Exorcisms in Japan

3 06 2008

These aren’t Catholic exorcisms either.  Reading through an events schedule for the popular sightseeing destination of Kamakura I came across this event I plan to stay far away from.  They advertise that a ritual will take place to exorcise the evil spirits of the first 6 months of the year, and to pray for protection for the future.  I know that in the Catholic church if an exorcism is performed it is always in the name of Jesus and because of Jesus the demon leaves, so I am a little curious how other religions manage to get any evil spirits to leave since they aren’t doing it in the name of Christ.

In an answer to my own question I found this article which explains various Japanese monsters and how Buddhist and Shinto priests perform exorcisms.

http://metropolis.co.jp/tokyoculturearchive249/240/tokyocultureinc.htm

An excerpt.

“If you suspect that your 2DK may shelter a fox ghost under the futon, don’t panic! A large number of exorcists, both Shinto and Buddhist, work in Japan. A Buddhist exorcism is performed by a temple’s chief priest and his assistant, reading an appropriate sutra (the scriptures of Buddhism) and burning a special incense. The priest also carries a shakujo – a wooden staff with metal rings threaded onto it, creating an unearthly sound to scare evil spirits away.”

This gives me a hypothesis as to why bells are somewhat common here.  Sometimes you will hear people, usually the elderly or children, who have a small bell in their pack/bag.  I asked a friend about that once and they said it was so people could find their keys more easily.  That may be so for some people now but I am wondering if the carrying of a bell may be linked to the wooden staff with the metal rings and unearthly sound?  Furthermore if you ever climb Mt Fuji and you buy a wooden climbing stick in the gift shop it comes with bells.  Bells that were originally intended to keep away evil spirits on a climb up a sacred mountain where gods lived? Hmm.

Then I found this news story

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/2682871.stm

A Japanese man has been arrested along with eight “disciples” on suspicion of fraud, after taking millions of yen in fees for performing exorcism rites on the public.


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3 responses

3 06 2008
Viator Catholicus

As you suggest at the end, most likely, they are charlatans looking to make a buck off of people’s fears.
The Catholic Church has a lengthy investigation process to determine if someone [or place or thing] is truly possessed. In most cases there are natural causes for what seems to be possession. But, it can happen. If so, only a very holy priest who has been given authority to do so may undertake the exorcism since as Christ says in the Gospel, some demons are cast out only by prayer and fasting. So, I fear for these Shinto priests and Buddhist monks. If they happen to come across a true case they will be in trouble. You are right to stay away. Just read what happened to the unbaptized sons of a Jewish Temple priest in Acts 19:11-20 when they tried to perform one – even using the name of Jesus!

20 09 2009
Sadiq Khan

is there any real exorcist in Japan,????

29 09 2009
vee8

Im guessing there is likely at least one Catholic exorcist in Japan but it is kept pretty quiet.

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