Phenomenal beings: Fantastic fictions

Phenomenal beings: spirits in Japanese art and culture

23 November 2019 - 23 November 2019 2.00pm - 4.00pm
Domain Theatre
Supernatural characters: defining identities through Japanese narratives
Mio Bryce, head of Japanese studies and senior lecturer, Department of International Studies Languages and Cultures, Macquarie University

What does the supernatural represent in Japan? Why do we still have mythical ‘others’ in a period dominated by advanced technology? Japanese popular culture in the Heisei period (1989-2019) is characterised by colourful, diverse forms of supernatural protagonists, much like the other yōkai-ridden periods Heian (794-1185) and Edo (1603-1868). The prevalence of, and interest in the supernatural may suggest a specific psyche and social ecology in these periods. Focussing on issues of precarious Japanese identities, I discuss the characterisation and transition of the supernatural from the Heian to Heisei using novels, manga and anime, such as the 'Tale of Genji' and 'Inuyasha'.

Nature, poems and spirits: the supernatural reality in Japanese arts
Chiaki Ajioka, art historian, writer and curator

The Japanese love of nature is inextricably linked to the country’s prevailing practice of poetry. In composing poems at official or private occasions, the poet would project his or her personal emotions onto specific descriptions of natural objects or phenomena. Many of these poems have been handed down from the eighth century to present day. This lecture introduces some of the ways poetic iconography was disseminated through the arts, revealing the inherent anthropomorphic view of nature in Japan and how certain images have been preserved as cultural memory.

This program is presented in partnership with the Japan Foundation