Organized Panel Session
This panel combines two objects of investigation through one simple question: what is the relationship between narrative and place? This question arises from the premise that stories about places do not operate only in a literary or performative realm independent of physical sites but also directly engage their social practices, politics, economics, institutions, and identities. Scholars of Japanese religions, for instance, have examined how origin accounts (engi) of medieval temples and shrines asserted claims on authority, ritual prerogative, and territory. Expanding this line of inquiry, specialists in Japanese literature, history, and religion will explore the dialectics of narrative and place-making in a dialogue that crosses disciplines and addresses a range of sites and media. Carter introduces demon and dragon legends surrounding the site of Mount Togakushi (Nagano Prefecture) that—far from capricious tales—proved instrumental in shaping its social, economic, and institutional structures at different moments in history. Goree shows how illustrated gazetteers in the late Edo period encouraged readers to imagine place-based narratives by browsing pictures and stories describing landmarks. He explores this mode of spatial narrativity through a case study of the representation of gardens in Miyako meisho zue (Illustrated Collection of Famous Places in the Capital, 1780). Finally, Buhrman considers ways in which natural disasters were interpreted and remembered through narrative tropes. Taking the case of the 1854 Ansei Tōkai-Nankai Earthquake and Tsunami, she examines how inscribed accounts on stelae in Shikoku speak to shifting perceptions of the ground beneath in the wake of the disasters.