Serving Justice at Multiple Levels: Emotional Satisfactions Created in Yumemakura Baku’s “Abe No Seimei” Stories


Justice is considered universally a core value of the human world, although different cultures and times have their own specific approaches to justice and principles of measuring whether justice has been done. In different contexts, the scope and ponderings concerning justice are also very different. In response to the LibrAsia 2016 call to look into justice issues from various perspectives, the proposed presentation is examining selected works of Japanese writer Yumemakura Baku's Onmyoji series of stories, to review how this 25-year-old series has been describing, discussing, and critiquing issues of justice through fictional narratives of the famous Heian onmyoji Abe no Seimei (921-1005). With his power to transcend the objective world and reach out to the world of spirits and the world of the human psyche, Abe no Seimei is represented as being in the pivot of worlds, and mediating among them. I would like to argue that his mediation, whether successful or not in coming to a satisfactory resolution of the problems, is in fact a process of justice. Characters in the story seek Abe no Seimei's help because they would like to see justice restored, and readers following the stories enjoy the process of justice being restored through their psychological and emotional participation in the reading process. In other words, this presentation ascribes the long-term success of the stories to its function of discussing justice at both the textual and the extra-textual levels.

Author Information
Amy Lee Wai Sum, Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong

Paper Information
Conference: LibrAsia2016
Stream: Literature - Folktales, Myths and Legends

This paper is part of the LibrAsia2016 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon