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Shimaji Mokurai and the Reconception of Religion and the Secular in Modern Japan$
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Hans Martin Krämer

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780824851538

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824851538.001.0001

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Early Meiji Buddhism and the Shintoist Challenge

Early Meiji Buddhism and the Shintoist Challenge

(p.42) 2 Early Meiji Buddhism and the Shintoist Challenge
Shimaji Mokurai and the Reconception of Religion and the Secular in Modern Japan

Hans Martin Krämer

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter looks at the events of the early 1870s, which provide the context for the modern Japanese word for “religion,” shūkyō. The first element of the new term, shū, was in fact the most important umbrella concept for certain groups in the Tokugawa period. Nonetheless, the immediate context for the new terminology in the 1870s was the radical change in the interface between religion and politics wrought by the Tokugawa–Meiji transition. Both the de facto readmission of Christianity and the nationalist Shinto reaction against Buddhism reconfigured the options available to religious actors. In this situation, the appropriation of religion from Western sources and its reconception within the Japanese context became a political resource in the struggle between religious actors to secure a privileged position in Japanese society and politics.

Keywords:   shūkyō, Tokugawa–Meiji transition, Tokugawa period, Christianity, Shintoism, Buddhism, religious actors, Japanese society, Japanese politics, Shimaji Mokurai

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