|Budget Amount *help
¥1,800,000 (Direct Cost : ¥1,800,000)
Fiscal Year 1999 : ¥500,000 (Direct Cost : ¥500,000)
Fiscal Year 1998 : ¥600,000 (Direct Cost : ¥600,000)
Fiscal Year 1997 : ¥700,000 (Direct Cost : ¥700,000)
This is a folkloristic study of the elderly and problems of the aging society. It is based on field surveys in the Kinki region conducted in the Oyagyu suburb of Nara, as a typical case of a traditional rural community, and in the Kyoto district of Gion Yasaka in Higashiyama ward, as a typical case of a traditional urban community.
Oyagyu is a village noted for the survival of the miyaza or council of local shrine parishioners and by the practice of the ryobo-sei ("double-grave") system. The survey revealed the following points. First, the elders (choroshu) who lead the miyaza exercise special authority and receive deep respect from the villagers. Although the authority and respect are concentrated in the specific time and place of shrine rituals, the presence of the elders and the value of longevity are tacitly recognized in various aspects of village life, not only by their wives, children, and grandchildren but by all the villagers. Second, against the backdrop of a village life ce
ntering on religious services dedicated to the tutelary deities (ujigami), the villagers avoid the defilement of death almost to the extreme in their daily lives. The area where the dead are actually interred is on a mountain some distance from the village, while the tombs memorializing them are located relatively close to the village. We may surmise that there is a connection between the miyaza-led rituals and the "double-grave" practice, reflecting the taboos on death defilement (shiwai kihi).
The Gion Yasaka area in the city of Kyoto is a typical traditional business district that grew up from the Shotoku era (1711-16) onward in front of Gion's Yasaka Shrine. The survey revealed the following points. In a commercial district of this type, the settlement rate of shopkeeper households is low, and interaction among people is prompted more by occupational situations than by household units. Therefore, while some elderly persons who, out of their sense of duty and ability as members of long-established merchant houses (shinise), play a role in the local Yasaka Shrine festivals, there are others who have more recently moved out of, or into, the community. Not all members of the older generation, therefore, participate in community activities. Their post-retirement activities tend to be quite diverse, some by taking part in the senior citizen's associations (rojinkai) organized in response to government-related welfare programs for the elderly, and others through individual pursuits based on personal relations acquired in the course of their careers and work. Less