Pure Land Buddhism in Modern Japanese Culture


Despite being one of the most influential forms of Japanese Buddhism, the Pure Land tradition, and notably its impact on the development of Japanese cultural history, has often been overlooked outside Japan. Taking into account recent scholarship on orientalism and occidentalism, this book, written from the perspective of the Study of Religions, provides an analysis of the impact that the Pure Land tradition, in particular Shin Buddhism, has exerted on mainstream forms of artistic expression (especially creative arts, literature and the tea ceremony) in modern and contemporary Japan.
Restricted Access


EUR €149.00USD $198.00

Biographical Note

Elisabetta Porcu, Ph.D. (Religious Studies). She is currently a Senior Researcher at the Centre for Area Studies, University of Leipzig. Her main research interests are Japanese religions, media and culture, and Pure Land Buddhism.

Review Quotes

"Porcu’s ground-breaking study is an indispensable resource for rebalancing Western perceptions of contemporary Japanese religion."
Galen Amstutz, Religious Studies Review 35:4

"Porcu’s work can thus be added to the list of exemplary works of critical self-reflection on the study of Buddhism, and while the importance of Porcu’s critical study applies specifi cally to the case of Japan, it is in fact much more widely relevant."
Richard K. Payne, Institute of Buddhist Studies, Berkeley, California, Japanese Religions 35:1-2

"Elisabetta Porcu's Pure Land Buddhism in Modern Japanese Culture brings much-needed attention to Buddhism's impact on Japanese Culture in the twentieth century [...] a well-researched and significant book that deserves to be read widely by scholars of modern Japan, whatever their subfield."
Richard M. Jaffe, Duke University, USA, Journal of Japanese Studies 36:1

"Porcu has assembled an impressive and engaging array of sources and resources that demonstrate the presence of Pure Land concepts in iconic examples of Japanese art and culture [...] She has produced a significant contribution to the literature on the relationship between Japanese art and religion."
Nancy Stalker, The Eastern Buddhist 41:1

Table of contents

Introduction 1
Structure of the Book 19
Chapter One Creating Images of Japanese Buddhism and Culture 23
Japanese Buddhism and Culture at the World’s
Parliament of Religions 23
Okakura Kakuzō’s English Writings and Cultural
Nationalism 32
Representations of Japan and Japanese Buddhism during World War II 40
Suzuki Daisetsu and his Legacy 54
Suzuki Daisetsu in the Shin Buddhist context 66
Shin Buddhism from the Viewpoint of the Kyoto School 76
Chapter Two Jōdo Shinshū and Literature 89
Everyday Life in a Jōdo Shinshū Temple: Niwa Fumio’s
The Buddha Tree 96
Jōdo Shinshū in the Narrative Writing of Natsume
Sōseki 104
A young poetess and Jōdo Shinshū: Kaneko Misuzu 115
Itsuki Hiroyuki: A Best-Selling Writer and Jōdo Shinshū 124
Literary Reflections on Personal Experiences within Jōdo Shinshū 131
Harold H. Stewart’s By the Old Walls of Kyoto 32
The Theme of Death from the Perspective of Jōdo
Shinshū: Aoki Shinmon’s Coffi nman: The Journal ofa Buddhist Mortician 137
Chapter Three Pure Land Buddhism and Creative Arts 143
Aesthetics and Religion in Yanagi Muneyoshi 143
Yanagi and Cultural Nationalism 159
Th e Woodblock Artist Munakata Shikō and Tariki 163
Representations of the Pure Land in Contemporary Visual Arts 173
Recent Trends in Contemporary Japanese Visual Arts: Mori Mariko’s Pure Land 177
Chapter Four Pure Land Buddhism and the Tea Ceremony 183
Images of Chanoyu 183
Pure Land Buddhism in the Tradition of Chanoyu 192
A Connection between the Honganji-ha and Chanoyu: the Yabunouchi School of Tea 197
Traditional Culture in a Jōdo Shinshū Temple: Chanoyu at an Ōtani-ha Temple 216
Conclusions 223
Glossary 233
Abbreviations 241
Bibliography 243


All those interested in the Study of Religions, Japanese religions, Japanese cultural history, as well as cultural studies.


Collection Information