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Bones of ContentionAnimals and Religion in Contemporary Japan$
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Barbara R. Ambros

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780824836269

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824836269.001.0001

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Order, Karma, and Kinship

Order, Karma, and Kinship

Animals in Japanese History and Culture

(p.17) One Order, Karma, and Kinship
Bones of Contention

Barbara R. Ambros

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter provides a historical overview and discourse analysis of animals in premodern Japanese myth, folklore, and religion. It first considers the conflicting views on human–animal relationships in Japan before discussing premodern terms that were used to signify animals and what these terms can tell us about how premodern Japanese understood the relationship between humans and other animals at the time. It then examines three important tropes: animals as symbols of an ideal cosmological order; animals as subhuman beasts; and animals as fellow living beings. It also explains how karma has been associated with animals and concludes by exploring how indigenous, continental Asian, and Western views toward animals informs contemporary Japanese views of animals and influences the development of the mortuary culture for pets. The chapter highlights the paradoxical nature of Japanese attitudes toward animals.

Keywords:   animals, Japan, myth, folklore, religion, human–animal relationships, humans, cosmological order, subhuman beasts, karma

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