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Department of the Study of Religions

Readings in Japanese religion

Course Code:
15PSRH041
Status:
Course Not Running 2014/2015
Unit value:
0.5
Year of study:
Any
Taught in:
Term 1

At the end of the course, a student should be able to demonstrate:

  • a good degree of knowledge of the technical vocabulary-related to Buddhism,kami worship and other aspects of the Japanese religious tradition.
  • have acquired the basic methodological skills to work independently on historical sources related to religion from different periods and contexts and a good familiarity with a variety of the reference tools necessary to approach an interdisciplinary field of study such as religion
  • read, and understand samples of pre-modern and modern Japanese language material on religion.
  • evaluate the development and relevance of a specific religious practice or idea within the Japanese Socio-political context, with reference to the broader East Asian context. 
  • critically assess the way in which specific issues have been studied and presented, in Japan and in the West.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the course

This reading seminar supplements the available courses on Japanese religions, offering students the opportunity to acquire familiarity with primary sources of Japanese religion and with the critical discourse on religion of contemporary Japanese scholarship. Students will be guided though a close reading of selected texts that illustrate different religious practices (Buddhism, kami worship, yin-yang) and the socio-political concerns of religious lineages, either in the original language or in modern Japanese transliteration. The study of primary sources will alternate with the analysis of short essays by leading Japanese scholars, which will introduce students to crucial issues in the study of Japanese religions. These issues will be further explored by discussing scholarship in English. Students will analyse one such issue in depth in their written coursework. In this way the course will function as a thematic course which uses material in Japanese.

The content of the readings will change every year, focusing on different topics. However, bthe course will maintain an emphasis on the ritual aspects of religious practice and on the interrelation between Buddhism, Shinto and onmyôdô, in the attempt to understand the particular way in which Japanese society has been relating to each and all of these traditions.

Students will be expected to do preliminary work on selected passages at home. This includes producing draft translations and surveying technical terminology, and exploring the context of the specific issue or practice described in the Japanese material through a study of scholarly works in English. Each week one or two students (depending on the size of the class) will take the lead in translating short passages in class. The translations will be commented and discussed further with the help of the tutor.

This course will provided much needed specialist linguistic training for research in Japanese religions, and it is therefore expected that it will also be attended by research students especially in their first year.

This course requires knowledge of the Japanese language at intermediate level.

Workload

A two hour per week Lecture/Seminar

Scope and syllabus

Tools:

  • Bukkyôgo daijiten
  • Bukkyô kaisetsu daijiten
  • Heian jidai shi jiten
  • Kokushi daijiten
  • Mochizuki bukkyô daijiten
  • Shintô daijiten
  • Shintô jiten

Secondary sources:

  • Breen and Teeuwen Shinto: A Short History, RoutledgeCurzon, 2003.
  • Cahiers d’ Extreme Asie 16 (special issue: Rethinking medieval shinto), 2009
  • Dolce, ed., The Worship of stars in Japanese religion, 2006
  • Hayashi and Koike, Onmyôdô no kôgi, Sagano shoin, 2002
  • Mitsuhashi Tadashi, Heian jidai shinkô to shûkyô girei
  • Nihon no bukkyô 3  (shin to butsu no cosmology), Hôzôkan
  • Okubo et al, Nihon bukkyô 34 no kagi, Shunjusha, 2003
  • Ooms, Imperial Politics and Symbolics in Ancient Japan: The Tenmu Dynasty, 2009.
  • Shinbutsu shugô (exhibition catalogue)
  • Shintô (Nihonshi shohyakka), Tôkyôdô, 2002
  • Teeuwen and Rambelli, eds. Buddha and Kami in Japan, Curzon, 2003
  • Yamashita Katsuaki, Heian jidai no shukyô bunka to onmyôdô
  • Yoshida Kazuhiko, Nihon kodai shakai to bukkyō

JJRS  Japanese Journal of Religious Studies (online)

Primary sources:

  • Nihon koten bungaku taikei
  • Nihon shisô taikei
  • Nihon kindai shisô taikei

Other references will be supplied in class

Method of assessment

Coursework: one 4,500 word essay, two translations of selected passage, class discussion . Assessment: essay 70%, translations 10% each , class discussion participation 10%.

Suggested reading

Tools: Bukkyôgo daijiten Bukkyô kaisetsu daijiten Heian jidai shi jiten Kokushi daijiten Mochizuki bukkyô daijiten Shintô daijiten Shintô jiten
Secondary sources: Breen and Teeuwen Shinto: A Short History, RoutledgeCurzon, 2003. Cahiers d’ Extreme Asie 16 (special issue: Rethinking medieval shinto), 2009 Dolce, ed., The Worship of stars in Japanese religion, 2006 Hayashi and Koike, Onmyôdô no kôgi, Sagano shoin, 2002 Mitsuhashi Tadashi, Heian jidai shinkô to shûkyô girei Nihon no bukkyô 3  (shin to butsu no cosmology), Hôzôkan Okubo et al, Nihon bukkyô 34 no kagi, Shunjusha, 2003 Ooms, Imperial Politics and Symbolics in Ancient Japan: The Tenmu Dynasty, 2009. Shinbutsu shugô (exhibition catalogue) Shintô (Nihonshi shohyakka), Tôkyôdô, 2002 Teeuwen and Rambelli, eds. Buddha and Kami in Japan, Curzon, 2003 Yamashita Katsuaki, Heian jidai no shukyô bunka to onmyôdô Yoshida Kazuhiko, Nihon kodai shakai to bukkyō
JJRS  Japanese Journal of Religious Studies (online)
Primary sources: Nihon koten bungaku taikei Nihon shisô taikei Nihon kindai shisô taikei
Other references will be supplied in class