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FOURTH LECTURE "The Fate of Visiting Deity Rituals: Thoughts on Tradition and Tourism" (May 13)

The Stanford University-J. F. Oberlin University
Commemorative Lecture Series
SpeakerMICHAEL DYLAN FOSTER (Associate Professor, Indiana University)
Date and timeMay 13, 2013 (Monday), 16:10-17:40
PlaceMeimeikan, Room A204, Machida Campus

Michael Dylan Foster (right)

Abstract: All communities have traditions, cultural practices that have been handed down from one generation to the next. But traditions are never static and each generation must negotiate a desire for continuity with a need for change. This talk will introduce two "visiting deity rituals," Namahage of Akita Prefecture and Toshidon of Kagoshima Prefecture, and discuss how local communities work to creatively use these traditions as cultural resources to attract tourists while at the same time struggling to preserve what they see as the integrity of the rituals themselves. Faced with a rapid decline in the number of children, an aging population and related economic issues, how do these rural communities negotiate the function and "authenticity" of their traditions with the needs of their current situation?

Michael Dylan Foster is an associate professor in the Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology and the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures at Indiana University. He specializes in Japanese folklore and literature, particularly regarding the supernatural and monstrous. His current research focuses on ritual, festival and tourism. He is the author of Pandemonium and Parade: Japanese Monsters and the Culture of Yokai (University of California Press, 2009) and numerous articles on Japanese folklore, literature, and media.