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Open AccessArticle

Future Perfect: Tolstoy and the Structures of Agrarian-Buddhist Utopianism in Taishō Japan

Comparative Humanities Program, Bucknell University, Lewisburg, PA 17837, USA
Religions 2018, 9(5), 161; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9050161
Received: 22 April 2018 / Revised: 11 May 2018 / Accepted: 13 May 2018 / Published: 16 May 2018
This study focuses on the role played by the work of Leo Tolstoy (1828–1910) in shaping socialism and agrarian-Buddhist utopianism in Japan. As Japanese translations of Tolstoy’s fiction and philosophy, and accounts of his life became more available at the end of the 19th century, his ideas on the individual, religion, society, and politics had a tremendous impact on the generation coming of age in the 1900s and his popularity grew among young intellectuals. One important legacy of Tolstoy in Japan is his particular concern with the peasantry and agricultural reform. Among those inspired by Tolstoy and the narodniki lifestyle, three individuals, Tokutomi Roka, Eto Tekirei, and Mushakōji Saneatsu illustrate how prominent writers and thinkers adopted the master’s lifestyle and attempted to put his ideas into practice. In the spirit of the New Buddhists of late Meiji, they envisioned a comprehensive lifestyle structure. As Eto Tekirei moved to the village of Takaido with the assistance of Tokutomi Roka, he called his new home Hyakushō Aidōjō (literally, Farmers Love Training Ground). He and his family endeavored to follow a Tolstoyan life, which included labor, philosophy, art, religion, society, and politics, a grand project that he saw as a “non-religious religion.” As such, Tekirei’s utopian vision might be conceived as an experiment in “alter-modernity.” View Full-Text
Keywords: violence; nonviolence; Leo Tolstoy (1828–1910); utopianism; Japanese Buddhism; Tokutomi Roka (1868–1927); Eto Tekirei (1880–1944); Mushakōji Saneatsu (1885–1976); nonresistance; agrarian way of life violence; nonviolence; Leo Tolstoy (1828–1910); utopianism; Japanese Buddhism; Tokutomi Roka (1868–1927); Eto Tekirei (1880–1944); Mushakōji Saneatsu (1885–1976); nonresistance; agrarian way of life
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Shields, J.M. Future Perfect: Tolstoy and the Structures of Agrarian-Buddhist Utopianism in Taishō Japan. Religions 2018, 9, 161.

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