Transformation into a Snake in Traditional Japanese Theatres
12 , 2017-03-20 , 神奈川工科大学
Snakes and their images have been at the base of the beliefs of the Japanese since prehistoric times. Because of their hideous appearance and eerie behaviors, however, snakes came to be shunned away. With the introduction of the Chinese Ying and Yang Cosmology, Taoism, and Buddhism, furthermore, snakes became gradually hidden behind the philosophical and ritualistic vocabulary of these new foreign beliefs. As a dynamic symbol of the energy and cycle of life, the beliefs in snake power has remained in the undercurrent in the life of the Japanese, notably in pretty much all regional festivals and rituals surrounding one's birth and death, climaxing in a theatrical expression of transformation into a snake. In this paper, we will examine how the Japanese beliefs in snake power are manifested. First we will seek images of snakes in our daily life, and rituals and ceremonies. Second, we will examine how the snake beliefs are manifested in theatrical expressions exemplified particularly by Noh Dojoji (The Dojoji Temple) and Kabuki Musume Dojoji (The Maiden at the Dojoji Temple). Through these analyses, we hope to confirm that the Japanese beliefs in snake power continue to thrive and support the life of the Japanese.