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Yuta

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  • Japanese: ユタ (yuta)

Yuta are female spirit mediums or shamans active in a Ryukyuan spiritual/religious tradition. In contrast to noro, village priestesses who historically belonged to a hierarchy stretching out over the whole Ryûkyû Kingdom with the kikôe-ôgimi (chief priestess) as their head, yuta have always operated independently.[1] Today, they typically charge individually for spiritual services, often identifying themselves as "spiritual counselors" (J: supirichuaru kaunseraa).

Though efforts were made by the Meiji government to suppress yuta activities in the early decades of the 20th century, along with most other aspects of traditional Okinawan culture, yuta have survived, or revived, in whatever modern form. Having been excluded historically from most sites that were exclusive to noro in the official hierarchies, and then strongly suppressed in the early 20th century, much of yuta activities as they exist today can be traced to developments of the postwar period.[2] Though typically operating out of their homes, offices, or traveling to clients' homes, many yuta also make use of utaki and other local sacred sites for performing certain rituals or otherwise communing with the spirits.

References

  • Aike Rots, "Strangers in the Sacred Grove: The Changing Meanings of Okinawan Utaki," Religions 10:298 (2019), 6-7.
  1. Plaque on-site at former site of Kikoe-ôgimi udun, just outside Shuri Middle School, at 2-55 Tera-chô, Shuri, Naha.[1]; Plaques at reproduction of a noro's house, Okinawa Furusato Mura, Ocean Expo Park, Nakijin.[2].
  2. Rots, "This is Not a Powerspot: Heritage Tourism, Sacred Space, and Conflicts of Authority at Sêfa Utaki," Asian Ethnology 78:1 (2019), 166-167.
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