Folk Beliefs in Modern Japan
[Table of Contents]

Local Newspaper Coverage of Folk Shamans in Aomori PrefectureI

IKEGAMI Yoshimasa

(Pages in the original paper: 9-91)

1. Introduction

The folk shamans (fusha) of Northeastern Japan, called variously itako[Glossary: itako], gomiso[Glossary: gomiso], and kamisama[Glossary: kamisama],II have been the focus of growing academic interest in the period following the end of World War II, resulting in the production of a growing body of local surveys. Very few materials are available, however, revealing the historical background of these shamans, not only as regards their origins from the medieval through the early-modern periods, but also their more recent history from the Meiji (1868-) era up until World War II. The primary reasons for this lack include the following: (1) those persons in positions of responsibility for preserving documentary materials, including local government administrators, educators, writers and historians, found that the activities of these shamans was outside the scope of their own interests and concerns; (2) the activity of shamans was, at any rate, not deemed worthy of serious documentation; and (3) most of the folk shamans themselves, due to physical handicaps and social prejudice, lacked the benefit of a high level of education and were victims to social and institutional oppression, leaving them little choice but to respond furtively to popular demand for magico-religious practices.

While local newspapers, and particularly the society pages of those newspapers, are subject to certain biases and limits, they nonetheless form a valuable source of information that augments the slim body of data available elsewhere. This is particularly true in regard to the government oppression which was directed against these practitioners prior to World War II. While previous research reports have touched on such persecution through the medium of personal interviews, numerous ambiguous points have been left unresolved. And at the present point some forty years after the end of the war, it is becoming increasingly difficult to undertake interviews with the shamans, clients and believers who were active in the prewar period. This situation enhances the documentary value of those reports in local newspapers--their biased and subjective limits notwithstanding.

In this report, I have attempted to survey newspaper articles from the Tôô nippô, a typical newspaper of Aomori Prefecture, as a source for what I consider significant historical information regarding the local folk shamans of Aomori. I utilize selected information from those articles as a vehicle for my own discussion of the topic of folk shamanism.

It should be noted that when dealing with the topic of Japanese "folk shamans," an immediate conceptual or definitional problem arises in the documentary compilations devoted to the subject. That problem is, of course, the one of delimiting the range of magico-religious practitioners which I here subsume under the category of "folk shamans." Two issues, in particular, which I anticipate are the criteria used for delimiting the concepts of "folk" (minkan) and "shaman" (fusha).

To begin with the first concept, if one assumes that indigenous, traditional customs (shûzoku) form the sine qua non for a strict conceptual framework of "folk," then the professional specialists found within the organizations of "established religions" must obviously be omitted. But while practitioners subsumed under the title of itako and kamisama display autonomous, indigenous activities on the one level, on the institutional plane they are also frequently granted credentials by established religious organizations. In many cases, they can be included with the class of so-called local branch organizations of new religious groups. Even within reports from the prewar period, some of these ostensibly "folk" figures simultaneously had the status of professional religious specialists affiliated with new religions such as Tenrikyô[Glossary: tenri-kyo] or Ontakekyô[Glossary: ontake-kyo], while others were called yamabushi (mountain practitioners) or gyôja (ascetics), titles making it clear that they were under the influence of Shûgendô-related groups. Still others were called "fortune tellers" (baibokusha or uranaishi). Such a variety of identities makes it impossible to make an unequivocal discrimination of "folk" from "non-folk" religion.

It might be possible to consider the "folk" as referring to those of the "non-ruling" class, the class of "subjects" (tami), in contrast to the "officials" (kan) linked to public authority, but that strategy likewise involves problems when considering the situation which existed under the prewar institution of State Shinto[Glossary: kokka_shinto]. Under that framework, village Shinto shrines and their priests were considered "non-religious" elements of the community, and organized within the system of government "officials" who bore responsibility for national ritual. Given that discrimination, most of the religious professionals belonging to Buddhism, Christianity, and sectarian Shinto[Glossary: kyoha_shinto] would, by default, have to be classified as belonging to the category of "folk."1

Second, the attempt to erect a strict definition for "shaman" (fusha) raises the issue of the actual nature of the magico-religious practice engaged in by these practitioners. Specifically, if one starts from the so-called theory of shamanism and attempts to set up the fusha as a conceptual model distinct from the mere "prophet" (yogensha) or "faith healer" (kitôsha[Glossary: kito]), it becomes necessary to introduce a discussion of the nature of the religious experience involved in such things as "trance" and "possession." The problem carries over into the classic debate surrounding the precise nature of the fusha in Japanese religious history, and whether the English term "shaman" is, indeed, an accurate rendering for itako and kamisama.

At the same time, it is obviously unreasonable to expect the aforementioned post-war academic concerns to emerge from the pens of reporters writing for prewar local newspapers. A very few articles admittedly make indirect yet highly interesting comments regarding the contents of intercessory rituals or the process of shamanistic initiation, but it is impossible to render a verdict regarding the contents of religious faith and practice on the basis of such fragmentary and anecdotal reports.

Accordingly, in this article I must base my selection entirely on the nomenclature and orthography used by the newspaper reporters themselves. Here, one crucial marker is provided by such orthography as itako, gomiso, miko[Glossary: miko] (or itako), and kamisama. In addition to such orthographic factors, however, the emic categories used in the Tsugaru region,III for example, make it highly likely that readings like kamisama were used with other character combinations in addition to the one noted above; in such cases, I have tried so far as possible to include such incidents within the scope of my survey here. I have tentatively omitted from my list of newpaper articles in Table 1 incidents of prosecution directed against the religious professionals of groups which, like Tenrikyô and Ômotokyô[Glossary: omoto], proselytized while maintaining a substantial level of internal organizational autonomy.

On the other hand, I have naturally included individuals who were called kamisama, even if elsewhere in the same article they were said to bear professional religious titles like "minister of the Ontake Religion" (Ontakekyô kundô).

In any case, it is likely impossible to eliminate all bias from the standards used in my selection of the incidents recorded here. In that sense, the reader should understand that the concept of "folk shaman" I have adopted in this article is little more than a convenient framework, carrying with it a considerable degree of peripheral overlap and ambiguity.

2. Documentary Materials

Table 1 is a list of newspaper headlines relating to folk shamans (as defined by the standards outlined above), taken from the pages of the Tôô nippô for the years 1897 to 1945. Any gaps in coverage have arisen from missing editions of the newspaper itself, together with possible oversight on my own part, although I believe the coverage to be as complete as possible with regard to major articles.

The Tôô nippô began publication on December 6, 1889 as a self-proclaimed organ of the unified "Freedom and People's Rights Movement," and it thus stood in opposition to other newspapers aligned with the central government. As a result, the paper's political nature was paramount, and it carried few articles relating to popular customs and events. In addition, the newspaper did not begin as a daily, and numerous numbers are currently missing from its early years of publication, making it impossible to obtain adequate coverage for those years. For such reasons, I set the upper limit of my study at the year 1897, although I was still unable to find any relevant articles during the first three years. In short, the earliest article included in the table (case [1]), is dated February 4, 1900 (here and subsequently, bracketed numbers in the text refer to the corresponding case numbers in Table 1) .

A cursory glance through the headlines listed in the table makes it apparent that folk shamans were typically characterized as practitioners of "immoral and deviant religion."IV Indeed, over seventy percent of the articles are concerned with the investigation, prosecution, and subsequent trials of these shamans for fraud, or for interference in legitimate medical treatment. Item numbers in the table linked by hyphens refer to continuing coverage of a single incident; when the same individual was subjected to renewed prosecution after an interval of years, I assigned a new item number rather than consider it part of a single continuing incident. Overall, Table 1 includes a total of 144 headlines relating to 113 separate incidents.

Before discussing the individual incidents, let me say a word about some of the general characteristics exhibited by these articles. First, as I noted earlier, within the category of "folk shamans" used here, I have included "prophets" (yogensha), "faith healers" (kitôshi), "ascetic practitioners" (gyôja), and "diviners" (baibokusha), as well as some other individuals who assumed the names or titles of specific religious figures or deities[Glossary: jingi], such as "avatar of Kôbô Daishi," or "devotee of Inari[Glossary: inari]-sama." In the interest of distinguishing the narrower concept of "folk shamans," I feel special emphasis should be placed on four of these titles, which I have itemized in Table 2.

In brief, Table 2 represents a tabulation of those articles which feature, in headline or text, one of the four titles itako, miko (or itako), kamisama, and gomiso. It should be noted that some individuals are given multiple titles within a single article; in such cases, I have treated each individual as a single instance to avoid redundant counting. For example, when an entry in the "Title" column has a linked entry (e.g., itako=kamisama), it indicates that a single individual was described by the multiple names shown, or a case in which a certain character combination like [miko] was accompanied by an infrequent reading, such as itako. A summary of the total cases, including those with multiple titles, indicates that of the ninety-two titles in these articles, kamisama was applied in seventy-one cases, miko (sometimes itako) in twenty-seven cases, and itako in twelve cases.

The title gomiso was used in but a single instance. This brief article [81] did not concern a case of legal prosecution, but under the headline "Shrine to Farming Deity Built in Scenic Meya Valley," noted merely that, "Today, led by the famous gomiso Ishiyama, the good men and women throughout the village of Meya are to be mobilized." Likewise, article [50] titled "The Blind of Nambu," notes regarding a numerical survey of the blind, "Two magicians (commonly called komusô or itako, persons subject to Article 18 of the Police Regulations Ordinance)," followed by, "We cannot help but feel sympathy for these komusô (men) and itako (women), since they are souls lost in darkness, who should be furnished with light."

As a result, while the term gomiso has gained currency in the post-war period as an inclusive academic term to refer, with itako, to a classic form of Japanese folk shaman, it should be noted that the term kamisama was, in fact, used more frequently within the local communities themselves.

Next, Table 3 represents a compilation of sex and age distributions for the sixty-six shamanesses and shamans for whom specific ages were given in the respective newspaper articles (limited to those of the four categories noted above). Most of the women reported were in the 40-50 age bracket, while most men were in their 30s and 40s. When one considers the fact that virtually all articles which listed age and sex were descriptions of criminal investigations or trials, it would appear that rather than reflecting the actual state of folk shamans in this period, the figures noted here indicate rather those age groups which were most frequently subjected to investigation and prosecution.

Finally, Table 4 is a tabulation of the geographical distribution of incidents in the articles treated. Of the 113 cases listed in Table 1, it was possible to determine the county (gun) or municipality (shi) in 111 cases, and these cases are listed in the table. Many of the original place names have subsequently been changed due to incorporation into larger administrative units, with the result that I have also listed the current administrative place names to facilitate locating the original sites. Both entries in the "Other Prefecture" category indicate cases in which a shaman originally residing within Aomori later moved away and was prosecuted elsewhere.

It should be noted that the great preponderance of cases from Aomori City is largely a reflection of the fact that the newspaper's head offices were located in that city, thus facilitating news-gathering regarding official investigations and local incidents. Put another way, it could be said that the state of criminal reporting was not an accurate reflection of the actual distribution of criminal prosecutions themselves. In remote mountain and seaside villages, social controls of a more implicit, tacit variety were likely the norm. Oral interviews have brought to light some aspects of such local sanctions, but on the other hand, one also notes comments by some shamans to the effect that "even resident [policemen] have come to me asking to help with cases that they couldn't solve by themselves." Such comments suggest the likelihood that the traditional activities of shamans were given a considerable degree of tacit assent or recognition.

On the basis of the general coverage provided by these articles alone, it is difficult to estimate what degree of gap existed between the newspaper coverage and the true social situation, although it remains generally true that the urban setting made it easier for the police to enforce government ordinances at their face value. In addition, as will become clear from case studies to be presented later, it tended, rather, to be the newspapers themselves which were most diligently dedicated to "enlightening the ignorant masses." In that sense, the media played the greatest role in the eradication of this kind of folk practice, through its encouragement of government authorities toward the implementation of repressive ordinances and prosecutions.

3. The Meiji Period (1868-1912)

Articles published in the Meiji period are generally characterized by three features:

First, Tenrikyô and other major new religions with relatively fixed doctrine and group organization demonstrated remarkably rapid growth in this period, and that high level of activity stimulated the fears of local authorities and intellectuals. In response, the policy which aimed at the "eradication of immoral and deviant religions," and which had been promulgated in the early years of Meiji but largely ignored, was gradually resurrected. By linking local folk shamans to the category of deviant religions, these local figures were placed within the scope of increased official investigation and repression.

Second, articles recounting the prosecution of so-called folk shamanistic figures tend to be weighted toward itinerant figures from outside the locality, figures who had settled in local communities or were engaged in itinerant magico-religious activities. This fact indicates that among the kamisama-type of religious practitioners were a considerable number which might be called "migrant" figures; such individuals were viewed with particular suspicion by the government authorities, and their prosecution became linked to the investigation of local shamans as well.

Third, within the class of articles dealing with crime reporting and found on the society pages of the newspaper, a large proportion of articles involving women were directed against illicit private prostitution, and most cases of female folk shamans were treated within the same category. In other words, within the framework of the official ( or oyake) system of recognized prostitution and the official system of ritual called State Shinto, anyone presenting a threat to the legitimacy of those official, public institutions was made an object of denunciation and ostracism as "someone privately or without official sanction" engaged in the proscribed behavior, whether it were prostitution, religious activity, or something else.

Table 5 lists those articles from the Tôô nippô dealing with Tenrikyô for the years 1897-1900. Government repression of and interference with the activities of Tenrikyô was evident from the early years of the Meiji period, and such repression reached a peak in the 1890s, led by the established religions and the mass media.2 Publications critical of Tenrikyô began to appear widely from around 1893 and reached a peak in 1896. In April of that year the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department issued its Directive I-12 based on a so-called "Secret Home-Ministry Directive," and the police directive was published in most newspapers. In turn, the Chûô shinbun and other members of the media responded to the directive by launching a concentrated attack on the new religious group.

Based on these dates, one can surmise that Tenrikyô's proselytization activities in Aomori Prefecture lagged about a decade behind those in the rest of the country. According to research by Hatano Kazuo, Tenrikyô began proselytization activities in the Tsugaru region during the mid-1890s, and concentrated on the organization of churches around the turn of the century, when its core congregations were established.3 It is from this same period that local media attacks on Tenrikyô begin to appear in earnest. Those reports denounced Tenrikyô as an "immoral religion" (inshi), accusing the church of "deceiving the ignorant folk and greedily accumulating money and possessions for its own private profit." Such articles claimed that Tenrikyô "assembled men and women together, and used reprehensible means to engage in unbelievably licentious activities, going so far as to act as agent for carnal liaisons," concluding that "there is fully sufficient reason for official prosecution," or "it behooves the ministries to take action." In short, these articles are uniform in portraying the media as leaders in the call for official investigations of the new religions.

As Takeda Dôshô has pointed out, the government repression of "immoral religions" in this period does not yet clearly demonstrate the kind of conflict between religious groups and emperor-system ideology seen in later years. On the contrary, the persecution in this early period tends to be strongly based on a rationale that emphasizes the deleterious social effects of the religions, as expressed in terms such as "the disruption of public morals (fûzoku bunran)."4 Viewed from the converse perspective, while folk religious practices had been given tacit recognition within traditional custom, the regional expansion of the new religions presented the opportunity to direct strong criticism against practitioners of folk religion as well, since they were viewed as serving as hotbeds for the new religions. It is in that context that the following article from November 22, 1899 serves as a noteworthy landmark:

Prosecution of Immoral and Deviant Religions

The use of magical incantations to interfere with medical therapy was prohibited in a notice issued by the Ministry of Religious Education in 1874. In the same way, proclaiming good and ill fortunes or using magical spells to mislead others and gain profit are subject to prosecution as criminal offenses under Article 426 of the Penal Code. In spite of these prohibitions, immoral and deviant religions have been growing steadily in recent times, causing no small injury through their superstitions. Worst of all, many of those now appearing are mistaken in their treatment of precious human life; if left to themselves, there is no telling how much harm may occur.

In response, reports have been heard to the effect that the authorities recently ordered the police to strictly enforce the letter of the law in those cases falling under the aforementioned Penal Code. These reports go on to suggest that in the case of those activities falling under the purview of the earlier prohibition [from the Ministry of Religious Education], the authorities will not stop at making local administrative investigations, but will initiate more aggressive prosecutions, raising such activities to the status of criminal offenses and making them subject to more severe penalties.

Table 5 makes it clear that the passage, "immoral and deviant religions have been growing steadily in recent times" is primarily a reference to the active proselytization efforts of Tenrikyô in the region. And the "notice issued by the Ministry of Religious Education in 1874" likely refers to the "Notice Regarding Sorcery and Magical Spells" issued in Notice II-33 by the Ministry of Religious Education on June 7, 1874, together with the Notice to Prefectures No. 22 which was based on the earlier notice. On January 15 of the preceding year (1873), Notice No. 2 from the Ministry of Religious Education had already prohibited "catalpa-bowV diviners and fox-spirit exorcisms," and Aomori Prefecture had responded in 1874, 1875, and 1878 by issuing repeated prohibitions against the activities of shamans.

While it is certain that such notices and prohibitions placed a certain degree of pressure on the activities of folk shamans, the above events also suggest that the notices from the central government were not implemented as thoroughly in the local prefecture as one might expect. The "strict enforcement of the letter of the law," and "more aggressive prosecution" are likewise transmitted not as official pronouncements of the relevant authorities, but as anonymous reports with the expression "reports have been heard to the effect that . . ."

It was within this context of "prosecution of immoral and deviant religions" sparked by the growing strength of Tenrikyô that the first article relating to folk shamans appeared in the Tôô nippô on February 4, 1900:

The Spread of Immoral and Deviant Religions [Case 1]

The religion of Tenrikyô has spread at fanatical rates in the Kuroishi region of Minami Tsugaru-gun, and some of the groups have even erected their own buildings. As a result of the extremes of superstition involved, some ignorant people have sold their lands and homes, leading to the extinction of entire families, all in order to donate money to the group. One can only wonder at the strangeness in this world, when some people believe the most ridiculous of claims, such as that within the next two or three years everyone will become followers of Tenrikyô, and that money donated now will return ten-fold.

But there are also others who employ shrewd means to deceive the people of this world. For example, the Hottôge Reijo has been built by a certain man named Takagi in the village of Takadate in Minami-gun. Originally an illiterate carpenter, Takagi maintains that he was suddenly possessed by "the spirits of foxes and badgers," and became a fervent believer in the Nichiren Sect, claiming the ability to heal illnesses by virtue of intoning the DaimokuVI. Appropriating the title of prophet, he also said he had received a divine oracle commanding him to build a place of worship upon the old holy site [of Hottôge]. But a certain other man also made his living by performing magical faith-healing and exorcisms similar in kind to those of Tenrikyô, and claimed magical efficacy under the name of the Great Stone of Hottôge,VII while merely looking for profit under that pretext. Previously, Takagi and the other man had built a small hut on the old holy site, and Takagi had received a part of the profits, but the other man broke up with Takagi, with the result that Takagi, in order to wreak retribution on the other man, took remedy in the crafty means of divine oracles.

While it is impossible to know how successful Takagi's attempt was, the fact that this holy ground lies on the precincts of the [Nichiren] temple Hôryôin makes it cowardly for the temple's adherents to stand by while their domain is transformed into such a demons' lair.

It also appears that some of the lay parish representatives have given vent to futile spite, complaining to the temple's headquarters (honzan) that it was an unspeakable act of impiety to overlook such an incident, since it bears on the very survival of the sect. Some have apparently been busy as well appealing to the government for the restoration of the sacred site. It certainly does not seem unreasonable for the authorities to take some kind of restraining action in the case, since it is clear that allowing such immoral religion to run rampant and deceive the ignorant folk will result in no little injury to public order.

This article reports an incident relating to Hottôge in Kuroishi City, a site which, together with the Akakura and Nyûnai regions, is known even today as one of Tsugaru's sacred areas for faith-healers of the kamisama type. The article is valuable as a historical document demonstrating rivalry between folk shamans and the Nichiren temple Hôryôin over the sacred Hottôge area, which was linked, in turn, to the holy man Nichiji Shônin.

The man named Takagi did not adopt the title kamisama, but was said to be suddenly possessed by the "spirits of foxes and badgers," calling himself a prophet (yogensha), indicating that he was one of those shamanistic religious professionals who were elsewhere called kamisama and possessed (or claimed to possess) the experience of some kind of trance or divine possession. What should be noted is that this topic was raised in the context of Tenrikyô, which had become what might be called the archetype of "deviant religion," and that the article uses the expression "magical faith-healing and exorcisms similar in kind to those of Tenrikyô." Further, the article does not report on an actual prosecution undertaken by the police or other authorities, but rather represents an editorial critique of the man for engaging in "immoral religion" and creating "a demon's lair," with concurrent proposals that the authorities launch an investigation.

It is within this context of events that the second article [2] appeared in September of 1901, using the term kamisama to refer to a magico-religious practitioner:

Complaint Lodged Against Kamisama [Case 2]

Hirai Uhachi, a resident of Aburakawa Village in Azuma-gun, claims to be a kamisama. Since last year, he has collected unauthorized donations of one shô [about 1.8 liters] of rice or 25 sen each, which he claims are to be dedicated to roofing copper for the new building of the Awashima Shrine. After spreading word throughout surrounding villages that the construction was finished, he said he would hold opening ceremonies on the fifteenth and sixteenth of last month. But, naturally, no one came to the shrine, since it is not officially authorized, and two days ago a complaint was lodged against the kamisama Uhachi at the Aomori Police Station for infraction of laws dealing with charitable donations.

This article details a case in which an individual was prosecuted by the police for "claiming to be a kamisama," building a shrine without "authorization," and collecting donations from villagers. From this time on, reports of specific cases of prosecution against such itako and kamisama are seen more frequently in the pages of the newspaper. In addition to the solicitation of donations for private worship, most reasons given for prosecution include the promulgation of "superstitions" such as "fox-spirit possessions" which result in the "deception of ignorant folk," and interference with medical practice. The following are two typical cases:

Superstitions and a Crazed Woman [Case 5]

Itô Kie (19), the sister of Itô Magotarô in Ôdate-chô, Akita Prefecture, became a live-in waitress in at the restaurant of Kitagawa Yûkichi, in the city's Hama-chô area. Itô began showing signs of lunacy from last July 24 and she was subsequently treated by Dr. Suzuki of Kome-chô, but she failed to show any signs of any recovery.

A believer in the Nichiren Sect called Terao of Tsukurimichi Village recommended prayers that he assured would bring about Itô's full recovery. Since the aforementioned Kitagawa was the husband of Kie's sister, he paid seven yen to Terao to have faith-healing intercessions performed for her, but they had no effect at all. As a result, Kie was once again brought home on the twenty-fourth of last month, and kept subdued there. Some others, however, said that she must be possessed by a fox. Relatives learned of a place in the Shinshijimigai-machi area of the city, in the precincts of the Kotoshironushi Shrine, commonly known as a place for the worship of the saint Kobô Daishi. The family was told that a man named Ise Hirokichi was said to be an incarnation of the Buddha, and that he could perform fervent prayers which would cause the fox to immediately leave the girl. Since the girl Itô was too much for Kitagawa to take care of, he conspired with the girl's sister Sada and entrusted her to the man Ise Hirokichi (62).

Hirokichi took one look at Itô and claimed that she was definitely possessed by a fox spirit, and every day and night he kept her bound and confined, giving her no food and subjecting her to continual beatings. He also burned her breast with moxa so that the whole surface of her chest was seared an ashen color, and she received injuries so severe that she lost use of her hands. When police patrolman Kawasaki heard about it two days ago, he immediately went to investigate in mid-morning, just at the time Hirokichi was beating Itô. The patrolman immediately arrested Ise without further ado, and he is currently under investigation.

The Money Cure [Case 6]

Satô Shinkichi is the third son of Satô Hatsuzô (49), a restauranteur living in the city at No. 30, Sakae-chô. Around the fifth of last month, Shinkichi was overcome with a sudden illness, so his worried father immediately had him treated by Dr. Murakami in the Bakurô-chô district. The illness showed no improvement, however, and out of desperation the father began entreating various deities. Someone told him, however, that the son could be cured if he would have intercessory prayers offered by Mikami Haru (47), wife of Mikami Manjirô of the city's Ura-machi district.

Satô went to Haru every day and had her offer her prayers, and he paid her ten or twenty sen for offerings. One day, however, Haru told Satô that while his son's illness had started as a case of influenza, he had subsequently been cursed by a cat, and that he could not be healed merely by taking a doctor's medicines. Instead, she told him that healing could come about if only Satô would place his trust in her. In addition, Haru tried to swindle Satô by saying that she would make Satô's son well in two weeks if he would donate ten yen, while a donation of twenty yen could effect a healing in a single week.

This information came to the knowledge of patrolman Kawasaki of the Aomori Police, and Haru was summarily sentenced to three days' detention. Haru also gave a dubious medication to Mori Kuri, wife of Jinzaburô in Aburakawa Village, claiming that it was a healing charm, and for this offense, Haru was given a sentence of ten days' confinement.

These two articles already display the characteristic sequence of events encountered in later cases of prosecution. Particularly emphasized as illicit behavior are the diagnosis of "fox possession" and "curse by a cat," the interference with medical diagnosis represented by the dispensing of a "dubious medication" which Haru claimed to be a "healing charm," coupled to her demands for monetary payment. The contents of cases [4], [7], and [9] are similarly informative, but I will omit recounting them here.

Next, I want to discuss the issue of "itinerancy," which I suggested as the second characteristic of folk shamans in the Meiji period. The following article [8] was published in 1907.

Superstition Leads to Assault [Case 8]

Nakazaki Ken'ichirô (44) is a farmer living at No. 77 Kamiichikawa in Kawauchi Village of Sannohe-gun. His mother Naka for some time suffered from an obscure ailment and someone or other in the village began a rumor to the effect that she had been possessed by a fox spirit. Rather than thinking this a mere superstition, Nakazaki immediately assumed that someone must have indeed placed the curse of the fox on his mother.

Nakazaki learned that Futaba Sae (41) of Iwate Prefecture, the common-law wife of Satô Sanzô (61) who lived in the same village, had drifted into the village several years earlier, and called herself the servant of Kôbô Daishi. According to hearsay, she claimed that if a person had faith, she could cast out possessing foxes. As a result, Nakazaki came to believe that it must have been Futaba who had caused his mother to be possessed by the fox, so he waited for an opportunity to exact his revenge.

Last October 5, Nakazaki discovered Futaba and two other women drinking at the shop of the wine seller Tashiro Shin (48). Constantly worried for his mother, Nakazaki was in a drunken stupor this day, and spying Futaba, he abruptly pulled her into the back of the shop, grabbing her hair and calling her a "vicious bitch" for cursing his mother with a fox. He threw her on her back in a small room and told her to shut up each time she attempted to get up, raining blows on her and kicking her so hard that she finally fell unconscious without a word.

Hearing the commotion, Tashiro's wife Chiyo (40) rushed out the front door and was aghast at the sight of Futaba being beaten, but she could do nothing. Just then, Nakazaki appeared to get an idea in his head, and ran to the outhouse in back of the store. Bringing back some human feces, he threw them all over Futaba and crowed as to how that would be sure to rid his mother of the fox, before he finally stumbled home.

But on his way home, Nakazaki was seized by policemen from the Gonohe precinct, who investigated the scene and found Futaba with a brain concussion. Her injuries produced intracranial pressure and deafness resulting from the damage to the hearing organs in the left ear. Nakazaki was arrested and sent to the police station in Hachinohe, and his pre-trial hearing was held on the fifteenth. His trial will begin in the district court on the twenty-eighth of the month.

This incident describes a case of conflict with a faith healer resulting from villagers' superstitions about "fox-spirit possessions." What I wish to draw attention to here is the fact that the woman who claimed to be a "servant of Kôbô Daishi" was said to have been a native of Iwate Prefecture who had "drifted into the village" several years earlier. Similarly, in case [11], a "suspicious fortune-teller (baibokusha)" and native of Yamagata Prefecture was prosecuted for engaging in divination while staying in a travelers' inn in the village of Konakano-mura, Sannohe-gun. In the same way, in case [13], a native of Toshigi Prefecture who "performed divination in Sannohe-gun and Kamikita-gun," and in case [19], a man who "called himself a diviner and wandered from place to place" were prosecuted for disturbing the peace.

Newspaper articles warning about and detailing the prosecution of "itinerants" from outside the local area become conspicuous from around 1901. On January 26 of that year, an article titled "Investigation of Derelicts" states, "Many suspicious-looking characters have appeared recently wandering around various parts of Hirosaki City," and continues in a typical fashion to call for a police crackdown. Among such itinerants and drifters, some were derelicts and down-and-outs who had lost their means of physical support, but on the other hand, many were likewise engaged in magico-religious activities under the aegis, or at least pretext, of an established religious body. As a result, the fact that such persons created tensions within the locality and were viewed suspiciously by media and police was, on the other hand, an indication that the local populace anticipated and, to one degree or another, relied on, such kamisama who appeared from the outside.

Since not all such incidents were closely related to folk shamans as defined above, however, let me here mention two or three other incidents which I did not note in Table 1. On February 3, 1901, the Tôô nippô carried an article titled "Nun from Temple Zenkôji Involved in Scam," which reported that a woman who called herself a nun from the temple Zenkôji in Nagano Prefecture had swindled people out of money and other valuables. On June 18 of the following year, an article titled "Someone Using the Name 'Grand Shrine'" reported on an individual who had adopted the name "Junior Minister for the Headquarters of the Shuseiha Wooden Shrine (Shûseiha Mokuzô Jingû Honbu Shôkyôshô)"VIII and opened a "great lectureship on the Imperial Way," thus defrauding devout believers of money. Three days later (June 21, 1902) the paper continued its report by noting that the person involved in the previous affair was a swindler who had merely used the pretext of the Shûsei-ha name. Finally, on December 17, 1903, the newspaper featured an article headlined "Using the Divinities to Swindle," reporting that two men from Iwate Prefecture had defrauded money from residents of Tsukurimichi Village in Azuma-gun by claiming to use divine power to heal eye ailments. The article concluded, "Residents must be cautious, since a substantial number of such evil persons have been found wandering through the prefecture."

Related to these incidents, it appears that among the religious and quasi-religious figures prosecuted from around this period, an increasing number claimed titles from one or another organized religious group. I have already pointed out that a high concentration of articles critical of Tenrikyô appear in the period 1898 to 1900, but this criticism begins to abate after 1901, and is largely replaced with articles about investigations of religious figures belonging to other groups.

The August 4, 1901 issue of the Tôô nippô introduced a group in Aomori City called "branch church of Ôtoshi Mihashira," calling the group a "deviant religion" (jakyô) and stating that "we advise caution regarding this group." On October 5, the paper published an article called "Censuring the Water Deity Church," followed on October 22 by an article called "Fraud of the Water Deity Church." These articles reported that an organization called the "Suijin Kyôkai branch of Ontakekyô" had been prohibited from establishing facilities in Aomori City. In its article "Report on a Trial of Superstitionists" featured on June 16, 1903, the paper reported that in Mito-gun, a 54-year-old woman "prayed to a kind of old rock which she called Ishiyama Shrine," and she had gathered the "foolish folk" from the vicinity, leading to a police investigation. The article went on to say that the woman "was an assistant religious instructor of the religion Ontakekyô, but she was completely illiterate and her words made no sense."

Most of these organizations were small in scale, and dispersed readily in the face of government opposition. A few, however, possessed relatively established organizations, and obtained the defense of prominent social figures in an attempt to defy the authorities' forceful suppression. The incidents noted in the series of articles beginning with case [14] are excellent examples of this sort of resistance. Here, a 58-year-old man named Hanada Mataichi called himself a kamisama and, in response to the requests of a woman from Kanita Village, "performed faith-healing intercessions, after which he gave her six grains of rice which had been offered to the deity Fudô, together with two patent medicines, including six tablets of Heburingan and one dose of Shôsanto." As a result, the man was found "guilty of interfering with medical therapy through the performance of faith healing." While Hanada was summarily sentenced to ten days in jail on the basis of this charge, he refused to recant, and demanded a courtroom trial, which ultimately found him innocent of the charges.

According to the newspaper's report of the incident, Hanada submitted two "license-like documents" to the court in order to prove his legitimacy as a religious professional. One of the credentials proclaimed "President of the Ôtoshi Mihashira Yamanokami Fudô Kôsha" and was issued by the "Headquarters of the Ôtoshi Mihashira Church" in 1898, while the other permit was dated 1902 and jointly signed by a number of officials of the Taiseikyô, including "Viscount Nagai Naoya, Official 4th Class." In addition to these legitimating authorities, it is noteworthy that an attorney named Kisen also acted in Hanada's defense. This same attorney subsequently served in case [20] as the defense for the miko (also called kamisama) affiliated with the same Ôtoshi Mihashirakyô, with the result that it appears the lawyer was either personally a member of the religious group, or else had some relationship to an influential member of the group.

During Hanada's trial, the attorney Kisen noted that the original charge against his client was "interference with medical therapy," but to be valid, such a charge must refer "either to the interference with someone currently under the actual care of a physician, or else acts which would prevent someone from coming under such care." He went on to note, however, that "in the event the individual never demonstrated any intent to receive therapy from a physician, the performance of any faith healing cannot be interpreted as interference with such medical therapy." With this argument for the innocence of his client, the court was eventually forced to agree.

In case [20-2], the lawyer argued that his client "was asked which direction was propitious for seeking a doctor, and the defendant merely performed a divination and indicated that the Aomori Hospital was in a favorable direction, with the result that no interference in medical care occurred." It is noteworthy that such individuals, coming as they did from geographically marginal areas, could demonstrate a relative degree of success in defying the government, particularly in a period during which legal prosecution of the ambiguous and ill-defined area of faith healing was increasing nationwide.

The third characteristic of shamanistic activities in the Meiji period is the fact that the official prosecution of shamanesses was an extension of the control of so-called "private" or "unofficial" prostitution. News articles regarding investigations of prostitution from the late 1890s into the first decade of this century commonly featured expressions like goke kari (literally, "white-neck hunts"), mitsubai kari ("illicit-trade hunts"), and jigoku kari ("hell hunts")--all idiomatic expressions referring to prostitution. In addition, however, the expression "to burn with moxa cautery" okyû o sueru was also frequently employed in headlines,IX and it is noteworthy that the latter expression later became a cliché in articles dealing with the prosecution of miko and kamisama. In other words, folk shamans were considered, at least within the pages of regional newspapers, to be of the same stature as "private prostitutes," or to belong to an ignoble occupation within a category closely associated with such unauthorized prostitution. The penalties levied in both cases, including incarceration of from three to seven days and fines ranging from seventy-five sen to one yen, fifty sen, were likewise roughly the same.

The article relating case [16] from the year 1910 was titled "Jailing of Kamisama and Prostitute." This article first noted that a 69-year-old woman and "so-called kamisama" had "spread tales that another great conflagration would occur very soon," and had thus been sentenced to five-days' detention in jail. The article then went on to relate that a 39-year-old "old woman" had been sentenced to seven-days' incarceration for "inviting men into her home and providing prostitution services."

As is apparent from Table 1, the year 1910 was characterized by a sudden increase in the cases of prosecution of folk shamans. One reason for this rise in coverage may be found in the change of the nature of the newspaper medium itself, namely from a political organ devoted to the populist "people's rights" movement to a more common community tabloid oriented toward residents of the prefecture. In addition, however, the rising incidence of articles was based, to a certain degree, in changes to the objective historical situation surrounding the incidents.

It is generally recognized, for example, that the first two decades of this century were the period in which State Shinto was systematically institutionalized. This movement, in turn, occurred against the background of the development of Japan's capitalist economy following the Russo-Japanese War (1903-4), and the social dislocations and decline of the traditional community which accompanied that development. In an effort to consolidate the regional populace within nationalistic institutions, a "regional reform movement" (chihô kairyô undô) was promoted by the Home Ministry, and the process of establishing a unified organization of shrines was already initiated on a national basis as early as 1906. The increasing shift of regional populace from rural to urban areas, and the euphoric mood accompanying Japan's advance into Korea and Manchuria were likewise accompanied in 1910 by the first official promulgation in comprehensive form of the so-called "family nation concept," namely within the moral cultivation texts issued as part of the second-series national textbook program for higher and third-year elementary schools that year.5

On the other hand, Tenrikyô, which had been consistently labeled a "deviant religion" was also granted legitimate independence in 1912 and incorporated under the institutional aegis of State Shinto. In sum, the increasing appearance of articles dealing with folk shamans of Aomori Prefecture in 1910 must naturally be considered against the historical events of this period, but since a full consideration of these issues lies outside the scope of the present discussion, let me merely point out the fact while going on to describe some of the representative incidents from that year:

A Kamisama since Last Year [Case 15]

Miura Soyo (41) the wife of Miura Tokutarô living in Fujisaki Village of Minami-gun, was occupied as an egg-buyer until last year, but she claims that she was aroused by a deity (kamisama) at 2:00 A.M. on last August 27, and since that time she has claimed to be a kamisama herself. She moved into Daiku-machi within the city, and at around 11:00 on the third day of last month, she said she would heal the sickness of a woman from the Namiuchi district named Sugawara Take. She had the woman expose her hips, and applied an ointment of black ink. It has also been learned that she performed spells and faith-healing invocations for several sick persons at the home of Takada Yôsuke in Tabako-machi, and sold them what she called "divine water" (shinsui). For these activities she was sentenced yesterday to seven days' detention.

While the sketchy remarks in this brief article reveal very little of substance, the events faithfully reveal the basic contours of the regional folk shamans known as kamisama as found even up to the present day. This outline would include the fact that an housewife ordinarily employed until the age of forty was suddenly "aroused by a deity. . . . and since that time she has claimed to be a kamisama herself," the fact that she moved her dwelling from the rural area into the city, engaged in the performance of "spells and faith-healing" for sick persons, and sold them "what she called 'divine water.'"

In this case, the legal basis for the prosecution is not clearly indicated, but the newspaper article in case [20] notes that the religious activity in question was an "infraction of the Police Regulations Ordinance" involving "a fine of two yen." In case [14] as well, the offense was said to fall under "the provisions of Article 2, Item 18" of the same ordinance. The regulations in question were established by Home Ministry ordinance in 1908, thus replacing the system of petty police offenses which was abolished with promulgation of the current Penal Code in 1907.6 The Physicians' Law was likewise promulgated in 1906, and taken together, this series of laws under the newly implemented Penal Code can be taken as yet another factor in the rising level of repression and prosecution of those religious figures forming the actual core of folk-religious practice.

4. Taishô Period (1912-1926)

The characteristics noted above for the Meiji period continued to be evident into the Taishô era, with several cases appearing during each year of the era. Some fluctuation in the number of cases appears depending on the year, but an increasing trend is evident from about 1921. The majority of articles deal with prosecutions and trials, and at a glance, most appear to closely resemble those found in the preceding Meiji period. A detailed examination, however, reveals some degree of elaboration on the specific contents of shamanistic activities not generally found in the earlier examples.

The most common reason given for prosecution in these cases continues to be "interference with medical therapy." The most common ailments treated by shamans include diseases of the eye (cases [22], [24], [33]), mental illness (cases [32], [34], [49]), and pulmonary tuberculosis ([21] and [36]).

A second basis for prosecution is infraction of the prohibition against "inviting the public worship of a privately enshrined deity" in accordance with Notice No. 38 of the Ministry of Religious Education (Kyôbushô[Glossary: kyobusho]) issued in 1876. This offense is described with expressions such as "allowing the public to participate in worship of a Nichiren Sect [object of worship] or deity which has been privately enshrined" (case [25]), or "defrauding people by constructing a shrine behind one's dwelling and performing divinations" (case [26]).

The third justification for prosecution is the illicit pronouncement of "oracles," and of these, cases involving the divination of house fires (cases [38], [39], [48]) are punished with particular severity. The expression "hearsay and rumor-mongering" is also seen for the first time in case [39].

The news articles covering these indictments provide some basis for understanding the activities of folk shamans in this period. For example, a common charge was that shamans engaged in the distribution of "amulets," "spirit medicines," and "divine water" to the sick, but one can also find more specific descriptions like that noted in case [40], namely, that the accused "caused the ill person to swallow red paper cut into tiny pieces, calling it a magic remedy for eye disease." Some cases also point to techniques of so-called "exorcism" (harai[Glossary: harai,_harae]). In case [34], for example, a 39-year-old man who had exhibited mental abnormality was diagnosed as having a "dog curse" and subjected to the cure of "incantatory prayer together with discarding [purification emblems] in a river," leading to the charge that the shaman involved was guilty of swindling travel expenses from his client.

In case [42], the shaman was reported to have claimed that his client's illness was the result of a "possession by unrelated spirits of the dead" (muen botokeX), and that "it could not be cured by doctors or medicines." As a result, the shaman told his patient that he must bring "three differing types of cloth before the deity, and over these he would perform intercessory prayers, then cut the cloth into fine pieces and cast them into the sea, thus instantly scattering the demon of illness."

Here, too, the primary charge levied against the shaman was that the "cutting of cloth into pieces and casting it into the sea was a complete lie," and that the shaman had in fact appropriated the cloth and made it into a garment for personal use; the activity of "exorcism" in itself was not made an immediate cause for prosecution.

On the other hand, the confidence of folk shamans in their rituals and intercessions was in conflict with the tenets of modern medicine, and tended to deny the efficacy of the latter; severe sanctions were leveled when such beliefs led to an interference with medical treatment. For example, in case [21], the reason for prosecution was said to be the shaman's statement to the effect that "since sickness is the result of a vengeful curse placed on the victim, it is more efficacious to place one's faith in [the deity] Inari than in a doctor's medicines, and it's imperative to perform intercessory exorcisms."

Similarly, in case [36], a shamaness was indicted for telling her client that "the doctor's diagnosis of tuberculosis was mistaken due to a lack of affinity between you and him," leading to the claim that "you will be sure to recover if you take . . . the secret medicine that I have." Finally, in case [37], the prosecution of the shaman was based on his statement that "Your heart and stomach are bad, and these are things the doctor has no ability to cure, so you should stop taking the medicine (from the prefectural hospital), and begin worshiping the kami."

Few concrete instances of fortune-telling and divination can be adduced from the cases here, but occasional incidents do surface. In case [47], for example, a 45-year-old woman who had suffered the theft of twenty-nine yen stated that she "went to the kamisama and had a seance performed," upon which the kamisama became possessed and related that the thief was "a 31-year-old woman with a squarish face, sunken eyes and broad shoulders." In case [26], a 62-year-old woman inquired of a shamaness regarding whether her son would "make more profits by working as a fisherman in Hokkaido, or in his home village," whereupon the medium responded that fishing in the north was not propitious, so he should remain at home. The latter case falls within the category of "illegal fortune-telling and divination" for an individual or a family.

Case [48] relates the tale of a blind old woman who performed divinations in Goshogawara-chô; she prophesied that a large fire would occur in Tsuruta Village, and was sentenced to detention for seven days as a result. In this case, however, the incident began when a 58-year-old woman inquired of the shamaness regarding the sickness of her eldest son's wife. The shamaness responded that "the young wife's illness is because she has a chilling of the womb, and her belly is bad because her stomach isn't right. And all the indicators of your fate are oriented wrongly, so even if fire doesn't break out in your house, that same kind of disaster will occur in your village, so you must put your faith in the kami."

Case [24] involves the prosecution of a 40-year-old itako who was arrested on the grounds that she "deceived people by inviting them to her home, placing a candle on her table, and engaging in fortune-telling while claiming to be possessed by dead spirits (hotoke). What is important here, however, is that while the term "possessed by dead spirits" is used, the sole reason for prosecution was the fact that the shamaness borrowed the voices of the dead in order to engage in fortune-telling activities; the holding of seances--which was formally prohibited under the name of "mediumship" (kuchiyose) in 1868--was not, in and of itself, made a cause for sanction.

A noteworthy number of cases also note that such folk shamans were prosecuted for illicitly defrauding ordinary folk of money and goods. In fact, the common perception seemed to be that the business of being a kamisama was a lucrative profession. For example, case [21] relates the story of a family, all with previous records of arrest, who were accused of falsely claiming to be kamisama in order to deliver oracles and thus bilk a housewife of her possessions. In this case, the incident began as follows:

A long-time ne'er-do-well, the family son was concerned to find some occupation he could follow without the need for previous capital. One day he chanced to see a man in the neighborhood carrying around a small Inari shrine, and realizing the man had a high income, he decided it would be an easy way to make his living. So he asked to become a disciple in order to learn the secret of how to defraud the foolish masses.

The people of farming areas were faced with severe economic conditions during this period, particularly after the disastrous harvests of the early Taishô period and with the increasing tax burdens that accompanied the transformation of industrial structure from the Meiji Restoration on. As a result, they often viewed professional religious and shamanistic figures as having access to an enviable source of stable income, as becomes evident from the following case:

Fox Possession and Parents' Greed [Case 28]

Shibata Kyûjirô (19) lives in the Kogake section of Ikarigaseki Village in Minami Tsugaru-gun. Shibata fell deeply in love with his lovely female cousin Shibata Nao (20), yet he could not woo her due to the meddling eyes of others in his village. As Kyûjirô was wasting away in unrequited love, however, Nao was given in marriage to Kyûjirô's friend Shibata Motokichi, with the result that Kyûjirô came to hold a deep grudge against Motokichi and Nao.

In time, two children were born to Nao, and Kyûjirô's love for her quickly waned; whether lucky or unlucky for Kyûjirô, however, Nao became mentally unbalanced with what is commonly called a "fox possession" and she claimed to be the reincarnation of a "goddess of children" (Kishibojin).XI

Afflicted with this illness, Nao was returned to her natal home, and the illiterate and blind women of the village brought a good deal of money each day to offer to the deity dwelling inside her, so much so that Nao's father and mother were pleasantly surprised by the amount of offerings she received. In addition, they were happy to learn that Kyûjirô, who had earlier loved Nao, was still single, so they decided to adopt him as Nao's husband and live in ease. When Motokichi and Naho heard about her parents' plans, however, they were loath to disrupt up their affectionate relationship, and they were about to flee to Tokyo, when they were discovered by Kyûjirô and held back.

At first glance, this episode appears to be no more than gossip regarding a love scandal in a small village, but it is extremely interesting that the woman who "claimed to be the reincarnation of a 'goddess of children'" and was returned to her parents' home was presented with such a large amount of offerings that "her parents were pleasantly surprised," and decided to take an adopted husband for her and so "live in ease." In other words, the offerings presented to the woman by "the illiterate and blind women of the village" were considered to be of sufficient substance to allow the entire family to live in relative comfort. At the same time, that money was described only as the accumulation of "daily offerings," and it was not the "illicit monies" (namely, excessive fees) which formed the standard cliché of criticism most frequently directed toward "immoral and deviant religions."

For example, according to article [22], a 61-year-old miko who lived in Toyoda Village of Naka-gun (present-day Hirosaki City) was prosecuted by the district attorney for "charging three to five sen as fees for each occasion of treatment for eye disease." When one considers that the standard physician's fee for trachoma [contagious conjunctivitis] treatments at that time averaged six sen each, a fee of three to five yen cannot be considered "excessive."

In this context, it is noteworthy that the April 19 issue of the newspaper that year (1914) featured an article with the headline "Prefecture with Japan's Highest Rate of Trachoma." The article noted that a survey of the rates of trachoma among elementary-age children showed a nationwide average of 17.14 cases per 100 population, and while the prefectures of Tokyo, Shiga, and Shizuoka had fewer than 6 cases per 100, Aomori led the national tally with 33.8 cases. Such figures help explain why "eye diseases," together with "mental illness" and tuberculosis, formed the most frequent complaints treated by folk shamans in this area.

As noted earlier, the prosecution of folk shamans in the late-Meiji period was prompted by, and included within, the suppression of new religious organizations typified by Tenrikyô. In the Taishô period, however, newspaper articles more frequently presented items regarding the arrival and prosecution of "hypnotists," "psychics," "breath-control mentalists" and other so-called "spiritualist" practitioners. Already in 1911, the paper had reported on visits to Aomori by the well-known spiritualist Hamaguchi Yûgaku, who had drawn considerable popular endorsement from prefectural residents.7 On September 14 of that year, the paper had featured an article headlined "Specialists Collide--Methods of 'Mental Freedom' and 'Single Roar,'" noting that Hamaguchi had drawn a crowd of sick and infirm to the public auditorium in Goshogawara to present his technique of healing mental concentration (called the "paa paa method," in reference to the sound made by the breath). In response, a rival spiritualist had assembled his forces in the nearby Sasaki Inn to demonstrate his own "technique" using the "single roar" (ikkatsu) method. The victory in this conflict went clearly to Hamaguchi, and the paper concluded by noting that from his earnings, Hamaguchi had donated eighty yen to the poor of Aomori City, and twenty yen to the Patriotic Women's Association.

On January 18 of the following year (1912), the paper reported that a 47-year-old man from Hakodate had arrived in Aomori, "calling himself the 'original founder of the Buddhist thusness-body method' and using intonation of the name Namu Amida Buddha to perform healings by the so-called paa paa method."

The man had received a permit from the Aomori Police, the paper went on, to demonstrate his techniques at the temple Shôkakuji for the healing of such ailments as "headaches, dizziness, chest pains, rheumatism, bed-wetting, stomach pain, and tooth decay," all in the name of "promoting Buddhism and promulgating the dharma." This individual can thus be considered a purveyor of a local version of the mentalist or breath-control techniques made popular by more widely known figures like Hamaguchi, and who was attempting to take advantage of the latter's popularity.

Hypnotism might be called an early predecessor to the spiritualist fad, and signs of its popularity are evident from a relatively early period. For example, under its December 5, 1903 headline "The Bane of Hypnotism," the paper reported the story of a 33-year-old man who had opened a "Mental Healing Clinic" in Hirosaki City and had given instructions on hypnotism. The paper also recounted "rumors to the effect that the man has committed indecent acts toward women," stating that "not only is this kind of thing found in every locality, but some so-called hypnotists travel from village to village, making it desirable to have some kind of official controls on hypnotism."

Similarly, the technique of clairvoyance--called senrigan or the "thousand-mile eye"--had already achieved the status of a fad in Tokyo, and its appearance in Aomori was likewise reported in the paper's January 19, 1911 edition under the headline "The Arrival of Clairvoyance: 22-Year-Old Youth in Goshogawara."

Table 6 is a listing of Tôô nippô articles reporting the influx of "spiritualists" or "spiritualist-affiliated" groups in the Taishô period. The table does not include every relevant article in the period, and some objection may be raised to the inclusion of Ômotokyô in the category of spiritualist-related groups, but it does present a general overview of the way the topic was handled at the time. It is particularly interesting to note the changing treatment devoted to Ômotokyô around the time of the "first Ômotokyô incident[Glossary: omotokyo_jiken]" in February 1922, when the entire group was subjected to indiscriminate nationwide prosecution for the crime of lèse majesté. In effect, this incident represented a watershed in the coverage directed toward the group within the pages of the Tôô nippô, as it did elsewhere. Previous to this time, Ômotokyô had been treated merely as one more variety of spiritualism, while afterwards the very name became synonymous for a deviant group rooted firmly in the depths of evil. At the same time, however, the incident also became the occasion for the first "wholesale roundups" directed against folk shamans as well. The increasing prosecution of folk shamans evident in Table 1 for the period following 1922 can be taken as a reflection of this general trend.

As I have pointed out to this point, earlier prosecutions of shamans in Aomori Prefecture clearly appear to have been the secondary result of attempts to control the regional expansion of organized new religious groups like Tenrikyô, and to restrict the activities of individual spiritualists and itinerant religious healers. Most of those investigations were thus of an ad hoc nature and limited in scope. But some degree of change in this trend can be detected from the Taishô period on. Case [29-2] from 1916 relates an incident in which a 46-year-old kamisama in Aomori City was fined fifteen yen for "interfering with medical therapy by receiving money for the performance of intercessions, and for selling an amulet to heal the toothache of a five-year-old girl." The article concludes, however, by saying, "The Aomori Police fear the spread of this pernicious bane, and say they are planning to crack down severely on such cases." This incident thus represents the first case in which a clear "plan" to crack down is clearly attributed to police officials themselves, and is not related merely as an editorial demand, nor as a "report" heard from certain unnamed official sources. In turn, the way in which that plan was put into action is evidenced by the following case:

A So-Called Kamisama Gets "Burned"XII [Case 30]

So-called kamisama have proliferated in recent years. Many establish shrines in their homes and allow devotees to secretly perform worship there, or they distribute worthless trifles called "divine offerings," thus interfering with the proper medical treatment of the sick and creating a pernicious bane. As part of its tough crackdown on such kamisama, the Aomori Police on March 27 arrested Kimura Unomatsu (38), a practitioner of the Ontake faith who lives at No. 77 in the Miyata section of Azumadake Village in Azuma-gun. According to the police report, Tsugawa San (48), wife of Tsugawa Torimatsu who lives at No. 18 in the Tsukinokidate section of Harabetsu Village, had recently complained of post-partum illness, upon which Kimura had performed rituals of faith healing and presented her with an amulet. This interference in Tsugawa's proper medical treatment, however, eventuated in the latter's death, and Kimura was fined ten yen for his part in the incident.

The article here clearly relates that a fear of the "pernicious bane" represented by folk shamans has led the police to a "tough crackdown," during the course of which a certain kamisama possessing the title of Ontake practitioner was caught in the investigation's web. But limited to the pages of Tôô nippô, no subsequent articles reveal that any wide-ranging roundup of such kamisama was ever actually implemented as part of a continuing campaign. In other words, this investigation can be taken, like those which preceded it, as no more than an isolated case. When one considers that the Aomori population of practitioners with titles like itako, gomiso, and kamisama numbered anywhere from the dozens to the hundreds at that time, it is clear that the police "plan" cannot be characterized as a "witch hunt" or "wholesale roundup" of folk shamans. Indeed, the first use of the term "wholesale arrest" (issei kenkyo) in relation to folk shamans must wait until 1921, when wide publicity was given to the suppression of Ômotokyô.

Miko Punished for Prophesying Fire: Wholesale Arrest by Namioka Police [Case 38]

Since the tenth of last month, when a fire broke out in the Kitanakano section of Gogô Village in Minami-gun, rumors have been rampant to the effect that another fire would occur in the same village on or by the seventeenth day of the month. These events have led to sleepless nights for the villagers, and the police have even been called out on nighttime patrols of the area. While the seventeenth passed without incident, another fire broke out on the twenty-fourth, with the result that the villagers were thrown once again into a situation of near-panic, and officers of the Namioka Police Station decided to investigate the source of the rumors.

As a result of their investigation, the police discovered that a 46-year-old miko, Katô Soyo, who lives at No. 61 of the Kazawa-Hirano section of Megazawa Village, had delivered what she called a divine oracle, saying in the manner of Ômotokyô that a fire would be sure to occur in Kitanakano by the thirteenth day of the sixth lunar month, and this rumor had subsequently been spread about by a superstitious villager named Yamauchi Yoshirô.

When the Namioka police summoned these two figures for questioning on the third day of the month, Katô did not behave at all like a woman who had sold herself as a psychicXIII, but turned white and shook in fear, breaking out in a cold sweat and apologizing profusely for misleading the ignorant folk in this way. While the just penalty for such activities should have been detention for twenty days, the police made a special exception due to her apology, and merely levied a fine of ten yen, after which Katô was allowed to leave, and she returned home meekly.

Since a large number of itako in this area advertise themselves as purveyors of such magical intercessions and spells, officials at the Namioka Police station have said they intend to conduct a wholesale arrest of such figures in the near future.

In this report of the arrest of a itako who divined a conflagration, it is noteworthy that the newspaper employs the expression "in the manner of Ômotokyô." Similar expressions are used in case [40], for example, "even more of them have appeared here than followers of Ômotokyô," and "the vigor is such that had they been Ômotokyô, their temple would have been torn down."

Whatever "success" the Namioka police had at "wholesale arrests" can be ascertained from subsequent cases like [39] and [41]; in any case, it was similar to the previous case of the Aomori Police in remaining at the level of an ad hoc attempt at control initiated by a single police station, and it failed to expand into a concentrated movement throughout the entire prefecture. Moreover, it appears that even this level of irregular prosecution did not achieve sufficient understanding and sympathy from the local residents to be truly successful.

Itako Favored over Prefectural Hospital: Three Youths Try Patience of the Namioka Police [Case 41]

";A divine revelation has shown me a red ball of fire, a sure sign there will be another conflagration." Spouting this kind of absurd "hot air," the itako Katô Soyo (47) has obstinately continued to disturb the peace and annoy the common people in her community, despite the fact that the Namioka Police already "burned"XIV her last spring with something much hotter than a "red ball of fire."

But just as the Namioka police were about to reprimand her again, three men suddenly appeared at the police station on the morning of the eighteenth of the month, highly extolling the itako, and causing no little vexation to the police chief and other officers. The three men involved were Sasaki Sakutarô (25) from Uchidôji, Hiranai Village, Azuma-gun, Aizaka Zenjirô (24) from the Tamogi section of the same village, and Aizawa Hachigorô (29),also from the same village. While these three appeared in excellent physical condition, they said they had been sick and had been receiving treatment for some time at the Prefectural Hospital. They claimed, however, that the hospital's treatment hadn't been successful, and when they heard that the itako Katô could effect a quick recovery, they came immediately and asked permission to stay for ten days at the itako's home--a request totally unbecoming young men of recent times--and giving the policemen cause for scorn. The young men added that they would not budge an inch until they received the desired permission, but after being severely upbraided by police chief Shôji, they retreated outdoors, where they remained sobbing at the gate to the police station. What a pathetic tale!

Despite the derisive and condescending tone of the reporter, it is clear that the itako Katô was known over a wide area, and had continued her activities with the assent of the local populace. While Katô had allegedly expressed deep remorse and had "apologized profusely" at the time of her previous arrest in article [38], once released by the police she is said to have "obstinately continued" in the performance of her faith healings.

In short, even the possibility of official prosecution could not prevent the local people from continuing to place broad-based trust and support in such itako, revealing the difficulty involved in the attempt to effect any thorough suppression and eradication of customs rooted deeply in the lives of the local society. At most, the police were reduced to the limited response of metaphorically "burning" (i.e., prosecuting) these figures on isolated occasions.

It should also be noted that the three youths seeking treatment in this case requested "permission to stay for ten days at the itako's home," indicating that it was commonly accepted that shamanistic treatments were not one-time affairs, but lengthy processes necessitating continuous intercessions and "ascetic practice" which could extend over a period of days.

As noted earlier, it is virtually impossible to make any detailed assessment of the concrete contents of itako activities based on local newspapers alone, the bulk of which were devoted to news items concerning criminal prosecutions and trials. At the same time, some articles do provide hints regarding the unique characteristics of such itako, namely the process of their shamanistic induction and the common contents of their practices.

In case [29] ("Kamisama in a Swoon"), for example, the newspaper reports that a 46-year-old female kamisama summoned by the Aomori police "was being questioned, and as the interrogation became more intense, she suddenly became incoherent and fell unconscious--making her what one might better call a 'kamisama without perception.'" Aside from the question of whether she truly had "divine perception" or not, it would appear that what is here labeled "incoherence" might, in fact, have better been considered a form of divine possession or trance.

Case [36] likewise relates the prosecution of a 41-year-old shamaness for violation of the Physicians Law; here it is said that "she claimed that the deity Fushimi Inari Daimyôjin[Glossary: inari] had taken residence in her womb when she was 38, and since that time, she had had numerous other similar experiences, so that she is now called a kamisama by those around her."

This woman likely considered her experience at the age of 38 to be a formative event attributing meaning to all subsequent aspects of her life. As a result, she no doubt spoke of those experiences at every opportunity, and in turn, it was likewise on the basis of those experiences that the clients and believers who found their way to her door also considered her a kamisama.

Itako Demands Offerings: Blames Deity for Crime [Case 45]

The Aomori police have received rumors that Sasaki Yano (57), of the Takadate section of Rokugô Village in Minami-gun (at that time, living in the Nagashima section of Aomori City) has been performing faith healings and defrauding the common folk of money and possessions.

Upon investigation of the rumors, the police found that Sasaki had earlier extorted various offerings from Munekata Tsuya of the Ura-machi section of the city as well, when the latter had appealed for the healing of her mentally ill third daughter Munekata Yoshi (51). According to Munekata, in the midst of the faith healing ceremony, Sasaki had uttered what she claimed was a divine oracle, saying that the kamisama needed money to use in paradise, so that the patients must raise two yen, one in each hand.

As a result of this kind of monetary demand, Sasaki had received a total of over fifteen yen from her patients. Upon confirmation of these facts, the Aomori police called in Sasaki for questioning, whereupon Sasaki replied with a straight face that she enjoyed intense communication with her deity, and that the deity often entered her body without warning, forcing her to say various things. She added that her insistence on lifting up two yen was made not of her own volition, but by command of the deity, with the result that it was out of her control. While the police were astounded by this too-convenient and self-serving response, they obviously did not buy her story, and she was summarily fined fifteen yen.

Based on the general level of such fees during the period, the charge of two ten as offerings for each episode of faith-healing, adding up to a total of fifteen yen, does seem a bit excessive. And it was no doubt for that reason that rumors had arisen to the effect that Sasaki had been "defrauding the common folk of money and possessions," thus leading to inevitable police involvement. At the same time, it is not so easy to therefore conclude assuredly that Sasaki's claim of "intense communication with her deity, and that the deity . . . caused her to say various things," and thus that her demand was "out of her control," was nothing but a "too-convenient" and "self-serving" rationalization.

It is, of course, not unusual even today to find individuals who exploit religion in the attempt to defraud. In the face of intense police interrogation, however, Sasaki's unbowed claim that it was "not her own volition" demonstrates a confidence that she had been personally selected to serve a deity, and further, that her submission to the deity in aiding others simultaneously represented her own road to salvation. In these claims, it is not unreasonable to detect a belief common to those other itako figures who were likewise called kamisama.

5. Early Shôwa Period (1926-1945)

An overview of the materials for the Shôwa period reveals that while the number of articles regarding prosecutions and trials was a bit above average during the first two years of the period (1926-1927), that number subsequently dropped to an annual rate of one or two until 1932. In terms of the contents of the items reported, as well, most can be considered an extension of those found in the earlier Taishô period. The actual number of cases is rather large for a few years like 1930, but most of these involve the appearance of itako as no more than a current social topic, and there are rather few cases of actual prosecution.

From 1933 to 1937, however, a clear increase is evident in incidents of prosecution, and some qualitative change in the coverage appears to accompany the rise in numbers. The number of cases once again drops gradually with the outbreak of full-scale war in China (July 1937), and there are fewer occasions, as well, for society items depicting the activities of folk shamans within the local community. Particularly after the opening of war with the United States in December 1941, government control of news and the restriction to one local newspaper per prefecture led to an intense wartime coloration to the newspaper's coverage; thereafter, only a single case [113] appears relating to itako.

The early Shôwa period was characterized by a rising incidence of the labor-movement activity and conflict over landlord-tenant relations which had begun in the earlier Taishô period. In addition, the conditions surrounding the domestic financial crises of 1927 and the world-wide depression of 1929 led to intensified national attempts to control thought, activity, and religious belief. The Peace Preservation Law was passed in 1925, followed three years later by the establishment of the Special Higher Police, leading to continued repression of socialist activists and proletarian political parties.

On the religious front, the "first Honmichi lèse majesté incident[Glossary: honmichi_fukei_jiken]"XV occurred in April 1928, accompanied by the arrest of numerous members of Honmichi's Tenri Kenkyûkai[Glossary: tenri_honmichi][Glossary: tenri_kenkyukai] ("institutes for research into heavenly principle") throughout Japan. But the "Council for the Study of the Shrine System" (Jinja Seido Chôsakai[Glossary: jinja_seido_chosakai]) established by imperial rescript in 1929 was unsuccessful in its attempts to solve the pressing issue regarding the relation of Shinto shrines to "religion," and Christian and Buddhist groups expressed opposition to the forced veneration of Shinto shrines, thus leaving some areas of ambiguity in the direction to be followed by State Shinto.8

Following the Manchurian Incident in 1931, the government intensified its wartime control and initiated a period of all-out suppression of religious dissent, beginning with the "second Ômoto incident" of 1935 and continuing with the "Hitonomichi incident" of 1936 and the "second Honmichi incident" of 1937. Compared to this later period, the religious control seen in the earlier years of Shôwa gives the impression of a lack of systematic planning and organization. This lack is evident as well in the case of the folk shamans of Aomori, where persistent prosecution continues in isolated cases, but without signs of any overall organization or systematic planning. In order to avoid any overemphasis on the incidents of this period, let me limit my presentation here to a single case.

Kamisama Violates Physicians Law: Treatment of Trachoma and the Application of Moxa Cautery [Case 61]

Ono San (39), wife of Ono Tôsaku in the Araya-machi section of Kanata Village in Minami-gun, calls herself a so-called kamisama. She has placed an altar in her home, where she performs faith-healing intercessions, thus making money through the offerings donated by ignorant women who assemble there. She not only received payment of money for performing moxa cautery, but also attempted to cure trachoma patients by using a plant called tôshimi which she gathered from nearby mountains. She performed this treatment for at least fifteen people, including Kudô Koto from the Minamitanaka section of the same village, but she was recently investigated on charges of violating both the Physicians Law and regulations for the control of massage, acupuncture, and moxa cautery. As a result, her case was forwarded for prosecution on the twenty-seventh of the month.

Not only did kamisama perform faith-healing intercessions and present their clients with healing amulets, but as shown here, they also on occasion utilized their knowledge of plants, acupuncture and moxabustion in the performance of therapeutic treatments. The term tôshimi is generally used in the Aomori area to refer to the rush plant [Juncus effusus], not something generally known within traditional folk medicine for its properties in the treatment of eye disease, but one which Ono evidently considered to have some secret virtues.

One of the characteristics of newspaper coverage in the early Shôwa period (until around 1932) was the frequent appearance of folk shamans in topics of local news, interspersed with specific cases of prosecution. Article [58], for example, relates how a local community historian, Nakamichi Hitoshi accompanied a 61-year-old itako by the name of Ishibashi Sada to the private library of folklorist Yanagita Kunio[Glossary: yanagita_kunio] in the Seijô area of Tokyo. There, before an assembled group of more than thirty Japanese and foreign scholars, Nakamichi had Ishibashi demonstrate divine possession, the reciting of an oshira spell,XVI and horoscope divinations, highly impressing the gathering of researchers. Following this, article [58-2] features an introduction to Nakamichi's own "research on itako." In short, such articles illustrate how the appearance of the budding field of study called "Japanese folklore" led to new research being focused on the world of folk shamans in northeastern Japan.

Article [62] relates the story of a fisherman from Kuroishi-chô who found a small shinmei zukuriXVII shrine on the banks of the river Aseishigawa. Inside the shrine he found a divine amulet inscribed with the words "Offered to Suwa Daimyôjin[Glossary: suwa], June 26 of the third year of Shôwa [1928]," together with the body of a snake wrapped in cotton. The snake was of a specie not common to the area, described as "a mounted specimen coiled in a circle with tail raised, and fangs clearly visible in its open mouth." The man showed the snake to an itako, who revealed, "This deity is the kamisama of Sunagodoro, located upstream on the river Aseishigawa. The kamisama was treated badly by the Hachiman[Glossary: hachiman] and Gongen deities, however, and it couldn't remain in the same place, so it came down the river and was praying that it might be saved by a compassionate person. It is now rejoicing, since it was fortunate to be saved today."

Articles [65], [65-2], [66] and [67] deal with several "haunted houses" in the area of Hirosaki City, hinting at the popularity of ghost stories as the topic of contemporary conversation. Article [65] relates that the owner of a haunted house was saved with the help of a "kamisama (itako)." Since the article includes the direct statement of the house owner Narumi, let me quote his comments here:

I moved to this house two years ago in the fall, and I first noticed something strange around the time of the autumnal equinox the first year. During the night, my wife began moaning, saying that a round object had entered her back and was going into her chest. After that first time, the same thing happened to my wife on six other occasions and to my daughter on four occasions. Then it happened to me, too, just as it had happened to my wife. And then we saw the apparition of a woman 22 or 23 years of age. . . . So we went to see a kamisama at Shigemori-machi and asked her to reveal what the apparition was. The kamisama told us that if we went to the temple Kakushûji, we would find a funerary tablet with three lines drawn across it, and that tablet belonged to the ghost who had appeared to us.

The kamisama also said that the ghost was the daughter of a country samurai named Haga, who had lived in our house long before us. According to the kamisama, the daughter had been given in marriage, but her husband falsely charged that during his absence she had had an illicit affair and become pregnant, with the result that he poisoned her and returned her body to her family. Her corpse was thrown away near the outhouse, and since the Haga family was accused of being lax in its monitoring of their daughter's activities, the family relationship was cut. So I had someone go to the temple Kakushûji and look for the funerary tablet, and sure enough, it was there just as the kamisama had told us, and the date on it was from the Kyôwa period [1801-1804], more than one-hundred years before.

So I had the kamisama perform an exorcism for us, and that made us all feel much relieved, after which everything returned to normal. Before we had the exorcism performed, my children worried me since they were going around acting like ghosts, so . . . I think it was a good thing I called the kamisama from Shigemori-machi.

With its diagnosis of current problems and their cause in the sufferings of a dead spirit from the past, and in its prescription of exorcistic intercessions leading to a sense of relief, this example can be considered prototypical of the kind of kamisama faith commonly found in Aomori even today. Cases [66] and [67] are similar examples.

Article [69] introduces the festival of the bodhisattva Jizô at Kanagi, noting that "on the far side of the temple building, several dozen miko had assembled from all around, and each one was surrounded by several followers listening to the itako recount superstitious legends."

Although it covers events some time after the period currently under discussion, article [88] is also quite interesting as a case dealing with folk shamans outside the context of legal investigation and prosecution. In this case, a divine emblem was discovered during a harbor excavation in Ajigasawa-chô, and the article relates that a large number of curious sightseers and worshipers visited the site. According to the article, a 60-year-old miko called "The kamisama of Meya" divined that "a sacred image is near the beach of the goddess Bentensama near here. The image is made of heavy, round stone, and the kamisama has been saying it wants to come up on dry land for the past three years."

In turn, fisherman who believed the miko's words decided that the rocks they discovered must be the same ones spoken of by the miko, thus leading to the outbreak of a rash of popular curiosity. The same miko also added that "these stones are the spirit of the dragon deity ryûjin[Glossary: ryujin]; bringing them up on land will produce great catches of fish; fishermen will sail in safety, and the construction of the harbor will proceed." Subsequently,

a large crane was used to haul up two round boulders weighing over four tons, and these were placed in an open spot to the right of the Munekata Shrine. Surrounded by a sacred border rope (shimenawa[Glossary: shimenawa]), the stones in no time attracted offerings of nearly thirty liters of rice wine[Glossary: miki]. From the next day, a curtain was draped around the stones, sacred lamps were lighted nearby, and offerings of money[Glossary: saisen] rained down as the old women of nearby villages heard the rumor and flocked to the shrine.

As Japan passed through the turbulent period represented by the May 15 Incident (1932), withdrawal from the League of Nations (1933), and entry into a wartime footing in the late 1930s, newspaper accounts of folk shamans gradually changed. In place of the foregoing kind of descriptions of shamanistic activities within the context of relatively "uneventful" social scenes, the newspaper once again became filled with stories featuring expressions like "fraud hunts," "eradication," and "wholesale arrests." At the same time, the expression "moxa cautery," which during the Taishô period had achieved the status of a cliché in reference to the prosecution of folk shamans, now disappeared. Instead, descriptions frequently included the terms oshirasama[Glossary: oshirasama] and izunaXVIII, and shamans and shamanesses came increasingly to be portrayed as positively dangerous characters, covertly instigating incidents with tragic and evil consequences.

The year 1933 represented a watershed in the way the media reported on the issue of folk shamans. It was in that year that Aomori Prefecture planned and implemented a systematic crackdown on kamisama and other such folk-religious figures.

Fraud Hunt by Health Authorities: Kamisama and Others [Case 78]

As a result of the recent rise in unemployment, an increasing number of people have been discovered engaging in medical practice using electrical devices, breath-control techniques, or spiritualism. Most engage in these activities without experience, or after taking only a short correspondence course, and some even claim to perform medical therapy without any specific procedure or technique at all. Some others, commonly called kamisama, likewise deceive the common people and defraud them of money and possessions. Even some authorized doctors and dentists move from address to address, performing their treatments at clinics owned by others and without following proper procedures, and many of these fail to maintain proper records of their patients' names and courses of treatment.

Since receiving complaints regarding this kind of activity, the Prefectural Bureau of Health has decided to launch a campaign of prosecution aimed at the aforementioned persons; as a result, the various prefectural police stations will undertake a wholesale roundup of suspects in accordance with the following schedule.

Following the above article, the newspaper lists a schedule for the twenty police stations in the prefecture, beginning with the Hirosaki Police Station on June 7 and 8, and extending to the Aomori Police Station on June 23 and 24. What is noteworthy about this event is the fact that it represented not just an isolated investigation by a single police precinct, but a coordinated campaign by all local police stations under orders from the prefectural authorities. And the "success" of this plan can be seen in a number of follow-up articles in the pages of the Tôô nippô. The first relevant case, [79] describes the results of the investigation undertaken by the Hachinohe police station, whose participation in the plan was scheduled for June 9 and 10. Three days following the two-day investigation, the newspaper reported on June 13 the story of an 89-year-old man and self-professed kamisama, who had claimed he would

heal the eye disease of a housewife in the Hachinohe area, giving her a two-week prescription of a medicinal tea consisting of a mixture of saffron, newt, and the root of Chinese lantern plant. He also prescribed two patent medicines called Sen'yûgan and Gekkagan tablets. . . . and finally took the opportunity of her husband's absence to seduce the woman to illicit relations on several occasions.

The man was taken into custody as a result of these charges. Similarly, following the June 19 police investigation in the city of Sannohe, the newspaper featured article [80] on June 21, relating that charges had been filed against a 33-year-old male kamisama for infraction of regulations on the practice of medicine. Here, the grounds for prosecution were said to be that man had been guilty of

engaging in therapeutic activities by claiming to heal sick patients through the performance of religious intercessions. Many women would come from Momoishi and other nearby villages on the eighteenth day of each lunar month, which the man claimed as a festival day. On that day, the man held what he called a period of "seclusion" (okomori), during which time female patients would stay overnight inside the shrine to receive faith healing treatments, thus leading to various unsavory rumors.

In the course of an undercover investigation by the Sannohe police department, it was found that many of the women who had participated in the periods of seclusion had been raped, while other wives, even some from the upper ranks of respectable families, had drunk wine inside the shrine and engaged in wanton behavior totally outside the bounds of proper order, and that overall there had been numerous incidents disruptive of public morals.

Based on these incidents, the Hachinohe Police Station made plans the next year (1934) to undertake its own independent "cleanup" of such figures.

Sweeping Roundup of Fraudulent Therapists: Hachinohe Police in Undercover Investigation [Case 84]

Recently, an increasing number of persons have been discovered performing medical treatments using spiritualism and heat therapies. Such persons are prohibited from practicing their therapies without prefectural approval, and there are, indeed, more than eighty persons who are currently in business with the proper authorization. But there are also more than twenty so-called kamisama who are engaged in fraudulent practice without the proper credentials. As a result, the Hachinohe police have undertaken a preliminary undercover investigation and plan to conduct a full-scale cleanup of such figures in the near future.

Here, I would like to point out merely two aspects related to this series of "wide-ranging repressions" or "roundups" of illicit therapists. First, the charges made against the kamisama arrested in these campaigns did not stop at "private [non-officially endorsed] religious practice" or interference in medical therapy, but extended to serious criminal activity such as the rape of housewives in secret retreats, or injuries and deaths related to "fox possession" and other superstitions. At the very least, the clear emphasis is that such so-called kamisama shamans are closely associated with such despicable and abhorrent crimes.

Second, such sweeping cleanup campaigns were not aimed solely or primarily at the kamisama and other indigenous folk shamans serving as the subject of this paper, but extended to include figures engaged in a variety of unlicensed therapies and fraudulent medical practice. In cases such as the aforementioned article [84], therapists who were "engaged in fraudulent practice without the proper license" were also called kamisama. And so far as can be determined from the pages of this newspaper, the individuals actually arrested during the investigation by the Hachinohe Police Station were more frequently fraudulent doctors and dentists, medicine peddlers, or even "therapists" than mere folk shamans.

As pointed out earlier, this fact can be taken to indicate two things. First, it shows how difficult it was to draw clear boundaries in the classification of "folk shamans," "fortune tellers," "spiritual healers," and the specialists in traditional therapies of "massage, acupuncture, and moxabustion." And second, in spite of tough expressions like "fraud hunt" and "wholesale cleanup," it also suggests that the traditional activities of indigenous folk shamans, such as "seances" with kami and dead spirits were, on the contrary, tacitly recognized or disregarded. At the very least, one can point out that not a single case of prosecution stemmed from charges of "seances with dead spirits" held with the purpose of divining the cause of disasters or as memorial services for the dead.

Typical cases of prosecution for serious crimes of violence or injury include those found in articles [89], in which a 27-year-old male kamisama from Hirosaki City was arrested for raping a 17-year-old tuberculosis patient under the pretext of performing faith healing; and articles [96], [99] and [111], in which physical injuries leading to death were caused by kamisama who diagnosed "fox possessions." Of these cases, article [96] (August 1936) was titled an "oshirasama incident," in which the shirasama implement common to folk religion was used to break a patient's ribs. Case [99] occurred in November of the same year, and at first was similarly treated as a second "shirasama incident," but in the follow-up to the original article, the expression used in the case was changed an "izuna incident." Article [96-3] relates an exchange between the defendant and the presiding judge, the crucial portions of which are as follows:

[Case 96-3] (excerpt)

Judge: Is it true that you beat Rie to death in order to release her from the possessing fox?
Defendant: Yes. . .
Judge: What was Rie's illness?
Defendant: It was trachoma, but Ishi [name of kamisama] said that she was possessed by a fox, so I thought that must be it.
Judge: What was it about her that made you think she was possessed by a fox?
Defendant: Her eyes were like a fox's, and she had a strange way of holding her hands when she worshipped the kamisama. Then, Ishi said that the fox wouldn't leave unless she was beaten, so she hit her.
Judge: You didn't beat her?
Defendant: I beat her only on the twenty-fifth [of the month].
Judge: Was Rie very devout?
Defendant: Yes. . . . On the twenty-fifth, Ishi told me, "We'll definitely get rid of the fox today, so you beat her with the oshirasama. You won't be able to beat her properly if you think of her as your daughter, so just think of her as a wild beast that has invaded the home of a poor family that can't even eat. I'll be next to you here praying with all my might, and if I say, 'She's dead,' you also say, 'She's dead,' and if I say 'There's no more pulse,' you also say, 'There's no more pulse,' and just keep beating her. In that way, the fox will be deceived [into thinking she is dead], too, and leave her." Rie was scratching at her hair, saying, "Half my brain has been eaten up by the fox. Hurry up and do something," and then she said, "Hit me with the shirasama so that it hurts," so I hit her.

In case [99], three members of a family were arrested for inflicting injuries resulting in death, and the chain of events was recounted in article [99-3], which concludes

This oshirasama incident occurred in Takada Village, Azuma-gun, and is considered the second such oshirasama incident in recent months. This kind of tragedy will not be eradicated so long as the prefecture fails to thoroughly eliminate the so-called kamisama who take advantage of ignorant people's superstitious. As a result, it has been decided to undertake a wholesale roundup in the near future.

Appropriately enough, the period in which these incidents occurred was the same one in which wide coverage was being simultaneously devoted to the total eradication of the "deviant Ômotokyô" (the second Ômotokyô incident). Following upon the suppression of the Ômotokyô's Ayabe headquarters the previous year, prosecution now continued to be directed toward the various branches in Aomori Prefecture. On November 6, 1936, an article headlined "So Long, Ômotokyô" reported that the Aomori Police Headquarters had burned the various properties which had been confiscated from various branches of the church. Within this sequence of events, strong suspicions were directed toward spiritual healers and therapists, as well as toward the kamisama who were only minimally discriminated from them. As a result, the authorities and media increasingly portrayed such figures as "dangerous elements" who fomented social unrest and were involved in serious crimes.

Similar news items regarding police prosecutions continued sporadically from 1937 into 1938. But there are few signs of systematic investigations aimed at the "eradication" or "thorough repression" of such figures. In case [102] alone does one see comments to the effect that the motive for the investigation was "because of a chance rumor reaching the ears of the special higher police representatives during their current prosecution of fraudulent religion." While the overall trend was thus for such articles to disappear steadily from the pages of the newspaper, one must also take note of the following article from December 1936, coming as it did just on the heels of the second "oshirasama incident":

Preaching to the Gods: 80 Faith Healers Hear Sermon from Aomori Police Chief Ôta [Case 100]

The title of "spiritualist healer" who engages in therapeutic activities sounds imposing, but these people are actually so-called kamisama who practice faith healing and are another kind of miko with substantial numbers of believers among the unlettered classes. About 120 of these individuals can be found within the city and counties of Aomori alone under the jurisdiction of the Aomori Police. Reflecting on a number of tragic deaths resulting from superstition this year, including the "oshirasama incident" in Takada (Azuma-gun) and the "second oshirasama incident" in Kominato, Police Chief Ôta recently summoned these spiritualist healers to a meeting in order to present them with a sermon. By 10:30 A.M., about seventy or eighty kamisama had arrived at the police station for this "gathering of the gods." Most were women, and while some looked like ordinary housewives with Western hair styles, others were drooping old women, and some even wore the robes of Buddhist clerics.

As the assembled kamisama sat in silent tranquility--?-- Chief Ôta emerged quietly and cleared his throat with a characteristic "harrumph!" thus launching into his so-called "sermon to the gods": "You ladies and gentlemen call yourselves kamisama, but I wonder if you know what a kamisama really is?" Tossing out this introductory question, Chief Ôta began speaking about the kamisama that appeared in the classic Kojiki[Glossary: kojiki] (Records of Ancient Matters), informing them of the doings of the various deities of the divine age. He went on to point out that those deities were "kamisama who were the objects of worship," and made them think about what it could possible mean to be a "kamisama who practices medicine." He then explained about the legal restrictions on spiritualistic medical therapy and conveyed to them the explicit injunction, "You must not mislead people, not to mention engaging in activities that would kill them." For their part, the kamisama listened respectfully and then departed.

This article presents a number of noteworthy items. First, it reveals that the police at that time had a fairly accurate grasp of the number of kamisama active within their jurisdiction. The fact that summons were issued based on a known number of "about 120" indicates that the police possessed a list with accurate names and addresses. Also informative are the descriptions of the kinds of kamisama who attended the meeting. Most were said to be women, and the fact that the number included matronly types with Western hair styles, withered old women, and clerics indicates that a wide range of individuals defined themselves within the emic category of kamisama. (The article is accompanied by a photograph showing the attendees as they sat formally on their knees, listening with solemn expressions.)

Next, it is striking to note that the Police Chief began by speaking to the assembled group regarding "the kamisama that appeared in the classic Kojiki, telling them of the doings of the various deities of the divine age." This part of the lecture can be understood as an attempt to inform the group of the currently recognized "official theology," expressed in the newspaper as enlightening the "ignorant therapists," and thus implanting in them the authorized system of belief as disseminated by the government.

From another perspective, however, one could say that the police chief was implicitly presenting the kamisama with a "loophole" whereby they could continue as before in their activities while superficially conforming to contemporary demands. For their part, the police understood the real status of such kamisama, and could have, if desired, taken the path of "wholesale arrests" in an effort to "eradicate" such folk shamans. That they did not take the hard-line strategy, however, reflects an apparent decision that such severity did not represent the optimum course of action under the circumstances. It has been frequently pointed out that national ethics in wartime Japan were buttressed by the institution of State Shinto, an institution that was grounded in an immense mythological edifice created in the period following the Meiji Restoration. Under such circumstances, it was logically impossible for any government authority to prosecute kamisama and "spiritual healers" on the basis of their alleged "irrationality" alone. What they could attempt was to inject another irrational system, namely the massive mythos of State Shinto, into the existing framework of traditional customs, thereby incorporating the latter under the encompassing umbrella of the former.

On the other hand, it is also noteworthy that numerous kamisama responded to this summons and "listened respectfully and then departed." In the midst of deteriorating social conditions, most such kamisama sought a realistic way to continue their religious activities, and that searching attitude was exhibited here in the positive willingness to cooperate with government authorities.

By changing the perspective, this fact can likewise be understood as an attempt on the part of kamisama to make their own use of the police chief's instructions regarding officially approved theology and legal regulations. By staying within the formal boundaries demarcated by those restrictions, folk shamans could construct their own "operating guide," one which would allow them to continue their own unique religious activities. As a result, while the pages of local newspapers might feature vociferous headlines proclaiming "eradication" and "wholesale arrests," one must not forget that behind the scenes, some of those involved were simultaneously attempting to find more pragmatic solutions based on mutual compromise.

In 1940, the Home Ministry established the Institute of Divinities (Jingiin[Glossary: jingi_in]), an extra-ministerial bureau meant to take the place of the former Bureau of Shrines (Jinjakyoku). This move accompanied preparations for the celebrations commemorating the 2600th year of Japan's imperial reign to be held in the fall of that year, and signaled the Home Ministry's preparations to embark upon an earnest campaign promulgating reverence for the Shinto deities.

The August 21 issue of Tôô nippô featured an article regarding the new campaign, and the article was accompanied by a large headline which read, "Let us Honor the Kamisama." In the context of the newspaper's earlier coverage from the Meiji through the Taishô and Shôwa periods, however, this headline produces a somewhat bizarre effect. And the reason for the odd sensation is clear: as we have seen to this point, within headlines featured on pages of the Tôô nippô, the term kamisama had been used to refer almost exclusively to magico-religious folk practitioners, with the result that it even came to be used as a metaphor for something to which "moxa cautery" (a metaphor for punishment) should be applied.

Of course, examples in which the term kamisama was used to indicate "legitimate" deities[Glossary: jingi] worthy of worship are not entirely lacking. But the system of State Shinto, supported as it was by shrines themselves ostensibly "non-religious" in nature, was not--despite its adoption of the title of "Shintô"--fundamentally organized around a core of worship of particularistic kami like those ordinarily found in local villages. On the contrary, the "kami worthy of respect" as depicted in the contemporary pages of this newspaper were limited exclusively to those central national powers represented by the emperor and imperial family, together with the "heroic spirits of the dead[Glossary: eirei]" which were returning in increasing numbers from foreign battlefields. The fact that the newspaper's editors unwittingly picked the local indigenous category of kamisama for this heading was because most such folk shamans were worshiped only by "unlearned commoners." But in the eyes of readers, assertive cries for the "Punishment of Kamisama" were here transformed unexpectedly into the sentiment "Let Us Honor the Kamisama." In short, that these incongruous phenomena had to be called by one and the same name merely demonstrates one aspect of the tragedy of State Shinto, so far removed from the reality of the local people.

This article of August 1940 is also noteworthy since it serves as a final demarcation point. Following this date, no further articles appear in the pages of the Tôô nippô using the term kamisama to refer to indigenous folk-shamanistic practitioners. Or more accurately, the articles dealing with such figures virtually disappear. The society pages still feature frequent notices regarding the investigation of "rumors and hearsay," but the figures of persons thought to be itako or kamisama are strangely absent from such descriptions. One wonders whether even more persistent and devious kinds of investigations continued unseen. Or should we accept the hint suggested in case [100] and view the situation as one in which the conciliatory indoctrination program adopted by the police met with some degree of success?

It is frequently said that World War II represented a heyday for itako and kamisama who engaged in mediumistic seances with dead spirits. While increasing numbers of war dead returned silent to their natal villages, families remained unsatisfied with the collective memorials conducted under the guise of national shôkonsai [war-dead memorials] and "services for heroic spirits." Borrowing the mouths of itako and kamisama, such family members were able to engage in "dialogue" with the spirits of their loved ones, thereby hearing the wishes of the dead while also expressing their own deepest feelings within a kind of particularistic act of "mutual suffering." Against the background of rising concern for the safety of soldiers in distant lands, itako also were confronted with heightened demand for ikiguchi, clairvoyant seances with the living spirits of loved ones in far-off locations. Article [113] is an important document in the context of this phenomenon, all the more so since it is the last article relating to folk shamans to appear in the prewar period.

This article reports that folklorist Orikuchi Shinobu[Glossary: orikuchi_shinobu] had "witnessed the seances of itako who had gathered for the local Jizô Festival held solemnly in the Kawakura area of Kanagi-chô, known locally as the "river to the other world at Kawakura," and his impressions of the festival were introduced at some length. Pioneers of Japanese folklore studies like Yanagita Kunio and Orikuchi Shinobu exhibited a variety of responses to contemporary government policies on religion, and those responses can be criticized in a variety of ways. At any rate, as pointed out by Akazawa Shirô, Yanagita and Orikichi opposed the government's position that shrines were non-religious facilities, and they attempted to find fundamental religious attributes within shrine Shinto. In that sense, even though their thought may have differed in some respects from that characterizing modern rationalism, it nonetheless flowed in channels outside those of State Shinto.9 And within the reminiscences left by Orikuchi in the pages of the Tôô nippô one can sense--even within the strict contemporary restrictions on freedom of speech--a strong sense of empathy for the folk religion of local areas. Let me here quote the crux of Orikuchi's lengthy comments:

. . . They have entered into the hearts and lives of local peoples to a remarkable degree. Perhaps because, unlike the case in other areas, the itako of Aomori have not been subject to prohibition, they demonstrate no sense of baseness or servility. Some may call it superstition, and so it is, but even intellectuals have their superstitions, though of a different kind. But does anyone consider how much comfort and courage have been proffered to local people by the mediumistic intercessions of such itako? Aside from special cases, there is, of course, no need to encourage them under the current conditions, but I think that persecution would likewise be counterproductive. On the contrary, I think it would be better to grant them their relatively organized superstition, while providing detailed guidance regarding how to employ it.

It is worthy of note that in Orikuchi's view, "the itako of Aomori have not been subject to prohibition." Further, while relegated to the lonely corner of a newspaper otherwise devoted to news about "holy war" and the "divine land of Japan," Orikuchi's comments to the effect that "even intellectuals have their own superstitions . . ." carry a special weight. And against the weight of some 19,000 local men dead in battle, the significance of his query, "how much comfort and courage have been proffered to local people by the mediumistic intercessions of such itako?" was no doubt without measure.

Even without the offsetting effect of Case [100], it must have been all too clear to local authorities that, in Orikuchi's words, "persecution would be counterproductive." After all, the date was already August 15, 1944, ironically enough, just one year before the tragic end to the war.

6. Ishigamisama, Takamasu Shrine, Akakura: Sacred Land of the Kamisama

In addition to the articles discussed above, the Tôô nippô includes numerous other noteworthy materials for the Shôwa period. For example, some articles relate to the Nyûnai area in Aomori City, the Takamasu Shrine in Itayanagi-chô, and the AkakuraXIX area on the northern foothills of Mt. Iwaki, places areas known even today as training locations or holy sites for the kamisama of the Tsugaru region.

Of these sites, Nyûnai, known commonly as "Ishigamisama"--the "stone kamisama"--is mentioned in articles [87], [98], and [107]. The latter two articles, in particular, present detailed comments regarding a conflict over the administration of the holy site, a conflict which revolved around three kamisama but also embroiled the local villagers of the area. While certain details presented in the three articles are inconsistent, let me here attempt to summarize the events as they unfolded.

First, a natural stone formation known as the "stone kamisama" has long been worshiped in the mountain area by the community of Nyûnai in Takada Village of Azuma-gun. The spring flowing from the stone was believed to issue divine water effective in healing any illness, with the result that it drew numerous worshipers. In 1912, the local community constructed a small shrine at the site called the Jitsugetsu Jinja ("sun-moon shrine") and placed it under the supervision of a man named Ono Rinnosuke, who had been particularly blessed by the water's miraculous healing powers. In turn, public offerings made to the shrine were accepted as a source of income for the community.

The enshrining of the sun goddess Amaterasu Ômikami[Glossary: amaterasu_omikami] and the moon deity Tsukiyomi[Glossary: tsukuyomi_no_mikoto] no Mikoto at "sun-moon shrine" stemmed from Ono's claim to have witnessed the miraculous appearance of images of the sun and moon on the face of the rock, followed by the miraculous healing of a serious wound due to the virtue of the water which had flowed from beneath the images. Ono died in 1916, and administration of the shrine was turned over to his disciple Narita Kashichi.

Ono, however, had a son (article [98] says a grandson) named Ta'ichirô, who claimed that while the shrine's monetary offerings should be turned over to the community, food offerings and fees for intercessions and lodging at the shrine constituted a substantial income, and should rightfully be his, as legitimate successor to Ono. Ta'ichirô's claim was rejected by the local community, but he nonetheless built an independent shrine facility on the site in 1932 and began his own practice as a kamisama in opposition to Narita. According to the Tôô nippô, Ta'ichirô's maneuver was additionally supported by an influential member of the Prefectural Assembly.

In an effort to reconcile the two competing kamisama, the local community constructed a new shrine facility in August of that year and there installed a third religious instructor, Aiyama Ushitarô. As a result, a situation arose in which three shrines, all dedicated to the same deity, had been erected in the same vicinity. With more than five-hundred followers, Ono established a religious organization called the Iwashiomizu Shintoku Kyôkai,XX and in response, Narita and Aiyama likewise established an association called the Tenseki Shinmeikai.XXI In 1936, the latter two men joined forces and instituted legal action against Ono.

These events were followed by continuing incidents of conflict, including destruction of the shrine's offering box by both sides, but Aiyama gradually gained the support of the villagers and his influence steadily rose in the community. As a result, while Ono and Narita had previously been decidedly antagonistic, the rising strength of Aiyama led the other two to put aside their disagreements and join forces in an attempt to oust Aiyama, in sum, leading to a situation of politicized mudslinging more appropriate to an modern election campaign.

According to article [107] from October 1938, the conflict escalated to the point that the Aomori police could no longer overlook the situation, and the involved parties were all summoned for questioning. Police Chief Ôta gave all three kamisama stern warnings and ordered them to reconcile their differences, asking the three men, "Just what deity is the Ishigamisama?" To this question one answered "It is Amaterasu Ômikami and Tsukiyomi no Mikoto," while another answered, "It is Ninigi no Mikoto[Glossary: ninigi_no_mikoto],XXII" and the third added, "It is just as the other two have said."

Hearing this, the Police Chief admonished the three men, saying, "You three aren't kamisama, you're more like parasites on the kamisama. What in the world do you think you're doing?!" With this, the Police Chief ordered that oversight of all things relating to the Ishigamisama be delegated to a committee of parishioners[Glossary: ujiko], and he made the three kamisama jointly responsible for monitoring the offering box.

Next, article [85] records events relating to the erection of the Takamasu Shrine in Itayanagi-chô, but it is particularly noteworthy for its indication that itako were instrumental in behind-the-scenes activities leading to the construction. According to the article, four itako were arrested for "bringing moss from Akakurazawa at Mount Iwaki and laying out some rice on top of it, then attempting to deceive people by claiming it had appeared miraculously as the work of the kami." Interestingly, one of the four itako was Kudô Mura, the founder of Akakurayama Jinja[Glossary: akakurasan_jinja], a shrine which remains one of the central religious groups active in the Akakura region today. Evidence for this fact can be found in the Mura ichidaiki (Record of the first-generation founder Mura) which is in the possession of the shrine, while Mura's prosecution is also noted in article [56].

Another crucial document relating to Akakura is article [86], a report of an ascent of Akakura--called the "legendary mountain of ghosts"--by members of the Hirosaki Mountain Association. The report was written by one member of the Association, Fugeshi Muchio, and together with accompanying photographs, occupies an entire page of news print. Describing the activities of contemporary kamisama in concrete detail, the article is extremely valuable as a source for the prewar religious characteristics of the Akakura region, about which little is otherwise known. I have distilled the core passages from the article in the following extract:

To Akakura--Legendary Mountain of Ghosts [Case 86]

It is said that ghosts and goblins live in Akakura Swamp, and no one is permitted to penetrate to the farthest reaches of the marshes. Were one to attempt to enter, the mountains would moan, boulders would drop from the red cliffs above, and thunderous lightning would rain down, leaving no hope of a safe return.

Rumors say that the eldest son of a certain family in the Watoku area of Hirosaki liked the mountains and used to climb Mount Iwaki each year, but he finally turned into a mountain recluse and never returned to his home again. Only, it was said that on the evening of the December 12 each year, the day of the festival of the mountain kami, he would appear in a giant form some ten feet tall, standing before the alcove of his house and facing away.

Similar stories tell tales of a certain individual from a certain place who would likewise become a mountain hermit, and thereafter gigantic footprints would spontaneously appear at strange times in the living room of the person's former home. Others relate the tale of persons who would be walking alone in the Akakura swamp when suddenly a wind would gust up from beneath their feet, making them feel faint. When they recovered their senses, they would find themselves having been transported to an entirely different marsh.

When I was young, I often heard these kinds of legends from other young men in the village, leaving me with an uncanny sense of curiosity about Akakura. Today, no one believes such stories as fact, but perhaps due to the influence of such legends, Akakura was not considered a place people should enter, even up until as recently as two or three years ago. . .

. . .With its tin roof, the hut used by ascetic practitioners (gyôja) was sturdy, and large enough that all forty people in our party could manage to spend the night.

Here, there is a shamaness some forty-five years old from Hanawa in Minami-gun, who together with five or six other fiercely devoted male and female faithful heals the ills of mind and body. We remained on our knees more than 45 minutes during the evening prayers, while the kamisama called down the gods of Hakkôda, the deities of Iwaki, the deities of Ganki, the gods of Mount Taiheizan in Akita, and she described for us the power of these kami, greater even than the power boasted of by the Holiness [church].

She began by reciting a norito[Glossary: norito] litany in the traditional fashion, then she switched to the Tsugaru dialect to explain the virtues of the various deities. As the kamisama's prayers reached a pitch of fervor, some believers even broke into a paroxysm of tears.

";In a single human generation, good things come thrice, as likewise do disasters. Pray to the kami when disaster strikes, and likewise pray when you are visited by good. If you believe in the kamisama with a pure and devoted mind, [the kamisama] will lend you power. Among all the deities, the kamisama of Akakura's Mount Ganki is especially powerful. But you must believe with a pure and devoted mind, and with all your faith!"

As the rhythm of the drum increased its pace, the kamisama rolled her neck and spoke out with a rousing voice.

It is said that Mount Iwaki dislikes women, but perhaps because the deity of Ganki is only a temporary resident on Mount Iwaki and does not have any such taboo, the deity apparently descends quite readily into believers when invoked by the prayers of the shamaness kamisama here. Upon the completion of her prayer, the shamaness returned quickly to her ordinary everyday demeanor and gallantly ladled out the soup to her guests.

The shamaness was full of enthusiasm, telling us, "The kamisama really lends its power, even if you ask for divine help only when climbing, so tomorrow morning at 4:00 A.M. we'll leave here and I'll guide you all through Akakura, to places like 'the third waterfall,' 'the second waterfall', 'the first waterfall,' the 'rock sluice,' 'mouth of the bottle,' and 'devil's garden' . . . "

Early on the morning of the fifteenth, we arose sleepily and ate the rice which the women ascetics had prepared for us; we also packed some in lunch boxes, and were at last able to start out at 4:00 A.M.

The shamaness, arrayed in her white headband and walking staff and accompanied by two young male apprentices, led the way while raising her voice in a rousing cry. After we had climbed up a narrow valley for some ten chô or so [about 1000 meters], we came to the remote shrine of Akakura. Inside, we found three ascetics who appeared to be in their forties, together with a grizzled old man about seventy. Dressed in a padded kimono and displaying graying hair and a lengthy beard, the old man returned our curious stares. We were told that this was the hermit mountain man of Akakura. I thought to ask him where he had been born and what his name was, but he appeared so forbidding that I found myself unable to play the part of reporter, and fell silent.

I did hear, though, that this hermit perhaps lived somewhere in Aomori, and that he came here in April each year, returning home in October. We heard that he partook of a saltless diet, surviving only on chestnuts and millet. They also said that he sometimes walks naked through the Akakura swamp--going without so much as a loincloth. We wanted to take his photograph, so we asked him to come outside, but it was hard to convince him. When he finally emerged, he suddenly took off his kimono and threw it on a rock and stood there barefooted with his long hair drooping down in front, thus defying the camera's lens. . . .

Suddenly the voice of the shamaness broke out: "It's a hawk, the deity's familiar. Worship, worship!" Raising her hand, the kamisama quickly made a mystic sign in the air, which she followed with a clap of the hands accompanied by a sharp shout. . . .

Last night, we scrambled up the advertised little waterfalls and the "stone sluice," and with panting breath we finally arrived at the "mouth of the bottle." This is as far as women devotees climb, where the marsh suddenly comes to a dead end and a rock face blocks the way ahead. Beneath the rock, there was a small hole just large enough to allow us to enter and stand erect, and the hole was guarded with a sacred border rope. We were told that worshipers and people praying for rain also came here, but we saw none of that, since it was in the snow.

It is at the remote end of this "mouth of the bottle" that the great palace shrine of the mountain deity Ganki is located. Anyone who pollutes the deity's shrine by daring to approach directly would likely be punished, as the deity enlists the aid of gravity to cause rocks to fall from the cliff faces. As a result, even those kamisama who serve as the deity's ministering servants would never attempt such a foolish approach. To the right of the "mouth of the bottle," there was a sharp incline, and the kamisama from Hanawa went around the thicket there and advanced on a straight line to the top of Mount Ganki.

The "shamaness some forty-five years old from Hanawa in Minami-gun" mentioned here is none other than the same Kudô Mura noted earlier. The combination of characters used by the reporter for Hanawa is an error for the correct, namely, the section of Ôura Village (present-day Iwaki-chô) which served as home to the second family into which Mura married. In addition, the "hermit" who "perhaps lived somewhere in Aomori" in fact refers to Aratani Bansaku, the founder of the religious group commonly called Yazawadô, from the area called Yazawa (currently, Fujisaki-chô) in Jûnisato Village. The sheer fact that virtually no documentary evidence has been previously discovered regarding the prewar activity of these Akakura kamisama makes this article of extremely high value.

7. Conclusion: A Comparison with Okinawa

In this paper, I have given a general introduction to articles in the Tôô nippô that deal with folk shamans of the Aomori area during the period extending from the Meiji through the early Shôwa eras. I have already listed the characteristics of such shamans in the body of the paper, but here, let me summarize those features while making a comparison with the folk shamans of Okinawa. My selection of Okinawa as a field of comparison is the result of several factors.

First, postwar studies of Japanese folk shamanism have frequently pointed out both the far northeast and the southwest islands of Japan as areas in which such shamanism continues to linger in abundance. Second, I have myself performed intensive fieldwork in these two so-called "marginal" areas, and have attempted to promote a reevaluation of Japan's folk religion on that basis. One further reason I might note is the pioneering work done by Ôhashi Hidetoshi on Okinawan shamanism.10 Ôhashi's work starts from a consideration of documents dealing with the prohibition of Okinawan shamanesses (called yuta[Glossary: yuta]) during the Ryûkyû kingdom period, but its most original contributions are found in its collection and analysis of newspaper accounts of "yuta hunts" in the Meiji and prewar periods. It remains virtually impossible, however, to compile Okinawan newspaper records for all years of the period, since so many documents were reduced to ashes in the savage land battle fought in the final days of World War II.

Ôhashi's work relies on crucial newspaper records discovered during research performed for an editorial project for the city of Nago, namely, the Ryûkyû shinpô for the period extending from the end of Meiji (ca. 1912) to 1918, and the Kagoshima and Okinawa editions of the Ôsaka asahi shinbun from 1925 to 1944. But even given the sketchy coverage provided by these two newspapers, it remains possible to undertake a comparison with the data from Aomori. At the same time, since a rigorous comparison would require an entirely independent article, let me limit my remarks here to a few general observations.

First, to begin from my conclusion, government oppression of folk shamans was carried out far more severely in Okinawa than in Aomori. At the same time, the difference between the two regions only became apparent from the period around 1938 and thereafter. Previous to that time, the Okinawan situation may have been somewhat more oppressive, but the resemblances were more apparent than the differences. Those resemblances include, first of all, the fact that the most aggressive actors in attacking the folk shamans, those who complained to the authorities of the blight represented by such religious figures, and who called for more strict controls, were the newspapers which burned with the self-imposed mission to enlighten the common masses. This attitude would appear to have been the result of a common overzealousness demonstrated by local newspapers in remote regions.11 In the case of Okinawa, this kind of issue likely carried the additional weight generated by the pressing need felt there to "eradicate archaic customs," together with the policy to promote "assimilation" [with mainland Japan].

The second similarity is seen in the reasons given for the prosecution and criticism of folk shamans. The most common accusations were "misleading the ignorant masses and disrupting public morals," "spreading baseless rumors and gossip," and "receiving illicit money and goods." In addition, the two local histories also are similar in the fact that, particularly in the late Meiji period, shamanesses were subjected to denunciation and ridicule within one and the same category as private (not officially sanctioned) prostitutes. For example, on December 27, 1898, the Ryûkyû shinpô featured an article headlined "Housecleaning: Sweeping Away a Den of Miko and Prostitutes," which stated, "These miko disgorge reckless and empty gossip, squeezing the pockets of the common people, and prostitutes tempt loose men and rob them of their money. While the professions are different, they are the same in disrupting public morals and deceiving people of their possessions."

Third, particularly in the early Taishô period, one sees in both Aomori and Okinawa a number of incidents in which shamanistic figures react to prosecution by demanding official court trials. For example, a yuta named Nakachi Kamado was prosecuted for spreading pernicious rumors and gossip during the great Naha fire which occurred February 12, 1913, but she appealed her case to a court trial, which the newspaper described as "the first such case in Okinawa." Here, the similarity with Aomori was not only the external factor of the period in which it occurred, but also such internal factors as the confident attitude of the shamanesses and the great response drawn from the society, elements which correspond well to such Aomori cases as [14], [20], and [24-2].

At the same time, great differences became evident in the actual course and ultimate results of such trials. As revealed in article [14], the Aomori examples demonstrated occasions on which shamanesses were able to avail themselves of the assistance of able lawyers, thus winning verdicts of innocence. In the Okinawan case, however, the defense counsel proved insufficient and a guilty verdict was returned, leading the newspaper to taunt the defendant by saying that, from her perspective, "to be exposed as a laughing stock before the intense gaze of the public in this way was, on the contrary, an even worse loss of face."

Fourth, in spite of the use of such inflammatory expressions as "great offensive" and "eradication" in headlines, no clear evidence can be found of systematic, organized programs of legal prosecution, at least so far as can be determined from subsequent reports. In Okinawa, while the previously mentioned incident of "pernicious rumors" accompanying the great conflagration in Naha led to the initiation of a "great offensive against yuta," few were actually prosecuted.

For example, on February 22, the newspaper reported the headline "All Yuta in District to be Punished," stating, "The Naha police have moved to prosecute all yuta, with the aim of rooting out their noxious bane once and for all, and they plan to extend their efforts to other areas as well in a great offensive." But only three persons were named as having actually been subject to arrest and detention. In his study of articles from 1898 to 1918, Ôhashi likewise states that while "it is impossible to make an accurate statement of the number of yuta arrested," "only fourteen appear in the Ryûkyû shinpô."

In the same way, few materials exist for the "great offensive" in the first year of the Taishô period (1912), making it impossible to give an accurate assessment of conditions, but it does appear that the situation resembled that in Aomori. Namely, in spite of harsh words like "wholesale eradication" and "extermination" bandied about in the pages of the local newspapers, the deep level of traditional customs represented by such shamanesses was so linked to the lives of residents that it formed a region which even the authorities could not easily penetrate and control. In addition, contemporary social conditions themselves were likely not so desperate as to allow such a radical program to be carried out, even had it been attempted.

It should be noted that the most common legal basis for the prosecution of yuta in Okinawa, as in Aomori, was the Police Regulations Ordinance. In contrast to Aomori, however, a look at the actual contents of punishments meted out in Okinawa reveals that "in 1913, almost all were composed of detention for twenty days," a period nearly twice as long as that common in Aomori. These facts tend to bolster the common assumption that attitudes toward folk shamans were more severe in Okinawa than on the Japanese mainland.

The fifth point of similarity is the response of local residents to the government prosecution of folk shamans. It is obviously impossible to ascertain the true state of affairs from the newspapers alone, since they were the most aggressive in supporting the police actions. But I have already pointed out at least one Aomori example (case [41]) in which three young men requested permission to stay at the home of a shamaness, and claimed that "they would not budge an inch until they received the desired permission."

A similar case can be found among the Okinawa articles introduced by Ôhashi, namely, in an article published February 23, 1913 under the headline "Prayer Service in Limbo." Here, the reporter notes that a group of housewives had made complaints to the police since a yuta named Aguni Uta had been sentenced to jail for twenty-five days, making it impossible for her to hold her normal faith-healing meetings. In sum, "six or seven old women forming the main group of instigators were incensed at the excessively severe treatment of the police, and pushed their way into the police station, attempting to get the yuta Uta freed." In the end, the police "said that the women's stupid behavior would turn out bad for their children and descendants, and the seven old women left with rather ambiguous expressions on their faces, just the kind of comedy one might expect with this kind of incident." But as Ôhashi points out, "despite the clear policy of the newspapers and the authorities, neither of the principles in such cases was conscious of being a victim or victimizer," making this an excellent case of "the substantial gap between the common people on the one hand, and their political leaders and intellectuals, on the other."12

Despite the aforementioned resemblance between the two remote prefectures, social conditions in Okinawa and Aomori took on a decisive difference in the late 1930s. In July 1938, the Okinawan office of the Special Higher Police ordered police stations to undertake a wholesale eradication of all the shamanesses throughout the prefecture. This event was to become known as the "yuta hunt of the Shôwa period." Broad-ranging arrests were conducted by the Naha, Shuri, Miyako, and Toguchi police stations, and it was said that the number of shamans arrested and punished throughout the prefecture rose as high as 350. Early on the morning of March 17, 1939, a second great "yuta hunt" was initiated, and it was reported that "some 150 male and female yuta were roused from their sleep and fell prey to the hunt." Many points remain unclear regarding the full extent of the "yuta hunt" undertaken by the Special Higher Police, but it appears that from this point until the end of World War II, folk shamanesses were subjected to large-scale and broad-reaching persecution (see Table 7).

During the decade from 1935 to the end of World War II, all religious groups were woven into the system of secondary support for national unity. Those "quasi-religions" which could not be subsumed under that system were subjected to severe oppression by the governmental authorities. This led to the harsh repression of groups ranging from Ômotokyô, Hitonomichi Kyôdan[Glossary: hitonomichi_kyodan], and Honmichi, to the Shinkô Bukkyô Seinen Dômei (New Buddhist Youth Alliance) and the Holiness Church. In response to this movement on the part of central national authorities, local officials instigated their own movements of oppression, in Okinawa represented by the large-scale and even hysterical "yuta hunts." In Aomori Prefecture, on the other hand, such organized and systematic "itako hunts" or "miko hunts" never materialized in fact, and on the contrary, as evidenced by case [100], the activities of shamans were tacitly condoned or allowed to continue under the aegis of "conciliatory" police guidance. As a result, these practitioners were allowed to maintain their activities, in Orikuchi Shinobu's words, "without prohibition" up until the end of the war. But what was responsible for this difference in attitudes and treatment between Okinawa and Aomori?

The first and most important reason was the simple fact that the body of myth upon which the folk shamanesses of Okinawa relied was simply too heterodox in the context of those myths officially approved in Japan. In other words, the difference was the one between the ritual system and cosmology of Okinawa, based on traditions since the old Ryûkyû kingdom, and the state-administered religion of Japan, which had been constructed with the purpose of promoting the spiritual unity of the Japanese people around the core formed by the emperor system.

In particular, the traditions of female ritual which were deeply engraved on the Okinawan institution of yuta, and the characteristic ways in which shamanistic initiation and practice were carried out suggested intimate affinities with similar elements hidden within the remote recesses of the rather artificial emperor system. As a result, it may have been necessary, on the contrary, to conceal such practices, as "immoral and deviant religion," from the open view of society. Many individuals within the political leadership of Okinawa considered it their highest mission to promote "assimilation with the mainland [Japan]," and some may have experienced an excessively acute reaction to this kind of heterodoxy.

In contrast, the folk shamans of northeastern Japan were long raised within the bosom of mainstream "Yamato" Japan culture, with the result that they were able to react with relative adroitness and flexibility to the system of officially sanctioned myth established in the modern era. Rather than indicating that these folk shamans were deliberately "sidling up to" those in power, however, one might say that a social channel had already been provided in which the search for their own religion naturally came to satisfy the demands of the state as well.

Such general conclusions, however, should require a study based on a more thorough consideration of the concrete contents of the shamanesses' belief and practice. In a previous article I have already considered the similarities and differences of the shamanesses of northeastern Japan and Okinawa through a focus on the issue of "ascetic practice" (shugyô).13 In that article, I suggested that within the worldview forming the basis of Yamato culture, a means may have been provided which rechanneled much of the energy originally oriented to religious "self-improvement," back into the realm of secular morality. Our understanding of the similarities and differences in the persecution of folk shamanesses and shamans in the two prefectures as noted above must likewise depend on a deeper appreciation of the concrete aspects of faith and practice.


1. The debate over such terminology as "folk beliefs" (minkan shinkô), "folk religions" (minzoku shûkyô), "popular religion" (shomin shinkô), "basic religion" (kisô shûkyô), and "indigenous beliefs" (koyû shinkô) continues actively at present. For examples, see Sasaki Kôkan, "Minzoku shinkô no shosô" [Aspects of folk belief], Nihon minzoku to Nihon bunka (Tokyô: Yamakawa Shuppansha, 1989), 351-352; Miyake Hitoshi, "Minzoku shûkyô no seikaku" [The nature of folk religions], Shûkyô minzokugaku, (Tokyô: Tokyô Daigaku Shuppankai, 1989), 3-11. What should be noted here is the necessity of selecting one's terminology in accordance with the objects and methods of study.

2. Takano Tomoji, "Meijiki no janarizumu ni arawareta Tenrikyô hihan no kenkyû" [Study of Tenrikyô criticism seen in the journalism of the Meiji period], Tenri Daigaku Gakuhô 15:2 (No. 42, 1983).

3. Hatano Kazuo, "Shinshûkyô no juyô to tenkai: Tsugaru chihô ni okeru Tenrikyokai no keisei" [The acceptance and development of new religions: the formation of the Tenri church in the Tsugaru region], Wakamori Tarô, ed., Tsugaru no minzoku, (Tokyo: Yoshikawa Kôbunkan, 1970), 347.

4. Takeda Dôshô, "Tennôsei kokka taisei ni okeru shûkyô dan'atsu: shinshûkyô inshi jakyôkan o tegakari to shite" [Religious oppression under the emperor state: the common view of new religions as immoral and deviant religions], Ronshû: Nihon Bukkyô, No. 9: Taishô, Shôwa jidai (Tokyo: Yûzankaku, 1988), 228.

5. This view is put forward by Ishida Takeshi, as quoted in Morioka Kiyomi, Ie no henbô to senzo no matsuri [Ancestor worship and transformations to the traditional family], (Tokyo: Nihon Kirisutokyôdan Shuppankyoku, 1984) 112.

6. In the second article to Penal Code states that "Those falling under the purview of any of the following Items shall be sentenced to up to 30 days detention or fines of up to 20 yen," and Item 17 states, "anyone unlawfully engaging in fortune telling, faith healing, or magical incantations, or providing good-luck charms to others." Item 18 follows this with, "anyone engaging in the performance of magical spells, faith-healing or other sorcery for sick persons, or providing the sick with things like sacred emblems or sacred water, thus interfering with medical therapy," and Item 19 states, "Anyone unlawfully engaging in hypnotism."

7. For Hamaguchi, see Imura Kôji, Reijutsuka no kyôen [Feast of the spiritualists], (Shinkôsha, 1984), 33-115.

8. Murakami Shigeyoshi, Kokka shintô [State Shinto] (Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 1970), 198-200.

9. Akazawa Shirô, Kindai Nihon no shisô dôin to shûkyô tôsei (Azekura Shobô, 1985), 64-66.

10. Ôhashi Hidetoshi, "Okinawa shamanizumu no rekishi: yuta kin'atsu no shosô to haikei" [The history of Okinawan shamanism: aspects and background to yuta oppression], Tôhoku Daigaku Bungakubu kenkyû nenpô, No. 32 (1984)

11. The social influence of a newspaper cannot be reduced to its circulation numbers alone, but it should be noted that subscribers to local newspapers at that time belonged to an extremely circumscribed class of people. According to the Tôô nippô hyakunenshi [One hundred years of the Tôô nippô] (Tôô Nippôsha, 1988), no reliable data exists regarding the circulation at the time of the newspaper's establishment. It states (page 3), however, that during a speech before new employees of the newspaper in 1936, the company president prefaced his remarks with "these aren't sure numbers..." but then went on to say that "at the time of the paper's founding, circulation was about 900, about 1200 during the Sino-Japanese war, and it reached 3000 during the Russo-Japanese War. Shortly thereafter it reached 4000, and it reached 10,000 in 1916 or 1917. It didn't reach 20,000 until after the beginning of the Shôwa period [1926]."

Using these figures, and dividing them simply by the known population figures for the period, one can estimate that in the period of the Sino-Japanese War, the newspaper had circulation to one out of every seventy-five households; during the Russo-Japanese War, to one in about every twenty-six households. In 1916-1917, to one in about every twelve households, and in the first years of Shôwa, to one in about every seven households. The newspaper's current circulation is about 250,000, or to one in about two households of the prefecture.

12. Ôhashi Hidetoshi, "Okinawa shamanizumu no rekishi: yuta kin'atsu no shosô to haikei," 70.

13. "Kita no miko, minami no miko: minkan fuja ni okeru 'shûgyô' o tegakari to shite" [Miko of the north and miko of the south: focusing on "ascetic practice" among folk shamans], Hirosaki Daigaku tokutei kenkyû hôkokusho: Bunka ni okeru "kita" [Special research report for Hirosaki University: the "north" in culture] (Hirosaki Daigaku Bungakubu, 1989), 80-81.

Postscript: In doing the research for this paper I utilized the microfilms and copies of Tôô nippô in the collection of the Hirosaki Municipal Library. I wish to express my deepest thanks here to all the library staff, particularly to Akashi Reiko of the viewing room, for the assistance rendered me during some three years of searching for documents.

Translator's Notes

I. This paper was originally published in Japanese as "Chihôshi ni miru Aomori-ken no minkan fusha", Hirosaki Daigaku Jinbungaku, Bunkyô ronsô, 25:3 (March 20, 1990), 27-84. The age of the news articles quoted by Ikegami, together with the "local knowledge" implied in their style, have made it extremely difficult provide accurate renderings for several passages in the text, together with the headlines listed in Table 1.

II. In accordance with common ethnographic practice in Japan, Ikegami here and elsewhere expresses orally transmitted folk terminology primarily by means of the Japanese kana syllabary alone, largely refraining from use of Sino-Japanese ideographs (kanji), unless the characters are those given by his sources, or represent constructions universally accepted throughout Japan. For this reason, Romanized Japanese terms given in this translation should, unless otherwise indicated in the glossary, be considered representations of the kana syllabary. See also Ikegami's explanation of his use of emic terminology on page 11-12.

III. Tsugaru is an old name still used to refer to the region known today as Aomori Prefecture, located at the northern tip of Japan's main island of Honshû.

IV. The expression rendered here as "immoral and deviant religions" is inshi jakyô, a phrase which includes hints of sexual impropriety as well as general "heterodoxy" or "evil" in the context of an established socio-religious norm. It has been pointed out that the three major accusations which the mass media in Japan have historically directed against new religious groups have been sexual immorality, illicit financial gains, and disruption of the social norm of traditional family relations; Ikegami's examples make it clear that all three of these accusations were included within the expression inshi jakyô. I have attempted to retain in the translation a single English locution in order to indicate to the reader the prevalence of this expression in the Japanese.

V. A bow made of a catalpa branch was a standard implement used by shamanesses in northeastern Japan. See Carmen Blacker, The Catalpa Bow: A Study of Shamanistic Practices in Japan. London, 1975

VI. The invocation to the Lotus Sutra, "Namu Myôhô Rengekyô."

VII. The sacred site at Hottôge was known for a large stone engraved with the Daimoku, invocation to the Lotus sutra.

VIII.. While it uses different characters, the name "Shûseiha" is apparently a reference to the Shintô Shûseiha[Glossary: shinto_shusei-ha], a conservative Shinto-based new religion[Glossary: shintokei_shinshukyo] begun by Nitta Kuniteru[Glossary: nitta_kuniteru] in 1873 as the Shûsei Kôsha (Shûsei Confraternity), and which was closely associated with sodalities devoted to the mountains Fuji and Ontake.

IX. "White-necks," "illicit trade" and "hell" were all idioms for prostitution in the period. "Hell" was also a homophone for the character combination (jigoku) which was apparently a vulgar expression for "prostitute." The expression "to burn with moxa cautery" was adopted from one of the most common folk-medical therapies employed by folk-therapists in Japan, and is also a metaphor for "chastise" or "punish."

X. "Unrelated spirits of the dead" are the spirits of persons who have died without proper funerary rites, or who have no families to perform memorial rites for them.

XI. Kishibojin is the Sino-Japanese rendering for the Indian goddess Hariti.

XII. See note IX.

XIII. The actual term used here is izuna tsukai or, namely, a person believed to keep a legendary animal familiar called an izuna. The izuna, in turn, is often described as a fox-like animal about the size of a rat, which travels about and gathers information about coming events for its master. Here, the term appears to be used as a general synonym for "diviner," "psychic," or "magician."

XIV. See note IX. "Gets burned" is here used as a metaphor for "was punished."

XV. Also called the "second Ômoto incident."

XVI. The oshira or oshirasama is a divine implement shaped like a doll or stick, frequently encountered in the folk religion of northeast Japan.

XVII. Shinmei zukuri[Glossary: shinmei-zukuri] refers to the architectural style characteristic of the Grand Shrine of Ise[Glossary: ise_no_jingu].

XVIII. For oshirasama, see above, note XVI; for izuna, see note XIII

XIX. Regarding Akakura, see Watanabe Masako and Igeta Midori, "Healing in the New Religions: Charisma and 'Holy Water,'" New Religions. Contemporary Papers in Japanese Religion 2, General Editor Inoue Nobutaka, translated by Norman Havens. Tokyo: Kokugakuin University, Institute for Japanese Culture and Classics, 1991, 162-264, especially 212ff.

XX. "Divine Virtue Association for the Pure Water of the Rock."

XXI. "Divine Association of the Heavenly Rock."

XXII. According to Japanese myth, Ninigi-no-Mikoto was the "heavenly grandchild" of Amaterasu Ômikami, and the deity whom Amaterasu sent to pacify the land of Japan.

Table 1. Articles Relating to "Folk Shamans" in the Tôô nippô (ca. 1897-1945)

No. Date Heading
1 2-4-1900 The Spread of Immoral and Deviant Religions
2 9-17-1901 Complaint Lodged against Kamisama
3 5-15-1903 Itako Placed under Detention
4 10-12-1905 Stone Jizô Seized
5 9-1-1906 Superstitions and a Crazed Woman
6 6-15-1907 The Money Cure
7 8-27-1907 Superstitions Cause Riot
8 11-21-1907 Superstition Leads to Assault
9 2-2-1909 Woman Exposed to Ridicule
10 11-17-1909 Naked Woman Exposed to Suspicious Bedtime Prayers
11 2-24-1910 Shaman Claims Ability to Remove Seal of Death
12 3-17-1910 Kamisama Sells Employees
13 4-5-1910 Threatens Death by Prayer-Curse
14 6-14-1910 Kamisama Riot in Court
14-2 6-15-1910 Suit by Kamisama
15 7-25-1910 A Kamisama Since Last Year
16 7-30-1910 Detention of Kamisama and Prostitute
17 8-13-1910 Kamisama Fined
14-3 9-9-1910 Kamisama Wins Appeal
14-4 9-22-1910 Verdict in Medicine Suit by Kamisama
14-5 10-22-1910 Kamisama Found Innocent
18 4-17-1912 Suspicious Reoccurrence in Shijimigai-machi
19 5-5-1912 A Fortune-Teller's Fire
20 7-26-1912 Courtroom Trial of Miko
20-2 8-2-1912 Courtroom Trial of Kamisama
21 2-2-1913 Widow Slickly Conned by Inari-Sama Oracle
22 3-3-1914 Miko Violates Physicians Law
23 4-21-1914 Deities Used in Scam
24 5-9-1914 Kamisama that Deceives Men
24-2 5-13-1914 Courtroom Trial of Kamisama
25 6-14-1914 Kamisama's Moxa Cautery
26 6-29-1914 Fine for Phony Kamisama in Sakae-chô
27 10-20-1914 A Fortune-Teller's Suit
28 5-7-1915 Fox-Possession and a Parent's Greed
29 5-5-1916 Kamisama in a Swoon
29-2 5-6-1916 Kamisama Fined
30 5-12-1916 A So-Called Kamisama's Moxa Cautery
31 11-20-1916 Superstitious Mountain Climbers
32 5-27-1917 Phony Kamisama Fined
33 12-22-1917 Kamisama Interferes in Medical Therapy
34 6-15-1918 Fake Priest Deceives Ignorant Woman with Dog's Curse
35 12-1-1920 Trickery or Divine Punishment? A Suspicious Light
35-2 12-7-1920 A Yamabushi's Moxa Cautery
36 2-23-1921 Brash Miko Asserts Mistaken Diagnosis by Hospital
37 5-2-1921 Kamisama's Moxa Cautery
38 8-6-1921 Miko Punished for Divination of Fire
39 8-11-1921 Another Kamisama's Moxa Cautery
40 1-17-1922 High-Flown Kamisama: A Young Kamisama's Moxa Cautery
41 3-21-1922 Itako Favored over Prefectural Hospital
42 9-26-1922 Fortune-Teller Deceives Farmers: Prayer Used in Scam
43 11-14-1922 Punishment for a Certain Kamisama
44 3-24-1923 Kôbô Daishi Abandoned
45 7-19-1923 Itako Demands Offerings: Blames Deity for Crime
46 11-13-1923 Drumming up Business for Itako
47 6-26-1924 Moxa Cautery for a Kamisama: Five-Days' Detention
48 12-13-1924 Seven-Days' Detention for Itako who Foretells Fire
49 8-5-1925 Vexing Kamisama: Naked Child Given Prayers in Temple
50 1-15-1926 The Blind of Nambu
51 11-15-1926 Okunai Kamisama Performs Abortion
51-2 11-26-1926 Day of Reckoning for Okunai Kamisama
52 3-4-1927 Miko's Drum Leads to Vengeful Arson
53 3-17-1927 Axe Attack on Ascetics
54 3-19-1927 Kamisama's Free Amusement
55 4-14-1927 Woman Calls Herself Kamisama of Onizawa
56 7-14-1927 Moxa Cautery for Miko
54-2 11-10-1927 Akita Kamisama Seized at Hirosaki Station
54-3 11-11-1927 Kamisama Has 11 Prior Arrests
54-4 11-18-1927 Kamisama Jailed at Hirosaki Prison
57 2-4-1928 Rumors Spread by Woman Kamisama: Gossip of Fire Leads to Arrest
58 3-24-1928 "Oshirasama" Surprizes Scholars
59 4-28-1928 7-Shrine Pilgrimage for Magic Pestilence Protection
58-2 5-12-1928 Mr. Nakamichi's Study of Itako
60 5-23-1928 Prophecy of Great Fire
61 6-28-1928 Kamisama Violates Physicians Law
62 7-6-1928 Snake Deity from River Aseishigawa
63 11-13-1928 Courtroom Trial of Kamisama: On-Site Investigation Decided
64 12-30-1929 Tragedy of "Fox-Possession" Superstition
65 3-5-1930 Strange Ghost Stories in An Enlightened Age (II)
65-2 3-8-1930 Haunted House in Sasamori-chô
66 3-12-1930 Ghost Story (3): Cursed House in Matsumori-chô, Hirosaki
67 3-15-1930 Ghost Story (6): Strange House in Shimo-machi, Hirosaki
68 7-2-1930 Prayers Refused, Covered in Excrement
69 7-24-1930 Jizô Festival at Kanagi
70 9-3-1930 Lieutenant Kamisama Rages at Temple
71 12-3-1930 Covered in Manure
72 6-2-1931 Spa Water Given as "Holy Water": Ten Days' in Jail
73 6-12-1931 Oracle of the Kami: Seven Yen Fine
74 1-16-1932 Victim of "Fox Possession" Beaten to Death with Bamboo Staff
75 7-28-1932 Fooling the Kamisama
76 12-17-1932 Mustachioed Kamisama is Rice Bandit
76-2 12-19-1932 Kamisama with Mustache Admits Other Crimes
77 5-26-1933 Treatment Performed on Sixty People
78 6-3-1933 Health Bureau Hunts Frauds: Kamisama and Others
79 6-13-1933 Wily Kamisama Detained by Hachinohe Police
80 6-21-1933 Momoishi Kamisama Given to Sannohe Police
81 8-29-1933 Shrine to Farming Deity Built in Scenic Meya Valley
82 12-9-1933 A Crying Kôbô Daishi
82-2 12-12-1933 Annoying Kamisama Is Really School Burglar
83 4-7-1934 Kamisama Guilty of Embezzlement
83-2 4-18-1934 8-Month Jail Sentence Requested in Case of Bogus Kamisama
83-3 4-20-1934 Bogus Kamisama Sentenced to 5-months in Prison
84 5-30-1934 Sweeping Roundup of Bogus Therapists: Hachinohe Police in Undercover Investigation
85 6-20-1934 Kamisama Revealed in Mold and Scribblings
87 8-7-1934 Kamisama's Violence
88 8-19-1934 Kamisama Found in Sea at Ajigasawa
89 10-8-1934 Raping Called "Faith Healing"
90 10-12-1934 Phony Kamisama Arrested
89-2 10-19-1934 Indictment Handed down in Faith-Healing Rape Case
89-3 12-12-1934 4-Year Sentence Demanded in Case of Takada Faith Healer
89-4 12-18-1934 Faith Healer Sentenced to 4 Years
91 12-28-1935 Former Husband Demands Kamisama for Restoration of Marital Ties
92 1-15-1936 Faith Healer on a Roll
93 1-15-1936 Gold Coins To Be Found? Miko's Oracle
93-2 7-16-1936 Kakizaki Family Haunted by Miko
94 8-1-1936 Kamisama in Blackmail and Fraud
95 8-27-1936 Kamisama Panics! Meets Man He Deceives.
96 8-27-1936 The Bane of Ignorant Superstitions: Parents Responsible in Beating Death?
96-2 8-28-1936 How Cruel! Oshirasama Used to Break Ribs of "Fox Possession" Victim
96-3 10-11-1936 2-Year Sentence Demanded in Case of Superstitious Man Who Beat Daughter to Death
97 10-21-1936 Another Superstition Tragedy
98 11-15-1936 Pesky Ishigamisama
98-2 11-18-1936 Ishigami Case Solved in Takada Village
99 11-19-1936 Second Oshirasama Case: Faith Healing Leads to Death of Elderly
99-2 11-20-1936 Another Victim of Superstition
99-3 11-23-1936 Sick Victim's Mouth Blocked during Izuna Exorcism
99-4 11-27-1936 Three Indicted for Manslaughter in 2nd Izuna Incident
100 12-18-1936 Preaching to the Gods: 80 Faith Healers Hear Sermon from Aomori Police Chief Ôta
101 1-17-1937 Aomori Kamisama Plunders Itayanagi Area
102 1-20-1937 Offerings Spent Taking Women to Movies
101-2 1-21-1937 Self-Styled Kamisama Loots Village: Documents Accumulated by Itayanagi Police
103 2-3-1937 Living Kamisama of Eye Ailments Gives Treatments to 60 Farmers
104 2-24-1937 Possessed by a Fox--Dead Husband's Cat Seeks Revenge?
105 9-6-1937 Miko Deceived in Marriage Scam--Money Rolls In
105-2 10-9-1937 2-Years Sentence Handed Down in Miko Deception
106 1-31-1938 Digging for Yoshitsune's Armor: Spring Topics in Hachinohe
107 10-14-1938 Battle of Unseemly Kamisama: 3 Temples for 1 Deity
108 4-19-1939 Devotee of Inari-sama Drives Sick Woman Crazy
109 5-31-1939 Moral Havoc by Kamisama
110 7-24-1940 Five Members of Family Catch Typhyus through Superstition
111 8-11-1940 Killed by Kamisama? Suspicious Death of Mentally Disturbed Mother and Daughter
111-2 8-12-1940 Superstition Leads to Horrible Tragedy: "Fox-Spirit Exorcism"
112 10-17-1941 Faith Healing Leads to Incarceration
113 8-15-1944 Interest in Itako's Seance: Dr. Orikuchi's Observations

Table 2. Orthography Used for Folk Shamans

Name Men Women Gender Unknown
Itako 0 1 0
Itako = Kamisama 0 1 0
Itako = Miko 0 10 0
Miko 0 9 0
Kamisama = Itako [miko] 0 8 0
Kamisama 21 25 5
Kamisama = Kitôshi, etc. 11 0 0
Gomiso 1 0 0
Total (92) 33 54 5
Itako: 12
Miko: 27
Kamisama: 71

Table 3. Ages of Folk Shamans

(f=female; m=male)
Title Below 30 30-39 40-49 50-59 60+ Total
(Total women) 3 7 15 12 4 42
Itako (f)     1 1    
Itako = Kamisama (f)     1 1    
Itako = Miko (f) 1 1 2 2   6
Miko (f) 1   1 2 1 5
Kamisama = Miko (f) 1   3   1 5
Kamisama (f) 6 8 8 2 24  
kamisama (m) 2 7 1 3 1 14
Kamisama = Kitôshi, etc. (m) 1 1 6 2 0 10
(Total Men) 3 8 7 5 1 24

Table 4. Regional Distribution of Cases

City/County No. Cases City/County (current) No. Cases
Sannohe 9 Sannohe-gun 4
Hachinohe 8 Hachinohe-shi 13
Kamikita-gun 8 Kamikita-gun 5
Misawa-shi 1
Jûwada-shi 2
Shimokita-gun 3 Shimokita-gun 3
Higashi Tsugaru-gun 10 HigashiTsugaru-gun 0
Aomori-shi 30 Aomori-shi 40
Minami Tsugaru-gun 11 Minami Tsugaru-gun 7
Kuroishi-shi 3
Naka Tsugaru-gun 7 Naka Tsugaru-gun 3
Hirosaki-shi 9 Hirosaki-shi 14
Kita Tsugaru-gun 12 Kita Tsugaru-gun 8
Goshogawara-shi 4
Nishi Tsugaru-gun 2 Nishi Tsugaru-gun 2
Other prefectures 2 Other prefectures 2
Total 111 Total 111

Table 5. Articles Relating to Tenrikyô (1897-1900)

[Glossary: tenri-kyo]">
Year Date Headline
1898 2-20 Tenrikyô Offices Refused Permit
5-17 The Bane of Tenrikyô
1899 1-29 Popularity of Tenrikyô (Unethical Behavior)
2-18 Believer in Tenrikyô Superstitions Kills Offspring
3-11 Investigation of Immoral Religion
3-17 Another Immoral Religion Appears
5-30 Letter from Hirosaki (secret*)
12-5 Tenrikyô Soldiers Leave for the Front
1900 4-6 Investigation of Immoral Religion
4-24 Another Tenrikyô Church Appears, Beckoning to Bankruptcy
4-26 Letter from Hirosaki: The Gate of Tenrikyô
6-20 Shintô Church not Recognized
8-24 Construction Completed on Tenrikyô Building

*NOTE: The meaning of "secret" in this headline is obscure.

Table 6. Growth of Spiritualist-Oriented Groups in Aomori (Taishô Period, ca. 1912-1926)

1916 9-30 Introduction of Spiritualists
Tells that Nagafuku Nobuzô, head of Shinreikai, plans to pay visit to Aomori City.
1917 9-29 News of a Spiritualist Confraternity in Goshogawara
Kanada Manjirô, known as famous spiritualist, pays visit to area.
1918 6-2 Self-Cure Health Techniques in Ayakawaseki
Demonstration in Aomori City.
10-17 Hypnotism Today
Suzuki Shûô, President of the Great Japan Association of Psychology, gives lecture in the public auditorium, Aomori City.
10-19 About Hypnotic Therapy
(Continues from previous article). Tells about full auditorium conditions due to many attendees at lecture.
10-22 Specialist in Moxa Cautery and Acupunture to Visit Hirosaki
Specialist from Maezawa-chô in Iwate-ken visits Hirosaki City.
1919 12-14 Ômotokyô Lecture
Two representatives from Ômoto Church in Ayabe give lecture at Aomori Kindergarten.
12-17 Same as above.
Another lecture to be given at Shimo Kita-gun County Offices.
1920 5-7 Ômoto Sermon
Yoshiwara Makoto gives lectures at kindergarten in Aomori City.
1923 8-23 Psychic Gives Demonstration
Rev. Komori gives demonstration at prefectural offices.
6-28 Mr. Arai Gives Demonstration of Psychic Energy at Headquarters.
Arai Terutake, of the Arai Psychic Energy Method of Body-Mind Discipline.
9-27 Lecture on Self-Cure Health Techniques
Held at the Shichinohe Elementary School.
11-25 Lantern Procession of Self-Cure Advocates
In Kome-chô, Aomori City.
1925 9-17 Spiritualism Lectures.
Takariki Tesshû, head of Japan Psychological Training Asociation, gives lecture on mental power, and transformational psychology and spiritualism at Aomori City Public Auditorium.

Table 7. Yuta Hunts of the Shôwa Period, as seen in the Ôsaka asahi shinbun (Kagoshima and Okinawa editions).

[Prepared based on Ôhashi Hidetoshi, "Okinawa shamanizumu no rekishi: yuta kin'atsu no shosô to haikei" (see note 11)]

September 26, 1937: Strict Suppression of Deviant Religion of Yuta.
Departmental head of Special Higher Police reveals policies for investigation.
July 3, 1938: Don't Be Misled by Superstitions.
48 persons arrested at one time.
March 18, 1939: Yuta Arrested.
States that the number of yuta arrested in July of previous year was some 350; this time, some 200 were arrested.
April 11, 1939: Absurd Yuta.
States that on the seventeenth of last month a total of some 150 male and female yuta were roused from their sleep and arrested.
October 9, 1941: Ringleader of Demagogues
Arrest of about a dozen yuta.
October 23, 1941: Wholesale Arrest of Yuta.
Forty persons arrested by the nine police stations throughout the prefecture.
July 3, 1942: Eradication of Yuta for Defeat of Superstition

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$Date: 2000/11/09 05:48:01 $
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