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Monday, November 5

Somebody Is Watching
Gods, Ritual and Tourism on a Japanese Island
1:00 pm to 2:30 pm
Michael Foster, University of California, Davis
Humanities Center Conference Room, 602 Cathedral of Learning
Sponsored by:
Asian Studies Center

"Koshikijima no Toshidon" is a New Year's Eve ritual performed annually on the island of Shimo-Koshikijima off the southwest coast of Kagoshima Prefecture. During the event, men masked and costumed as frightening demon-deities enter individual households to "discipline" and "educate" young children. In 2009 the ritual was inscribed on UNESCO's Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. This talk will introduce Toshidon with a focus on the way a structure of surveillance, of "seeing and being seen," informs the performance of the ritual and to a certain extent the everyday lives of the islanders. An understanding of the dynamic of this "optic imaginary" provides insight into broader questions of community, tourism, UNESCO, and the production of heritage in Japan and elsewhere.