Occult Hunting and Supernatural Play in Japan
- About the Book
In Japan today, women are the primary drivers of religious re-enchantment, and they are exerting pressure on shrines, temples, and the media industries to accommodate their interests and aesthetic tastes. Employing a semantically broad meaning of “occult” to include the mysterious or supernatural, Laura Miller examines how it manifests to offer avenues of self-exploration and spiritual capital that fundamentally appeal to women. Female seekers have had a major impact on the fashioning and marketing of spiritual sites, texts, and objects, often through encoding the kawaii, or cute, aesthetic. Miller makes the case that the gendered nature of occult hunting has been neglected in research and that greater attention to gendered perspectives reveals significant facets of sociality and recreation.
Written from an interdisciplinary cultural studies perspective, Occult Hunting and Supernatural Play in Japan interlaces history, art, literature, religion, media studies, and anthropology to explore ubiquitous yet understudied activities such as having one’s fortune told; visiting “power spots,” locations thought to hold exceptional supernatural energy; and playing with new types of tarot decks. Book chapters also focus on material religion, including objects like good luck amulets and votive plaques, Taoist paper talismans, pilgrim stamps, and ancient curved beads called magatama. Tracing their histories and transformations, Miller insists that these forms of visual and material religion and their related activities are neither trivial nor simply commercial gambits. Rather, they provide insights into the realms of creative exploration, pleasure, and spiritual development in the lives of girls and young women.
- About the Author(s)
Laura Miller, AuthorLaura Miller is Ei’ichi Shibusawa-Seigo Arai Endowed Professor of Japanese Studies and professor of history at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.