The Culture of Secrecy in Japanese Religion  book cover
1st Edition

The Culture of Secrecy in Japanese Religion

ISBN 9780415546898
Published April 29, 2009 by Routledge
416 Pages 14 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

The Japanese Middle Ages were a period when forms of secrecy dominated religious practice. This fascinating collection traces out the secret characteristics and practices in Japanese religion, as well as analyzing the decline of religious esotericism in Japan.

The essays in this impressive work refer to Esoteric Buddhism as the core of Japan’s "culture of secrecy". Esoteric Buddhism developed in almost all Buddhist countries of Asia, but it was of particular importance in Japan where its impact went far beyond the borders of Buddhism, also affecting Shinto as well as non-religious forms of discourse.

The contributors focus on the impact of Esoteric Buddhism on Japanese culture, and also include comparative chapters on India and China. Whilst concentrating on the Japanese medieval period, this book will give readers familiar with present day Japan, many explanations for the still visible remnants of Japan’s medieval culture of secrecy. 

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: Japan's Medieval Culture of Secrecy  Part 1: Prologue  2. Secrets, Secrecy, and the Study of Religions  3. The Problem of Secrecy in Indian Tantric Buddhism  4. Myth and Secrecy in Tang-Period Tantric Buddhism  Part 2: Japan's Medieval Culture of Secrecy  5. Secrecy in Japanese Esoteric Buddhism  6. Reconsidering the Taxonomy of the "Esoteric"  7. Knowing vs. Owning a Secret  8. Secrecy, Sex and Apocrypha  9. Esotericism in Noh Commentaries and Plays  10. The Elephant in the Room  11. Myths, Rites, and Icons  12. Two Modes of Secrecy  Part 3: The Demise of Secrecy  13. When Secrecy Ends  14. Hiding the Shoguns  15. "Esoteric" and "Public" 

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Bernhard Scheid is a Research Fellow at the Institute for the Cultural and Intellectual History of Asia at the Austrian Academy of Sciences.

Mark Teeuwen is Professor of Japanese Studies at the University of Oslo, Norway.