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Beneficial Bonds

Luck and the Lived Experience of Relatedness in Contemporary Japan

Inge Daniels

This article explores the Japanese notion of luck as a relational mode of action that encapsulates a complex understanding about self, society, and cosmos. Drawing on ethnographic data gathered in 30 urban homes in the Kansai region (Osaka, Kobe, Kyoto, Nara) in 2003, I aim to demonstrate how, by engaging in a range of material practices, people create beneficial connections with spirits, people, and places to protect the home from malevolent influences and to ensure the happiness and well-being of its occupants. It will be argued that this protective system can be maintained only through both the relentless 'labor of luck' performed by married women as 'moral persons' and the persistent circulation of luck between religious institutions, commercial businesses, and homes.