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Japan's Religious History

Session Chair: N.N. | Tuesday, August 25, 3:30-5:30 p.m. | Venue

Jin Jonghyun

The Development of Japanese New Religions in South Korea: A case of Tenrikyo

Tenrikyo is the first Japanese new religion that has expanded in South Korea. Due to a deep-rooted anti-Japanese sentiment informed by Japan’s prewar colonial rule, the religious group in this country has faced- considerable difficulties in its efforts of propagation. In this paper, I will discuss the development of this religious group in South Korea by, - paying specific attention to the strategy of propagation it has adopted in this socio-cultural climate as well as the ways in which South Korean followers have sought to negotiate Japanese cultural elements in Tenrikyo in the course of pursuing their faith in the religious teaching.

Sentaro Tomizawa

Non-church movement and Emperor System in Meiji Japan

This paper aims to clarify distinguishing features of Emperor System in Meiji Japan. I focus in particular on the thought of Uchimura Kanzo (1861-1930), who was known for an advocate of Non-church movement which has be been referred as the transformation of Christianity in Japan. Meanwhile, Uchimura can be understood as a Christian who thoroughly devoted himself to the theology of Protestantism. In this sense, Non-church movement inherited from Protestantism a belief not in church but in the Bible alone. In brief, we can recognize coexistence of ambivalent factors in his thought and can understand them as representatives of Christianity and Emperor System sociologically. This feature can be perceived also in his soteriology. He believed in “Predestination” but later it transformed and got akin to “Universalism”. Through this change, I clarify the social and cultural influences Emperor System had under which Uchimura Kanzo and Non-church movement developed.

Kumi Aoki

Kitaro Nishida on Faith and the Absolute Other

According to Kitaro Nishida, “the Name of Buddha” (Myogo) is the expression of the great compassion of Amitabha Buddha. This self-expressive word of the absolute is the only medium that interrelates the two absolute opposites; the absolute and the humans. The question then arises as to what it is that makes an apparently monological chant of “the Name of Buddha” the self-expressive word of the absolute. For Nishida, who says “faith is the self-determination of the absolute,” the answer should be faith. In other words, if it were not for faith, the chant could only be what Derrida would call “will-to-hear-oneself-speak.” In my presentation, I would like to examine the nature of faith for Nishida and clarify, in Buddhist context, how faith can find “the absolute other.”

Vladlena Fedianina

Shinto-Buddhist syncretism. The first work of historical philosophy in Japan

In Mediaeval Japan historical and political thoughts were developing in the framework of the religious complex today named Shinto-Buddhist syncretism. Authors of historical studies were trying to understand the history, appealing to the willpower of supernatural beings that were in the foundations of world order. The historiosophical treatise “Gukanshou” (about 1221), written by Jien, the head of the Tendai school, is exceptional. Jien piloted using a system-rational way of interpreting the history on the basis of traditional religious views. We analyze Jien’s concept of Japan’s historical development. The concept was a projection of values created by Japanese religious thinking. Building on works of European and Japanese scientists with our own textual studies of “Gukanshou” we examine how Jien puts Japan into world’s time-space context (Buddhist conception) and how he understood changing in forms of governance (based mostly on indigenous beliefs).


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