Боги и демоны болезней: Традиционные японские представления об эпидемиях и борьбе с ними
The article discusses the mechanisms of protection against infectious diseases that have been employed in Japan through ages, and the religious, social, and individual practices considered effective in the struggle with epidemics. Studying the cultural and ethnoreligious roots of Japanese attitude towards epidemics is particularly relevant these days. The coronavirus pandemic has reanimated the memory of old popular beliefs and actualized traditional, even archaic, rituals and superstitions. Alongside obvious hygienic measures going back to the Shinto rites of purifications,
historically, the amplitude of responses (whether on state or local or family levels) oscillated from the ceremonies
of appeasing the demons of diseases to the rituals for exorcising them. Besides written historical sources, the main material analyzed in this article is visual: popular woodblock prints with mythological subjects, leafl ets on vaccination, children’s toys representing protective characters, and apotropaic amulets. The main focus is on the materials against
smallpox and cholera in the early modern period in Japan (the Edo epoch, mainly the 18th—19th centuries) and
the mass reaction (not medical but resurrecting traditional superstitions) to the COVID-19 pandemic.