BA English Language and Japanese / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Religion in Japan

Course unit fact file
Unit code JAPA20211
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
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 traditions and the new religions) and practices that have shaped the Japanese religious and cultural landscapes., andIt also examinesexplores 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.

Pre/co-requisites

Available on: Japanese Studies programme

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 traditions and the new religions) and practices that have shaped the Japanese religious and cultural landscapes., and It also explores 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.  

Week 1: Religion in Japan: key themes, concepts and traditions

Week 2: Disasters

Week 3: Shinto

Week 4: Buddhism

Week 5: New Religions

Week 6: Shungendō and mountain religion

Week 7: Pilgrimage

Week 8: Nationalism  

Week 9: Violence

Week 10: Minorities

Week 11: Future perspectives

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.

Knowledge and understanding

•    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

•    Engage in informed critical analysis of Japanese culture, especially religion.
•    Read and watch critically.
•    Write analytically.

Practical skills

•    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

•    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.

Employability skills

Analytical skills
The course will develop a range of abilities that are essential for much higher-level employment. These include gathering, critically selecting, and organizing information and ideas; analytical, critical thinking; interpreting and assessing sources; articulating coherent, logical and convincing arguments and supporting them by relevant evidence; articulate participation in oral discussion; working independently and to deadlines.
Other
In addition, it will develop critical understanding of a different society, which is valuable for employment with an international dimension. It will develop understanding of a number of key aspects of Japanese society related to its religious traditions which will be invaluable for those seeking employment in Japan or seeking employment where engagement with Japan is important.

Assessment methods

Assessment task  

Formative or Summative 

Weighting within unit (if summative) 

1 essay on agreed topic/s 

Summative 

50% 

1 written examination 

Summative 

50% 

 

Resit Assessment:

1 Essay on agreed topic 

 

Feedback methods

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

 

Recommended reading

  
Barbara Ambros Women in Japanese Religions. (New York and London: New York University Press, 2015)

Mark Rowe Bonds of The Dead: Temples, Burial and the Transformation of Contemporary Japanese Buddhism (University of Hawai‘i Press 2011)

John Breen (ed) Yasukuni, the war dead and the struggle for Japan's past (Oxford University Press 2008)

John Breen and Mark Teeuwen, A new history of Shinto (Wiley, 2010)  

Paul L. Swanson and Clark Chilson (eds)  Nanzan Guide to Japanese Religions. (University of Hawai‘i Press, 2006)  

Erica Baffelli, Andrea Castiglioni, and Fabio Rambelli (eds) The Bloomsbury Handbook of Japanese Religions (Bloomsbury 2021)

Ian Reader Making Pilgrimages: meaning and Practice in Shikoku (University of Hawai‘i Press 2004)

 

Study hours

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

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Tim Graf Unit coordinator

Additional notes

  

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