Introducing Japanese Religion  book cover
2nd Edition

Introducing Japanese Religion

ISBN 9781138958760
Published March 2, 2016 by Routledge
306 Pages

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Book Description

Now in its Second Edition, Introducing Japanese Religion is the ideal resource for undergraduate students. This edition features new material on folk and popular religion, including shamanism, festivals, and practices surrounding death and funerals. Robert Ellwood also updates the text to discuss recent events, such as religious responses to the Fukushima disaster. Introducing Japanese Religion includes illustrations, lively quotations from original sources, learning goals, summary boxes, questions for discussion, suggestions for further reading, and a glossary to aid study and revision. The accompanying website for this book is available at

Table of Contents

1. Encountering the Japanese religious world 2. The past in the present: vignettes of Japanese spiritual life 3. The way of the kami: Shinto then and now. Interlude: introduction to Buddhism 5. Magic mountains and the old court: Heian Buddhism and its culture 6. Warrior culture, simple faith: the Kamakura Buddhist reformation 7. Swords and satori: Zen and its culture 8. Christ and Confucius: the West arrives, and then Japan turns inward 9. The rising sun and the dark valley: from the Meiji Restoration until 1945 10. Chanting and dancing: Shugendo and the "new religions" of Japan 11. Pilgrimages: religion in Japan 1945 to the present

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Robert Ellwood is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Religion at the University of Southern California. He is the author of over twenty-five books, including Many Peoples, Many Faiths, The Fifties Spiritual Marketplace, The Sixties Spiritual Awakening, and Islands of the Dawn.


"The second edition of Robert Ellwood’s Introducing Japanese Religions is a superb enhancement to his already wonderful first edition, providing exciting new insights and additions which creatively update our understanding of the complex history and development of Japanese religious life. There is much new material on Japanese folk and popular religion, as well as electronic resources that are now available to students. The reflections of Professor Ellwood’s long and distinguished career continue to intrigue students and scholars alike. This new edition is quite simply a great text for comprehensive courses on Japanese religion."

Charles S. Prebish, Utah State University, USA


This second edition of Ellwood’s introduction to Japanese religion is an expansive improvement of the first edition (2008). The present volume provides more detail by bringing to light the rich complexity of the religious experience of the Japanese people from ancient times—before the introduction of Chinese religious traditions—to the 21st century, with its complex mix of religious and secular ideas and practices. This edition also provides new material on folk and popular religion, particularly shamanism, festivals, and practices surrounding death and funerals. Quotations from original sources, suggestions for further reading, and a glossary further enhance this edition's value as an introduction to the religious history of Japan.

P. O. Ingram, Pacific Lutheran University (Emeritus). January 2017 issue of CHOICE