John Miles Foley, Founding Editor

Daimokutate: Ritual Placatory Performance of the Genpei War


This article explores the connections between a coming-of-age ritual in rural Japan and one of the important narratives underwriting the rise of Japan’s warrior class. the Genpei War that brought it to power in 1185. Through an explication of the narrative and performative elements of the ritual, Oyler demonstrates how one problematic story about Japan’s history is reworked into a palatable narrative and incorporated into the ritual life of geographically and socially diverse populations.


Excerpts from Itsukushima, performed at Kamifukawa, Nara, Japan on October 12, 2002. The clip opens with the michihiki, in which the actors are led by an elder, followed immediately by the actor portraying the deity Benzaiten (denoted by a gold headpiece). The members of the Taira party carry bows; the scion Kiyomori is distinguished by his robe, which is patterned in contrast with the striped robes of the rest of the actors. He is fifth in the procession, immediately following the Shrine Priest, who carries the ritual heihaku (a baton with white paper strips attached to it at one end). The remaining elders follow the actors. The clip consists of excerpts from the first 2/3 of the piece, concluding with Benzaiten's emergence from the enclosure signifying her shrine.

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