Art, Allegory and Geographic Education: Cultural and Meteorological Lessons from the Sky Deities of Japan

UNCP Author/Contributor (non-UNCP co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Dr.. Dennis J. Edgell, Associate Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Pembroke (UNCP )
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Abstract: Folklore and mythology are not proper history or science fact, however there is a reasonable basis for why regional culture myths persist. Japan’s Shinto religion holds Raijin as a god of lightning storms, and Fujin as a god of windstorms and tornadoes. These sky deities were depicted as demonic, destructive forces of nature in traditional Japanese art, iconography and cultural landscapes. Educational modules were developed for teaching geography, weather and climate concepts to students in general education, arts and humanities. Shinto and Buddhist art and allegory were used to explain and exemplify concepts in physical and cultural geography. Myths such as Raijin’s penchant for eating the navels of children, or why Fujin’s skin is green, were used to illustrate principles of meteorology, and characterize culture. Geographic pedagogy explained why Japanese painters of the Edo Period depicted lightning flashes as red in color, even though lightning does not usually appear that way. Educational modules also elucidated weather phenomenon such as gust fronts, nitrogen fixation by lightning, cyclonic winds, and others. Human geography concepts, such as diffusion and syncretism were also utilized as teaching points. Geography students reinforced their understanding of physical geography and gained an appreciation for Japan’s art and culture.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2019
Geographic Education, Art History, Japanese Culture, Meteorology ,

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