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In Search of the WayThought and Religion in Early—Modern Japan, 1582-1860$
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Richard Bowring

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198795230

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198795230.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 22 April 2021

A new kind of Shintō

A new kind of Shintō

(p.275) 18 A new kind of Shintō
In Search of the Way

Richard Bowring

Oxford University Press

This chapter is an in-depth treatment of the life and work of Hirata Atsutane, who developed the ideas of Norinaga into a movement that had religious overtones. He rewrote Japanese history for the common man and produced a coherent story out of incoherent material, arguing that Japan had been the first land in the world to be created. Japan and the Japanese were therefore by their very nature superior to all other races. He then went further and produced a new kind of Shintō, stressing the divine nature of the imperial institution and tying every Japanese to this divinity via the figure of the emperor himself. This ‘democratization’ of Shintō was something new and helped produce the atmosphere that eventually led to the State Shintō of the Meiji period. Atsutane also created his own metaphysics, arguing that the Moon was the abode of the dead.

Keywords:   Hirata Atsutane, rewriting history, new Shintō, folk religion, spirit worlds

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