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Essays on the Structure of Japanese Folk Religion
by Miyake Hitoshi, Kokugakuin University, edited & introduced by H. Byron Earhart, Western Michigan University

“A rich source for the study of folk religion in Japan, and Shugendo€ in particular. . . . This collection is most welcome.”
Paul L. Swanson in Japanese Journal of Religious Studies

“This elite religion, and Miyake’s exposition of it, is rich and learned.”
George J. Tanabe, Jr. in The Journal of Asian Studies

This volume of essays is the first comprehensive publication in English of the work of Miyake Hitoshi, a distinguished scholar of Shugendo (mountain asceticism) and one of the foremost researchers on Japanese folk religion. Miyake defines folk religion as “religion that emerges from the necessities of community life.” In Miyake’s systematic methodological and theoretical approach, Shugendo is a classic example of Japanese folk religion, for it blends many traditions (shamanism, Taoism, Buddhism, and Shinto) into a distinctive Japanese religious worldview and is typical of Japanese religion generally.

The first part of this book is devoted to Shugendo and introduces the results of Miyake’s research on Shugendo’s history, organization, ritual, austerities, thought, and cosmology.  Related subjects include exorcism and the exclusion of women. The second part of the book provides research and reflection on Japanese folk religion, including essays on the idea of nature, worldly benefits, new religions, death and rebirth, and the structure of folk religion.

The work clarifies the logic behind the religious syncretism of the Japanese people. It is must reading not only for those interested in Japanese history, culture, and religion, but also for those studying world religions and folk culture

Published by Center for Japanese Studies, University of Michigan
Michigan Monographs in Japanese Studies No. 32
Published 2001, 321 pp.
ISBN 0 939512 05 X, hardback, £40.00
ISBN 978 1 929180 38 6, paperback, £15.99