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Fall 2011

Religions of Japan

Professor Daniel Kent Time: TTh 1-2:20 Ofce: Olin East 207 Room: Olin 157 Ofce Hours: T 2:30-3:50; W 10-10:50; F 9-10 or by Appointment Ofce phone: 527-5809 e-mail: kentdw@whitman.edu

Course Description
This course aims to introduce the student to the many and varied religious traditions of Japan with an emphasis upon contemporary beliefs and practices. We will explore Shinto, two forms of Japanese Buddhism (St Zen and Jdo Shinshu), and Shugendo, an esoteric religion of mountain asceticism. We will approach each religious tradition and its practitioners through the consideration of primary texts, ethnographic texts, and web resources such as Youtube. Over the course of the semester, we will consider various theoretical topics in the study of religion such as the relationship between religious texts and religious practices, syncretism, sacred space, and the role of secrecy in religion. Distribution area: humanities, cultural pluralism.

Student Responsibilities, Evaluation and Grading


Daily Participation (10%): This is a discussion-based class that depends upon informed participation. As such, you are expected to bring the days reading materials, or detailed notes on the reading, to class each day. If the reading assigned consists of various interlinked text on an external website, make sure you take extensive notes and bring to class. I will be evaluating your participation along four criteria: initiating discussion/questioning the text, responding to students in class, use of the text in supporting your points, and drawing connections between the texts within the unit and over the course of the semester. Attendance and Excused Absences: Students are required to attend all classes. There are two types of excused absences: planned and unplanned. Planned are absences due to religious observance or athletics (or other college-approved co-curricular activity). If you know you will be absent for one of these reasons, please email me by the end of the second week. Unplanned are family emergencies and illness. If you must miss class for either of these reasons, you should contact the Dean of Students Ofce. They will communicate to myself and your other professors that you had a legitimate reason for missing class. Because life happens and sometimes we turn our alarms off in our sleep, students are allowed two unexcused absences. More than two unexcused absences will result in an automatic reduction of your attendance/participation grade. The more classes you miss, the lower your grade. Four Short Papers (50%): There will be four short papers due over the course of the semester. With the exception of the rst paper, which is due the second day of class, instructions for each of these papers will be given at least two weeks in advance. All papers should be typed double spaced in a 12 point Times New Roman font. The paper topics and grade weight are as follows: Paper 1: What is Shinto 5%; Paper 2: Youtube Festival Ethnography 15%; Paper 3: Tannisho Textual Analysis 15%; Paper 4: Zen and Pure Land Buddhism Paper 15% Midterm Exam and Cumulative Final Exam (30%): (First Exam: 15% Final Exam: 15%): There will be two examinations in this course, a mid-term and a nal. The nal exam will be cumulative.

Religions of Japan - Fall 2011

Fall 2011

Religions of Japan

Final Group Presentation (10%): During the last week of classes, six groups of three or four students will research and present a twenty minute presentation on a topic not covered during the course. Groups are required to use visual aids such as powerpoint, keynote, dioramas or whatever they can imagine. Each group is required to meet with me at least once to discuss their presentation. A signup sheet and topic list will be distributed midway through October.

Course policies:
Students with disabilities: If you have a disability and need my help in making this course fully accessible to you, please feel free to contact me, either in person or through the Academic Resources Center (527-5213). Ill be happy to help in whatever way I can. Inclusive language: Inclusive language is the use of accurate and unbiased gender terminology, and it is required in this course. Its important for a number of reasons. For one thing, language shapes how people think. When religious studies was considered to be the study of the beliefs of man, for instance, people (usually male scholars) tended to study male writers, male believers, male religious leaders, and so on simply because it didnt occur to them to study women specically. As a result, they had a less accurate understanding of religion than we have today.Humanity and humans are gender-inclusive terms; man and men are not. Non-inclusive language also can be misleading, inaccurate, or vague. Traditional formal English, for example, requires that you use the singular pronoun he as a generic pronoun. Thus, you might say that when a new member is initiated into the secret society, he must undergo several hours of ordeals. People who read that sentence are left wondering whether he includes women or whether this secret society is for men only. The solution? When you use singular generic terms (like one, anyone, a person, etc.), use the combined pronoun she or he. Or, for a less awkward sentence, simply use a plural noun (people, initiates, members, etc.), because English has a nongendered plural pronoun (they). Required Texts Nelson, John K. 1996. A year in the life of a Shinto shrine. Seattle: University of Washington Press. Nonomura, Kaoru. 2008. Eat sleep sit : my year at Japan's most rigorous zen temple. 1st ed. Tokyo ; New York: Kodansha International. Covell, Stephen G. 2005. Japanese temple Buddhism : worldliness in a religion of renunciation, Topics in contemporary Buddhism. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.

Calendar of Topics and Reading: (readings are in parentheses; plain text=book/ italics=course reserve/ underlining=web resource.)
Week 1 Introductions Aug 30 Intro to Class Sep. 1 Shinto on the Web Short Paper: What is Shinto? (1-2 pages) Week 2 A Year in the Life of a Shinto Shrine Religions of Japan - Fall 2011 2

Fall 2011

Religions of Japan

Sep. 6 Reading: Nelson 3-33; Selection from Kojiki Sep. 8 Reading: Nelson 34-54 and 91-112 Week 3 A Year in the Life of a Shinto Shrine Sep. 13 Reading: Nelson 55-84 and 122-159 Sep. 15 Reading: Nelson, 199-222 Film: Spirits of the State: Yasukuni Documentary (25 mins) Week 4 The Buddha and his Dharma Sep. 20 The Buddha Reading: Gethin, 7-34 Sep 21 Matsuri Web Ethnography Paper Due (3-4 pages) Sep. 22 The Dharma Reading: Gethin, 35-79 Week 5 Buddhism Comes to Japan Sep. 27 Reading: Gethin, 224-252; Mori, Founding of Gangoji 1 Sep. 29 Buddhism in Japan: Pure Land Reading: Shorter Sukhavativyuha; Dobbins, Genshins Deathbed Ritual Week 6 The Western Pure Land Oct. 4 Reading: Dobbins, Jdo Shinshu Chapters 2 and 3; Dobbins, Women, Sexuality and Pure land Buddhism Oct. 6 Exam 1 in class Week 7 Tannisho Oct. 11 Fall Break Oct. 13 Reading: Tannisho 1-18 http://www.livingdharma.org/Tannisho/TannishoContents.html Tannisho Textual Analysis due in class Week 8 Zen Oct. 18 Reading: Dumoulin, Bodhidharma, Selection from Platform Sutra Oct. 20 Cook, Introduction How to Raise an Ox; Cook, Continuous Practice Week 9 Zen Oct. 25 Zen Reading: Nonomura Chapters 1 and 2

Religions of Japan - Fall 2011

Fall 2011

Religions of Japan

Video: Eiheiji Oct. 27 Reading: Nonomura 3 and 4 Week 10 Japanese Temple Buddhism Nov. 1 Reading: Genjo Koan; Words on Genjo Koan; Nonomura 5 and 6 Nov. 3 Reading: Covell 1-42 (Guest Speaker Jessie Starling) Nov. 3 Jessie Starling Public Lecture. Time and Place TBA Week 11 Japanese Temple Buddhism Nov. 7 Zen and Pure Land Paper Due (4-5 pages) Nov. 8 Reading: Covell, 62-108 Nov. 10 Reading: Covell, 109-139 Week 12 Mandala and Sacred Mountains Nov. 15 Reading: Covell, 140-190 Nov. 17 Reading: Grapard, Flying Mountains Week 13 Thanksgiving break Week 14 Shugendo Now Nov. 28 Screening of Shugendo Now 7:00 PM Nov. 29 Guest Speaker Mark McGuirre, Producer of Shugendo Now Reading: Swanson, Shugendo and the Yoshino Pilgrimage; En the Ascetic Optional: http://members3.jcom.home.ne.jp/tengudomi/Shugendo/Shugendo.html

Dec. 1

What do you mean, Im impure?!? Women and Shugendo Reading: Hardacre, Cave and the Womb World; Miyazaki, Female Pilgrims and Mt. Fuji

Week 15 Group Presentations Dec. 6 Three 20 minute Group Presentations Dec. 8 Three 20 minute Group Presentations

Religions of Japan - Fall 2011

Fall 2011

Religions of Japan

Schedule and course readings are subject to change as the class progresses Final Exam Tuesday, December 13th 2-4 PM

Religions of Japan - Fall 2011