Encounters with Jizō-san in an aging Japan
Most cultural anthropologists, even those who have detailed and structured methodological strategies, will engage in what is called “convenience-based sampling” during fieldwork research. At its best, this method simply entails engaging with the variety of individuals who might cross your path as you go about your everyday affairs and conduct research. It involves an openness towards those so-called “chance encounters” that may not directly relate to the topic of study outlined in your formal research proposal, and it reminds you never to leave home without a notebook, or a camera. Sometimes a casual chat with a stranger at a café can yield just as much insight as that semi-structured interview at the religious service you are studying. Even if, like me, you are studying the lives of older adults, it’s always wise to talk with the often convenient sample of neighborhood children as well.