CRCAO member - Japan Team

Akiko Hirai

École Pratique des Hautes Études


After obtaining a PhD in musicology at Sorbonne University in 2020, I am currently temporary lecturer (ATER) of ethnomusicology at Paris 8 University. Simultaneously, I am pursuing a postdoctoral course in Religious Studies under the supervision of Dr. Matthias Hayek at the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Études.

My research is focused on the functions of sound and silence in Japanese folkloric rituals, especially in the ritual of divination. I am particularly interested in how believers share their perception of the divine presence throughout the rituals. I shall do a semantic analysis concentrating on divine codes in the rituals, and combine this with the results of documentation (historical practices), and fieldwork (current practice).

Research thematics

  • Musical analysis of the functions of sound and silence in Japanese folkloric rituals usually associated with Shinto and Shugendō
  • Ritual connotation of the choreography and coded movements in folkloric ceremonies
  • Divination
  • Tantric techniques applied to Kagura, ritual entertainment in Japan


  • Music Department, Faculty of Arts, Philosophy and Esthetics, University of Paris 8 : Musics of Japan ; Music and Ritual ; Musics in the World; Transcribing and Describing ; Musics, Voices, and Dances in the World; Anthropological Perspective