanese and
English will be much appreciated.
Christian M. Hermansen
University of Copenhagen
Dept. of Asian Studies

From: Jeremy Roland Robinson
Date: Thu, 23 Mar 2000 09:56:20 -0500 (EST)

It's not exactly shamanism, but Doris Bargen's _A Woman's Weapon: Spirit Possession in the Tale of Genji_ would certainly be helpful.

Jeremy Robinson
University of Michigan

From: Jacqueline Stone
Date: Thu, 23 Mar 2000 10:06:36 -0500

In addition to Doris Bargen's _A Woman's Weapon_, , your student may also want to read Carmen Blacker's classic study, _The Catalpa Bow: A Study of Shamanistic Practices in Japan_. For a different view, she could also look at Allan Grapard, "Visions of Excess and Excesses of Vision: Women and Transgression in Japanese Myth," _Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 18/1 (March 1991): 3-22.

From: Wayne Farris
Date: Thu, 23 Mar 2000 15:11:15 -0500

Dear Dr. Hermansen,
A student at the University of British Columbia, Sakurako Tanaka I believe her name is, has nearly completed a Ph.D. thesis on shamanism among the Ainu, especially in Tsugaru. A portion of her work addresses shamans and literature. You might want to look at her dissertation when it is accepted.

From: Janine Beichman
Date: Fri, 24 Mar 2000 09:40:00 +0900

Carmen Blacker, The Catalpa Bow comes to mind as a place to start in English.

From: Leith Morton
Organization: University of Newcastle
Date: Fri, 24 Mar 2000 15:31:16 +1100

I suppose it doesn't really need mentioning but the Orikuchi Shinobu Zenshu (a new /edition zenshu) has just been published by Chuo Koronsha in 37 odd volumes) and it has heaps on the topic, especially in the volumes devoted to 'minzokugaku'. There is also a comprehensive index.

Similarly, the Yanagita Kunio Zenshu (available now for some years in Chikuma Bunko paperback) has numerous volumes and articles which touch on the subject. The index is in vol. 32.

From: Janine Beichman
Date: Fri, 24 Mar 2000 14:03:02 +0900

Also see Chris Drake's Review Article in HJAS 50:1, June 1990: "A Separate Perspective: Shamanic Songs of the Ryukyu Kingdom"He reviews Mitsugu Sakihara's _A Brief History of Early Okinawa Based on the Omoro soushi_, outlines state of Omoro studies in 1990, & presents hisown ideas & translations.

Ooka Makoto has also discussed quite a few Omoro soushi from a literary viewpoint in his multi-volume work on Japanse poetry called Oriori no uta. [See correction below/ed]

From: Karel Fiala
Date: Fri, 24 Mar 2000 18:27:16 +0900

You should not overlook: _Nihon Shaamanizumu no kenkyuu_ by Sakurai Tokutaroo (Yoshikawa Koobun-kan, 1988).

K. Fiala

From: Leith Morton
Organization: University of Newcastle
Date: Fri, 24 Mar 2000 20:29:06 +1100

In an earlier reply, I mentioned Orikuchi and Yanagita's writings which mainly refer to shamanism in classical and medieval poetry and prose. For modern authors, there is masses of material: Izumi Kyoka (a veritable feast of Kyoka studies have recently appeared in English), Akutagawa Ryunosuke, Sakaguchi Ango, Oba Minako, Nakagami Kenji, Oshiro Tatsuhiro, Fukasawa Shichiro to name a but few novelists who have used shamanism as a theme in fiction. Among modern scholars, I guess Shibusawa Tatsuhiko's writings and also Umehara Takeshi's various studies would contain much material which may be of use. But I'm sure others could name far more writers on these themes. I recall a recent zenshu called 'Genso Bungaku Zenshu' which would obviously provide some

Almost every Japanese novelist and poet of note (and many not of note) has used dreams in their works: How about Soseki's 'Yume Juya' and Yoshihara Sachiko's 'Yume Aruiwa' for starters? I know the latter work has inspired a strange film and wouldn't be at all surprised if Soseki's surrealistic masterpiece had not also given rise to the odd art-film. If your student wisely wished to confine her research to kinsei bungaku then Ueda Akinari alone has several works which may be relevant.

Leith Morton

From: Janine Beichman
Date: Fri, 24 Mar 2000 19:35:16 +0900

This essay by Chris Drake (he just supplied the reference) has some interesting things on shamanism:
"Nature as Adverb and Process," in Bo L.B. Wiman et al., ed., 'The Art of Natural Resource Management,' Lund, Sweden, Lund University Press, 1998, pp. 87-163.

From: Janine Beichman
Date: Sat, 25 Mar 2000 19:34:55 +0900

Correction of a reference: I said that there were several Omoro-soshi
(Okinawa shamanic songs) in Ooka Makoto's Oriori no uta, but when I looked in the index to the 10-volume 1992 compilation I found only one. I may have been mixing them up with Ryukyu songs, of which he has several.

From: Christian M Hermansen
Date: Tue, 04 Apr 2000 10:10:42 +0200

I merely want to thank all of you who made very helpful suggestions on the subject. I have passed the information on to my student. Thank you.


Edited 2001/01/28