In 2010, many Japanese sought to gain access to places considered as “power spots,” write Hotaka Tsukada and Toshihiro Omi in the annual Bulletin of the Nanzan Institute for Religion and Culture (No. 35, 2011).
The “power spot boom” is seen as a renewal of sacred sites. Surveys reveal that television programs have played a key role in spreading the notion of power spots, especially after statements by some famous entertainment figures who associate such sacred sites with luck and success. The phrase “power spot” had appeared as early as 1986 for designating “a sacred site where universal spiritual powers gather.” There was a gradual increase in the usage of the term during the 2000s, until its use exploded in the media in 2010.
Magazines—especially those geared to female audiences— started to publish guides to power spots, with all types of information of interest to tourists in the manner of tourist guides. Some power spots are ancient shrines, while others are natural spots (mountains, waterfalls). While a few spots can be found abroad (Sedona, Hawaii), “domestic spots are driving the boom.” This has boosted tourism to some sites. However, this presents problems for conservation work at some natural sites.
Polls conducted in 2010 indicated that between one-third and one-half of Japanese think that power spots do indeed exist. But it remains to be seen if this interest will be sustained and if “power spots” will become an accepted phenomenon, or if it will give way to new spiritual interests, the authors conclude.
(Nanzan Institute for Religion and Culture, 18 Yamazatocho, Showaku, Nagoya 4668673, Japan)