Marebito (まれびと)

Marebito is a term in Orikuchiism that refers to a spiritual or deity-like being who visits from the afterworld at a specified time. It is one of the most important key concepts in understanding Shinobu ORIKUCHI's system of thoughts. It is valued in ethnology as a clue to probing the Japanese people's concept of religion and the afterworld.


ORIKUCHI's theory of marebito took its shape in 'Kokubungaku no Hassei, Dai Sanko' (The Origin of Japanese Literature, the Third Manuscript) (included in "Kodai Kenkyu" (Ancient Studies)). According to this paper, his field work in Okinawa inspired him to come up with the concept of marebito.

At events such as festivals in which deities are welcomed, marebito, who is a visiting deity, is considered to descend on a pole-shaped object (such as a higeko (beard-box) or a dashi (a float)) that is set up as a yorishiro (object representing a divine spirit). He or she is said to come from beyond the sea (coincides with niraikanai in Okinawa). Later, with the influence of mountain worship, the belief of where marebito descends from has changed from beyond the sea to above the mountain or heavens (tensonkorin (the descent to earth of the grandson of the sun goddess)).

[Original Japanese]