2014 / UCLA / Japan Studies Lecture “Tales of Ise” / May 27, 4:00 pm

Ise Shrine 

UCLA Terasaki Center for Japan Studies


“Tales of Ise: the Ise shrines, their rites and patrons in postwar Japan”

Tuesday, May 27, 4:00 pm – 6:30 pm
UCLA, Faculty Center
, Hacienda Room, Los Angeles, CA 90095

Abstract by John Breen:

A remarkable event took place in Ise in October last year.

Amaterasu, the sun goddess, abandoned her shrine – her abode of just twenty years – and made a dramatic entry into the human world.

Accompanied by throngs of priests, she progressed through the night to an adjacent plot just 300 metres away.

There, awaiting her arrival, stood a brand new shrine, identical to the one she had just left. Into this new structure, Amaterasu withdrew.

The shrine that was abandoned will soon be dismantled and, twenty years from now, a new shrine will be erected and back she will progress.

Every twenty years or so, for well over a millennium, the sun goddess has been progressing back and forth from one site to the other.

In this talk, I use Amaterasu’s progresses in 1953, 1973 and 1993 as a technique for exploring the shifting relationship of the Ise shrines to the state, the imperial court and the nation in postwar Japan.

Speaker Biography:

John Breen is Professor at the International Research Center for Japanese Studies in Kyoto.

Previously, he taught Japanese at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.

He did his undergraduate study and postgraduate research at Cambridge University.

He has published widely in English and Japanese on issues relating to the imperial institution and Shinto.

Among his recent publications are the books A new history of Shinto (co-authored with Mark Teeuwen), Wiley-Blackwell, 2011 and Girei to kenryoku; tenno no Meiji ishin (Ritual and power: the emperor and the Meiji restoration) Heibonsha, 2011.

Among his most recent articles are “The nation’s shrine: conflict and commemoration at Yasukuni, modern Japan’s shrine to the war dead,” in Tsang and Woods ed.

The cultural politics of nationalism and nation-building: ritual and performance in the forging of nations, Routledge, 2014, and “Shinto monogatari: Meiji-ki no Ise” (Tales of a sacred city: Ise in the Meiji period) in Takagi ed., Kindai Nihon no rekishi toshi: koto to joka machi, Shibunkaku, 2013.

He is presently completing a modern history of Ise.

For more information please contact

Kelly Zuniga kellyzuniga@humnet.ucla.edu

Sponsor(s):Asian Languages & Cultures