Semiotics of Otherness in Japanese Mythology

Authors

  • Yoshiko Okuyama University of Hawaii at Hilo

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.18061/dsq.v37i1.5380

Keywords:

Japan, Semiotics, folklore

Abstract

This article examines the tropes of "otherness" embedded in Japanese myths and legends in which the protagonist has a physical or intellectual disability to uncover the sociohistorical attitudes toward such people in Japan. Using the theory of semiotics, I will explicate the narrative signifiers of "the Other" represented in Japanese mythology; examine the binary perceptions of disability in ancient myths, medieval literature, and latter-day folklore in Japan; and demonstrate how perceptions have changed historically. I argue that some of these antique perceptions of the Other that have survived in contemporary Japanese consciousness may be hampering our effort to understand human variation.

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Published

2017-03-07

Issue

Section

World Disrupters