Shintō Shrines and Secularism in Modern Japan, 1890–1945

A Case Study on Kashihara Jingū

In: Journal of Religion in Japan
Karli Shimizu Hokkaidō University, Sapporo, Japan

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From the late eighteenth century to WWII, shrine Shintō came to be seen as a secular institution by the government, academics, and activists in Japan (Isomae 2014; Josephson 2012, Maxey 2014). However, research thus far has largely focused on the political and academic discourses surrounding the development of this idea. This article contributes to this discussion by examining how a prominent modern Shintō shrine, Kashihara Jingū founded in 1890, was conceived of and treated as secular. It also explores how Kashihara Jingū communicated an alternate sense of space and time in line with a new Japanese secularity. This Shintō-based secularity, which located shrines as public, historical, and modern, was formulated in antagonism to the West and had an influence that extended across the Japanese sphere. The shrine also serves as a case study of how the modern political system of secularism functioned in a non-western nation-state.

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