Japanese New Religious Movements

Ian Reader

in The Oxford Handbook of Global Religions

Published in print October 2006 | ISBN: 9780195137989
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology

 Japanese New Religious Movements

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  • Religion
  • Interfaith Relations
  • Alternative Belief Systems


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From the first half of the nineteenth century onward, a new stratum of religious affiliation has emerged in Japan that is not directly related to the traditional customs, practices, and beliefs of Shinto shrines, Buddhist temples, and household gods. The emergence of a number of new religious movements (shin shukyo) offers alternative modes of religious faith and belonging. Many of these movements have generated a large following in Japan; some have become global in their reach, attracting a transnational membership. As the traditional emphasis on the household has eroded in modernity, there is evidence that some of the new religions have made inroads into the areas formerly dominated by the established religions, including creating their own funeral rites. This article first presents definitions and characteristics of new religions in Japan, then examines generations of new religious movements, structures, familial patterns and conservatism, centers of faith and pilgrimage, control and secession, and the importance of Japanese new religious movements in the study of religion.

Keywords: Japan; religious movements; shin shukyo; new religions; faith; pilgrimage; secession; control; structures; conservatism

Article.  6105 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Interfaith Relations ; Alternative Belief Systems

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