Monday, April 15, 2019

「Visual Anthropology of Japan: Neighborhood Fall Festival」Presentation at AJJ 2019 Spring Workshop @ Minpaku

Anthropology of Japan in Japan 2019 Spring Workshop
April 20-21, 2019
The National Museum of Ethnology (Minpaku), Suita City, Osaka

See schedule below for other presentations.

「Visual Anthropology of Japan: Neighborhood Fall Festival」
Sunday, April 21, 2019
14:30, Conference Room 6

Abstract: For over fifteen years, I have been living in Shirogaki-cho in Kadoma City, Osaka Prefecture, a small bedroom community conveniently located between a busy train station and two major expressways. While I know a few people who live close to me, most of my neighbors are strangers, especially those people moving into the new apartment buildings that are increasingly replacing the traditional-style homes. However, there is a small group of families and individuals that organize and participate in neighborhood festivals and events. The largest of these events is the Fall Festival; for two days these people push and pull a large wooden cart called a danjiri around the neighborhood to bestow blessings from the Shinto gods of the local shrine. Navigating the danjiri is hard work, because the cart is heavy and awkward to steer through the narrow and winding streets. Many people in the neighborhood watch the danjiri from their doorways or windows as it passes by their houses. Some people give small cash contributions. I have always been amazed by how few people participate in this local grand festival. Are they too busy? Or do they not care about the festival? In this presentation I will offer a visual ethnography of the Shirogaki-cho Fall Festival and its participants through photos and autoethnographic vignettes. Over the years my participant-observation role has moved from event photographer to major pusher (with the latter being a more appreciated contribution). The Kishiwada Danjiri Festival is more popular and familiar to the public because of its competitive (and dangerous) danjiri races. My study is influenced by Ronald Dore's neighborhood study approach (1958) and Eyal Ben-Ari's discussion of volunteer organizations that constitute the community (1991). Similar to Ted Bestor's monograph (1989) and film (1992), I focus on themes such as local identity, the perceived threat of culture change and strong community bonding (even if only among a small group of neighbors).

There are a lot of good presentations at this year's spring workshop. For some more visual anthropology I would especially recommend Lucile Druet's Saerubi: collecting kimono in Japan and abroad, (Sunday, 4/21, 13:30). See you at Minpaku!

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