Accepted paper:

Japanese folkloristics in the historical museum

Author:

Mutsuhiko Matsuda

Paper short abstract:

This presentation examines approaches to history as a synthesis of past and present by Japanese folkloristics, through showing the new display of the National Museum of Japanese History “Gallery 4”. It explains characteristics and effects of the method of Japanese folkloristics.

Paper long abstract:

The National Museum of Japanese History, known popularly in Japan as Rekihaku, is a general museum of Japanese history and culture. Rekihaku's display is built on the basis of collaborative researches between history (in the strict sense, relying principally on written records and other documentary materials), archaeology, and folkloristics. Therefore, Japanese folkloristics and the folkloristic section of the display of Rekihaku has two kinds of relationship with history. One is the broad sense history of Japan from the prehistoric time to the present. And the other is the present as the result of historical transition. This characteristic of researches and display of Rekihaku originate from the birth of Japanese folkloristics. Kunio Yanagita, founder of Japanese folklolistics, insisted that it is impossible to demonstrate the history of everyday life of Japanese people only by written records and other documentary materials, in 1910's. And he proposed to take un-written materials, for example oral expression, performances as folkdances, sense of everyday life, etc. In other words, Japanese folklorisitic is an alternative to narrow sense history. This is the origin of Japanese folkloristics, and Rekihaku's method of research and display partly reflect the Yanagita's perspective. This presentation examines approaches to the broad sense history as synthesis of past and present by Japanese folkloristics, through showing the new display of Rekihaku Gallery 4 (Folk Cultures of the Japanese Archipelago), renewedly opened on March 19, 2013. It explains characteristics and effects of the method of Japanese folkloristics, concretely.

panel P130
Reinventing folkloristics as a study of modernity: Japanese perspectives (FSJ panel)