Cover image for Religions of Japan in practice
Religions of Japan in practice
Tanabe, George J., Jr., 1943-
Publication Information:
Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
xviii, 564 pages ; 24 cm.
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BL2202 .R48 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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This anthology reflects a range of Japanese religions in their complex, sometimes conflicting, diversity. In the tradition of the Princeton Readings in Religions series, the collection presents documents (legends and miracle tales, hagiographies, ritual prayers and ceremonies, sermons, reform treatises, doctrinal tracts, historical and ethnographic writings), most of which have been translated for the first time here, that serve to illuminate the mosaic of Japanese religions in practice.

George Tanabe provides a lucid introduction to the "patterned confusion" of Japan's religious practices. He has ordered the anthology's forty-five readings under the categories of "Ethical Practices," "Ritual Practices," and "Institutional Practices," moving beyond the traditional classifications of chronology, religious traditions (Shinto, Confucianism, Buddhism, etc.), and sects, and illuminating the actual orientation of people who engage in religious practices. Within the anthology's three broad categories, subdivisions address the topics of social values, clerical and lay precepts, gods, spirits, rituals of realization, faith, court and emperor, sectarian founders, wizards, and heroes, orthopraxis and orthodoxy, and special places. Dating from the eighth through the twentieth centuries, the documents are revealed to be open to various and evolving interpretations, their meanings dependent not only on how they are placed in context but also on how individual researchers read them. Each text is preceded by an introductory explanation of the text's essence, written by its translator. Instructors and students will find these explications useful starting points for their encounters with the varied worlds of practice within which the texts interact with readers and changing contexts.

Religions of Japan in Practice is a compendium of relationships between great minds and ordinary people, abstruse theories and mundane acts, natural and supernatural powers, altruism and self-interest, disappointment and hope, quiescence and war. It is an indispensable sourcebook for scholars, students, and general readers seeking engagement with the fertile "ordered disorder" of religious practice in Japan.

Author Notes

George J. Tanabe, Jr., is Professor and Chair in the Department of Religion at the University of Hawaii. Having research interests covering doctrinal and practical issues in medieval and modern Japan, he is the author of MyÉe the Dreamkeeper, coeditor of The Lotus Sutra in Japanese Culture, and coauthor of Practically Religious: Worldly Benefits and the Common Religion of Japan.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

The latest offering in the Princeton Readings in Religions series rises to the same high standards as previous volumes on India and China. Editor Tanabe (Practically Religious) has gathered 45 documentsÄranging from legends and prayer rituals to sermons and theological treatisesÄto illustrate the dynamic, living character of Japanese religion. Rather than classifying the documents according to religious traditions (Shintoism, Buddhism, Confucianism), Tanabe has divided them into sections that reflect the ways that people use certain texts in religious practices. In the first section, "Ethical Practices," Mary Evelyn Tucker provides a translation of Confucian scholar Kaibara Ekken's (1630-1714) "Precepts on Family," in which the teacher offers advice on raising children, serving parents and things to do in the morning ("Every day we should get up early, wash our hands and face, and first inquire about the health of our parents."). Other writings in the section deal with such matters as syncretism, monastic discipline, celibacy and nationalism. A second section, "Ritual Practices," contains documents related to the gods and spirits and to faith. For instance, William E. Deal offers a translation of "Tales of Birth in the Pure Land," legends that accompany birth rituals in Amida, or Pure Land, Buddhism. A final section collects documents concerned with "Institutional Practices," including excerpts from imperial histories and tales of great heroes. Perhaps the most fascinating offering in this section is H. Byron Earhart and Etsuko Mita's translation from Our Master Teshima Ikuro, a record of Ikuro's (1910-1973) call to the Christian ministry and the subsequent development of his preaching style combining the elements of his Japanese heritage with his Christian religion. Tanabe's collection is one of the finest anthologies available of primary documents illustrating the diversity and liveliness of Japanese religions. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

The fifth in a distinguished series of anthologies on world religion from Princeton, this volume brings together a variety of documents representing the diverse and complex religious traditions of Japan. Each of the 45 chapters is introduced by a scholar in the field. The book as a whole is arranged thematically (e.g. "Social Values," "Faith," and "Spirits"), with each section containing articles that illuminate the theme as it manifests itself in different areas of Japanese religious thought and practice. Rather than canonical literature, the volume presents more obscure texts, including pamphlets, folktales, and ritual manuals in an attempt to depict the influence of religion in the daily life and culture of Japan over the centuries. An enormous undertaking, this is a book to be admired rather than enjoyed, and its value to those in the field of comparative religions is undeniable. Neither an introductory text nor for the casual reader, it is indispensable for academic collections supporting religious studies programs.ÄMark Woodhouse, Elmira Coll. Lib., NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

George J. Tanabe, Jr.Ward GeddesMary Evelyn TuckerJanine Anderson SawadaAlbert WelterPaul B. WattRichard JaffePaul B. WattWilliam M. BodifordMichiko Y. AokiYoshiko K. DykstraJane Marie LawCherish PrattGary L. EbersoleDavid L. GardinerRichard Karl PayneJames C. DobbinsWilliam E. DealSybil ThorntonWilliam R. LaFleurJacqueline I. StoneMark Teeuwen and Hendrik van der VeereCarl BielefeldtWilliam M. BodifordPaul SwansonDennis HirotaDennis HirotaJames C. DobbinsCharles HolcombeMiwa StevensonWilliam E. DealRichard GardnerLinda Klepinger KeenanGeorge J. Tanabe, Jr.Ian ReaderAllan A. AndrewsJacqueline I. StoneH. Byron Earhart and Etsuko MitaRobert E. MorrellJoseph D. ParkerMark TeeuwenJames C. Dobbins and Suzanne GayJan Van BragtIan ReaderWilliam M. BodifordSachiko Kaneko and Robert E. Morrell
Princeton Readings in Religionsp. v
Note on Transliteration, Names, and Abbreviationsp. vii
Contents by Chronologyp. xiii
Contents by Traditionp. xv
Contributorsp. xvii
Introductionp. 3
Ethical Practices
Social Values
1. Selected Anecdotes to Illustrate Ten Maximsp. 25
2. Kaibara Ekken's Precepts on the Familyp. 38
3. The Shingaku of Nakazawa Donip. 53
Clerical Precepts
4. Eisai's Promotion of Zen for the Protection of the Countryp. 63
5. Shingon's Jiun Sonja and His "Vinaya of the True Dharma" Movementp. 71
6. A Refutation of Clerical Marriagep. 78
Lay Precepts
7. Eison and the Shingon Vinaya Sectp. 89
8. Kokan Shiren's Zen Precept Proceduresp. 98
Ritual Practices
9. Records of the Customs and Land of Izumop. 113
10. Miraculous Tales of the Hasedera Kannonp. 117
11. Japanese Puppetry: From Ritual Performance to Stage Entertainmentp. 124
12. The Shinto Wedding Ceremony: A Modern Noritop. 135
13. Tama Belief and Practice in Ancient Japanp. 141
14. Japan's First Shingon Ceremonyp. 153
15. Shingon Services for the Deadp. 159
16. Genshin's Deathbed Nembutsu Ritual in Pure Land Buddhismp. 166
17. Women and Japanese Buddhism: Tales of Birth in the Pure Landp. 176
18. Epic and Religious Propaganda from the Ippen School of Pure Land Buddhismp. 185
19. Buddhism and Abortion: "The Way to Memorialize One's Mizuko"p. 193
Rituals of Realization
20. The Contemplation of Suchnessp. 199
21. The Purification Formula of the Nakatomip. 210
22. Dogen's Lancet of Seated Meditationp. 220
23. Chido's Dreams of Buddhismp. 235
24. A Japanese Shugendo Apocryphal Textp. 246
25. On Attaining the Settled Mind: The Condition of the Nembutsu Practitionerp. 257
26. Plain Words on the Pure Land Wayp. 268
27. Shinran's Faith as Immediate Fulfillment in Pure Land Buddhismp. 280
Institutional Practices
Court and Emperor
28. The Confucian Monarchy of Nara Japanp. 293
29. The Founding of the Monastery Gangoji and a List of Its Treasuresp. 299
30. Hagiography and History: The Image of Prince Shotokup. 316
31. Nationalistic Shinto: A Child's Guide to Yasukuni Shrinep. 334
Sectarian Founders, Wizards, and Heroes
32. En the Asceticp. 343
33. The Founding of Mount Koya and Kukai's Eternal Meditationp. 354
34. Legends, Miracles, and Faith in Kobo Daishi and the Shikoku Pilgrimagep. 360
35. A Personal Account of the Life of the Venerable Genkup. 370
36. Priest Nisshin's Ordealsp. 384
37. Makuya: Prayer, Receiving the Holy Spirit, and Bible Studyp. 398
Orthopraxis and Orthodoxy
38. Muju Ichien's Shinto-Buddhist Syncretismp. 415
39. Contested Orthodoxies in Five Mountains Zen Buddhismp. 423
40. Motoori Norinaga on the Two Shrines at Isep. 435
41. Shinto in the History of Japanese Religion: An Essay by Kuroda Toshiop. 451
42. Sasaki Shoten: Toward a Postmodern Shinshu Theologyp. 468
43. Contemporary Zen Buddhist Tracts for the Laity: Grassroots Buddhism in Japanp. 487
Special Places
44. Keizan's Dream Historyp. 501
45. Tokeiji: Kamakura's "Divorce Temple" in Edo Popular Versep. 523
Appendix Chinese Romanization Conversion Tablesp. 551
Indexp. 559