Practical Pursuits: Religion, Politics, and Personal Cultivation in Nineteenth-Century Japan (Hardback)Janine Tasca Sawada (author)
Hardback 432 Pages / Published: 30/06/2004
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The idea that personal cultivation leads to social and material well-being became wide spread in late Tokugawa Japan (1600-1868). Practical Pursuits explores theories of personal development that were diffused in the early nineteenth century by a network of religious groups in the Edo (Tokyo) area, and explains how, after the Meiji Restoration of 1868, the leading members of these communities went on to create ideological coalitions inspired by the pursuit of a modern form of cultivation. Variously engaged in divination, Shinto purification rituals, and Zen practice, these individuals ultimately used informal political associations to promote the Confucian-style assumption that personal improvement is the basis for national prosperity. This wide-ranging yet painstakingly researched study represents a new direction in historical analysis. Where previous scholarship has used large conceptual units like Confucianism and Buddhism as its main actors and has emphasized the discontinuities in Edo and Meiji religious life, Sawada addresses the history of religion in nineteenth-century Japan at the level of individuals and small groups. She employs personal cultivation as an interpretive system, crossing familiar boundaries to consider complex linguistic, philosophical, and social interconnections. Moreover, because the task of self-improvement was a common concern across social classes, by focusing on this ""practical pursuit,"" Sawada demonstrates in a new way the problematic nature of the conventional distinction between popular and high religion. Scholars of religious studies and of Japanese intellectual and social history will applaud her attempt to bring together the many participants in the nineteenth-century discourse of personal cultivation.
Publisher: University of Hawai'i Press
Number of pages: 432
Weight: 785 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 31 mm
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