Sokendai Review of Cultural and Social Studies


Constructed view of “Kyodo” ;
the formative process of the concept
and meaning on Yanagita Kunio

Yasunari, MUROI

(The Graduate University for Advanced Studies, School of Cultural and Social Studies,
Department of Japanese Studies

Key words;

society of the same province/power of the city-culturesettlement/Kyodoist/consciousness of “We”

This paper explains the process of the development of “KYODO”, the main concept of Japanese folklore studies, in historical context.

“KYODO” may be one of the most difficult words to translate into foreign languages, and often defined its meaning as “regional community” indicating limited to a certain area. Not only the word implies the meaning of area, but also implies the meaning of “affection” and “ pride”, especially, those people who live within that area think of. Such implications add the essence of emotion to the word. In fact, the word “KYODO” is based on consciousness of “We”, the object of pride, affection. Thus, communities of the Japanese often deemed to be understood as aggregates of “KYODO”. Sometimes, “KYODO” is explained as the same meaning as to love ones’s state. Therefore, the nature of this word may be linked to the idea of “nationalism” or “patoriotism”.

In Japan, the role of folklore studies has often considered to be study of traditional culture. Actually, Yanagita Kunio (1875-1962), the first person who initiated folklore studies in Japan, emphasised the importance of studies of “KYODO” in his dissertations. Interestingly, however, as I have studied his text in depth, in the context of the time when he lived in, The word “KYODO” deemed to be completely different from what we generally understand today.

Yanagita launched his studies around 1900, then his concept of “KYODO” was established around 1930. At that time, he realized the word “KYODO” ought to be defined that the place where traditional culture changes by the influence of power of the city culture. Also, he regulated the ambit of “KYODO” should be set out freely by the settlements. (He also establish the new concept of Kyodoist.) Yet, the general meaning of “KYODO” understood today (established since 1930’s) deemed to be totally different from Yanagita ‘s concept. In considering these issues above, this paper investigates into, and illustrates the factors that affect such difference in the meaning of one particular word, by comparing the meaning of the word of “KYODO” established by Yanagita and the idea of the word by the then media. In particular, the paper focuses on “the society of the same province” which was created by the cities like TOKYO in the period of Meiji era (1968-1912) to 1930’s, and analyse the meaning of the “KYODO” though the written articles of the magazines published in the old societies.Further more, the paper explains the development of changes, where the word “KYODO” simply defined as” a place of birth” in Meiji era, into the meaning of the place with no bad impressions, but sweet character.

In addition to the above, the paper also points out that the risk for folklorists today often use “KYODO” in terms of the general meaning. Finally. The paper comes to conclusion that, in 1930’s, Yanagita put his concept of “KYODO” into a technical term of folklore studies in order to counter with the general meaning of KYODO,