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  • Akiko

God in yourself


The work of ethno(musicologist) is to translate the words of one's field into the words of his own culture.

I understand that encoding is our mission.

The musicologists are supposed to work on the music. However, I noticed that for one occasion in which the music is used only communication tool between the gods and the human beings, it is much more important to analyse how people recognise their spirituality. Without it, we cannot understand their musical actions in religious context.

In short, I love listen to people's ideas rather than mechanical music analysis. In official interview, people are stressed to tell me something, sophisticated, reasonable and rationale. When we just chat tiny things, sometimes they suddenly start to give me their wisdoms or important informations. I am shy Japanese, totally not good at communication. I feel as if I am opening a treasure box. It is rare but very precious.

I want to share one episode with a old woman at restaurant in the mountain. Hopefully my explanation is enough good to transmit the lesson.

One day in early morning, I had to wait hours and hours in the mountainside village to get the bus. There are only few houses, and only one small restaurant. It was such a cold day, I couldn't wait outside. Then I asked a woman cleaning outside of her restaurant. She willingly welcomed me into her restaurant, gave me a cup of tea, and we discussed during her preparation.

In very often case, Japanese consider themselves as non-religious. But it is certain that Japanese, especially elders, are very religious. For Japanese religion in which there are no dogma, the expressions of their faith are only held by their actions. I mean, only by doing something ritual, Japanese practice their religion; participate to religious festival, give a cup of tea and rice every morning in front of alter, visit to their ancestral grave, etc.

According to Luis Frois, Japanese seek to material benefits to the gods and look for one's spiritual development into Buddhism. Certainly, people look for the answers of their religious questions such as why we are born into this world, where we will go after our death, why we get accros so many difficulties, etc) outside of Shintoistic custom.

While Shinto customs ask you your sociality to achieve one ceremony with your neighbours, the Buddhist customs is very intime. In Japanese society, people should not show their ego but live for social benefits. Who you should be is a suitable membre of the community where you are belong to, and the society is indifferent to individual mental development (without afraid critics). So talk about your spirituality or religious view are taboo.

Coming back to the episode with a old woman at restaurant, we were discussing about the mariage. Suddenly she started to tell me with great passion. There are religions. People sometimes recommend her to enter believe in certain religion. But she thinks that the religion is not for individual internal development but for commerce or social benefits. The gods do anything. (In Japan, no different between gods and mankind. They are considered having bad feelings, sometimes bring us infortune.) Her god is inside of her and it is totally not the GOD or GODS. It is always question of the communication between her and internal her. It was never the connection between others and her (means that in Japanese society, social pression is very high.)

She participates Shinto festivals, give offrandes to the alters, recite sutras. Otherwise her real religious practice is to believe in her. This is what she saids the faith.

There are no bible in Shintoism and we hardly listen to preaching of Buddhist monk. But sometimes, someone unexpected suddenly start to give us very important lesson such as a message of gods. This is why Japanese think themselves as no-religious.


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