Nanzan Guide to Japanese Religions

Paul L. Swanson & Clark Chilson, eds.

Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 2005. xii+466 pages.

A CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title

The Nanzan Guide to Japanese Religions has been prepared as an aid for students and scholars engaged in research on Japanese religions. It is the first resource guide to encompass the entire field of Japanese religions and provide tools for navigating it.

In the nearly forty years that have elapsed since the appearance of Joseph Kitagawa’s Religion in Japanese History (1966), there has been a large amount of new scholarship on the role of religion in Japanese history. What general summaries there are of Japanese Buddhism and Shinto have tended to rely on scholarship from the 1960s and 1970s. In the intervening years, the field has seen considerable development and given rise to a host of new questions, leaving a great deal of earlier work outdated and out of focus. The Nanzan Guide offers the latest scholarship on a wide range of issues.

It is neither simply a comprehensive introduction to Japanese religions nor a mere collection of research sources. It aims rather to combine (1) a broad outline of Japanese religious traditions, (2) a closer look at scholarly views on a number of subfields, time periods, and selected themes, and (3) practical techniques for accessing and evaluating relevant data. As such, the book should prove useful as a supplement to texts introducing undergraduates to Japanese religions and as a reference for graduate students undertaking specific research projects. For scholars specializing in one or another aspect of Japanese religions, the book offers a generous inventory of the current state of the field by representative authors. Finally, historians and social scientists whose work brings them into contact with Japanese religions will find that the clear design, incisive overviews, selective bibliographies, and detailed index make this volume an invaluable reference work.