1st Edition

Transcendence and Spirituality in Japanese Cinema Framing Sacred Spaces

By Melissa Croteau Copyright 2023
    264 Pages 26 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book explores significant representations of Shinto and Buddhist sacred space, spiritual symbols, and religious concepts that are embedded in the secular framework of Japanese films aimed at general audiences in Japan and globally. These cinematic masterpieces by directors Akira Kurosawa, Hayao Miyazaki, Hirokazu Kore-eda, and Makoto Shinkai operate as expressions of and, potentially, catalysts for transcendence of various kinds, particularly during the Heisei era (1989–2019), when Japan experienced severe economic hardship and devastating natural disasters. The book’s approach to aesthetics and religion employs the multifaceted concepts of ma (structuring intervals, liminal space-time), (emptiness, sky), mono no aware (compassionate sensibility, resigned sadness), and musubi (generative interconnection), examining the dynamic, evolving nature of these ancient principles that are at once spiritual, aesthetic, and philosophical. Scholars and enthusiasts of Japanese cinema (live action and anime), religion and film, cinematic aesthetics, and the relationship between East Asian religions and the arts will find fresh perspectives on these in this book, which moves beyond conventional notions of transcendental style and essentialized approaches to the multivalent richness of Japanese aesthetics.

    1. Introduction: Transcendent Japan: Japanese Cinema, Sacred Space, and Gateways to Transcendence

    2. Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away: Pilgrimage as Homecoming and Seeing Anew

    3. Makoto Shinkai’s your name: Celestial Destiny and Transcendent Love in the Space-Time of Disaster

    4. Akira Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood and Ran: Downward Transcendence and Nō Boundaries in a Wicked World

    5. Hirokazu Kore-eda’s After Life and I Wish: Creating Space for Everyday Transcendence

    Concluding Science-Fiction Postscript: Cinema as 間


    Melissa Croteau is Professor of Film Studies and Literature and Director of the Film Program at California Baptist University, United States.