Japan’s Spirit World, by Tomm

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Japan has a word called Tamafuri, which can be very eye-opening in understanding what festivals mean to Japanese people. Tamafuri means giving vitality to tama (life, soul) by the act of furi (swinging).

There exist many festivals and different kinds of folk art in Japan. The number is said to be tens of thousands. I started taking photos of various festivals all over Japan after I had visited the Tamaseseri Festival in Fukuoka for a winter shoot back in 2013. There are various forms of festivals. There are small, abstract local festivals, and there are also large scale, splendid ones like the Gion Festival in Kyoto.

I have mainly shot small, community-rooted festivals. In small festivals, there is a determination that emanates among the locals protecting its traditions, resulting in frequent subtle nuances that an outsider like myself finds hard to understand. It is an energy which connects and attracts people like a magnetic field. How is this energy, this magnetic field produced?

I believe it is a gift that falls from the heavens, like the great mystery of life and existence. It is a prayer and a darkness we can never see. It is, of course, something we are not free to control. It falls upon us, leaving us only to accept it. In the distant past, ancestors of the Japanese race did not believe in a physically permanent tama (life, soul). Japan has a word called Tamafuri, which can be very eye-opening in understanding what festivals mean to Japanese people. Tamafuri means giving vitality to tama (life, soul) by the act of furi (swinging).

For people such as ourselves, living in modern society where a scientific view of the world has come to emphasise efficiency, festivals may seem irrational and strange at times.

Photographs & Text: Tomm Photographer | Website: http://www.tommphoto.com

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