Japanese Religions from the Outside

Paul L. Swanson, Hayashi Makoto, eds.

Kyoto: Hōzōkan, 2000. 302 pages

Available only in Japanese

A collection of essays on Japanese religions by Western scholars which originally appeared in the Japanese Journal of Religious Studies during the 1980s:

  • David C. Lewis, “Religious Rites in a Japanese Factory” (13/4, 1986)
  • Bardwell Smith, “Buddhism and Abortion in Contemporary Japan” (15/1, 1988)
  • David Reid, “Remembering the Dead: Changes in Protestant Christian Tradition through Contact with Japanese Cultural Tradition” (8/1-2, 1981)
  • Royall Tyler, “A Critique of Absolute Phenomenalism” (9/4, 1982)
  • Neil McMullin, “Historical and Historigraphical Issues in the Study of Pre-Modern Japanese Religions” (16/1, 1989)
  • Allan G. Grapard, “Linguistic Cubism: A Singularity of Pluralism in the Sanno Cult” (14/2-3, 1987)
  • W. Michael Kelsey, “Salvation of the Snake, the Snake of Salvation: Buddhist-Shinto Conflict and Resolution” (8/1-2, 1981)
  • Helen Hardacre, “The Cave and the Womb World” (10/2-3, 1983)
  • Ian Reader, “Back to the Future: Images of Nostalgia and Renewal in a Japanese Religious Context” (14/4, 1987)

To the Japanese reader there are many ways to read this book. One can learn humbly from the perceptions and insights of scholars from abroad, picking up fresh views and ideas missed by local scholars. But one can also read it as an account of the way foreign scholars communicate to their colleagues in the English-speaking world what is happening in the world of Japanese religions and religious studying, and thus get a glance into the particular ‘cultural take’ behind the way they filter Japanese studies. This and more one find in adundance in this solid piece of scholarship.

Ikegami Yoshimasa, Readers’ Weekly

This is the sort of book one expects many people interested in Japanese religions to pick up on a browse through the bookstore, and also to catch the eye of those looking for classrom reading material. The questions it deals with touch a broad range of questions shared by the general public, and provide a background for discussions that one hopes would feed new questions back to the scholars. May the Japanese Journal of Religious Studies, from whose pages these essays were gleaned for translation, attract ever more attention from Japanese scholars and continue to develop in the future.

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