Special Issue "Chinese Influences on Japanese Religious Traditions"

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444). This special issue belongs to the section "Religions and Humanities/Philosophies".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 September 2021) | Viewed by 10793

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Jeffrey L. Richey
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Asian Studies Department, Berea College, Berea, KY 40404, USA
Interests: Sino–Japanese cultural exchanges in antiquity; Daoist traditions in Japan; Confucian studies

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The vast extent and diversity of Chinese influences on the development of Japanese religious culture is widely acknowledged by scholars and laypeople alike, but is not necessarily well understood, especially in Anglophone scholarship. Apart from some studies of specific Buddhist and Confucian traditions and their transplantation and adaptation to Japan, as well as a few recent works on the transmission and synthesis of Daoist traditions in Japan, little has been done to examine and analyze the myriad pathways by which Chinese cultural traditions have impacted the history and present-day situation of Japanese religions. 

The purposes of this Special Issue are (1) to provide an overview of the historical and contemporary connections between Chinese and Japanese religious cultures, (2) to offer multidisciplinary analyses of instances of Chinese influence on the development of Japanese religious traditions, especially the understudied role of Chinese influence on Shintō and popular religion in Japan, and (3) to foster collaboration between Sinologists and Japanologists engaged in the study of religions.

Particularly welcomed are high-quality papers with a focus on:

  • The theoretical problem of identifying “Chinese” influences on Japanese culture;
  • Japan as both recipient and agent in the religious “Sinosphere”;
  • Material instances of Chinese influence on Japanese religious culture;
  • Intersections between Chinese traditions and Japanese constructions of gender, sexuality, and the body;
  • The phenomenon of “Orientalism” in Japanese appropriations of Chinese religious culture;
  • The role of Chinese immigration in shaping Japanese religious culture;
  • The “second lives” of Chinese religious texts and vocabularies in Japan;
  • Shintō as a synthetic tradition with Chinese roots/influences;
  • Japanese popular religion and its relationship to Chinese popular religion and/or sectarian traditions;
  • Japanese Buddhism as transmitter of non-Buddhist Chinese traditions;
  • Chinese influences on new religious movements in Japan.

Prof. Dr. Jeffrey L. Richey
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • Japanese religions
  • Sino–Japanese relations
  • East Asian religions
  • Japanese Buddhism
  • Daoism
  • Taoism
  • Shintō
  • Confucianism
  • Syncretism
  • Chinese religions

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Research

Article
Shinran as Global Philosopher
Religions 2022, 13(2), 105; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13020105 - 21 Jan 2022
Viewed by 509
Abstract
Gutoku Shinran 愚禿親鸞 (1173–1263) is one of Japan’s most creative and influential thinkers. He is the (posthumous) founder of what ultimately became Jōdo Shinshū, better known today as Shin Buddhism, the most widely practiced form of Buddhism in Japan. Despite this, his work [...] Read more.
Gutoku Shinran 愚禿親鸞 (1173–1263) is one of Japan’s most creative and influential thinkers. He is the (posthumous) founder of what ultimately became Jōdo Shinshū, better known today as Shin Buddhism, the most widely practiced form of Buddhism in Japan. Despite this, his work has not received the global attention of other historical Japanese philosophical figures such as Kūkai 空海 (774–835) or Dōgen 道元 (1200–1253). The relationships of influence between Shin Buddhism in general—or Shinran’s work more specifically—and earlier Chinese sources, especially non-Buddhist sources, are complex, rarely examined in much detail, and often buried under layers of interpretive difficulties, made all the more challenging for contemporary Anglophone scholars by the ways in which Shin Buddhism has been marginalized in much of the philosophical scholarship on East Asian traditions. Exploring his work through a lens of connection to the broader Chinese philosophical landscape reveals new insights, both for our understanding of Shinran’s philosophical project, and for contemporary comparative engagement across East Asian traditions, helping to resituate Shinran as a globally significant philosopher. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Chinese Influences on Japanese Religious Traditions)
Article
Pregnancy, Incantations, and Talismans in Early Medieval Japan: Chinese Influences on the Ritual Activities of Court Physicians
Religions 2021, 12(11), 907; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12110907 - 20 Oct 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 671
Abstract
Court physicians (ishi or kusushi 医師), officials in the Bureau of Medications, were responsible for the well-being of court aristocracy since the establishment of a centralized state on the Japanese archipelago in the eighth century. Despite an increasing interest in the therapeutic [...] Read more.
Court physicians (ishi or kusushi 医師), officials in the Bureau of Medications, were responsible for the well-being of court aristocracy since the establishment of a centralized state on the Japanese archipelago in the eighth century. Despite an increasing interest in the therapeutic arena of premodern Japan, scholars have tended to emphasize an epistemic divide between physicians and technicians employing other healing modalities, such as Buddhist monks and onmyōji 陰陽師, so that the former would be concerned with the physical body while the latter would not. However, this study focuses on the ritual and hemerological dimensions of the activities of court physicians within the crucial context of pregnancy and childbirth. By the twelfth century, court physicians affixed land-leasing talismans (shakuchimon 借地文) in the birthing room, pacified the birthing bed through incantations, and partook in the adjudication of a pregnancy-related hemerological notion known as hanshi (Ch: fanzhi). These practices appear in Ishinpō 医心方, which is a compendium of Chinese classics on therapeutics, hygiene, divination, and ritual that was compiled by Tanba no Yasuyori and presented to the court in 984. Ishinpō incorporates elements from multiple continental traditions, and some of the ritual practices discussed in this paper have at times been framed as “Daoist”. Since Daoist texts and institutions were never systematically brought or established in Japan, this study will rather stress the necessity of examining how Chinese textual traditions and ritual regimes were transmitted and distributed among institutions and technical groups within the Japanese state, in particular physicians from the Bureau of Medications and onmyōji from the Bureau of Yin and Yang. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Chinese Influences on Japanese Religious Traditions)
Article
The Kojiki/Nihon Shoki Mythology and Chinese Mythology: Theme, Structure, and Meaning
Religions 2021, 12(10), 896; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12100896 - 18 Oct 2021
Viewed by 761
Abstract
This essay will compare myths found in the Kojiki and the Nihon Shoki with thematically and structurally similar Chinese myths, and other Japanese texts, in order to shed light on the meanings of both Japanese and Chinese mythology. The authors’ approach is partly [...] Read more.
This essay will compare myths found in the Kojiki and the Nihon Shoki with thematically and structurally similar Chinese myths, and other Japanese texts, in order to shed light on the meanings of both Japanese and Chinese mythology. The authors’ approach is partly in the critical textual study tradition that traces back to Gu Jiegang and Tsuda Sokichi, and partly informed by comparative mythologists, such as Matsumae Takeshi, Nelly Naumann, and Antonio Klaus, with attention to Proppian and Levi-Straussian motifs in structural studies. First, we shall discuss some common themes in Chinese and Kojiki/Nihon Shoki myths. Second, we shall point out common structures in both Chinese and Japanese myths. Finally, we shall try to show how such common themes and structures could potentially help us understand the meanings of the myths in discussion. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Chinese Influences on Japanese Religious Traditions)
Article
Tracing the Influence of Ming-Qing Buddhism in Early Modern Japan: Yunqi Zhuhong’s Tract on Refraining from Killing and on Releasing Life and Ritual Animal Releases
Religions 2021, 12(10), 889; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12100889 - 15 Oct 2021
Viewed by 585
Abstract
This essay traces the Japanese reception of Zhuhong’s Tract on Refraining from Killing and on Releasing Life in the early modern period. Ritual animal releases have a long history in Japan beginning in the seventh century, approximately two centuries after such rituals arose [...] Read more.
This essay traces the Japanese reception of Zhuhong’s Tract on Refraining from Killing and on Releasing Life in the early modern period. Ritual animal releases have a long history in Japan beginning in the seventh century, approximately two centuries after such rituals arose in China. From the mid-eighth century, the releases became large-scale state rites conducted at Hachiman shrines, which have been most widely studied and documented. By contrast, a different strand of life releases that emerged in the Edo period owing to the influence of late Ming Buddhism has received comparatively little scholarly attention despite the significance for the period. Not only may the publication of a Sino–Japanese edition of Zhuhong’s Tract in 1661 have been an impetus for Shogun Tokugawa Tsunayoshi’s Laws of Compassion in the late-seventeenth century, but also approximately thirty Japanese Buddhist texts inspired by Zhuhong’s Tract appeared over the next two and a half centuries. As Zhuhong’s ethic of refraining from killing and releasing life was assimilated over the course of the Edo and into the Meiji period, life releases became primarily associated with generating merit for the posthumous repose of the ancestors although they were also said to have a variety of vital benefits for the devotees and their families, such as health, longevity, prosperity, and descendants. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Chinese Influences on Japanese Religious Traditions)
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Article
A Pragmatics of Ritual: The Yoshida Goma at the Interface of Shintō and Shingon
Religions 2021, 12(10), 884; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12100884 - 15 Oct 2021
Viewed by 443
Abstract
Drawing on practices and teachings from Daoism, neo-Confucianism, and tantric Buddhism, Yoshida Kanetomo (1435–1511) created the system of Yuiitsu Shintō, also known eponymously as Yoshida Shintō, all the while making claims for Shintō as the world’s original religion. Important for the establishment of [...] Read more.
Drawing on practices and teachings from Daoism, neo-Confucianism, and tantric Buddhism, Yoshida Kanetomo (1435–1511) created the system of Yuiitsu Shintō, also known eponymously as Yoshida Shintō, all the while making claims for Shintō as the world’s original religion. Important for the establishment of Yoshida Shintō was the creation of a program of rituals. This essay examines one of the three rituals created for the Yoshida ritual program, the Yoshida Shintō goma ritual, which hybridizes tantric Buddhist ritual organization and Daoist symbolism. A pragmatics of ritual is developed as a means of identifying the factors that Yoshida felt were salient in presenting the goma as a Yoshida Shintō ritual. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Chinese Influences on Japanese Religious Traditions)
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Article
Japanese Monks and Chinese Books: Glimpses of Buddhist Sinology in Early Tokugawa Japan
Religions 2021, 12(10), 871; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12100871 - 13 Oct 2021
Viewed by 445
Abstract
In the17th and 18th centuries, just as English scholars were reading and writing about their heritage in the continental prestige language of Latin, so too were Japanese members of the Buddhist clergy researching and publishing about the Chinese language heritage of their own [...] Read more.
In the17th and 18th centuries, just as English scholars were reading and writing about their heritage in the continental prestige language of Latin, so too were Japanese members of the Buddhist clergy researching and publishing about the Chinese language heritage of their own religious tradition, drawing both on new printed books, often imported from China, and on much earlier manuscripts and printed texts preserved in their own country. The importation and reprinting of the canon by Ōbaku monks and the subsequent flowering of Zen scholarship is already well-known, but we should consider the efforts of Shingon monks in commenting on the heritage they received from China eight centuries earlier, and even the activities of Nichiren monks, who took steps to promote the legacy of Chinese Tiantai Buddhism. Critical reflection on the Buddhist tradition may not have emerged in Japan until the 18th century, but it did so in the context of a world of scholarship concerning an imported classical language that certainly stood comparison with that of the contemporary Anglophone world. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Chinese Influences on Japanese Religious Traditions)
Article
Daoist Cosmogony in the Kojiki 古事記 Preface
Religions 2021, 12(9), 761; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12090761 - 13 Sep 2021
Viewed by 963
Abstract
A close reading of the cosmogony found in the preface to Ō no Yasumaro 太安萬侶’s Kojiki 古事記 (Record of Ancient Matters, 712 CE) reveals the ways in which Japan’s early Nara period elites appropriated aspects of China’s Daoist traditions for their own [...] Read more.
A close reading of the cosmogony found in the preface to Ō no Yasumaro 太安萬侶’s Kojiki 古事記 (Record of Ancient Matters, 712 CE) reveals the ways in which Japan’s early Nara period elites appropriated aspects of China’s Daoist traditions for their own literary, mythological, and political purposes. This debt to Daoism on the part of the oldest Shintō 神道 scripture, in turn, reveals the extent to which Daoist traditions were eclectically mined for content that early Japanese elites found useful, rather than transmitted as intact lineages. This also raises questions about whether and how “Daoism” has functioned as a systematic body of doctrines and practices, whether in China or overseas. The essay argues that Ō no Yasumaro’s appropriation of the Daoist cosmogonic repertoire is consistent with Daoist traditions as they developed during China’s Six Dynasties and Tang periods—that is, with Daoism as it existed contemporaneously with the early Nara period, when the Kojiki was compiled. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Chinese Influences on Japanese Religious Traditions)
Article
From China to Japan and Back Again: An Energetic Example of Bidirectional Sino-Japanese Esoteric Buddhist Transmission
Religions 2021, 12(9), 675; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12090675 - 24 Aug 2021
Viewed by 1663
Abstract
Sino-Japanese religious discourse, more often than not, is treated as a unidirectional phenomenon. Academic treatments of pre-modern East Asian religion usually portray Japan as the passive recipient of Chinese Buddhist traditions, while explorations of Buddhist modernization efforts focus on how Chinese Buddhists utilized [...] Read more.
Sino-Japanese religious discourse, more often than not, is treated as a unidirectional phenomenon. Academic treatments of pre-modern East Asian religion usually portray Japan as the passive recipient of Chinese Buddhist traditions, while explorations of Buddhist modernization efforts focus on how Chinese Buddhists utilized Japanese adoptions of Western understandings of religion. This paper explores a case where Japan was simultaneously the receptor and agent by exploring the Chinese revival of Tang-dynasty Zhenyan. This revival—which I refer to as Neo-Zhenyan—was actualized by Chinese Buddhist who received empowerment (Skt. abhiṣeka) under Shingon priests in Japan in order to claim the authority to found “Zhenyan” centers in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia, and even the USA. Moreover, in addition to utilizing Japanese Buddhist sectarianism to root their lineage in the past, the first known architect of Neo-Zhenyan, Wuguang (1918–2000), used energeticism, the thermodynamic theory propagated by the German chemist Freidrich Wilhelm Ostwald (1853–1932; 1919 Nobel Prize for Chemistry) that was popular among early Japanese Buddhist modernists, such as Inoue Enryō (1858–1919), to portray his resurrected form of Zhenyan as the most suitable form of Buddhism for the future. Based upon the circular nature of esoteric transmission from China to Japan and back to the greater Sinosphere and the use of energeticism within Neo-Zhenyan doctrine, this paper reveals the sometimes cyclical nature of Sino-Japanese religious influence. Data were gathered by closely analyzing the writings of prominent Zhenyan leaders alongside onsite fieldwork conducted in Taiwan from 2011–2019. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Chinese Influences on Japanese Religious Traditions)
Article
Milk, Yogurt and Butter in Medieval East Asia: Dairy Products from China to Japan in Medicine and Buddhism
Religions 2021, 12(5), 302; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12050302 - 25 Apr 2021
Viewed by 2395
Abstract
Dairy products have existed in China from at least the Han Dynasty onward. Later, under the influence of Buddhism, dairy items such as yogurt, butter and ghee were required for ritual purposes. The domestic dairy industry in medieval China is an understudied topic, [...] Read more.
Dairy products have existed in China from at least the Han Dynasty onward. Later, under the influence of Buddhism, dairy items such as yogurt, butter and ghee were required for ritual purposes. The domestic dairy industry in medieval China is an understudied topic, but even more so is the use of dairy in contemporary Japan, where Chinese traditions of Buddhism were transplanted in full. The kanji describing various dairy products were also known in Japan, but we must ask whether these substances were available in Japan, and to what extent. Unlike luxury consumables such as aromatics and medicines, perishable foodstuffs were unlikely to have been transported from the mainland. This study will document and discuss the transmission of a dairy industry from China to Japan, with a focus on the role of these products in religious and medical contexts. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Chinese Influences on Japanese Religious Traditions)
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