Kasulis , P . Thomas, “Sushi
, science and Spirituality: Modern Japanese Philosophy and its Views of Western
Science” Philosophy East And West, April
1995, Vol. 45 p227-248
The thesis of this book is that traditional Japanese religion and values
by science and technology. The new ideas of science and technology were
as foreign imports that helped economical, political and military needs.
its own way, Japanese religion developed its own way as well.
Kasulis discusses how religion and technology developed separately and
were accepted in
the society .To support his idea, he explains that because new science
technology were deemed to be imported goods having nothing to do with religious
beliefs. He also explains that the introduction of foreign
religion such as Christianity and
Neo-Confucianism influenced the development of Japanese
think this book will be a one of the main books for my paper because it is
published relatively new compared to other articles and books.
Also, the author discusses various philosophers including religious
leaders from the 11th to the 20th century. He demonstrates
how new science, and the understanding of religion could develop separately and
coexisted. Finally, most of time I agree with the author’s general theology in
terms of Japanese culture and philosophy. The author has the ability to portray
Japanese culture accurately despite the fact that he is not Japanese.
Takayama , Peter K , “Rationalization of states and society: A weberian view of
early Japan” Sociology Of Religion , April
1998, Vol.59 p65-88
thesis of this article is that different religious beliefs, values and systems
were brought to Japan because Japanese people wanted to use them to organize
their own society. Japanese people mixed original cultural values and beliefs
with the good values and systems from other new religion. This process made the
Japanese religion a syncretism religion. Japanese people did not take new
religions as they were, but adapted to them their own cultural context to become
Japanese religion, as we know it now.
Takayama compares religious movements in China and Japan. While China was
fighting to get authority over other the other group of Chinese, Japan took the
good values of Taoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism and applied them to the
Japanese traditional religious beliefs. He focuses on the 6th to the
8th centuries in Japan because it was at this time that the new
social system spread among people. Using examples, Takayama explains how Japan
became a mixed country successfully.
Takayama seems to be familiar with the Japanese language, history and
culture. The book helped me to
understand how and why the Japanese religion evolved. I though his point about
the Japanese incorporating many different beliefs into their own system, was
good. Japanese people wanted to use the good values from different religious
groups organize a good society. This may be the reason we still go to the temple
for funerals and to the shrine for weddings.
This book has good references.
2 Davis , Winston , Japanese religion And Society . New York , 1992 .
This book introduces the connection between Japanese society and religion. Davis believes a
relationship between society and religion that has been built over a long time
examines the Tokugawa period to the present. He took at the main social changes
in different periods and shows reader how they are related to religious
movements. It seems to me that he believes that huge social movements influenced
Japanese people and their culture, including religion. For example, when Japan
suffered a bad famine, people were encouraged to go to the temples. As a result,
many temples were built during that period.
book discusses the relationship between Japanese religion, values and culture.
It includes society, economic development and social change. I agree that there
are strong connection between Japanese religion and society. David’s approach
seems to be missing historical fact. I believe that all historical events are
connected, so it is very important to be able to understand Japanese history as
well. This book has good notes and an index. I think I can use some of the
chapters discussing religious practices in Japan.
Newell William H , The Sociology Of Japanese Religion .
Netherlands ,1968 .
This is a collection of articles written by Japanese authors and then edited and translated by Newell. These article’s thesis is that religious belief influences to society. They believe that how the organization of the household and the constructions of rituals are interconnected.
Newell explains the situation of religion in the urban city, the household. They discuss the relationship between changes in religious belief and society itself. We can see how much religion influences society, people and culture.
wish this book was more recent. In
1966, I do not believe the sociology of religion was a popular field of study,
but this book did however, have good examples of how religion and society are
intertwined. This book is good source of Japanese folk beliefs.
Murakami Shigeyoshi , Japanese Religion In The Modern Century .
Murakami believes that the roots of the modern religion started in the Tokugawa period (1600-1867). His thesis is that the Meiji restoration of 1868 hugely influenced Japanese religion, people, culture and society and is the beginning of what we call contemporary Japanese religion.
Murakami’s arguments are very clear. As the feudal dictatorship changed to a symbolic emperor and a form of parliamentary government, the old traditional life styles, including religious rituals, changed. Belief systems did not changed but the people who believed in them changed, as society changed. After he discusses the history and religion dominating the different periods, he talks about modern religion in Japan, which he calls “ Freedom of religion”.
This book is a translation of Nihon
Hyakunen No Shuukyou that means, Japanese religion in 100 years and it is
originally written for a Japanese audience. He starts from the Bakumatu period
and continues to the 1980’s.This book is an excellent book. Murakami
knows how to approach the issue of how Japanese religion has been
Woodard , William P , The
Alied Occupation Of Japan 1945-1952 And Japanese
. Netherlands ,1973 .
The thesis of this book is that Japanese religion, culture and society
by occupation from United States between 1945 to 1952. It is one of the
fundamental historical events that changed Japan.
Although this book has a different
view of the interpretation and influences of the
than I do , it is good book in terms of the amount of information given .There
appendixes, which will be helpful for understanding changes within Shinto and it
contains a good general index.
Andreasen Esben and Steransson Finn , Japanese Religions: Past And
Present . England ,1993.
The thesis of this book is to introduce Japanese religion by explaining how it has
Andersen and Finn see Japanese religion from a cultural point of view. For example, they show how a number of folk religious beliefs become one , how people accept them and became a common belief in the society. The beliefs, which are accepted to the society, eventually become a part of culture. It seems complicated, but they illustrate the strong connection between culture and society. In addition, they compare the strength between past and present.
book beings with the introduction of Japanese culture, which I think is a
good way to start , because it is be helpful for people who are
unfamiliar with Japanese culture. It is be easier for us to learn religion in
Japan with understanding of culture. Even though they are not Japanese, they
seem to have good understanding of Japanese cultures. They explain how culture
intertwines with religions in Japan. There is a good index, and reading list.
6 Kitagawa , Joseph M , On Understanding Japanese Religion . New Jersey ,
The thesis of this book is that it is important to understand Japanese religious history to have a full understanding of Japanese religion. Kitagawa believes that it is vital to examine chronological historical events because history is connected like a long story.
Kitagawa often uses examples following historical events. As he follows the history, he shows the relationship between historical events and social changes. For example, in the 5th century, Confucianism and Chinese writing were brought to Japan. Despite this, it was still difficult to master another language and to translate it into own Japanese. In addition, the society had just received a new leader. The leader of new government needed to reorganize the society. They send two famous Japanese people to China. They brought new Chinese government systems, art and goods. He also discusses the religious history and social changes of Japanese society.
also believe that in order to understand religion in Japan, it is very important
religious history. Throughout history, we can see the changes in religion in
Japan and understand what made it change, how it is changed and how it
Reader Ian , Religion In
Contemporary Japan . Honolulu ,
The thesis of this book is that religions still play an important role in contemporary Japan. Reader believes there is a strong relationship between religious rituals and social systems. He also believes that the value of participating in religious ritual and the roles of religion in the social system has changed.
Reader begins by introducing religious rituals and explaining what they are. Then he discusses the religious rituals are integrated into social systems and how important it is for the society. For example, going to the temple and learning Buddhist teachings was encouraged. Those daily rituals made people believe that the monk should be well respected, due to the sacredness of their teachings. High monks were highly respected by society and as a result, some monks made a lot of money, had huge political power and were very influencential in government decision-making. These things, however seldom happen in contemporary Japan. Using examples, Reader shows us that contemporary Japan is very different from before.
Spending several years in Japan, this author’s interest seems to be the
religious rituals itself rather than the religion as a whole. This book will be
especially useful when I compare Japanese religion in the past and Japanese
religion now. My grandmother grew up in a very strict Shinto/Buddhism home, but
my mother did not. In my generation, I do not know anyone my age can discuss
their own religion. I think that Japanese people are becoming less religious.
Earhart , Byron H , Religion Of Japan
. San Francisco, 1984 .
The thesis of this book is that Japanese religion, people and society are all
connected therefore, we cannot understand any of them separately. In order to
understand Japanese religion, it is also important to understand that we have to view in
relation to Japanese people and society.
Earhart focuses on the social movements relating to religion and the people.
Because these three elements are connected, if one of them is influenced by an event, all
will be influenced. Earhart uses examples to demonstrate how they are related to each
other and influenced by each other. For example, he explains that in the 7th century,
people were more influenced by Buddhism than Taoism or Confucianism. The reason
being that people who went to China came back with Buddhism teaching and started to
build many temples. As Buddhism spread, people started to follow Buddhism teachings,
values and rituals that means that society changed or at least influenced.
Although this book is relatively old, it contains a good variety of information
about Japanese religion. Earhart covers the historical development of Japanese religion
over time as well as , style and the meaning of worshiping Kami, Buddhas and
Ancestors. I found that he explains Japanese religion, its main characteristics and how
are developed , really well.
3 Earhart , Byron H , Japanese Religion: Unity and Diversity . Belmont , 1982.
This book explains how Japanese religion is constructed with many different
beliefs from Japan and foreign countries. Therefore, it is not proper to present Japanese
religion as one belief from one group of people.
Earhart shows us that Japanese religion is mixed and diverse. He discusses how
this process occurred. For example, integration of Taoism, Confucianism and Shinto.
Soon after, Buddhism was brought in and influenced the original Japanese religion.
like the way he organizes this book because it is easy to follow and his
discussion follows historical events in order. In this book, as the title
states, he seems to be interested in how Japanese religion is united and
diverse. My only concern is that it is too old to use the information about
contemporary Japan. Some of book will be very helpful. It contains a good list
of selected readings, notes and an index.
10 Norbeck , Edward , Religion And Society in Modern Japan: Continuity And Change . Huston , 1970 .
thesis is that some of the cultural changes in Japan influenced the religious movements.
Some traditional religious rituals and practices remained the same, but some of them
changed as the culture-society changed in modern Japan.
Norbek discusses the importance of cultural aspects on religion throughout the
book. Culture causes the new religious movements and he explains them with examples.
One of them is an example from 1868. It is the time the Japanese finally opened the port
to foreign countries and started to trade again. Japan had been for isolated about 200
years before 1866 . As Japan opened up to other countries, new culture came in
including food, clothing , new beliefs and philosophies. Those cultural changes
influenced to Japanese people and their religion including beliefs and values.
Unlike other books, this book does not contain many historical data. It is more
focused on people and their behaviors. I agree with Norbeck’s the point that people
create culture. Therefore, by looking at a culture, we can learn why and how Japanese
religion was constructed . In a sense, this author has a different view from other authors
because he does not look at Japanese history as much.
Kiwagawa , Joseph M , Religion
In Japanese History . New York , 1966 .
Kitagawa believes that it is important to follow the history in order to understand how Japanese religion was formed. It is also important to understand religious history. With an understanding of the Japanese history, we can see when, why, and how Japanese religion changed.
To show the importance of understanding Japanese religious history, Kitagawa starts from Asuka period (500AD to 710AD) and continues to the Post second World War period (1952). He follows a chorological table and discusses the main events related to religious movement. He illustrates the fact that when the rulers of Japan change, society changes as well as, dominant society religion.
I were asked to write a book, I would write the way Kitagawa did. From a
Japanese point of view, this book describes Japanese religion well. I think that
he knows what is very important to focus on. There is a good chronological
table, glossary, bibliography and an index. This book will be very helpful for
people who are very interested in Japanese religion.
Nakayama Hajime , Ways Of Thinking of Eastern People: India, China,
Honolulu , 1964 .
The thesis of this book is that it is very important to look at the characteristic features of Japanese ways of thinking and to analyze people’s judgments. With this understanding, we can see the characteristics of Japanese religion and what makes it different from other religions.
Nakayama gives examples in order to illustrate his point. He explains the difference between Chinese Buddhism and Japanese Buddhism. He discusses why they are different. When Japanese monk brought Buddhism to Japan, Japanese people changed some of the teachings to fit Japanese society. In addition, Japanese monk could not communicate well as much as they could write. Therefore, Chinese texts were seldom understood by the Japanese collectly. Japanese people changed the Chinese teachings and made it their own. This is why Chinese and Japanese Buddhism they are different.
Nakamura seems to emphasize that Japanese cultures are combination of the original culture and the new culture. Japanese religion is a collection of many different beliefs, which still coexisted in Japan. In modern Japan, the majority of people consider themselves Buddhists, yet people go to the Shrine often.