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  • 7/31/2019 Female Shamanism in Japan



    Osaka University

    A Female Shamans Mind and Body, and



    In this paper two types of initiation processes for female shamans (fujoB) are intro-duced and analyzed. The rst is one for a blind woman. After training under a mastershe has to undergo a ritual calledkamitsukeP5W. During this ritual she becomes pos-sessed by a divine spirit. It means that she encounters her possessing spirit by means ofa traditional and culturally established device. By this process she not only becomes thebride of a male spirit, she also becomes a woman and is established as a full memberof society. For her, therefore, this ritual has the double signicance of an initiation bothas a shaman and as an adult woman. The other process is that of a woman with normaleyesight. Such a woman does not have to undergo a set ritual. On her way to becominga shaman she experiences psychosomatic disturbances and states of spiritual exaltationdue to being possessed by various spirits. In the process she establishes the spiritual

    authority of her possessing spirit. By this authority she grows out of the household andlocal society she married into and, while not completely relinquishing her role as house-wife, she builds her religious authority and religious world in the midst of her everydayworld.

    Keywords: medium (miko)spirit possessionpossession careershamanismaltered states of consciousness

    Asian Folklore Studies, Volume 62, 2003: 255287

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    YANAGITA KUNIO can possibly be considered the rst Japanese scholar

    to try his hand at the study of female shamans.* InFujokB, awork he wrote from 1913 to 1914 (1990) he identied two kinds of

    female shamans: shrine shamans (jinja miko PB) who dress in awhite kimono and red hakama, dance while holding round bells, and takepart in the yudate _Cm ritual; and kuchiyose shamans SbbB whocall the spirits of the dead as well as of living people and allow them to speak.With the exception of his allocating shamans to these two categories, both ofwhich date back to the same origins, Yanagitas theory on female shamanswas not well acclaimed. His theoretical points, however, were taken up bylater scholars, the rst being Nakayama Tar (1930) who studied the histo-

    ry of female shamans by using a large amount of historical material.

    YANAGITA KUNIOS THEORY ON FEMALE SHAMANSIn his work The Sisters Power (Imo no chikara )uj), written in

    1925, YANAGITA (1990) dropped the category of shrine shamans and beganto distinguish now between the professional shamans (being the same asthekuchiyose shamans mentioned earlier) and a new category which he callskami uba P. As for the characteristics that distinguish the two from oneanother he mentions ascetic training and tradition for the former andsome kind of omen, spiritual power, or divine possession for the latter.

    The bearers of our peoples characteristic religious beliefs have divergedinto these two categories of female shamans, each category developing in adifferent way. Yanagita paid special attention to the second category, that ofthekami uba, because he believed that important religious activities, such ascult worship and invocations, fell under the authority of an outstandingwoman who had been chosen as the most sagacious from among thewomen of the household.

    Furthermore, he mentions the founder of Tenriky, Nakayama Miki,and the founder of motoky, Deguchi Nao, who both in their time metwith surprising success, as coming from the tradition ofkami uba. He writes

    [ 256 ]

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    that the inclination [shseiH] of women to become possessed by spirits

    continues unbroken since ancient times, that belief in a womans power,that is, a womans spiritual power, was widespread, and that innumerabletales about women communicating with deities, as in the case of the twofounders, were transmitted as if they were factual. He nally writes that theroots of this mystery are several thousand years old (YANAGITA 1990, 26).

    In this way Yanagita in fact differentiated female shamans into threetypes: shrine shamans,kuchiyose shamans, andkami uba. Or it might alter-natively be said that he established two types ofkuchiyose shaman because helumped together those who call the spirits of dead or living persons withthose who call divine spiritskami uba. When we consider this in relation tothe female shamans of northern Japan, then the blind women shamans whoare called itako, ogamisama, or waka constitute the rst of these types and thefemale shamans with normal eyesight who are called kamisama the second.Both types roughly correspond to the characteristics Yanagita mentions ofthe professional female shaman and the kami uba. However, the rsttype may also perform a kami oroshi P^ or a spring invocation,which means that she calls forth a deity or engages in divination. Or it maybe expected that a deity descends upon the shaman and manifests throughher the power of the spirits. At any rate, although it can be said that

    Yanigitas classication has been largely forgotten, it is without doubt still ofgreat signicance.With modesty and a degree of self-ridicule, Yanagita says that the

    important folklore hardly amounts to a single red bean in a dish of red gluti-nous rice (sekihan) because he did not do eldwork relating to femaleshamans (YANAGITA 1990, 12), but rather worked through a mass of writtenhistorical sources to develop a theory of female shamans, and engaged him-self in historical folklore research about them. However, in his theory he pos-tulated that womens propensity to be easily moved, and their dispositionto be possessed by spirits demonstrate from early on unusual psychological

    activities and an ability to talk of mysteries, and that a womans generalphysiological or emotional disposition and character were the reasons for herbecoming a shaman. But when he noted that a womans power was to beavoided and feared, he drew this conclusion without rst discussing thequestion of why a woman herself or pollution by her blood were to be avoid-ed. He ends up going around in circles, expressing the character of womenin terms of a womans power or the sisters power (YANAGITA 1990, 25).

    Yanagita relied on historical material of a broad scope in order to devel-op his theory of female shamans, but the basis of this theory is pervaded bya premodern psychological point of view and the assumption that the psy-


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    chological characteristics peculiar to women continued to exist uncondi-

    tionally and without change from antiquity to modern times. As a result, hefailed to consider what he himself calls the origin of divine possession inrelation to womens social and cultural context.

    Yanagita has certainly brought to light the process of historical changesin the religious and cultural position of female shamans from antiquity topremodern and modern times. He was further of the opinion that thefounders of new religions, such as Nakayama Miki and Deguchi Nao, con-tinued the line of the female shamans of antiquity. Finally, in the introductionto hisImo no chikara, published in 1940the year following the outbreak ofthe second World Warhe explains that the time for women to revive the

    power of the sister, a gure imbued with sagaciousness (sakashisa) andnoble-mindedness (kedakasa), has arrived, and that our sisters power isagain being invoked (YANAGITA 1990, 13). However, he does not investigatewhat sort of conditions female shamans and women in general have experi-enced nor what their actual historical situation has been. In his discourseYanagita extols by means of a history of the female shamans the power ofthe woman that was hidden in women from the earliest times. By doing so,he obscures the historical reality of the women and praises them solely asthose who through their womans power would dedicate themselves totheir men, their households, and the state.

    INTERPRETATION OF DIVINE POSSESSION (KAMITSUKI)InImo no chikaraYanagita introduces two cases as examples of the processwhereby divine possession occurs. One is an account he heard in FukushimaPrefecture from a person knowledgeable about the old ways who presentedthe story as recent information. According to this story, once every thirtyor forty years a strange person (ijinb^) would appear whose magic andprophecy would never fail. This strange person, after some weak prelimi-nary portents, suddenly exhibits signs of being possessed and jumps onto therooftop. Sitting on the end of the ridge like one who straddles a horse, the

    person grasps the beam, grips and shakes it with such force that even a largestorehouse trembles wildly (YANAGITA 1990, 30). This is one standard wayfor someone to become recognized as a strange person.

    Another way is introduced in the case of thekami uba mentioned above.A woman who is about to manifest spiritual power begins to eat less, her eyesbecome more penetrating, she may be inclined to lock herself up in thenando,1 and begins to utter strange things. Such a woman, who tends toshut herself out of ordinary life, demonstrates an inclination to thinkintensely in trying to get to the bottom of matters or when she accomplish-es some miraculous feat. Something that may happen at the time before or


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    after childbirth when her body undergoes signicant changes, and then she

    is acknowledged as being a kami uba. Her family, especially men like herhusband or elder brother, do not consider her to be in an abnormal state ofmind nor to have fallen into neurosis as medical theory might suggest.Rather, they attribute a mysterious signicance to the changes she hasexperienced and become her rst true believers as YANAGITA puts it (1990,31).

    Yanagita heard of the rst case from local people. Although he may havesomewhat dramatized the account, it still reects the locals image of adivinely possessed person. Such a person suddenly displays the looks ofsomebody overcome by a kami, exhibits behavior that astonishes other peo-

    ple, and manifests spiritual powers. From facial expressions and behavior,aspects that can be observed with ones eyes, the manifestation of spiritualpower is inferred and the individual acknowledged as a strange person.According to common opinion, in order to become real the phenomenon ofspiritual power has to manifest itself concretely in a form that is visible to theeyes.

    For the second case Yanagita relies on reports he had heard aboutkamiuba while traveling in Iwate Prefecture in the Thoku region. Here, it canbe said, Yanagita reveals his own theoretical point of view concerning femaleshamans. First, although it may be going too far to call it abnormal, such a

    persons behavior deviates from the norm. This is a case of weak portentas mentioned above. Then, speech behavior grows increasingly strange untilspiritual power nally reveals itself. Up to this point behavior is about thesame as in the rst case. As reasons for this case he adduces personal char-acter and physical indisposition.

    When Yanagita points out the womens propensity to be easilyimpressed and their propensity to become possessed by spirits as a func-tion of their abnormal psychology (YANAGITA 1990, 25), he ends up claimingthe womens supposedly inborn special psychological character and disposi-tion as the basis for the revelation of spiritual power. Without noticing it he

    assumes the position of premodern psychologism which reduces phenomenathat cannot be understood to phenomena of depth-psychology.

    Yanagita tends to unduly single out pregnancy and childbirth as exam-ples of womens special physiology and xate women as childbearingwomen. He often completely disregards the historical development of areligious concept, as for example when he says that women are consideredto be polluted (kegare) by the blood of childbirth and menstruation, becausethe power of an invisible spirit adheres to a woman. After all, women werenot the only ones to become shamans. As the dual expression miko/kannagisuggests, there have also existed a signicant number of male miko since


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  • 7/31/2019 Female Shamanism in Japan


    This may be one of the reasons for his opinions. In any case, it is most impor-

    tant to clarify what kami tsuki or mono tsuki really are. It is also necessaryto investigate the process whereby a kami tsuki occurs and a woman comesto be considered a kami uba within her social and cultural context, and notsimply attribute such tendencies to a special physiology of women or apropensity to become possessed by spirits. For that purpose it is necessaryto meet with akami uba and listen to what she has to say.


    Possession and types of female shamans (fujo)

    What is it that determines the special character of religious practitioners suchasfujo, mediums, spiritualists (reinsha ), shamans, or of those that aregenerally called kitshi te [religious curer], sensei [teacher], orogamiya 0% [a person who specializes in invocations]? As students ofshamanism like S. M. SHIROKOGOROFF (1982), I. M. LEWIS (1989), and E.BOURGUIGNON (1976) have pointed out, the distinctive characteristic of pos-session is to be spontaneous, autonomous, and intentional.

    Is it possible for researchers to observe a state of possession and gainsome sense of what it entails? Or is possession something only the experi-encing subject can truly comprehend? Some researchers maintain that dur-

    ing possession the ordinary state of ones mind and body changes into a newstate, one of altered consciousness or trance. However, among the religiouspractitioners that are referred to asfujo, there are some who do not exhibit aconspicuous psychosomatic change when they perform such religious ritu-als as invocations or exorcisms. If that is the case, can these people truly beconsideredfujo, spirit mediums, or shamans?

    First, the belief of the subject has to be probed, followed by the belief ofand appraisal by the clients and the public. Is it not possible that a person canbe considered a fujo no matter whether a noticeable change in the personsstate of mind and body occurs, provided there is a belief that some deity or

    divine spirit, some buddha or bodhisattva, or the spirit of a deceased personhere I will call all of these supernatural beings kamimay spontaneously pos-sess or intentionally be made to possess a person, and that religious rituals areperformed by the spiritual authority and power of these kami? I contend thatthe concept of possession is based on a belief that is socially constructedthrough the interaction between the religious practioners themselves andtheir clients, as well as people around them.

    On a national level, religious specialists who perform rituals while beingpossessed by some kami are numerous, although they may be called by vari-ous names depending on the locality. These people are not only women,


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    there are also men among them. Even so, I employ the term fujo (female

    shaman) here because I focus on examples of female religious practitioners.In the Thoku region two types offujo can be distinguished according

    to the process whereby they becomefujo, and especially according to the stan-dards by which they are socially acknowledged. One type consists of thefujothat are called itako in Aomori Prefecture, ogamisama in Miyagi Prefecture,onakama in Yamagata Prefecture, and waka in Fukushima Prefecture. Theother type encompasses the fujo that are called kamisama throughout thewhole region of Thoku.

    As a rule, the rst type is a blindfujo, that is, ahotoke oroshi (one who cansummon the spirit of a dead person), who performskuchiyose and invocations,while the latter type is afujo with normal eyesight who performs invocations andexorcisms. To express this distinction in the terms used in Miyagi Prefecture, inmost areas it is often said that the matters of ahotoke (hotokegoto) are handledby an ogamisama, and those of a kami (kamigoto) by akamisama. But the real-ity is often quite different. An ogamisama, too, may take care ofkamigoto, andas a phenomenon of recent years a kamisama may perform a hotoke oroshi,although in a form that differs from that of the ogamisama.

    Furthermore, none of the fujo having normal eyesight are calledogamisama, while some among the blindfujo are calledkamisama. The spe-

    cialty of this kind ofkamisama is divination and invocations; they do not per-form hotoke oroshi. After they lost their eyesight when they were alreadybeyond their twenties they learned how to perform divination and incanta-tions from their teachers.

    It is possible to distinguish two types offujo depending on whether theyare blind or sighted. Yet a more relevant index is provided by the name usedlocally in referring to thefujo, by the kind of process they have to go throughto become afujo, by what distinctivemerkmal, and for what reason a fujo isacknowledged by the people and by other fujo (KAWAMURA 1991). In whatfollows I will provide a brief look at the initiation process through which the

    fujo of Miyagi Prefecture, that is ogamisama and kamisama, becomeshamans.

    The initiation process of an ogamisama

    All ogamisama are blind. No matter whether their blindness is total or onlypartial they suffer from physical discrimination mainly because they cannotbe fully counted upon as members of the work force, and are socially cate-gorized by the (derogatory) termmekura (literally dark eyes). This socialblindness is an indispensable prerequisite if one is to become an ogamisama.Not only the local society, but even the ogamisama themselves call their pro-


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  • 7/31/2019 Female Shamanism in Japan


    and evening. For this period a small hut (gyya%) for performing these

    exercises is built for her beside a well or a small creek that ows in front ofthe house. The gyja who is to undergo the kamitsuke ritual is conned tothe hut, has to avoid being seen or exposed to the sun, and has to strive toavoid any kind of pollution. Thegyja is isolated from the world of ordinarylife and gradually raises the level of her purity by water ablution exercisesand seclusion.

    These fasting exercises conclude with thekamitsuke ritual on the last day,after thegyja has performed close to a hundred water ablution exercises out-doors. People invited to the ritual include the line of disciples descendingfrom the master to whom thegyjas own master once was apprenticed, thecurrent masters relatives working in the same profession, and thegyjas ownsister apprentices and aunt apprentices. In addition, the man married to theogamisama, who is called bosama (he is ams|R, a blind Buddhist priest)is invited to perform the ritual. The gyjas parents and close relatives, too,gather, and with them come a number of close neighbors as onlookers. Thekamitsuke ritual as such is performed as a secret rite assisted only by the com-panion fujo andms, but part of the ritual is public and open to the localsociety.

    Before proceeding with the ritual, the gyja dons a white garment

    (called oizuri ), white coverings for the back of the hand (tekk #x),white leggings (kyahan), and whitetabi, so that she is all clad in whiteattire (shiroshzoku Rz). Sometimes she wraps her head with a whitecloth and puts the cover of a straw bag for rice over it. It is said that this isthe attire of a corpse. The gyja then enters the room in the house of themaster where the kamitsuke ceremony is to be held and kneels before thealtar, approximately in the center of the room. The room itself is calleddj.Kneeling in front of the gyja is the maegenja who leads the ceremony.Behind her is the ushirogenja, and on either side the two wakigenjathehigashigenja X to the east and the nishigenja to the west. Her

    master customarily acts as the ushirogenja. The gyja sits on the lap of hermaster, who embraces her. In some cases the gyja is supported on her backand two sides by straw bags of rice. Kneeling in a circle around thegyja areher masters sister and aunt disciples, as well as thems. Being clad ina corpses attire and embraced by her master, thegyja can be understood asundergoing a symbolic transition from a dead person to an embryo andbeing reborn.

    During thekamitsuke a series of rites are performed, such as the playingof a bow string, the purication of thedj by exorcism with a wand of whitepaper streamers (heisoku q), the singing of invocations to the deity, and


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    the pronouncing of an invitation to all deities of the whole nation to come

    and participate. Accompanied by the jangling sounds of ringed staffs (shaku-j), bows (yumi), cymbals (kane), bells (suzu), and drums (taiko) thefujo andms who had surrounded thegyja now proceed to circumambulate thedj,repeatedly reciting together the Heart and Kannon Sutras in loud voices.This sometimes lasts more than two or three hours. Eventually in the midstof this commotion a kami comes to possess the gyja. Thegyja announcesby word of mouth the name of the kami, who from now on will be hertsukigamisama (possessing spirit). After it has been ascertained that thetsukigamisama has possessed her, thegyja frees herself from the embrace ofher master, faints, and loses consciousness.

    After thegyja has regained consciousness a series of rites follows. Amongthem is the rite called spreading wisdom (chiehirome) or handing over thename of wisdom (chiena watashi), whereby the name of wisdom (chiena) isbestowed upon the ogamisama. Spreading wisdom, therefore, refers to theact of conferring a new name on the person who is reborn as an ogamisama.There is also a rite to hand over the rosary (juzu) and the oshirasama, the lat-ter referring to the bamboo staffs of the paper wands the gyja holds in herhands during the kamitsuke ceremony, their upper parts being covered withpieces of cloth. The master manufactures the oshirasama and donates them toher disciple as instruments to be used when she performs invocations. They

    both release divine power during invocations and protect the business of theogamisama. The ritual concludes with a test, called the opening of the bow(yumibiraki), which is held in order to ascertain whether the incumbent isable to perform a hotoke oroshi and call forth the spirit of a dead person.When the test has been passed successfully, the rite of thekamitsuke comesto an end.

    On the day following thekamitsuke ritual there is a festive celebration(goshgi) for the newbornfujo. First she is dressed like a bride, her hair doneinshimada style wearing atome sode kimono. She then proceeds to the cele-bration room (zashiki) of her wedding feast (goshgi), where she takes her

    seat as the bride of her possessing kami, thetsukigamisama. Returning to theopinion that it is good to enter apprenticeship before becoming a woman,we can now suggest that this derives from the requirement that the bride ofa kami be pure in body. Furthermore, if we assume that thekamitsuke rep-resents a wedding with a kami, that is, a divine marriage, then the celebra-tion (goshgi) is both the announcement of a new fujo and the banquet ofthe divine wedding. In contrast to the strict ritualism of thekamitsuke rite thecelebration afterwards (goshgi) is of a highly festive character. A festivemeal is served and the occasion is enlivened with drinks and songs. On thenext day thegyja begins her service of one hundred days to thank the mas-


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    ter. After that she further studies the manner of invocations and divination

    until after two or three years of service to thank her master she establishesherself (miagari), leaves the fold of her master, becomes independent, andbegins her businessher own work as afujo, in other words.

    The process of becoming an ogamisama is the same for all candidateseven if their age at the time they begin their apprenticeship varies accordingto the time when they lost their eyesight. This means that they all follow anestablished process: beginning their apprenticeshiptrainingkamitsukerite [prayer exercise, fasting exercise, and the rite itself, followed by celebra-tion (goshgi) and the hundred-day exercise in return of favors received fromher master]service to thank the masterbecoming independent. This isthe period of the apprentices service in preparation for her becoming inde-pendent. To this purpose she studies the technique of the rites to be per-formed by afujo in order to follow the way of a professional ogamisama.However, when we look at the elaborate symbolism of the kamitsuke ritual,it can hardly be said that this alone is the whole story.

    In local society, a young girl who loses her eyesight is relegated to thederogatory category of mekura. As such she is not counted upon as a fullwage earner or even as a person in the ordinary realm of social interaction.However, in the course of the kamitsuke ritual, she is married to a kami,

    grows into a woman and an adult, and in addition acquires the spiritu-al authority of a kami. In other words, by the rite of the kamitsuke she istransformed from a person labeled with the derogatory term mekura intoone who carries spiritual authority and is called by the honorable title ofogamisama. In the process of becoming a fujo with the title ogamisama, themost important rite of thekamitsuke is doubly constituted as a rite of initia-tion, namely as a rite to become both a shaman (fujo) and a woman. It can,therefore, be said that this rite includes a mechanism of socialization for ablind woman in the sense that she becomes (socially) accepted by folk reli-gionists as well as by the people.

    The initiation process of a kamisama

    It is no exaggeration to say that the initiation process of a kamisama is com-pletely different from that of an ogamisama. Above all, there is no ritual ofinstallment as an institutionalizedfujo comparable to thekamitsuke ritual ofthe ogamisama. Neither is blindness a necessary precondition for becoming afujo. The processes of becoming akamisama are quite diverse, and each oneis rich in originality. Here I am going to introduce several cases ofkamisamabut discuss them in a very generalized manner.

    Among those who became a kamisama there is not a single one who


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    made the decision while she was still a child. All of them had been over

    twenty years old and married, and most were already in their thirties or olderwhen they began the process. Thekamisama themselves often recall that itwas a kami who rst led them to their profession. They all have in commonan experience of some crisis situation before becoming akamisama. The cri-sis is mainly a psychosomatic indisposition or illness. Discord or trouble withtheir husbands or mothers-in-law, problems with child rearing, poverty,excessive labor, illness of husband or children. Often some of these problemscombine to provoke the occasion for becoming akamisama. This happens towomen who are married, have children, and are housewives, typically duringtheir mid-thirties or forties. They are not merely full-time housewives but are

    engaged in agriculture, a family owned business, or some type of wage-earn-ing employment.

    In order to maintain their family lives they have to overcome the crisissituation that hits them suddenly. I will describe in approximate terms whatkind of route these women have to follow when their psychosomatic distur-bance is considered to be a kind of illness. Initially they often take refuge inmedicines they customarily keep in their houses or with commercial medi-cines, and often rely on so-called folk medical practices for treatment. If thisdoes not effect a recovery they consult a physician practicing Western medi-cine or seek treatment from a folk religious practitioner such as a fujo or a

    faith healer (kitshi). There are some cases in which a woman approaches afolk religious practitioner right from the outset, but here too she often con-sults a physician as well.

    When we speak of medical treatment, images of physicians in hospitalsemploying sophisticated equipmentin other words, modern scienticmedicinecome to mind. In Japan, however, medical treatment may alsoinclude the trinity of acupuncture, moxibustion, and massage, together withChinese medicine and bone setting. Even so, institutionalized medical treat-ment under government control and patronage occupies a dominant posi-tion that far surpasses all other forms and is thereby endowed with great

    authority. Among the population, too, this kind of treatment in hospitalscommands a high degree of condence and is denitely preferred over otherforms of treatment. It goes without saying that people acknowledge theauthoritative position of physicians and faithfully comply with their medicaladvice and prescriptions. Other forms of treatment are taken to be compli-mentary.

    Although the choice of treatment depends on the degree to which anillness is considered physical as opposed to spirit-related, it must be kept inmind that a considerable number of illnesses receive simple care accordingto folk methods and medicines administered by the patient herself, by her


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    parents, or by other family members. In other words, she is treated using folk

    medical methods. Although nowadays such cases may have become ratherrare, to implore a kami or buddha to grant recovery from illness can also becounted among the various forms of folk medical treatment. In this way var-ious folk medical treatments are used in parallel with one another. Underthe overwhelming inuence of modern medical treatment, however, suchfolk methods have increasingly been dismissed as unreliableconsidered asmeaningful only in emergencies.

    When someone relies on modern medical practice, frequents a hospitalfor outpatient treatment, or is hospitalized yet does not recover satisfactori-ly, it often happens that such a person stops visiting the hospital or leaves the

    hospital, thus abrogating the physicians control. It also happens frequentlythat a patient continues to complain about being ill even though the physi-cian can nd nothing wrong and can diagnose no illness. Cases are not rarein which the physician diagnoses the psychosomatic disorder of a patient asphysical illness and gives it a denite name, but this does not coincide withthe patients own diagnosis or with that of family members or other closelyrelated people. People are reluctant to challenge a physicians authority andusually accept his diagnosis. In some cases, however, they remain uncon-vinced and subsequently consult another physician or turn to some otherkind of healer. A hospitals waiting room or the rooms of hospitalized

    patients are places where all sorts of information concerning medical treat-ment are exchanged. These venues constitute a passageway to other healersand other methods of treatmentespecially that of folk religious practice.

    In the case of a person who becomes akamisama, though it may dependon the kind of illness she has contracted, it often happens that she stops rely-ing on modern medical treatment and the physician, or parallel to thisbegins to visit a folk religious practitioner. Folk religious practitioners do notreject the medical treatment of physicians indiscriminately. In keeping withthe popular understanding they interpret a clients illness according tosomatic or mental causes, and they may suggest the direction in which to nd

    a hospital or drugstore suitable for treatment. Furthermore, as I mentionedearlier, they attribute the causes of an illness to the inuence exercised by thepresence and workings of such supernatural beings as evil spirits or evil kami,or to their intrusion. They administer treatment by eliminating these causesthrough invocations, exorcism, and memorial services (kuy) and by encour-aging faith in the kami and buddhas. Should an illness be cured already atthis level, then the relationship with the folk religious practitioner ends, andthe patient no longer pursues the path to becoming a kamisama but ratherreturns to ordinary life.

    However, it sometimes happens that, in spite of treatment either by


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    modern medicine or byfujo and religious healers, an illness is not cured. In

    such a case religious feelings towards the kami and buddhas intensify, andthe person begins to cling (osugari) wholeheartedly to them. She begins toneglect her role as a housewife caring for her children or preparing themeals, or as a worker engaged in the family business and supporting thelivelihood of her family. Instead she drifts from the world of ordinary lifeinto a world of belief.

    In Miyagi Prefecture one nds the expressions dbone hikizuri andkabane yami. Both dbone and kabane mean body. The expressions,therefore, mean respectively to drag the body and suffering in the body,both denoting a weak constitution. But this is not their entire meaning; they

    also signify a lazy person who, in spite of having an able constitution forwork, does not work satisfactorily. On balance, the two expressions dbonehikizuri and kabane yami are often used to indicate a lazy person. If a per-son does not work but prowls around aimlessly, visits temples and shrines forreasons of belief, and pays visits tofujo, such a person is secretly talked aboutusing these expressions or is perhaps openly despised.

    When the clinging to kami and buddhas takes over, and visits tofujocontinue with increasing frequency, it is likely that people in the neighbor-hood will refer to this condition as devotion dizziness (shinjin nobose). Aslong as a person fullls her role in everyday life and maintains order in the

    family she is said to have deep faith. But if she dedicates herself so com-pletely to single hearted devotion that she neglects or relinquishes her rolein the family, or disturbs the order of the family to such a degree as tobecome a hindrance to them, she will be seen as strange in the eyes of herfamily and neighbors and will be considered to be aficted by devotiondizziness. As relations with her husband and mother-in-law continue todeteriorate, the person becomes isolated in the family, and nobody in thearea wants to have any dealings with her. In the beginning she implores thekami and buddhas in order to have her own or her childrens and husbandsillness cured or frequents fujo for that purpose, but eventually she ends up

    imagining that the misfortune which has struck her and is now affecting herchildren and husband is a calamity aficting her whole household, or shemay perhaps be so taught by afujo or a religious healer. Often she may cometo nurture the idea that nobody understands her, although she implores thekami and buddhas not only for herself but also for her household and herwhole family, and so she applies herself even more wholeheartedly to herdevotions.

    Many of those who becamekamisama have been vilied by such deroga-tory terms as dbone hikizuri, kabane yami, or devotion dizziness. Anegative label has been put on them, and they are seen by the public as social-


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    ly withdrawn and deviant persons. Thinking that nobody understands them,

    they become isolated from the rest of society and increasingly absorbed intheir own world of belief and intense devotion. In the course of such aprocess, the kamitsuki, that is, possession by a kami, may suddenly occur. Inthe case of a person who frequents a fujo, a religious healer, or a teacher orleader of a religious group, the deepening of her devotion may be acknowl-edged in her relation to such folk religious personalities, while at the sametime she is alienated from her family and the people of her community. Thesefolk religious practitioners may encourage her to become akamisama by say-ing Take up a white kimono, or Proceed along the way of the kami.While she dedicates herself to devotion and exercises under their guidance,

    thekamitsuki may occur and she may be possessed by a kami.At her rst possession she utters words of the kami such as: Because the

    world is lled with unfortunate people, save them, because the kami will bringup the body of themikotobito, or Stay in this world and save the sufferingpeople. This event is called the opening of the mouth (kuchibiraki). Sheaccepts it as her mission received from the kami to help people. After the rstpossession by the kami, she intermittently experiences states of possession andutters oracles and prophecies. She enters these states involuntarily as the kamisuddenly takes over. She may assert that possession is by a spiritually power-ful kami and that oracles and prophecies are legitimate, but the folk religious

    practitioners and the people around her may not believe her and say that hersare strange and eccentric utterings. This is to say that the possessing kami isconsidered to be not a good kami or spirit, but an evil one, and therefore mustbe the object of exorcism.

    In Miyagi Prefecture there is the expression shinke takari. Shinkemeans nerve and takari means that something is assembled in greatquantity or intensity. The expression, therefore, means that the nerves are inan agitated state, and by extension refers to a person who has lost control ofher minda mad person (kichigai). When a person excessively worriesabout bad relations with her husband and mother-in-law or being secretly

    talked about as dbone hikizuri and kabane yami because she cannotwork due to illness, she loses balance in her mind, utters strange words, andexhibits odd behavior. She is then said to be shinke takari and is isolatedfrom her surroundings. Furthermore, if she becomes possessed by a kami, orshows unusual speech behavior by shouting oracles in a loud voice anduttering prophecies, she is contemptuously referred to as shinke takari.Intermittently repeated states of possession that occur after the rst occur-rence are also considered to be shinke takari, and even the recipient personherself may say that her state at the time was one of shinke takari.

    There are people who achieve recovery through their devotion and


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    ascetic exercises even while their psychosomatic disturbance and mental

    unbalance continue and while they at times fall into a state of possession. Insuch a case they stop entrusting themselves to kami and buddhas, and ter-minate their reliance on a folk religious practitioner, but then they mayagain fall into a state of psychosomatic disturbance and mental imbalance.If that happens, such a state is taken to be a warning on the part of thekami. The interpretation is that the person has been punished because shegave up helping people as the kami had directed, and therefore she is forcedagainst her will to march along the way of the kami.

    After the rst possession, haunted by psychosomatic disturbance and

    mental imbalance, disdained as shinke takari, unacknowledged by folkreligious practitioners, and isolated from her family and others around her,she may offer proof of the spiritual power of her kami at some unexpectedoccasion by curing an illness, indicating the place where a lost item can befound, or correctly foretelling an event. As news of such phenomena spreadsthrough the neighborhood by word of mouth, she gradually gets acknowl-edged by the local society as a person who proceeds along the way of thekami and excels in the business of the kami (kami shbai P), untilshe is nally calledkamisama. One of the fundamental differences betweena blindfujo ogamisama and akamisama is that the initiation ritualkamitsuke

    to become afujo is held for the former but not for the latter. A kamisama isobliged, therefore, to demonstrate proof of the spiritual power of her kami,and needs to be acknowledged by the people around her.


    The kami of a fujo

    Both ogamisama andkamisama have their kami whom we may call protec-tive deity or tutelaryhonzon (buddha). In the following I will consider thespecial characteristics of such a kami and the relationship it has with a fujo.

    For an ogamisama the occasion on which she became afujo may not bedistinct for her because of her youthfulness at the time that it happened, butin the minds of her parents it marks the acquisition of a profession as a blindfujo. The condition for aspiring to become a fujo is blindness. The work ofsuch a fujo, her business (shbai), ofcially starts after her independentinstallation (miagari), but she actually begins practicing shortly after herinitiation ritual, the kamitsuke, with her service to thank her master.Accordingly, to undergo thekamitsuke ritual is the most importantmerkmalof her recognition as afujo by society; it is the condition for her becoming afujo. This ritual is the charismatic formation through which she receives her


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    The rst possession by a kami is registered as a most important event by bothtypes offujo, the ogamisama as well as thekamisama. During interviews, theytypically describe this rst possession as a climax, an event that leaves adeeper impression on them than any other in their life history as afujo. It isthe most important event among all those that announce their mission andfate as a fujothe ultimate source (genten (), so to speak, of theirbeingand as such tells much about their actual standing in the fate allottedto them. However, between the two kinds offujo there is not only a differencein the nature of the circumstances surrounding their rst possession; there isalso a great difference in the character of the kami that possess them, and intheir relationship with the kami.

    For an ogamisama the initial possession occurs during herkamitsuke rit-ual. As I mentioned earlier, the person who is to undergo this ritual has tofast for twenty-one days and to endure numerous cold water ablutions. Bythe time the ritual is nally performed, she is in a state of extreme psycho-somatic exhaustion. During the ritual itself, the candidate as well as theattendingfujo andms repeat chanting incantations and sutras, and the airis lled with the sounds of bowstrings, drums, ringed staffs, bells, cymbals,and rosaries. This all contributes to an atmosphere of great excitement. In

    thekamitsuke ritual free use is made of traditional techniques to produce analtered state of consciousness.Among the kami who possess an ogamisama we nd kami and buddhas

    of national fame, for example Narita Fud, Shimizu Kannon, andSumiyoshi Myjin, but also the kami and buddhas of famous local shrinesand temples such as Takekoma Inari (city of Iwanuma, Miyagi Prefecture),Kokz of Yanaizu (town of Tsuyama, Motoyoshi District), the mountaindeity (yama no kami) of Kogota (town of Kogota, Tda District), and theeleven-headed Kannon of Nonodake (town of Wakuya, Tda District).

    It is probably correct to say that these are kami and buddhas the candi-

    date learned about during her training or had seen and heard of in her earlychildhood. Whatever the case may be, it is a specic kami who possesses thefujo in order to bestow upon that person her mission. Judging from the nameof thekamitsuke ritual one is inclined to think that possession has no relationto the candidate, but is suffered passively, involuntarily, and unintentionally.However, among the ogamisama themselves it is thought that the kamidescends upon the candidate and possesses her in consequence of her active,voluntary, and intentional prayers. In physiological terms, she may perhapsbe experiencing nothing more than an articially provoked change in con-sciousness, but from an insiders perspective, it is believed that possession by


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    the kami is the result of the candidates devotion and that the kami thereby

    invests her with her mission.In contrast with the ogamisama, there is a great difference with the

    kamisama in terms of what kami possesses her and how it is appraised. Therst possession occurs suddenly in the midst of her deepening devotion, hervisiting of shrines and temples in order to pray for a cure from illness, and ofintensifying her ascetic exercises. The kami who possesses her may be one ofa variety of types: one of the kami or buddhas she has encountered duringher devotions, or one that has some relation to her life history since child-hood. It may be a Yakushi-sama that her forbears have venerated for gener-ations, the Ise Myjin enshrined in her main household, a Kannon dug up

    in a eld, Amaterasu mikami whose name she saw as a child inscribed ona hanging scroll of the Ise sanctuaries displayed in her parental home, or thespirit of an ancestor who had been a rokubuH pilgrim2 engaged in asceticexercises on the three mountains of Dewa.

    Whoever the kami may be, its tendency is to have a very intense rela-tionship with the possessed person. It is not a kami or buddha of the houseshe married into, but one of either her parents natal home or main house-hold, or of her own natal home. The kami who possesses her is a specickami or buddha such as the deity of the premises (yashiki gami) or the spiritof an ancestor, although I know of only one example of the latter. Perhaps it

    is possible to imagine the character of a kami as reecting the human rela-tionships thefujo experiences in the world of her everyday life. In that case itcould be said that in this character the woman disavows the house she hasmarried into and which is constituted by her husband and mother-in-lawwho are the object of conict and strife, while she longs for the mental andreligious authority (keni) connected with her parental home before her mar-riage and with the world of her parents (KAWAMURA 1997).

    THE RITUALS AND KAMI OF THE FUJOThe representative rituals of an ogamisama, those that are referred to as her

    business, arehotoke oroshi (the summoning of the spirit of a dead person,also called kuchiyose) and haru git rte (also called toshigami oroshiP^ or kami oroshi). Among the hotoke oroshi there is the kuchiyosewhere the spirit of a recently deceased person (anbotokeG[) is called (thename of this rite isshinkuchiGS), and akuchiyose which is held at the timeof the spring higan (the week centering around the spring equinox) andwhere the spirit of an ancestor is called forth (this rite is called higan kuchiMS or furukuchi S). In these rites the spirit of a dead person or of anancestor, in other words, ahotoke, is called forth, and its words are narrated.At this occasion the ogamisama invites thehotoke to possess her. Her clients,


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    she plays with a bamboo stick in order to summon the hotoke. The oss is

    said to be the spider webs thread to which the hotoke clings. When anbotoke is called down, rice is specially heaped into a bowl as an offering tothehotoke. Two branches, one from a willow tree and the other from a peachtree, are stuck into the center of the heap. This is said to form a leaf for thehotoke to cling to (hotoke no sugariha), and it is believed that the hotokedescends along it. Ancestor spirits and nbotoke are invoked through therecitation of ritual texts, and by the sound of the one-stringed zither. Thehotoke follows the spiders thread that is the piece of oss or the twigs of wil-low and peach, the leaf for thehotoke to cling to, and comes to possess theogamisama. At aharu git, she recites ritual texts to call the kami of the year

    and the local tutelary kami and to invite them to possess her.Because people in general, or at least the clients, believe that the

    ogamisama spontaneously and actively calls forth the hotoke or kami andcompels them to enter her body, these shamanic rituals are possible.According to the ogamisama, she does not actually know what thehotoke orkami had said when she is asked about it afterwards, but while she is pos-sessed by ahotoke or kami she does not experience a particularly noticeablepsychosomatic sensation or state.

    Thekamisama differs from the ogamisama. Onekamisama says:

    Thanks to the kami (referring here to the possessing deity) my body hasbecome strong. When the kami comes over me it is like being in adream. The heart feels light. A sick person makes my own body sick,that is true; the sickness appears in my body. In the case where ahotokecomes, I feel terribly sleepy. A kami is easier, you see. Because it (pos-session) is basically the way of the kami and not that of the hotoke, it iseasier with the kami.

    Anotherkamisama says:

    When a kami possesses me, the sense of gender vanishes. Because ahotoke appears in the form of a sickness or a sick person, I feel the ail-ing part of the sick person in my own body, you see. I take away thetrouble of that hotoke, its fate (innen), you know. I heal the hotokesgure and cleanse it. I take away its suffering, make it pure, and let itclimb the three mountains of Dewa. Since I am now experienced I donot feel it anymore. It is because my degree of satori (enlightenment)has deepened.

    A kamisama allows the kami to possess her when she performs ashamanic rite such as an invocation or an exorcism, and responds to her


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  • 7/31/2019 Female Shamanism in Japan


    descended upon them and how this behavior evolved until they nally

    becamefujo, I began to think that there must be a relationship between pos-session and the psychosomatic sensations and states experienced in theprocess of becoming afujo.

    The question is where the difference between the psychosomatic sensa-tions and states of the two kinds offujo lies. If we are to surmise from thenarratives offujo about their life history, I think that two points can be made.First, there is the question of how the technique of possession is masteredduring the process of becoming a fujo, and parallel to this, how psychoso-matic sensations and states are controlled; this is to say that the difference inmethod for mastering the technique of possession and for psychosomatic

    control is what concerns us here. Second, there is the difference between thekami andhotoke who possess a fujo during her rituals, particularly in rela-tion to the way thehotoke are conceived. Roughly speaking, it is possible tothink that an ogamisama performs her shamanic rites while being possessedby a standardized kami orhotoke, but that in the case of akamisama the pos-session by kami and hotoke undergoes a change during the process of herperforming shamanic rites. In the following I will relate where, in my pres-ent thinking, I feel the reason for this difference may be found.

    The greater part of an ogamisamas initiation process is taken up bymemorizing ritual texts and sutras that are transmitted by the master, and by

    mastering the technique of invocations. No technique of possession islearned. Through training according to traditionally set methods, theogamisama acquires the techniques of shamanic ritual. After she has becomea fujo, she chants the ritual texts and sutras while performing her rituals.Possession by a kami, as it occurred in her kamitsuke ritual, is not repeatedin her own shamanic rituals.

    Support for the rites of the ogamisama is provided by the beliefs held bythe local population. These are beliefs in possession according to which theogamisama is capable of calling forth kami orhotoke and relating their words,and beliefs that the ritual texts and sutras are endowed with spiritual or even

    magical power. Consequently, no matter whether possession occurs by akami or a hotoke in her rites, because she relies on this kind of possessionbelief and on the spiritual power of her ritual texts and sutras, the ogamisamais able to perform her rites in a psychosomatic sensation and state that is nodifferent from the ordinary. Yet, at the kuchiyose for a nbotoke, which lastsmany hours, her voice gets dry and she becomes greatly exhausted. But eventhis is interpreted by the clients as being a sign that it is a well told (thatis, successful)kuchiyose, once the ogamisama has become skillful.

    Compared with the ogamisama, thekamisama seems to undergo a verycomplicated process in order to acquire her possession technique. For the


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    kamisama, the process of becoming a fujo begins with the pre-existing psy-

    chosomatic or mental disturbance which eventually led her to answer thecall. It then proceeds with a cure (of this disturbance) and culminates withthe assertion of control over psychosomatic sensations and states with thehelp of the cultural and religious concept of possession. If we are to borrowI. M. Lewis expression we might say that this process parallels his posses-sion career (LEWIS 1986, 91).

    Making use of the concept possession career I propose to conceive ofthis process as one of four stages through which the specic psychosomaticsensations and states that occur during possession change and are formed:

    1. the period lasting from the rst outbreak of a psychosomatic distur-bance to the rst possession by a kami;

    2. the period during which possession recurs intermittently, but spiritu-al power begins to manifest itself in such help for people as the cur-ing of illness;

    3. the period immediately following the beginning of activity as a fujo;and

    4. the period of practicing as an experiencedfujo.

    During the rst stage, after a psychosomatic disturbance has occurredfor some reason, the victim visitsfujo and religious healers in an effort to becured. She deepens her devotion in the process, until she comes to fullyentrust herself to the kami and buddhas. Then suddenly she falls into anextraordinary psychosomatic state. Because her behavior and speech deviateso noticeably from the norm, her close relatives and the public do not con-sider her condition simply as illness, but label it as strange. The afictedperson herself, however, claims that her situation is the result of possessionby a kami. The possession is involuntary, heteronomous, and unintentional.

    We might say that because she is regarded as a social deviant for entrustingherself fully to the kami and buddhas this is an attempt to justify her behav-ior through reference to the spiritual power of a kami. The kami who pos-sess her are of various kinds. If these kami and buddhas were religiously andsocially authenticated beings, this alone would be sufcient, but because thewoman imagines them as having a special relationship to her own life his-tory, she tries to coordinate and control her psychosomatic state by perceiv-ing her special psychosomatic situation within the interpretive framework offolk religion and the concept of possession that it entails.

    Special psychosomatic states continue intermittently even after her rst


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    possession. Because she suffers from doubts as to whether her possession is

    caused by a benevolent kami or an evil kami or spirit, she gradually deepensher devotion and dedicates herself wholeheartedly to ascetic exercises. Thesedoubts are of a different quality from the feelings that are aroused by herspecic psychosomatic state. Accordingly, we can imagine that possession bya benevolent kami produces an exalted and good feeling, while possession bya malevolent kami creates a bad feeling of depression.

    In this situation thekamisama utters oracles and prophecies and takescare of sick people as she has been directed to do by the kami. She breaks outof her world of belief and begins to have an impact on the public. Thiscomes from the conviction that the legitimacy of her possessing kami needs

    to be acknowledged not only by herself but also by the people around her.When she conducts herself as the kami directs her to do, she is often social-ly treated as a strange person. However, on some unexpected occasion shehelps people by correctly foreseeing a dangerous situation, discovering a lostitem, or curing an illness. As a consequence, the spiritual power of the kamiand her own charisma are acknowledged for the rst time. The news grad-ually spreads among the local people through word of mouth, and little bylittle she begins to work as afujo.

    A certainkamisama telling how she visited an intimate friend who hadfallen sick and prayed that the person would recover said: If another persons

    sickness is cured I am in a good mood, and every time I do incantations orexorcisms I have a good feeling myself. For thiskamisama her rst curing ofan illness served as proof of the kamis spiritual power and also its acknowl-edgment of her decision to pursue her career as fujo. It is of particular inter-est in this account that the curing of an illness concomitantly produced arecovery from her own psychosomatic disturbance and promoted the stabi-lization of her own psychosomatic state. To help people, that is, to engage inthe work of a fujo, means curing other peoples illnesses while at the sametime curing ones own. This marks the second stage in the development of akamisama.

    When a woman demonstrates her spiritual power for the rst time, sheis not immediately acknowledged by the local society as afujo. Neither doesit mean that the stability of her psychosomatic state is maintained. Fromtime to time involuntary and heteronomous possession by a kami occurs,and she falls into a special psychosomatic state. During this period sherestricts her time with clients and instead takes cold water ablutions, fasts,pays visits to famous shrines and temples throughout the country, climbs thethree mountains of Dewa, and on her own initiative dedicates herself to fre-quent devotions and ascetic exercises.

    One kamisama spoke of her experience shortly after she had begun


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    working as afujo saying: When I cleansed my body and prayed to the kami

    with my whole heart not to torment me, the kami taught me many thingsand my body felt well. A woman who has just become a fujo practicesshamanic rites for herself when she is not visited by clients or when the fam-ily business allows, and strives for possession by a kami to occur voluntarilyat her own instigation. In a manner of speaking, she trains her body tobecome the receptacle for possession by a kami. It can therefore be said thatshe strives to control and regulate possession by a kami and with it her ownpsychosomatic state.

    Because few clients visit her at this time, she might even search for peo-ple who suffer from some illness. According to one kamisama, if there is

    somebody who suffers from some illness, she feels the illness registered with-in her own body. The evil spirit orhotoke who causes the illness also causesan uncomfortable feeling in the body of thekamisama. Stated the other wayaround, if she falls into an unusual psychosomatic state and experiences abodily feeling of discomfort, she can assume that a sick person sufferingfrom the attack of an evil spirit is somewhere nearby. If she expels the evilspirit and cures the sick person, this results also in a cure of her own unusu-al psychosomatic state.

    We can assume that she learns by way of experience through trial anderrorand, as I will discuss below, based on her concept of kami andhotokehow to regulate and control her specic psychosomatic state. Thisat times occurs separately from her ordinary state, and the fujo might pur-posely encourage it during her practice of shamanic rites by beating a drumand chanting incantations. Shamanic rites of healing are aimed at other per-sons, but at the same time they provide a venue for self-healing. This isbecause they allow thefujo to interpret her own special psychosomatic stateas possession by a kami or ahotoke, to coordinate it with the possession pat-tern and thereby control it. This training to routinize possession by kami orhotoketo familiarize oneself with the possession experience, form it into apattern, and thereby domesticate itrepresents the third stage in thekamisamas development.

    Having passed through these three stages, thefujo becomes able in thefourth stage to willfully initiate possession by a kami during a shamanic rite,to adjust her psychosomatic state to the needs of the clients, and to deter-mine what evil spirit or hotoke affects them. Possession caused by kami orhotoke is specied in two independent and contrastive psychosomatic sensa-tions, as I have mentioned above, and as such it may be routinized andformed into a pattern. Yet, to simply draw her own psychosomatic sensationinto the form of possession by kami or hotoke is insufcient; she must alsobe able to reverse the process. She needs to acquire the ability within the


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    context of a shamanic rite to willfully induce and manipulate a specic psy-

    chosomatic sensation corresponding to the specic possession pattern ofeither kami orhotoke.

    If, depending on its situation within a shamanic rite, the specic psycho-somatic sensation is to be regulated and formed into a pattern as possession bya kami orhotoke, then it becomes possible, as a consequence, through con-tinued drumming or the repetitive chanting ofnorito and sutras to controlspecic psychosomatic sensations and to induce an altered state of con-sciousness as well as make one disappear. It may also be possible to manip-ulate the occurrence of a formalized psychosomatic sensation of a kami or ahotoke even while being in a state that is practically normal.

    If a person arrives at this level, it can then be said that she has fully mas-tered the technique of possession. In contrast with the woman who has onlyrecently become a fujo and nds it difcult to control her psychosomaticstates, the accomplished person now performs shamanic rites in an almostnormal condition. Learning to perceive a specic psychosomatic sensationas possession by a kami orhotoke, and thereby drawing it into the context ofa healing ritual, is the unseen process in a fujos mastery of the possessiontechnique.

    Possession by kami or hotoke and psychosomatic sensationIn the case of the ogamisama, the kami who possessed her during thekami-tsuke ritual, which is for her the ritual of becoming afujo, does not appear inher shamanic rites but rather is the object of veneration as the guardian deityor the guardianhonzon of shamanic rites. For akamisama, however, the kamiwho manifested itself in her rst possession becomes the possessing spirit inalmost all her shamanic rites. It thereby displays its spiritual power andendows the kamisama with spiritual power of her own. There are also asmall number ofkamisama, for whom the possessing spirit changes from thekami who rst possessed them to another kami. In the case of both the

    ogamisama and thekamisama, it is assumed that the kami of a shamanic riteis a benevolent spirit with positive spiritual power. In other words, it is nodifferent from the kind of kami recognized by the people in general.

    In relation to ahotoke, the ogamisama andkamisama are alike in that forboth, as for the bulk of the population, the hotoke represents the spirit of adead person or an ancestor. They differ, however, in their understanding ofthehotoke who appears in a shamanic rite and with whom they have to cope.

    In the shamanic rites of an ogamisama, a hotoke appears in akuchiyose.A kuchiyose called furukuchi or higanguchi (also higanbayashi), which ismainly performed at the time of the spring higan, involves summoning the


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    spirit of an ancestor who is already past the rst annual memorial service,

    and is believed to have reached buddhahood and gained the rank of a bud-dha (hotoke no kurai [uR). The shinkuchi, by contrast, is a kuchiyosewhich is performed immediately after the funeral of a deceased person orwithin forty-nine days after the persons death. The hotoke represents thespirit of this person and is believed to be doing ascetic exercises in order toattain buddhahood.

    The rst type ofhotoke protects its descendants, sometimes appearingin a dream standing by the head of a descendants bed to announce immi-nent misfortune. It also provides oracles about coming good or bad fortune,and serves as a guardian deity (mamorigami!P) who protects the fam-ily. The latterhotoke reveals the thoughts it had while still alive, what it wasunable to accomplish, and what it was unable to say to its family. It express-es gratitude for the assistance it has received from the family, requests thatthey perform the prescribed memorial services, and tells them that it seemsto be on the way to successfully attaining buddhahood. These hotoke areancestors similar to those of folk belief in kami and buddhas. Theirkuchiyoseis performed by the ogamisama as part of the ancestral rites intended to prayfor the continuation of the household (ie B). This hotoke is considered akami who holds the positive spiritual power to promote the prosperity of its

    descendants and household.In the shamanic rites of thekamisama, on the other hand, ahotoke doesnot appear as a guardian deity offering protection and favor to its descen-dants because it is not called forth as an ancestral spirit in response to itsdescendants request. No rite is performed to allow it to speak. Like so manyevil spirits, it represents the spirit of a dead person or ancestor who cannotattain buddhahood, or it is a wandering spirit who brings sickness, accidentand misfortune to its descendants. It clearly expresses the character of ahaunting deity (tatarigamiP).

    It happens that thekamisama herself, at the time before or shortly after

    she becomes akamisama, is possessed by ahotoke, in this case representing anancestral spirit who has not attained buddhahood. She consequently falls sick,experiences unusual psychosomatic states, and has unpleasant psychosomaticsensations. Thekamisama then cleanses her body, invokes the kami, and withthe help of the kamis spiritual power helps the hotoke reach buddhahood,thereby curing her own illness and freeing herself from discomforting feelings.In her work as afujo, if ahotoke is recognized as the cause of a clients sicknessor misfortune she helps it attain buddhahood by performing memorial rites(in the case of an ancestral spirit) or memorial rites and exorcisms (in the caseof a wandering spirit). In this way she expels the offending hotoke from her


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    clients. For thekamisama, ahotoke has to be dealt with as a kami, but one hav-

    ing the negative spiritual power to bring misfortune.The shamanic rites ofogamisama and kamisama are distinguishable in

    terms of whether the possessing spirit appears in them or not, but a greater dis-tinction is apparent in their respective handling of a hotoke. This differencegoes hand in hand with the process of becoming afujo and is reected in thepsychosomatic sensations each type experiences during a shamanic rite.

    An ogamisama learns an established possession technique from the tra-dition handed down by her master. Because she conducts shamanic ritesunder possession by a kami that is believed to have positive spiritual poweror by ahotoke that has already reached buddhahood, the possession experi-

    ence has no inuence on her psychosomatic state. Regardless of which typeof being she induces to possess her, she does not experience any special psy-chosomatic sensations. Possession by ahotoke, such that thehotoke descendsupon the ogamisama and speaks through her, is made possible by a beliefshared by both the fujo and the people in general. As a consequence, anogamisama does not engage in speech and actions that deviate from thenorm; she can carry out a shamanic rite in a normal state.

    In contrast with an ogamisama, thekamisama presents a signicantly dif-ferent approach. First of all, she does not follow an institutionalized processto become afujo as is the case for an ogamisama. For akamisama, a psycho-

    somatic disturbance, something that the public at large would consider amalady, marks the starting point of her becoming afujo. It is possible to relatethe cure of this psychosomatic disturbance to the acquisition of a possessiontechnique. As I mentioned earlier, based on rituals by folk religious practi-tioners and the possession beliefs of the people, a kamisama graduallyacquires the technique of possession by regulating and controlling the specialstate that arose from her psychosomatic disturbance.

    From the time between stages two and three as earlier described, upuntil the time when a woman begins to work as a fujo, she sometimesengages in violent speech and actions because her psychosomatic distur-

    bance is not completely cured, and she falls into a psychosomatic state whichdeviates from the norm. She seems to be visited by various states. At timesshe is in an exalted, refreshing, and excited state, but there are also timeswhen she nds herself in a depressing gloomy state accompanied by a feel-ing of discomfort. It is possible to interpret these states as possession by akami orhotoke, and to imagine that they are regulated and controlled. I sur-mise, on the grounds of what I have heard from thekamisama themselves,that on one side the exalted and refreshing psychosomatic state is realistical-ly imagined as possession by a kami, while on the other side the gloomy anduncomfortable psychosomatic state is imagined as possession by a hotoke. It


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    by kami orhotoke as a conceptual arrangement in order to execute shaman-

    ic rites in answer to her clients requests.Even akamisama with a long history as afujo who masters these posses-

    sion techniques and is well trained says: It is really not the way of a hotoke-sama, it is the way of a kamisama. Therefore, it is easy with akamisama, yousee. Akamisama avoids the handling of ancestral spirits who have not yetattained buddhahood and of wandering spirits as matters of ahotoke. To per-form incantations and exorcisms according to her possessing spirit as mat-ters of a kami is easier for her body, and she happily performs the matters ofa kami. In the matters of a hotoke, thekamisama has to take upon herself ahotokes fate and the sins a client suffers, she experiences uncomfortable feel-ings and a sensation of exhaustion, it affects (sawaru) her body. Although herinitial psychosomatic discomfort is cured, it is possible that she continues toface innumerable dangers that they might occur again, and that she is cap-tive to such fears. While a kamisama dislikes the matters of ahotoke, she isusually faced with the necessity to help people who are troubled and sufferfrom ahotoke.

    Both ogamisama and kamisama are experts in possession technique.Neither of them acquire this expertise easily, however. They must rst wan-der a difcult path, crossing the so called valley of tears, and acquiring

    their skills only at the end of severe training. This includes not only theogamisama andkamisama themselves, but also the sentiment of a heartlessworld (kokoronaki sekai no shinj) of the people who visit the fujo. Untoldmisfortune visiting people without interruption is the character of thisworld. The phenomenon of possession, in the case of thefujo as well as inthat of the people in general, tells of the sentiment of a heartless worldwhile it shows a way out of this sad reality.


    * This article was translated by Peter Knecht.1. Translators note. Thenando is the innermost room of a house, used to store valuablesand as sleeping quarters for the younger couple of the household.

    2. Translators note. A pilgrim who visits sixty-six sacred places (reij ) throughoutJapan, offering the Lotus Sutra and doing ascetic exercises.


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