Matsuri: Festival and Rite in Japanese Life
[Table of Contents]

The Sensation of MatsuriI


I first began to take an interest in subject of matsuri[Glossary: matsuri] back in 1960, just at the time I came to Tokyo University's Faculty of Literature; it was a time in turmoil over the renewal of the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty. Since I tend to be easily influenced by whatever is happening around me, I found myself in no time taking part in demonstrations. In June one of the students from the Department of Literature was killed during the riots inside the National Diet grounds, and things seemed to become even more passionate than before. It must have been on May 19 that, amidst the confusion, the vote on the Security Treaty was forced through the Diet. Thereafter, a mere Diet resolution brought it into force of law at midnight of June 19.

It was during the last demonstrations, when it appeared certain that no matter how much people continued to demonstrate it would amount to nothing more than a kind of symbolic display, that a very large number of groups (and, after the breathtaking excitement I experienced there, it is hard to imagine any future occasions drawing me and such a large number of other people to such a large number of streets) broke up after demonstrating in front of the Prime Minister's official residence. Since I was exhausted from the long walk, I went drinking in the Ginza area with some of the students from Tokyo University's Department of Religious Studies.

It was then that one of the students - now a university professor himself - said to me, "Well, this is over. From tomorrow, it's back to the books again." Just when we were feeling totally drained over the fact that one more governmental policy had been decided through a process seemingly as unstoppable as time itself, he had to bring us back to mundane reality with the bluntness of his remark.

His words at that time left me with a deep impression, namely, the possibility that even something like the intense political struggle in which we had been involved might be viewed as a matsuri; that was the first time that I had the feeling that it could be grasped in that manner. Viewed in that way, it might be said that the style of the parade, the raised voices, the "wasshoi" yelled by demonstrators (the same as that heard in the rhythm of the mikoshi[Glossary: omikoshi][Glossary: mikoshi] procession) , and such other things as the various colorful banners and flags also make up one kind of matsuri, or too, the kind of statement after the festival is over and we return again to the profane world - "tomorrow, it's back to the books." This provided for me a most important experience about the possibility of viewing political activities or social movements together with religion. It was as a result of that experience that I began my research into matsuri, out of the hope that by studying it, I might come to understand better one aspect of the Japanese people's way of life.

Eight years later, we came up against the university riots of 1968. At that time, too, I felt that such movements could be viewed in conjunction with the rubric of matsuri; in fact, such comments have been made since then by a substantial number of different people, whether in reference to the helmets and masks people were wearing - in a sense their costumes1 - or the creation of a kind of liberated space, or again the extremely destructive tendencies displayed, and so forth. There was one big difference, however: although I felt at the time of the Security Treaty demonstrations that the proceedings were a kind of festival, I didn't say so with a very loud voice. The reason was simply that had I intimated that this movement - a movement people were participating in with great seriousness - was "merely a festival," they might have taken it as a contemptuous slight. As a result, I circumspectly refrained from openly expressing my feelings on the matter.

But in case of the riots which occurred from 1968 to 1970, even those people taking positions of leadership within the movement itself said at times that what they were leading was a festival.2 If so, then the consciousness of people regarding festivals seems to have changed in the interval of only a few years.

I began my study of matsuri with the festival of the Chichibu Shrine[Glossary: chichibu_jinja] in Saitama Prefecture. Since the passage of the mikoshi and especially the dashi[Glossary: dashi] (festival floats) represented a traffic concern along the route, there were frequent meetings with the police before the festival. But what the people of the town found especially annoying was the fact that the police were reluctant to give permission for the procession to pass along the traditional festival route. For their part, the police weren't about to close the national highway - that great artery of commerce - for the likes of an omikoshi[Glossary: omikoshi] procession, and this fact resulted in recurring arguments and confrontations.

Since that time, the concept of "pedestrian heaven" - the closing of streets on certain days to allow only pedestrian traffic - or the "liberating" of streets to allow festival processions to pass, has become commonplace. Here, too, it appears that a great change in thinking has taken place over the interval of a brief few years.

Numerous methods are possible for the study of matsuri, among them the traditional method of investigating the history of the festival. But some people - and I have been among them - have attempted to approach the study of matsuri not merely as a problem of history, but of function, namely the way in which the matsuri influences or operates on the people involved. In the sociology or anthropology of religion this method is called functionalism, and when taking this approach, one analyzes the nature of the social group supporting the festival in order to find the role of the festival in the lives of the people. Put bluntly, matsuri is viewed for its role in integrating the hearts and minds of the people, or giving them a spiritual sense of unity.

While this kind of general theory can be achieved, one must then address the question - with regard to the concrete role of the festival - what is the nature of the group actually supporting the matsuri? Is it the family (ie), the kinship group (dôzoku[Glossary: dozoku]), the overall village, or some particular group within the village? In the specific context of matsuri to talk merely about spiritual integration within society seems to leave something to be desired, or to omit what it is that makes a matsuri a matsuri. Namely, if it is merely a matter of spiritual integration, then virtually any other ritual or aspect of religion could be said to have the same function.

On the other hand, to speak of matsuri without any further definitional strictures may be too broad when referring to the Japanese context. As a result, some people have recently begun using the term shukusai as a translation for the English "festival" in order to express the sense of a ritual which mobilizes a large number of people, incorporating frequent ceremonial aspects while simultaneously adding elements of recreation, so that the overall tone becomes one of a kind of celebration or rejoicing.

When matsuri is thought of as the ritual defined in this way (and if the honorific o is attached as in o-matsuri, this kind of feeling of "festivity" may be expressed even more strongly), what kind of methodology should we adopt in order to bring out the essential "matsuri-ness" or fundamental festival nature of such rituals?

Here, rather than looking for the function of the festival, one focuses on its structure, a methodology which I, too, have attempted.3 When a festival is viewed in particular as a kind of drama, or performance, we have to ask first what kind of plot, or scenario it depicts, and from there investigate where the essential nature of the festival, its essential characteristics, are revealed.

The fruits of this kind of structural research can be seen in the work of such foreign scholars as Edmund Leach 4 and Victor Turner, 5 and it has appeared in numerous forms within Japanese research as well; among the publications I have seen just this past year I might list Kurahayashi Shôji's Matsuri no kôzô, Muratake Seiichi's Kami, kyôdôtai, hôjô (this work deals primarily with Okinawan festivals), or Sonoda Minoru's "Shukusai to seihan," appearing in the November edition of Shisô.II

When viewing the structure of a matsuri in this way, its characteristics appear to involve two radically divergent elements. One is the element of extreme solemnity and formality, while on the other hand there is also what might be called a coarse, or even obscene, aspect, the element of informality. As a result, a matsuri appears to contain both an extremely formally correct, "polite" side together with a side representing impropriety or disruption of order, and the structural methodology thus attempts to find the essence of a matsuri in the contrast between these two sides.

Included within this same kind of analysis is the attempt to view the symbolic elements of the participants' world view as reflected within a matsuri, such as in the motifs of male versus female, or west versus east, and so forth.

A related point of view would indicate the fact that a festival may begin with an extremely solemn ritual, in the midst of which follows an occurrence which introduces a kind of revelry totally at variance with the initial solemn atmosphere. This kind of analysis would note that a matsuri contains an exaggeration of these kinds of polar elements which would be unthinkable in normal everyday life. Or again, such contrasts may be viewed diachronically as part of a process in which formality is emphasized at one point and familiarity at another.

All of these viewpoints deal with the structure of a matsuri, and this methodology has produced results of considerable value both in Europe and America as well as in Japan.

There are many things about matsuri which can be illuminated by using these methodologies; I would like to use this opportunity, however, not to merely reiterate the results of past research, but to introduce a rather different perspective on the problem. This position is one which I have just begun to consider, with the result that my comments do not represent a fully thought-out methodological stance, but I hope to receive helpful criticisms on whether it seems feasible to use it as another means of studying festivals from a standpoint somewhat at variance from structural and functional theories.

To begin, let me introduce as an example, a brief quotation from one of the works I noted earlier; "When carrying the mikoshi with an empty mind (mushin), a person enters state akin to a religious ecstasy."6

This statement is in relation to the mikoshi, the divine palanquin carried during a Japanese festival; if it is the case that this matsuri has a great fascination something akin to a religious ecstasy (as someone has noted, the carrying of the mikoshi has become quite popular among young people recently) - if this carrying of the mikoshi is the way to ecstasy, then in the context of the problem of the structure of matsuri, the entry into a state of ecstasy can be treated in a quite conceptual way.

For example. Turner speaks of everyday structure, of our everyday lives, against which the period of matsuri would represent a completely different order, one which he calls "antistructure," the emergence of a different world.7 However, while it is understandable how that other world comes about in the sense of structure - and structuralism can point to the fact that it does emerge - the problem of why it is that this ecstasy, or antistructure totally disrupting the everyday order emerges in the middle of matsuri, or under what conditions that world emerges, is not sufficiently explained.

Even if I am unable, however, to experientially grasp, to intuit this world of o-matsuri. I can say that I have felt similar situations. For example, during the university riots the fact that the normal "teacher-student" relationship was at times reversed. Such reversals were evident on such occasions as the mass struggle sessions (taishû dankô) and criticism rallies (tsuikyû shûkai), but in these cases, while it was certainly true that everyday order was overturned and that a kind of antistructure came about - somewhat like men's wearing women's clothes and vice versa during a festival - and that this kind of antistructure or anti-order can be expressed on the level of structure, there is something else involved. When we attempt to narrow down the central aspects of a matsuri - and I bring this up since it bears on the title of my presentation today - we must consider the problem of sensation; for example, when we talk about a kind of ecstasy in the context of matsuri, how do we treat the problem of the sensations of people who accept or enter into that state?

Allow me to give an illustration. Recently the Japan Culture Institute issued a work called One Hundred Things about Japan,8 a work in which foreigners with an interest in Japan were asked to write about various aspects of Japanese culture, from furoshiki to "instant ramen," from kotatsu to chanbara. One of the entries deals with matsuri, and since it is relatively short, let me quote from it here, as written by the author, William Currie:

Recently I dug up some old notes scribbled in a diary after I had attended my first matsuri almost fifteen years ago. I had just arrived in Japan, and went with some friends to the annual festival[Glossary: taisai] of the Hachiman[Glossary: hachiman] Shrine in Kamakura. My diary notes are sketchy, but still I don't have any trouble recalling the combination of wonder and exhilaration I experienced that day, because the same feeling has been repeated many times during the last fifteen years.

Carnivals and street fairs were not new to me, nor were outdoor religious festivals and processions. But the mixture of the sacred and the profane, the solemn and the earthy, rich symbolism and gaudy hucksterism - this was something I had not experienced before. I had the feeling that if one could understand the spirit of the matsuri, then one would have gone a long way toward understanding the Japanese way of looking at the world.

...Recently I attended the Night Festival at Chichibu, on the outskirts of Tokyo, one of the most colorful matsuri in all of Japan. All the elements were there that make the matsuri an exciting event: expectant crowds of people gradually becoming more and more involved in the action; the ceaseless rhythm of drums and jingling, bell-like instruments; the wild procession of mikoshi, or "temporary dwelling places of the gods," weaving in and out through the crowds.

What makes the Chichibu festival particularly colorful is the brightness radiating from the hundreds of lanterns strung around the mikoshi, in this case large, three-tiered floats which have to be pulled by several men with long, sturdy ropes. The stalwart young (and not so young) men pulling the floats and riding on them showed more than the usual degree of "divine intoxication" expected of mikoshi bearers, with sake and contagious enthusiasm providing most of the intoxication. As a background to all this, the winter sky was lit up constantly by a spectacular fireworks display that continued through the evening.9

I have written elsewhere10 that when the American scholar A. Sadler first saw the matsuri of the Yasukuni Shrine[Glossary: yasukuni_jinja], he said that he was most taken aback by the fact that among the various vendors' stalls lining the approach to the shrine, there was also a striptease act. He couldn't understand how such naked dancing was permitted within the shrine precincts[Glossary: keidai] together with the solemn aspect of a festival honoring the spirits of the war dead. After I wrote of this incident, Sadler complained that it wasn't he that had made the remark, but rather a certain missionary whom he (Sadler) was quoting, so I must here make amends for what I said in my previous essay. At any rate, according to Sadler's interpretation, the missionary asked the shrine priest why such a thing was allowed, but the priest merely replied, "What can I do about it?" From this it is apparent that in matsuri there are areas over which even the religious leaders do not have complete control. Not only the various spectacles or exhibits which one finds at festivals, but also the mikoshi and the festival floats as well fall under the purview of the local community or assembly of shrine parishioners, and this fact involves a very delicate relationship between such people and the shrine or its religious leaders. In some cases it may even involve considerable confrontation.

In that sense, when the matsuri is viewed structurally, it can be seen to involve a dualism, or a situation comprised of opposed elements. At the same time, when we look near the end of Currie's description, he talks about the vivid colorfulness, the wildness of the mikoshi procession, the sounds of drum, flute, and bell, or the beauty of the Chinese lanterns. In other words, rather than merely a matter of structure, there seems to be a kind of raw experience into which such elements themselves draw not only participants, but observers as well.

I want to tentatively label this phenomenon the "sensation" or "sensory side" of matsuri. Here, the definition of sensation becomes problematic, but let us offer the formal definition of "the various concrete conscious experiences occurring as the result of the stimulation of specific sense organs, sense nerves, or the sensing portion of the brain." Though not a specialist in psychology, the first thing that comes to my mind from this definition are what mere common sense would call the "five senses."

Granted this definition, the kinds of things which were noted in the earlier passage I quoted about matsuri, namely its color, or sounds, or the pain of bearing the mikoshi thus become problems of hearing, or sight, or touch, or again in the case of the foods typically consumed at festivals, the "taste" of matsuri. When I have my students write reports of matsuri, they often say they recall the odor of acetylene gas, thus bringing in the sense of smell as well.

In other words, when we take up the problem of matsuri, rather than as a matter of religious faith, it is in the form of sensations that the phenomenon is recorded in our memories. As a result, can we not say that many aspects of present-day matsuri involve problems of the senses?

The fact that, as I noted earlier, studies of festivals in America and Europe are being greatly advanced is due in part to historical conditions. Thus there are theologians like Harvey Cox who try to revive in the present age the spirit of the medieval Catholic "feast of fools."11 Or again, Alan Watts, the author of numerous introductions to Zen, said12 with regard to the rituals of Christianity that originally (and by this he was referring to a return to the spirit of ancient Christianity as he understood it) , the bread and wine used in the mass must have been regarded as delicacies. A gradual shift occurred, however, away from wine which was delicious in the sense of taste, or wine which might cause intoxication, or again, away from bread which was sensually delicious, to a more abstract concept of these things, until the bread now used in the mass is no more than a tiny white, tasteless, plastic-like fragment. And he likewise laments that in some conservative denominations which prohibit the consumption of alcohol, the original wine has even been replaced by grape juice.

In this case, the festivals of Christianity have become extremely abstract, and if we ask what it is in the process of that abstraction or normalization that such festivals have become separated from, we might say that, rather than their having become detached from symbols, they have become progressively detached from the senses.

If we then were to attempt an expression of the concept of the matsuri using different words, whether the very simple definition introduced earlier or something else, we might say that a matsuri involves taking the conscious states received through the senses, namely sensual experience, and indulging it, or using it to the greatest possible limits, without begrudging or restricting it in any way.

In other words, in the context of the five senses, there is sound - the sounds of music or even the noisy uproar - or color - the red and white of Japanese festivals, or whatever other color forms the basic tones of the festival - and there are aromas. It is thus not impossible to define a festival as a ritual in which these things are, to use a somewhat negative term, "exploited" to the fullest as a kind of instrument or tool.

When viewed in this light, the problem of matsuri can be linked to one of the methodological streams which I noted earlier, a stream which considers the problem of our attitudes toward the body, or the "flesh" (although it may sound a bit crude). Among us, and even more within Christianity, there has been a considerably strong sense of dualism. As a result, since sensation is a kind of conscious experience which occurs through our bodies, the acceptance of this kind of physical sense impression and the signification which it brought with it, was viewed with considerable suspicion.

In contrast, others would say rather that the body and mind are more closely interrelated, and that there are problems involving the fleshly, physical body which cannot be resolved by the kind of dualistic view which claims merely that the spirit is pure and the body impure.

Although not dealing specifically with the problem of matsuri, let me give another example. Robert Ellwood, an American scholar of religion who has done research in Japan on Japanese religion, wrote Religious and Spiritual Groups in Modern America13 in 1973. As a scholar of religious studies, Ellwood visited various religious organizations, one of which was an American Zen center.

At the Zen center, the rôshi appeared and gave Ellwood a kôan, which in effect ran as follows: "You!" he said, "You are a professor of religion. Do you believe in God?!" As a scholar of religion, Ellwood is quite adept at explaining religious faith, so he opened his mouth to speak, but each time he attempted to say something, the rôshi struck him with a stick. The rôshi wasn't merely questioning the validity of general arguments for God, but as Ellwood relates the story, the rôshi asked him, " NOW! NOW how do you believe in God!?" So Ellwood would sit and think some more on the "now," and consider the problem of his own recent experiences of God. But whenever he mentioned such things to the rôshi, he was whacked again with the stick. He realized that the problem of "NOW!" meant not the past, not the future, but right NOW, but since the appropriate answer wouldn't come to him he just remained in zazen. It was then that the word "now" spoken by the rôshi came to mean to him not a temporal "now," but a now which has been taken out of the realm of time. Since this is the experience of someone else I can't express it well, but according to Ellwood, the instant that he came to understand that word was pointing to a timeless state of rapture, he himself wondered whether he hadn't experienced a satori. Namely, his head became emptied, his body felt extremely light, almost like he had risen several centimeters above the mat floor. And he felt that he himself had entered satori, a state without time.

Since Ellwood is a Christian believer, he took the experience back to his church and spoke of it, whereupon a certain doctor told him that the experience had resulted from Ellwood's sitting in the unnatural position of zazen for two or three hours; Ellwood's blood flow had become stagnant, resulting in a kind of cranial insufficiency.

Ellwood, however, replied that, while from the traditional Christian way of thinking it would be improper to go from the physiological condition of pressure on the legs to a state of mental excitement, or for a spiritual experience to be produced from a physically sensual one, were the Zen rôshi to hear such a comment, he would no doubt retort that since mind and body are originally one, there can be no impropriety in using such a physiological process to achieve satori. Ellwood thus introduces this episode as an example of what might be called "Oriental" thinking, or non-Christian, non-Western thought.

In this sense, the problem of the body figures greatly in the subject of matsuri. As a result, were I to study festivals in the context of this kind of problem, I would likely use the following kind of classification. Namely, in addition to the normally considered five senses, I would add bodily senses which are - from the standpoint of psychology - other than the normal five. Among them I would include (and there seems to be numerous theories about these) the sense of balance, represented by the organs in the ear which, when damaged, cause the sensation of dizziness or impression of vertigo, together with the motor senses, and internal organ or visceral sensations, all of these being bodily sensations in addition to what are commonly conceived as the "five senses."

Take for example, the motor organs. In a matsuri there are various competitions, parades, dancing, and the bearing of the mikoshi as noted earlier. These all involve sensations coming from certain motor activities, although needless to say, motor activities also involve the previously mentioned five senses. With regard to the visceral sensations one might note feelings of hunger or nausea, and here, too, like the feelings which occur during fasting or abstinence from certain foods, or when one eats or drinks too much, these all involve a kind of sensation within the internal organs.

If so, then we have here the "ecstasy" of matsuri which was noted by one writer whom I quoted earlier, although it may not have been entirely ecstatic. But if a matsuri is not merely a foolish uproar but a religious activity as well, then within it there must be the feeling that the people have somehow been reborn, or that they have touched something extremely fresh and new. And the conscious experiences that occur here have all occurred as the result of sensations.

I earlier presented the example of Zen as a kind of analogy, but since I myself have not yet seen matsuri through those eyes I won't use such extraneous anecdotes here. Whether in ecstasy or more subdued mode of feeling, however, people feel therein that they themselves have changed, and such experiences arise from physical sensations.

Or again, certain states of consciousness occur from people's physiological condition, such as the musical rhythm in the matsuri, or the noise, or again the flags of various colors, the Chinese lanterns and costumes, the food, the mikoshi. the smells, or again the sense of balance and the motor activities accompanying it, and the sensations arising from the internal organs. All of these things are exploited to the fullest within the festival. Or on the contrary, in the case of fasting, the consumption of foods may be restricted to the extreme, so that festivals may involve both the aspects of dietary restriction and of gorging on unlimited quantities of food.

At any rate, the matsuri is uniquely characteristic among the religious activities which find their origins in these senses and human sensations. If this is so, then it may be possible to say that the matsuri is more an "emotional" than intellectual experience. At the same time, it may well be that without attention to the more fundamental origin, namely the sensations from which these emotions spring, then mere recourse to the structure of the matsuri, the way it's put together, may not produce an understanding of the matsuri as a whole.

One of the thorniest problems in this regard is the issue of "symbolism." Immense interest and advances have been shown in the research into symbolism over the past decade or so. For an example, one might look at the popular Reader in Comparative Religions by Lessa and Vogt.14 This work, a collection of readings including selections from old classics as well as the most recent researches, was first published in 1958, and in that first edition the problem of symbolism was covered in a single chapter entitled "Myth and Ritual." In the 1965 edition, in addition to "Myth and Ritual," there was also a separate chapter on "Symbolism." Then, in 1972 the third edition included chapters on "Symbolism " "Classification of Symbols," one on "Myths," and another on "Ritual," thus making four entire chapters directly dealing with the problem of symbols. The subject of symbols has thus come to garner a great deal of interest, and since matsuri is wrapped up with symbols, rituals, and myths, it has an immense number of symbolic elements.

At the same time, when the problem of sensation is considered in the context of these other issues, it becomes doubtful whether a festival can be summed up merely as a system of symbols.

For example, note the following description of matsuri, taken from one of the works I mentioned earlier:15 "The mobilization of various symbols to the greatest extent, including the seething music and dance, as well as the effects of abundant fire, light, and color." Certainly, this sentence well expresses the characteristics of matsuri, but if there is one aspect of it about which I feel reserve, it is in the assertion that a festival is "symbols, including music and dance, as well as the effects of abundant fire, light, and color." Namely, is a festival merely "symbols" alone?

As for defining the symbolic, - and here I offer the shortest definition I could find - a symbol is "something which stands for or represents something else."16 For instance, in a commonly used example, the color red may be utilized to mean "danger," or in another case, it may be adopted to stand for "socialism." In other words, red or the red flag, or the color red, are used to express a conceptual content, either a condition of danger, or something else.

The study of symbolism has a positive value that aids in the understanding of various elements within ourselves. For example, with regard to clothing, while one of its roles is merely the utilitarian, another of its functions may be to express social position, or social condition, namely, it has a role as a symbol. For example, since I have been invited to speak here today, my clothing for the occasion is expected to be a dull-colored suit, or clothing that is at least not unseemly; or again it is taken for granted that I will wear a necktie, and so forth.

In this sense, one's costume is a symbol. It is the symbolic function, rather than the utilitarian role of clothing which I emphasize here. When viewed in that light, we see that we have a wide variety of symbolic elements within us. And since found so widely, an entire branch of anthropology has even been christened - like a recent journal - with the name, "Symbolic Anthropology."17

At the same time, while clothing may be a symbol of social position, it must not be forgotten as well that it may have other utilitarian purposes aside from its original function in protection from the elements. Which is to say that, during a matsuri, we may see the colors red and white being utilized, for example, as symbols of male and female, as means of distinguishing men from women.

If we view a matsuri, however, as being something which calls up a sensual state of consciousness, or a state of consciousness through sensation, then the extremely rhythmical mood or sequence of drums and flutes, the effects brought about by colors, or the darkness and the fires burning at night - these, too, are all symbols, and they likewise bring about a certain state of excitement within us.

Whatever they be, such religious symbols call up within us what in general may be called a "sentiment of the holy" (seinaru kanjô). At the same time, the problem is not that such sentiments occur as a result of the particular symbols employed; the question is rather, what kind of sensual reaction - from the standpoint of the visual sense - do night or darkness and their accompanying colorless state, produce in us?

Or again, the mikoshi is itself another symbol, one which is extremely noble and holy; but at the same time, the act of carrying the mikoshi. feeling the weight of it, calls up in us through our tactile sense a certain state of consciousness. The same can be said for the noise, or for the power of the alcohol in the sake which people drink, and if such things are called merely a system of symbols, or when all the things which appear within the matsuri are relegated merely to various combinations of symbols, the aspect of matsuri as sensation is, so to speak, discarded.

The fear within people's minds in the darkness of night does not occur merely because the night is a symbol of something. On the contrary, I feel that it is, again, a kind of sensual reaction that occurs in us prior to such thought about symbols.18

In that sense, in a matsuri, people are enabled to reach a kind of state of trance or ecstasy through physiological conditions, a state which, in an extremely deviant form, is also experienced by those in the modern-day drug culture who take hallucinogens. The problem, however, remains: within this kind of religious state, what kind of relationship does our consciousness - the psychological consciousness which occurs within people - have with the sensation of surrounding conditions? I have yet to do any specific research in this area, and a rereading of my several previous essays indicates that I was not then considering the problem of sensation at all. As a result, it seems likely that, lacking some kind of specific methodological program introduced from the beginning, mere reinterpretation of earlier studies will not be fruitful in this area. This, I feel, is another matter for future investigation.

Although I have misgivings about the creation of various neologisms for disciplines within the study of religion, if pressed to give a title for this new area of research, I suppose it would fall somewhere within the realm of "religious ecology," or "ethology." Such Religious Ethology,19 I should think, forms another most important problem area for the study of religions.


1. Yamaguchi Masao, "Ushinawareta sekai no fukken" [Restoration of a lost world]. Mikai to bunmei [Primitives and civilization]. (Heibonsha, 1969), 29.

2. Yanagawa Keiichi, "Matsuri no kôzô kara mita Nihon no shûkyô no tokusei" [The characteristics of Japanese religion as seen in festivals], in Ikado Fujio and Yoshida Mitsukuni eds., Nihonjin no shûkyô [The religion of the Japanese] (Tokyo : Tankôsha, 1970), 127-134.

3. Yanagawa Keiichi, "Matsuri no shingaku to matsuri no kagaku" [The theology and science of matsuri], Shisô, 569 (November 1971), 57-72.

4. Edmund Leach, "Two Essays Concerning the Symbolic Representation of Time," in Rethinking Anthropology (London: The Athlone Press, 1961), 124-136.

5. Victor Turner, Dramas, Fields, and Metaphors (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1974), in particular, Chapter 1.

6. Kurahayashi Shôji, Matsuri no kôzô [The structure of matsuri] (Tokyo : Nihon Hôsô Shuppan Kyôkai 1975), see especially "Introduction."

7. Victor Turner, The Ritual Process (Chicago: Adline, 1969).

8. A Hundred Things Japanese (Tokyo: Japan Culture Institute, 1969)

9. William Currie, "Matsuri," in A Hundred Things Japanese, 20-21.

10. Yanagawa Keiichi, "Matsuri no shingaku to matsuri no kagaku," 68.

11. Harvey Cox, The Feast of Fools (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1969) .

Cox's view regarding the experience of festivals, as outlined in his recent The Seduction of the Spirit (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1973) was introduced to Japanese readers in Yanagawa Keiichi's, "Matsuri no shûkyôgaku-II" [A religious studies' perspective on matsuri] Gendai shûkyô, no. 3, (1975).

12. Alan Watts, Beyond Theology (New York: Vintage Books, 1973) , 138.

13. Robert S. Ellwood, Jr., Religious and Spiritual Groups in Modern America (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1973), 256-258.

14. William A. Lessa and Evon Z. Vogt, Reader in Comparative Religion (New York: Harper and Row, 1958, 1965, 1972).

15. Sonoda Minoru, "Shukusai to seihan" [Festival and sacred transgression] Shisô 617(1975), 74.

16. Lessa and Vogt, Op. Cit. (3rd Edition, 1972), 106.

17. See Symbolic Anthropology (1973). One may also take note of Melford E. Spiro's remark to the effect although this branch of anthropology began as a kind of intellectual underground movement, it was finally legitimated by the adoption of the appellation "symbolic anthropology " See Robert E. Spencer, ed., Forms of Symbolic Action (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1969), n.p.

18. This aspect is taken into account in Iwata Keiji "Yoru : shûkyô izen" [Night: before religion], Shokun 7:6(1975), 94-110.

19. A tentative move in this direction can be found in V.J. Vink, "Religious Ethology: Some Methodological Remarks," in Th. P. Baaren and H.J.W. Drijvers, Religion. Culture and Methodology (The Hague: Mouton, 1973) n.p., as well as Edgar Morin, Le Paradigme Perdu: La Nature Humaine (Paris: Editions du Seuil, 1973).

Translator's Notes

I. This article originally appeared under the title "Matsuri no kankaku" in Shûkyô kenkyû, 49 (March 1976), 223-242. The article was based on a tape recording made of Professor Yanagawa's presentation before the 34th Annual Convention of the Japanese Association for Religious Studies held at Tenri University, November 22-24, 1975.

II. Kurahayashi Shôji, Matsuri no Kôzô [The structure of matsuri] (Tokyo: Nihon Hôsô shuppan kyôkai, 1975); Muratake Seiichi, Kami, kyôdôtai, hôjô [Deity, community, fertility] (Tokyo: Miraisha, 1975); Sonoda Minoru "Shukusai to seihan" [Festival and sacred transgression] Shisô 617 (November 1975), 62-82. See Sonoda's article "Festival and Sacred Transgression" elsewhere in this volume.

Editor's Postscript

A. Yanagawa Keiichi (1926-1990). Professor Yanagawa joined the faculty at Kokugakuin University in 1986 after retiring as chairman of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Tokyo. For several articles about Professor Yanagawa's career and the importance of his work, see Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 13/2-3 (June-September 1986).

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