BA Film Studies and East Asian Studies / Course details

Year of entry: 2020

Course unit details:
History of Religion in Japan

Unit code JAPA20211
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Japanese Studies
Available as a free choice unit? Yes

Overview

This module examines religion in Japanese historical and contemporary contexts, with a particular emphasis on the modern period. It introduces the main religious traditions (notably Buddhism, Shinto, the folk religious tradition and the new religions) and practices that have shaped the Japanese religious and cultural landscapes, and examines the historical emergence and development of religious traditions, their relationships with state and society, their rituals and practices. Furthermore, it examines issues of religious change in the late 20th/early 21st century and discusses the relationship between media and religion in contemporary Japan.

Aims

• To provide students with an understanding of main topics concerning the study of religion in Japan

• To introduce the religious traditions and their dynamics in modern and contemporary Japan, in particular the interactions between culture, religion and society.

• To help students understand the main issues related to the place of religion in Japan today.

Syllabus

This module examines religion in Japanese historical and contemporary contexts, with a particular emphasis on the modern period.  It introduces the main religious traditions (notably Buddhism, Shinto, the folk religious tradition and the new religions) and practices that have shaped the Japanese religious and cultural landscapes, and examines the historical emergence and development of religious traditions, their relationships with state and society, and their rituals and practices. Furthermore, it examines issues of religious change in the late 20th/early 21st century.

Topic 1           Shinto

Topic 2           Buddhism

Topic 3           Mountain religion and pilgrimage

Topic 4           Folk religious tradition

Topic 5           New Religions

Topic 6           Religion in post-1995 Japan

Teaching and learning methods

Lectures and pre-reading will set out the key issues and provide the fundamental information required for students to understand and interpret the media texts selected. Students are expected to come to class prepared to discuss questions on the topics outlined within the reading material assigned each week. Visual materials (photos, video clips, websites, manga, magazines and so on) will be used in some classes. Seminars will be used to address the key issues identified within the lectures, reading material and/or visual materials in greater depth, as well as to address essay writing techniques and processes.

Slides used in lectures will be posted on the Blackboard site. Blackboard will support the module by providing further reading and visual materials.

Essays will be submitted, marked, and returned with feedback via Blackboard.

Language of Teaching: English

Knowledge and understanding

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • demonstrate knowledge and understanding of key major issues relating to the role of religion in modern and contemporary Japan
  • demonstrate critical understanding of key analytical concepts related to the study of religion in contemporary Japan

Intellectual skills

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • engage in informed critical analysis of Japanese culture, especially religion
  • read and watch critically
  • write analytically

Practical skills

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • have the skills to discover good sources independently
  • experience reading academic texts building on their earlier or parallel learning in cognate course units

 

Transferable skills and personal qualities

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • have honed their skills for reasoned presentation, discussion and argument
  • be able to find and use critically a range of materials such as books, journals and web-based resources relevant to the topics studied in the course.

Assessment methods

Assessment task Length Weighting within unit

1 essay on agreed topic/s

2500 words 50%
1 written examination 2 hours 50%

 

Feedback methods

  • In class: response to contributions and to questions asked, along with any other participation.
  • In writing: written feedback on essay (via Blackboard/Turnitin)
  • In person: additional one-to-one feedback during the consultation hours or by making an appointment.

Recommended reading

Satsuki Kawano 2005 Ritual practice in modern Japan : ordering place, people, and action (Hawaii)

Ian Reader 1991 Religion in Contemporary Japan (Basingstoke: Macmillans)

Ian Reader, and George J. Tanabe 1998 Practically Religious: Worldly Benefits and the Common Religion of Japan (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press)

Paul L. Swanson and Clark Chilson (eds) 2006 Nanzan guide to Japanese religions. (University of Hawaii Press)

Mark Mullins,  Shimazono Susumu, and Paul Swanson (eds) 1993 Religion and  Society in Modern Japan (Berkeley, Cal: Asian Humanities Press)

Inken Prohl and John Nelson (eds) 2012 Handbook of Contemporary Japanese Religions (Brill)

George Tanabe (ed) 1999 Religions of Japan in Practice (Princeton)

Michiko Yusa  2002 Japanese Religious Traditions (Prentice Hall)

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 22
Seminars 11
Independent study hours
Independent study 167

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Erica Baffelli Unit coordinator

Additional notes

This module must be passed with a minimum overall mark of 40% in order to progress.

Following successful completion of the first part of this course, it is strongly recommended that students continue working on their independent learning dossier over the Christmas vacation and the January examination period.   

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