Tea and Transformation in Medieval Japanese Folklore: The Legend of Sōtan Inari and the Tsukumogami “Tool Spirits”


Professor TOKUDA Kazuo of Gakushūin Women’s College offers a firsthand look at medieval tales and legends of supernatural transformations connected with
Japanese tea culture. In one such tale, a fox learns the tea ceremony so well that he is able to disguise himself as Sen Sōtan, the grandson of the great tea master, Sen no Rikyū. In other legend, it is said that once everyday objects, including utensils for tea preparation and flower arrangement, grow old and worn, they come to life in the form of charming demons (yōkai) that haunt the night.

The talk will be followed by a viewing of original illustrated handscrolls, books, and colour woodblock prints.

About the Speaker:

Tokuda Kazuo is Professor of Medieval Japanese Cultural History and Cross-Cultural Studies and Director of the Institute of International Studies at Gakushuin Women’s College, Tokyo. His research on Japanese medieval cultural theory and folklore studies over the past thirty years has been central to the field and he has published multiple works on medieval illustrated narratives, including the monographs Otogizōshi kenkyū(1988) and E-gatari to mono-gatari (1990). More recently, his focus has turned specifically to yōkai and the supernatural in Japanese folklore, on which he has co-authored the volumes Yōkai emaki (Taiyō supplement, 2010) and Yōkai-gaku no kiso chishiki (Fundamentals of Yōkai Studies, 2011).


Presented by Gakushuin Women’s College International Exchange through Traditional Culture Series with UBC Library and the Centre for Japanese Research

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