Accepted paper:

How grief is expressed by Japanese Shamans Itako and participants; in religious performance after the Great East Japan Earthquake


Eiko Hara Kusaba (Iwate Prefectural University)

Paper short abstract:

Many people visit Itako to communicate with dead relatives. After the Great East Japan Earthquake, many surviving families and their relatives visit her. Through the religious performance, they can say good-by to their family members and experience emotional relied.

Paper long abstract:

Many people visit Itako Japanese shamans for communicating with deceased relatives and friends. The Most famous place for gathering Itako is the Mt. Osorezan which is located at northern most part of the main land in Japan. After the Great East Japan Earthquake, there were many surviving families and their relatives who visit her. People believe the dead can speak through Itako, so they can communicate with them. They intend to say last farewells to deceased relatives and friends, or want to find their bodies. Through the religious performance, surviving families can say good-by to dead family and experience a sense of emotional closure. In this situation the Itako are sitting down under the plastic sheet outside the Buddhism Temple. There is a candle lit in front of her. The client is sometimes only one person though often with the family and relatives. While a client inquires about the dead family members through the Itako, other persons also gather between the same sheets and are waiting. They are listening to the communication with the current clients and watching the religious performance of Itako. Sometimes they are listening to the other people's communication with the dead person, and sometimes waiting people also are weeping in sympathy. At still other times, the waiting person participates in the other clients' communication. In this paper, the healing of the grief around the Japanese shamans, Itako is explored.

panel WMW04
Anthropology of emotions and senses in religious performances