The duality of the image of the Other/Alien in Japanese culture: from the demonic to the divine
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Japan, believes, Ebisu, the Other/Alien, Stranger, otherness

How to Cite

1. Павленко Н. The duality of the image of the Other/Alien in Japanese culture: from the demonic to the divine // Journal of Frontier Studies. 2018. № 4. C. 147-168.


This article analyzes the ambivalence of the image of the Other/Alien in Japanese culture and the prerequisites for its formation associated with internal and external processes in Japanese society. Under the conditions of alternation of periods of isolation and openness, cultural influence from outside and complete isolation, the images of the Other were also subjected to constant transformations. All this led to the fact that often the image of Alien shifted its value orientations to diametrically opposite. The Alien could be the bearer of evil or the bearer of good. After the policy of isolationism was declared by Bakufu in 1640, and the subsequent measures were taken to maximize control over the movement of citizens through the country, an Alien was not only a foreigner, but also any Japanese traveling around the country. The appearance of any Stranger in a particular area was something exceptional. The very fact of the journey was exclusive, because only monks, samurai and merchants could travel, who have received special permissions, or some anti-social elements, an outcast or a troublemaker. Being outside the borders of a traditional residence suggested that he was the bearer of some special properties: holiness vs demonic, government authority or exceptional courage, courage, etc.. In such conditions, the Alien most often turns out to be a creature endowed with properties that go beyond the usual, i.e. supernatural or close to them; he becomes a part of the world of animals, or the world of gods/demons. All this gave rise to ideas about the connection of the Other/Alien with the divine or demonic. Objects belonging to the Other were also endowed with similar properties.

The article discusses in detail the concepts of Marebito, Ebisu and “visiting gods”, demonstrating the dualism of the Japanese concept of the Other/Alien.
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