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The Spirit of Japan

The Spirit of Japan

Festivals, Rituals and Everyday Magic

From the creators of The Garden

written by Sean Michael Wilson
illustrated by Fumio Obata

978-1-912634-30-9 * £11.99 * Published 10 June 2021

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An introduction to everyday Japanese rituals and spiritual practices.

Japan is sometimes called a ‘non-religious’ country, but this cliché is simply not true! If we look closer, we find that spirits, demons and magic are woven into the fabric of Japanese folklore and their effigies still populate roadsides and rituals to this day.

Japan is alive with magical festivals, practices and rituals – from marking the liminal new year with the burning of last year’s possessions, to smiling at the return of spring in the cherry blossoms. Greeting new life, making offerings to the old and banishing demons with the hurl of a soybean are all examples of intriguing Japanese traditions.

Many of these cultural practices are seen as mundane or normal, but they each express something sublime and numinous. Japanese rituals perform a powerful role in helping people deal with nature, time, seasons, aging and death – bringing a bit of everyday magic into everyday lives.

The Spirit of Japan is an accessible introduction to Japanese spiritual practice, perfect for those who are curious about spirituality or Japanese culture and would like to know more.

Table of Contents:

Introduction: The Value of Magic in Everyday Lives 
New Year Rituals 
Out Demons! Setsubun (節分) Bean Throwing 
Obon (お盆) Ancestors 
Jizo (地蔵) Roadside Shrines 
Funeral and Death Rituals 
Omikuji (おみくじ) and Other Fortune Charms 
Hanami (花見) Spring Ritual 
Hanabi (花火) Fireworks 
Land Cleansing Ritual 
Rituals at Shrines and Temples 
Recent Foreign Festivals in Japan 
Iro Iro (Various Things) 

Sean Michael Wilson is a writer living in Scotland and Japan. His books are often on themes of history, biography and social issues. He has had more than twenty books published with a variety of US, UK, and Japanese publishers. His 2016 book The Faceless Ghost was nominated for an Eisner Award. In 2017, his book Secrets of the Ninja won an International Manga Award. (read more)

Fumio Obata is an illustrator and animator whose style and work are influenced by both Japanese and European aesthetics. He is latest graphic novel Just So Happens (Jonathan Cape, 2014) was critically acclaimed
and been published in eight languages. (read more)