Start reading The Invention of Religion in Japan on your Kindle in under a minute. Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here or start reading now with a free Kindle Reading App.

Deliver to your Kindle or other device


Try it free

Sample the beginning of this book for free

Deliver to your Kindle or other device

Sorry, this item is not available in
Image not available for
Image not available

The Invention of Religion in Japan [Kindle Edition]

Jason Ananda Josephson

Print List Price: £21.00
Kindle Price: £19.95 includes VAT* & free wireless delivery via Amazon Whispernet
You Save: £1.05 (5%)
* Unlike print books, digital books are subject to VAT.

Free Kindle Reading App Anybody can read Kindle books—even without a Kindle device—with the FREE Kindle app for smartphones, tablets and computers.

To get the free app, enter your e-mail address or mobile phone number.


Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle Edition £19.95  
Hardcover £63.00  
Paperback £21.00  
Kindle Delivers Sign-up to receive email updates and get a Free Kindle Book

Book Description

Winner of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion: 2013 Distinguished Book Award
Throughout its long history, Japan had no concept of what we call "religion." There was no corresponding Japanese word, nor anything close to its meaning. But when American warships appeared off the coast of Japan in 1853 and forced the Japanese government to sign treaties demanding, among other things, freedom of religion, the country had to contend with this Western idea. In this book, Jason Ananda Josephson reveals how Japanese officials invented religion in Japan and traces the sweeping intellectual, legal, and cultural changes that followed.
More than a tale of oppression or hegemony, Josephson's account demonstrates that the process of articulating religion offered the Japanese state a valuable opportunity. In addition to carving out space for belief in Christianity and certain forms of Buddhism, Japanese officials excluded Shinto from the category. Instead, they enshrined it as a national ideology while relegating the popular practices of indigenous shamans and female mediums to the category of "superstitions"--and thus beyond the sphere of tolerance. Josephson argues that the invention of religion in Japan was a politically charged, boundary-drawing exercise that not only extensively reclassified the inherited materials of Buddhism, Confucianism, and Shinto to lasting effect, but also reshaped, in subtle but significant ways, our own formulation of the concept of religion today. This ambitious and wide-ranging book contributes an important perspective to broader debates on the nature of religion, the secular, science, and superstition.

Product Description


"The Invention of Religion in Japan is truly revolutionary. Original, well-researched, and engrossing, it overturns basic assumptions in the study of Japanese thought, religion, science, and history." (Sarah Thal, University of Wisconsin - Madison)"


H-Shukyo “The range of Japanese primary sources consulted in his book is prodigious, as is his familiarity and usage of multidisciplinary theoretical works. . . . Josephson has used well-documented examples of the creation of various Japanese belief systems in the modern era to suggest a new model for understanding the colonial past of religious studies and to provide new tools and models for grappling with continuing change in religious studies theory. . . . Josephson’s book is erudite, informative, and interesting. It should be a worthwhile read for Japan scholars as well as scholars and students interested in religious studies theory and history.”

Japan Review
“Josephson’s book is a highly insightful and ingenious application of the constructivist approach to religion—the method of reverse-engineering the clockwork that makes the concept tick in particular historical and cultural cases. . . . By putting the stress on invention, Josephson foregrounds this backstage business of making, and in doing so, he demonstrates, to brilliant effect, the novelty and power of the products that resulted. . . . Josephson’s book will no doubt be generating further exciting inventions for some time to come.”

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2587 KB
  • Print Length: 402 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0226412350
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press (3 Oct. 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B009MBTR3O
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #818,731 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
  •  Would you like to give feedback on images?

More About the Author

Jason Ānanda Josephson is an Assistant Professor of Religion at Williams College. He received his PhD from Stanford University in 2006, his MTS from Harvard University in 2001, and has held visiting positions at St. Antony's College, Oxford, Princeton University, École Française d'Extrême-Orient, Paris and Ruhr Universität, Germany. He is the author of "The Invention of Religion in Japan" (University of Chicago Press 2012).

Customer Reviews

There are no customer reviews yet on
5 star
4 star
3 star
2 star
1 star
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read with profound implications 21 Oct. 2012
By Jeremy Bellay - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Josephson makes a profound argument about the nature of the category of religion through a detailed examination of how that category was formulated in Japan following Japan's encounter with The West. The implications of this work spill well beyond the bounds of Japanese religions, and "The Invention of Religion in Japan" can be read as a study of how a new shared concept comes into being. However, unlike many books making arguments about that nature of human culture, Josephson supports his arguments with a detailed historical narrative. I found the book to be extremely readable and many of the stories of early Japan-Western interaction are downright entertaining. I heartily recommend it to anyone interested in religion, Japan, or the formation of shared conceptual categories.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing book! 6 Jan. 2013
By cbest - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Written by a friend from high school, The Invention of Religion in Japan was a requested Christmas gift for my son. Sixty pages into the book he called me to say that the book is amazing. He told me that it opens new territory in the understanding of the development of Buddhism in Japan and the effects of the intersection with Christianity on both the Japanese and Europeans who brought Christianity to Japan. Included are old Japanese documents and accounts that the author translated into English.
Were these reviews helpful?   Let us know

Customer Discussions

This product's forum
Discussion Replies Latest Post
No discussions yet

Ask questions, Share opinions, Gain insight
Start a new discussion
First post:
Prompts for sign-in

Search Customer Discussions
Search all Amazon discussions

Look for similar items by category