Asian Ethnology Podcast

Festivals, Rituals, and Bear Hunting in Japan

Interviewer: Ben Dorman, co-editor Asian Ethnology

Recorded 29 April 2017, Nagoya, Japan

This episode's guest is Scott Schnell, associate professor of anthropology at the University of Iowa and the former co-editor of Asian Ethnology. Scott discusses his research interests and perspectives, his work on dissident writer and ethnographer, Ema Shū, and his research on matagi (bear hunters).

Episode Summary

Intro :43

Initial interest in Japan 1:54

Environmental issues, studies about mountain areas 3:43

Research in Furukawa, discussion about The Rousing Drum, rituals 8:20

Research on Ema Shū, published in Asian Folklore Studies 13:40

Local hunters as guides and intermediaries

  • mountains as conduits
  • female mountain deity (yama no kami) 17:00

Matagi (traditional hunters) and belief in yama no kami 20:07

Daily life of matagi 28:45

Ideas of Japanese people, environment, nature, limits of consumption 34:43

Aspects of current research

  • Animism
  • Attitudes toward matagi
  • Ministry of Environment’s support of matagi
  • Tourism 39:59

Doing fieldwork with bear hunters

  • Skills of matagi used for search and rescue
  • Research intomatagi 47:16

Outro 47:40

Publications discussed in this episode

Book: The Rousing Drum: Ritual Practice in a Japanese Community (University of Hawaii Press, 1999). (Author: Scott Schnell)

Article: Ema Shū’s “The Mountain Folk”: Fictionalized Ethnography and Veiled Dissent Asian Folkore Studies Vol. 65-2 (2006). (Author: Scott Schnell)
Music used with kind permission of the performer, shamisen master Koji Yamaguchi.