Ethnographic Videos

On this page you will find videos that I have take over the years while conducting ethnographic fieldwork.


The video above is from the nembutsu ritual, performed in a town in northern Japan.  This ritual is performed on the night of a funeral and, as it was explained to me, is intended to help the deceased on his or her journey.  This has been edited significantly.  The entire ritual takes roughly 20 minutes.  Note the use of the large prayer beads (juzu 数珠), which are unusual.  These particular beads are several hundred years old.  A neighboring village does not have a similar large set of beads and, instead, each person uses their own handheld beads during the ritual when performed there.

The second video was taken with a group of my students from Waseda University and arranged by my friend and colleague Dr. Takako Takano.  This is a Shugendō priest conducting a ceremony of protection (something like blessing) for my students who were on the field trip to this part of Japan.

The above video is a short clip taken (with a rather low quality digital camera) of a dedication ceremony for a Soto Zen Buddhist temple in northern Japan.  This was to commemorate beginning of construction on a new temple main hall.

This is a steel drum band that I ran across while wandering around a summer outdoor festival at a park in Tokyo.

This video shows ama divers in the town of Kuji on the coast of Honshu in northern Japan.  These women dive for sea urchins and abalone.  For more information, go to the wibsite here:

Kosode Coast; the Northernmost Ama Divers

Mitama matsuri, which is a festival that takes place in the summer at Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo.  This was filed in 2016 and shows part of the procession on one of the evenings during the festival.  The lanterns in the background are among several thousand that are hung for the festival to commemorate the dead.

The above two videos are from the jazz club Intro, which is located in a sub-basement not far from Takadanobaba Station in Tokyo.  This is a jam session/open mic evening, which brings players from around Tokyo and can sometimes erupt into some pretty great jazz.  It’s always very tightly packed, as the space is tiny. Much fun.