オガミサンについて About Ogamisan

シャーマン(霊媒師)のことを、宮城県では「オガミサン」と
呼ぶ。それは「拝む人」「神」を意味する。オガミサンは、
死者の言葉を聞き、伝え、あるいは、様々な悩みを持つ人々に
アドバイスを与えることを生業とする。

わたしが初めてオガミサンに会ったのは7歳ぐらいの頃で、
叔母の葬式の時だった。昭和50年代まで、葬儀の際に
シャーマンを呼ぶのは、土地の慣例だった。
大勢の弔問客が帰り、親族だけが残された時、その盲目の老女
は付き添いに手を引かれてやって来た。
彼女は呻くように言葉を発し、なぜか家族は皆その言葉を聞いて
泣いた。
叔母は癌で若くして亡くなったから、多分死後に語りたいことが
たくさんあったのだろう。言葉の意味はまったく分からなかった
けれど、それは鮮烈な体験だった。

2007年の春頃、たまたま会った高校の旧友が、大学院でシャーマン
研究をしていると語った瞬間、わたしはすぐに、ついて行って写真
を撮ることに決めた。

オガミサンが住む唐桑という土地は、リアス式の太平洋に突き出た
半島で、住民の多くが漁業に携わる。歴史的に津波や台風被害が
多い唐桑では、人々は、漁や天候の予想を語るオガミサンの言葉を
敬い、信仰している。海に沈んだ魂を弔うのも、彼女の大事な仕事
のひとつである。

県内で活動するシャーマンの数は年々減少し、2007年当時84歳
だった唐桑のオガミサンは、最後の2,3人のうちのひとりだった。
漁師の家に生まれ、7歳で左目、16歳で右目の視力をほとんど
失った。19歳の時、岬から身を投げて死のうとしたところを
近所のおじいさんに助けられ、その人の言葉に従って、シャーマン
修行に入る。昔から、盲目の女性はシャーマンになる能力があると
見なされていた。
10年程の厳しい修行を経て独立した彼女は、以来、ずっと唐桑に
住む。同じく盲目のマッサージ師の男性と結婚し、3人の子供に
恵まれ、孫と、ひ孫がいる。

初めてオガミサンのもとへ行く際、わたしたちは少し不安を
抱いた。
シャーマンは見知らぬ他人を受け入れてくれるのだろうか?と。
しかし、彼女は突然の訪問にも全く驚くことなく、自然に迎え
入れた。
快活で、すぐに人とうち解け、誰よりも人生を楽しんでいる、
魅力的な女性だった。

2007年夏、2008年冬、そして2009年冬と、3回彼女を訪ねた。
この写真は、2007年の最初の訪問を記録したものである。

Shaman's roles and names vary depending on the areas where they live in Japan. In my hometown, they are called "Ogamisan", means "Prayer" as well as "God". "Ogamisan" delivers messages from the dead, tells fortune, and gives advice to troubled people like a counselor of the community.

I met "Ogamisan" only once in my childhood. It happened when my aunt died. A blind old woman came to my home, and started talking to my family and relatives, not with her own words, but with the words of my dead aunt. Until early the 80s, it was a custom to ask shaman to come after the funeral and listen to the words of the dead through her voice. My aunt died young because of cancer, so she probably had a lot to say postmortum. Even though I could not understand what she was talking about, it became an unforgettable experience to me.
When my friend revealed that she had been writing her thesis about "Ogamisan", I immediately asked if I could join her to photograph the shaman during the interview.
This is how my journey began.

We've visited "Ogamisan" living by the sea a couple of times since summer 2007. Her home is located along the deeply-indented coastline known as the ria shoreline. She is one of the last people working as a "Ogamisan" in Miyagi prefecture.
The "Ogamisan" was 84 years old in 2007. She was one of a few shamans left in town at that time. Born the daughter of a fisherman, her left eye was blinded at the age of seven and her right eye at sixteen, by the age of nineteen she tried to kill herself. Because of her blindness she felt useless and unable to make a living. A neighbor happened to find her and stopped her. He told her to go see the local shaman.At that time, it was widely believed that only blind women could potentially become shaman. It was common practice for blinded girls to apprentice with local shaman. Ten years later, she was qualified as a shaman. She has been working in her hometown ever since. She got married to a visually impaired masseur, and together they have children, grand children, and great grand children.

Her hometown is called "Karakuwa". This is a narrow and small peninsula exposed to the Pacific ocean known for its somber history of natural disasters such as Tsunami and typhoon. People make living by fishing and the related occupations, so it is no wonder why they have developed the fear as well as faith to the sea. "Ogamisan" has been considered very important not only to predict the weather for fishing, but to console the dead by the deep. "Ogamisan" earns the respect of the people.

My friend and I were a little nervous if the shaman would not like us, but she welcomed our sudden visit. It seemed like she was not surprised at unknown guests. She is cheerful, friendly, and charming person, and she probably enjoys life better than anyone else in town.

We went to meet her in Summer 2007, Winter 2008, and again in Winter 2009.
These photographs on the website are shot in 2007.

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