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A History of Japanese Religion por Kazuo…
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A History of Japanese Religion (original 1977; edição 2002)

por Kazuo Kasahara (Autor)

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Seventeen distinguished experts on Japanese religion provide a fascinating overview of its history and development. Beginning with the origins of religion in primitive Japanese society, they chart the growth of each of Japan's major religious organizations and doctrinal systems. They follow Buddhism, Shintoism, Christianity, and popular religious belief through major periods of change to show how history and religion affected each-and discuss the interactions between the different religious traditions.… (mais)
Membro:PSZC
Título:A History of Japanese Religion
Autores:Kazuo Kasahara (Autor)
Informação:Kosei Publishing Company (2002), Edition: 1, 648 pages
Colecções:Religion / Spirituality
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Etiquetas:History, Japanese Religion

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A History of Japanese Religion por Kazuo Kasahara (1977)

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Seventeen distinguished experts on Japanese religion provide a fascinating overview of its history and development. Beginning with the origins of religion in primitive Japanese society, they chart the growth of each of Japan's major religious organizations and doctrinal systems. They follow Buddhism, Shintoism, Christianity, and popular religious belief through major periods of change to show how history and religion affected each-and discuss the interactions between the different religious traditions.
  PSZC | Apr 22, 2020 |
A little off-putting. Six hundred and forty-eight dense pages of Japanese religious history, written by a team of specialists. The main problem is that this is a history of Japanese religion, not Japanese theology; thus there are pages and pages of discussion of (for example) various Buddhist sects – where they were founded, who the founders were, what their relationships was with the central government, but very little on what they believed. You also have to be reasonably familiar with Japanese history – know the dates for the Shogunate, the Meiji Restoration, and some more obscure things – the “North and South Courts Period”, for example, was something I had to go to Wikipedia for.


Amidst all this frustration there was some interesting stuff, of course. I wonder if there was some distant relationship between “Pure Land” Buddhism and the Christian concept of salvation by grace. The concept of “nirvana” always seemed – to me, at least – one of the difficulties in Buddhism; you struggle through endless cycles of birth and death and at the end are rewarded with – nothing. OK, I know it’s a little more complicated than that, but I’m still reminded of a comment by a rabbi (can’t find the original, so this is a paraphrase): “Nirvana sounds great at first, but when you think about it for a while, how is it different from getting hit on the head with stick?” Thus the “Pure Land” concept – a sort of Heaven in the West that you were reborn in simply by believing that a Buddha wanted you to go there – appealed to a lot of people. Its various manifestations were usually suppressed by the government and other Buddhist groups; if your salvation was assured just by believing that your salvation was assured, it was assumed there would be no incentive to donate to temples or be a virtuous citizen. The authors don’t comment if “Pure Land” believers were noticeably more or less virtuous than others.


Up until the Allied conquest the central government had control offer religion that would have been the envy of any medieval European ruler trying to deal with the Papacy. The government registered clerics, appointed the more important ones, and in many cases exercised doctrinal authority (this didn’t stop some Buddhist sects from going to war with each other). Interestingly, this didn’t stop the multiplication of religious groups; in 1939 the government limited Buddhism to 28 sects, Shinto to 13 and Christianity to two – Roman Catholicism and everything else. The idea that the State saw enough difference between Buddhist sects to allow the recognition of 28 different ones while Protestant Christians were considered close enough to be lumped together is intriguing.


After WWII things were different; religions still had to be registered with the government but that was it. This lead to a multiplication of groups, some of which were just a little odd. The Restaurant Religion made going out to eat an act of worship and paying for a meal an offering (the author note that this just might possibly have had something to do with religions being tax exempt, and that this particular one didn’t last very long). The Electricity God Religion worshipped the kami of electricity, Tenchi Denki no Okami, and Thomas Edison. Well, there are worse choices, I suppose; there have been times when sacrifices to the Electricity God could have made a considerable difference in my house wiring.


Don’t really know how to rate this one; probably of interest only if you are OCD about Japan. ( )
  setnahkt | Dec 2, 2017 |
If you are seeking to understand the complex history of Eastern religion this book is a godsend. In clear, concise and readable prose, it lays out the development of religion in Japan from its prehistory to the present. It includes detailed descriptions of the major Buddhist and Shinto sects including biographies of their founders and major figures, as well as the history of Christianity in Japan and the development of various other "new religions" in more recent times.

The book begins with a preface and introduction which paint the history of Japanese religion in broad strokes. A chapter devoted to the development of religion to the Nara period (began c. 500 AD) is followed by a discussion of the early development of Mahayana buddhism. The Tendai and Shingon sects receive special attention as does the development of Pure Land Buddhism. The Kannon, Miroku and Jizo buddhist cults are discussed as is early Shinto and its relationship to Buddhism. Buddhist development in the Kamakura period, especially the Pure Land sects of Jodo, Jodo Shin and Ji are covered next, along with the Rinzai and Soto schools of Zen and the Nechiren Lotus Sutra Buddhists. Developments in Shinto and Shugendo (a mountain-based ascetic movement) are discussed as are changes in the major sects under the Shogunate. The early history of Christianity in Japan is well treated and, from a Western perspective, is fascinating. The process whereby Buddhism became the dominant religion under the Shoguns only to be superseded by Nationalistic Shintoism in the Meijan period is likewise interesting. Finally, the development of myriad cults and the splintering of older established religions following the world war and the changes in religious thought up to the present make for interesting comparisons with the changes in religious thought in the West.

The book, by a panel of Japanese scholars, was part of a series written originally in Japanese, on the religions of the world. The translation is very readable and the text hangs together remarkably well for something written by a panel of experts. There is occasional redundancy between sections and even through the translation one can hear different voices speaking at different times. The level of detail will satisfy most in the West, although scholars of particular eras or faiths may find it too general. The book is a history of religion and as such is not really a history of religious ideas. I occasionally wished for more discussion of the philosophical and theological notions underlying the historical actions and developments. The book is supplied with an excellent set of maps but would be improved in my opinion, by the addition of some illustrations. That said this is possibly one of the best books on Eastern Religion I have read in some time. ( )
  Neutiquam_Erro | Mar 18, 2008 |
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Seventeen distinguished experts on Japanese religion provide a fascinating overview of its history and development. Beginning with the origins of religion in primitive Japanese society, they chart the growth of each of Japan's major religious organizations and doctrinal systems. They follow Buddhism, Shintoism, Christianity, and popular religious belief through major periods of change to show how history and religion affected each-and discuss the interactions between the different religious traditions.

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