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Secrecy's PowerCovert Shin Buddhists in Japan and Contradictions of Concealment$
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Clark Chilson

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780824838393

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824838393.001.0001

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Secrecies in Religion and Shin Buddhism

(p.1) Introduction
Secrecy's Power

Clark Chilson

University of Hawai'i Press

This book explores the secrecy of Shin Buddhism and the consequences of concealment for its covert adherents. It looks at covert Shin Buddhists who hide the very existence of their religious traditions, worshipping and performing rites in places undisclosed to outsiders, including neighbors. Drawing on historical and ethnographic research, the book shows that the consequences of concealment for covert Shin Buddhists have been conflicting. Focusing on one type of covert Shin that some scholars refer to as hiji bōmon, it examines the power that secrecy wields in religious contexts. This introduction considers the types of secrecy in religion, namely, mystery, esotericism, and social secrecy; overt and cover types of secretive religions; different types of covert Shin associations; and previous studies on covert Shin Buddhists. It also compares secrecy with privacy, ignorance, and secretizing and narrates the author's serendipitous “discovery” of the group called Urahōmon in 1998.

Keywords:   secrecy, Shin Buddhism, religious traditions, Shin Buddhists, hiji bōmon, mystery, esotericism, secretive religions, privacy, Urahōmon

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