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Religion and Society in Nineteenth Century Japan
A Study of the Southern Kantô Region, Using Late Edo and Early Meiji Gazeteers
by Helen Hardacre, Harvard University

“This book will take an honored place among the increasing number of works that provide students and scholars with a more nuanced view of Japanese religion.”
A.L. Miller in Choice
 

“Hardacre presents a perspective on nineteenth-century religion in Japan that differs from many received histories. For these insights alone, Religion and Society will appeal to those interested in early modern religious and social history.”
Alexander Vesey in Japanese Religions
 

Religion and Society in Nineteenth-Century Japan offers extensive and concrete detail for the complex institutional ways in which Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines were interwoven and interpenetrated in the late Edo period, and for the specific and equally complex ways in which this whole system was transformed in the Meiji period. The book also details the economic basis of institutional religions, the relative roles and strengths of various Buddhist sects, and the ritualization of sericulture.

Using local geographies of the Kanto€ region as a basis for her study, Helen Hardacre presents a statistical portrait of the religious institutions existing in Ko€za County of Sagami Province and the Western Tama area of Musashi Province in the years from roughly 1830 to 1840.  She then interprets this data to provide the social setting for these religious institutions by supplementing the statistical portrait derived from the geographies, first with an examination of the legal framework governing religious institutions during the Edo period, and then with case studies of four significant religious sites in the survey area.. The dynamics of the institutional organization of these four sites are analyzed, with attention to the relations among temples and shrines and to the development of the shrine priesthood. This analysis is further supplemented with a discussion of popular religious life centering on the temples and shrines of the survey area at the end of the Edo period.

Published by Center for Japanese Studies, University of Michigan
Michigan Monographs in Japanese Studies No. 41
Published 2002, 260 pp., illustrated
ISBN 1 929280 13 0, hardback, £40.00