The Invention of Religion in Japan
Throughout its long history, Japan had no concept of what we call “religion.” There was no corresponding Japanese word, nor anything close to its meaning. But when American warships appeared off the coast of Japan in 1853 and forced the Japanese government to sign treaties demanding, among other things, freedom of religion, the country had to contend with this Western idea. In this book, Jason Ananda Josephson reveals how Japanese officials invented religion in Japan and traces the sweeping intellectual, legal, and cultural changes that followed. More than a tale of oppression or hegemony, Josephson’s account demonstrates that the process of articulating religion offered the Japanese state a valuable opportunity. In addition to carving out space for belief in Christianity and certain forms of Buddhism, Japanese officials excluded Shinto from the category. Instead, they enshrined it as a national ideology while relegating the popular practices of indigenous shamans and female mediums to the category of “superstitions”—and thus beyond the sphere of tolerance. Josephson argues that the invention of religion in Japan was a politically charged, boundary-drawing exercise that not only extensively reclassified the inherited materials of Buddhism, Confucianism, and Shinto to lasting effect, but also reshaped, in subtle but significant ways, our own formulation of the concept of religion today. This ambitious and wide-ranging book contributes an important perspective to broader debates on the nature of religion, the secular, science, and superstition.
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A difficult book written for specialists that does show that Shinto is basically made up, and the history of popular superstitions within Japan. Needed an editor. Not an easy read.
Organizing Difference in Premodern Japan
2 Heretical Anthropology
3 The Arrival of Religion
4 The Science of the Gods
5 Formations of the Shinto Secular
6 Taming Demons
7 Inventing Japanese Religion
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Aizawa American argued Asad astronomy attempt banned barbarians belief Buddha Buddhist called category religion century chapter Chinese Christianity civilization claim concept of religion Confucian constitution cults cultural Daoism deities demonic described dharma discourse discussion divine doctrine Dutch emperor ethics European example foreign freedom of religion Fukuzawa Fukuzawa Yukichi gods Hayashi Razan heresy heretical hierarchical inclusion Hirata Hirata Atsutane Ho¯rei Zensho Ibid ideology imperial important indigenous Isomae Iwakura mission Japa Japanese government Japanese intellectuals Japanese religions Japanese subjects Jesuit Kirishitan Kojiki Kokugaku language laws leaders meaning Meiji Meiji government Meiroku mission modern Mori National Science Neo-Confucian nese Nishi Nishi Amane O¯kuni official original period political practices produced promote reference religion in Japan religious freedom rites rituals Rosny scholars sect seems Shingon Shinto secular shrines shu¯kyo Sidotti superstition teachings term terminology tion Tokugawa translation treaty Tsuda worship