In this course I would like to introduce main religious teachings existed in Japan from old times and up to our days. For the reason the name of the course is specified purposely as “Religions in Japan” and not as “Japanese Religions.” Otherwise we have to limit our discourse to the only genuine Japanese religion — Shinto and maybe some eclectic so called “new religions”, and forget about Buddhism or Christianity. Each of these religions will be presented in three aspects: dogmatic (the only exception will be done for Christianity and I will accent the peculiarity of a perception of this religion in Japan), historical and cultural. Dogmatic aspect means an introduction to the core postulates and their transformation over time. Historical aspect allows us to trace a destiny of a religious teaching in Japanese history, and cultural aspect implies a study of influences to and interactions with other spheres of cultural activities — art, literature, science, etc.
Besides the above mentioned aspects, the fourth theme, namely religion’s promise to solve the individual’s existential and social problems, will be constantly touched on in this course. From these theme derives the subtitle — “In Search of Salvation.” Especially this aspect becomes important when we deliberate “new religions”, including the notorious Aum Shinrikyo in particular. About half of the lectures will be devoted to Buddhism as the most philosophically profound and variable teaching, but I would like to introduce not only institutionalized religion as Buddhism, Shinto, Christianity, as well as Taoism and Confucianism to some extension, but also the most interesting so called folk religions, for example, tradition of shugendou (mountain asceticism), different variants of shamanic practices, etc.
Report and participation