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Special Talk: Star Lore in the Japanese Sky

by Brea Aamoth on July 31st, 2015

Summer Solstice at Tamagusukuk Castle

‘Imiloa Astronomy Center is pleased to present a special talk on “Stars in the Land of the Rising Sun” in the Planetarium on Friday evening, August 14, at 7 pm. Dr. Akira Goto, Professor of Anthropology at Nanzan University, will explore Japanese star lore as a complex mixture of animism, Buddhism, Shinto-ism, Confucianism and folk beliefs.

Topics to be covered are: (1) the practical use of star lore by Japanese farmers and fishermen, who used the movement of the sun, moon and stars for weather forecasting, season reckoning and other practical purposes, including navigation; (2) folk customs and rituals surrounding stars, including tragic love stories such as that commemorated in the “tanabata” festival; and (3) legends of fallen stars and historical interpretations. Japanese star lore will be explored in context with examples drawn from the Ainu in Hokkaido in the North and the sub-tropical Ryukyu Islands in the South.

Professor Akira Goto is Director of the Anthropological Institute at Nanzan University in Nagoya, Japan. He earned his Ph.D. at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa and helped to develop content for the Oceanic Culture Museum & Planetarium in Okinawa. He has written widely on ethnoarchaeology and the intersection between astronomy and anthropology, and he serves as Vice President of the newly established Nippon Voyaging Association.

Cost is $8 for Individual, Dual, Kupuna and Family Members; $6 for Patron Members; Free for Silver, Gold, and Corporate Members. Non-member rate is $10. Pre-purchase tickets at the ‘Imiloa front desk or by phone at 969-9703.

‘Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawai‘i is located at 600 ‘Imiloa Place in Hilo, off Komohana and Nowelo Streets at the UH Hilo Science and Technology Park. For more information, go to or call (808) 969-9703.


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