The demonic countryside: beckoning early modern visitors through oni legend and ritual

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Abstract

This article explores the role of legends and rituals centered on oni (demons) as a mode of place-making in early modern Japan. Focusing on evidence from Shinano (present-day Nagano prefecture), it begins with medieval oni narratives centered on Mount Togakushi and then turns toward Edo period adaptations that ushered in a host of new sites. I argue that this type of engagement with popular narratives played a vital role in place-making strategies by fostering new modes of ritual, economy, and identity as well as connections with the rest of the country. My analysis focuses on a twofold process by which these developments took place: first, the creation of local legends inspired from well-known oni tales; and second, the implementation of Buddhist rituals that promoted the legends while simultaneously placating the malignant spirits they resurrected.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)467-486
Number of pages20
JournalJapan Forum
Volume31
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science

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