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Cultural Heritage, Tourism, and Rural Sustainability in Japan

Date: Friday, October 6th, 2017

Time: 4:00 pm

Duration: 2 hours

map of Cultural Heritage, Tourism, and Rural Sustainability in Japan

Sanger Science Center: Room 150

Beloit College Campus, Beloit, WI

Contact: Professor Robert LaFleur,, 2005

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Michael Dylan Foster Professor, Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures University of California, Davis Abstract: In an increasingly interconnected and mobile world, people in small rural communities throughout Japan are working hard to find ways to promote heritage tourism but still preserve their own traditions. How do people share their local tradition with others without altering the meaning it has for them? Faced with economic challenges, aging populations, and a declining number of children, how do small rural communities negotiate a desire for continuity with a need for change?

This talk will discuss two “visiting-deity rituals” [raihōshiin gyōji], Namahage of Akita Prefecture and Toshidon of Kagoshima Prefecture, and compare the very different ways residents use these traditions to attract tourists while at the same time preserving what they see as the integrity of the rituals themselves.

Bio: Michael Dylan Foster is a Professor in the UC Davis Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, where he teaches classes on Japanese folklore, heritage, tourism, and popular culture. He is the author of The Book of Yōkai: Mysterious Creatures of Japanese Folklore (UC Press, 2015), Pandemonium and Parade: Japanese Monsters and the Culture of Yōkai (UC Press, 2009), and numerous articles on Japanese folklore, literature, and media. He is also the co-editor of The Folkloresque: Reframing Folklore in a Popular Culture World (Utah State University Press, 2016) and UNESCO on the Ground: Local Perspectives on Intangible Cultural Heritage (Indiana University Press, 2015).