Revival of Local Festivals and Religion after the Great East Japan Earthquake

in Journal of Religion in Japan
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Since the Great East Japan Earthquake on 11 March 2011, local festivals in the affected area have attracted wide attention as an indication of the population’s recovery. Many nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and other groups have provided financial or human support to revive these local festivals. In the mass media, reports of these activities are frequently edited to depict heartwarming stories. Why was the festival revived? Does it have any meaning for the affected people? Could this trend be interpreted as a revival of religion in Japan after the disaster? In this paper, I examine the process of reviving a large-scale festival held once every twenty years in a coastal village that was seriously affected by the tsunami. My examination uses two sets of concepts: “deductive” and “inductive” rituals, and “monophonic” and “polyphonic” rituals.

Revival of Local Festivals and Religion after the Great East Japan Earthquake

in Journal of Religion in Japan

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According to Iwasaki (1997) among 123 hamaori festivals in Fukushima prefecture only two of them have a twenty-year interval. Iwasaki notes that one festival has been recorded as occurring once every sixty years but does not state whether it is still observed.

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    Figure 1

    A poster of the Oshiogori festival printed but not used in 2011

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    Figure 2

    Immersion of the go-shintai in “the sea” (2013)Photo by Takizawa Katsuhiko

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