Transition of Rituals in the Nagasaki City Atomic Bomb Memorial Ceremony

Yu Fukuda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


This article focuses on rituals in the wake of a disaster, particularly those rituals that concern the dead. Previous studies have paid little attention to such rituals, which have developed and evolved over a long period of time. A diachronic case study of the Nagasaki atomic bomb memorial ceremony shows that memorial rituals gradually shift their attention from the dead to the living. The characteristics observed in this ceremony that orient towards the living can be distinguished from folk rituals, whose central object is to appease or comfort the dead, and also from political rituals, whose aim is to honor the dead and acknowledge the tragic past within a political framework. In addition to economic as well as political factors, the broadcasting of the Nagasaki ceremony on television is instrumental in the changes in these rites and the inclusion of the third-person plural subject: the "we", appears to be vital in apprehending the experience of violent death. Relying on historical materials, photographs, and data collected by participatory observation and interviews, this article aims to show how people use symbolic practices to make meaning out of violent death.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)78-91
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Japanese Sociology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Mar 1
Externally publishedYes


  • Nagasaki atomic bomb
  • Post-disaster rituals
  • Violent death

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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