top of page

Shifting Sacred Centers: Developing Sacred Spaces of a Japanese New Religious Movement

Updated: Aug 22, 2021

First there is a mountain, then there is no mountain, then there is.

This place-centered interpretation of 9th-century Buddhist writer Seigen Ishin by the artist Donovan has rung within my psyche as an internal soundtrack for the past twenty-five years. It traveled with me, to peak effect, aboard the Trans Mongolian in January 1990, when I was returning over land and sea, from Nagasaki to Amsterdam, after performing for three months at an exposition in Nagasaki. It was time to return to UC Berkeley and complete my degree. Seven days, eight time zones and no wi-fi created a linear reality from which sprung personal philosophies and academic interests that would remain with me for life. Donovan’s lyrics were physicalized as we journeyed through miles of snow covered desert, birch forests and mountains—passing through, penetrating, seeing and not seeing mountains which always are. Until they are not. But then are, once again.

The mountain is a classic symbol of Sacred Geographies and frequently serves as “a conduit to the invisible world, which typically is located directly above it, in the heavens, and to which the architecture often calls attention.” (Corrigan, 168). My 1992 Fulbright research on the Design of Sacred Space of New Religions in Japan put me in direct contact, through fieldwork and participant-observer methodology, with a process of human cosmological creation: the “completion” of a mountain and the institution of a sacred center complex. Essentially, this was a terrestrial rite carrying through a spiritually-based initiative to finish “God’s work” through the human hand of architects, engineers and artisans. The goal was nothing less than the creation of a utopian Paradise on Earth following a rigorous aesthetic of international modernism in order to return to the purity of nature.

The following paper is presented in four sections: a brief outlining of classic sacred space theory and spatial turn as it relates to the Shiga mountain range of my NRM focus group Shinji Shūmeikai; an overview of, and return to, my 1992 research findings; an update to the organization’s various growths and declines that I researched in December 2015 through interviews conducted in Japanese at the Shumei Center in New York City; and my hypothesis and call for future academic actions.

As a springboard from which to leap, we must first agree upon what constitutes the experientiality of the “sacred” and wherein lies the sacrality of “space.” Utilizing Mircea Eliade’s explanation of Rudolf Otto’s Das Heilige (The Sacred), we can define “Sacred” as when “the numinous presents itself as something ‘wholly other’ (ganz andere)…of a wholly different order from ‘natural’ realities.” (Eliade, 9/10) It is then through the fabricated or found manifestation of the Sacred that Space takes on a transportive hierophanic quality: “something sacred shows itself to us.” (ibid., 11) Interplanar transport between conceptual Heavens, Earth and Hells commonly occur via axis mundi vehicles of passage utilizing cosmologized mountains, pillars, and temples for “ontological passage from one mode of being to another.” (ibid., 63) It is the very discovery and creation of the sacred center of Place that permits a human transcendence, creating the “break in plane and hence communication among the three cosmic zones.” (ibid., 42)

Having established a definition of terms, prior to presenting my 1993 fieldwork and findings, I find it appropriate to introduce the approach of spatial turns and its applicability and suitability for religious studies. After nearly 30 years of academic attention, the historiographic shift away from Time and towards Space is perhaps best reflected by Foucault:

The present epoch will perhaps be above all the epoch of space. We are in the epoch of simultaneity: we are in the epoch of juxtaposition, the epoch of the near and far, of the side-by-side, of the dispersed. We are at a moment, I believe, when our experience of the world is less that of a long life developing through time than that of a network that connects points and intersects with its own skein. (Foucault, 1)

By deemphasizing modernization theory, as illustrated by the notion of “beyond Europe was before Europe” (McGrane, 94), localized space and geographies become the narrative rather than merely the canvas upon which the paint is applied. Spatial Turns within the field of Religious Studies and the incorporation of such technologies and methodologies as GIS and deep mapping [see, e.g.,] will permit a turning point in how scholars can approach shifting patterns of NRMs in ways that balance the past and the future. “Indeed, coming to terms with the past is a part of building a landscape, even if the act of remembering is willfully traded for that of forgetting. Imagining the future likewise is crucial to the arrangement of sacred space, to the production of religious environments as part of the larger work of culture.” (Corrigan, 172)

This concept of the creation of a highly syncretistic and mappable larger work of culture is the direction in which the Japanese NRM of Shinji Shūmeikai is heading, and I ultimately envision a shared forward movement of modern global spiritual/religious organizations and new formations of sacred places and groupings – as Eliade terms them, “The Little Religions.” In order to understand the current and hypothesize the future, on the following pages I will recount from my 1993 Fulbright report on Shinji Shūmeikai’s practice of mountain landscape transformation to create a point of pilgrimage, numinous experience, and sacred center.

[Excerpted from Fulbright report.] Established in 1970, Shinji Shūmeikai broke away from Sekai Kyūsei Kyō due to disputes over leadership succession and spiritual variances from the original Shintō based teachings of the founder Okada Mokichi (referred to as Meishū-sama—“Enlightened Master”) (cf. Thomsen, Kitagawa). Because Sekai Kyūsei Kyō grew too formalistically into a “church” with over-emphasis of the material hikari (light) amulet worn around believer’s necks, Shinji Shūmeikai was established by Mihoko Koyama, heiress of the Toyobo textile company, to organizationally reignite the miracle-working abilities of Okada. It is this ability to work miracles, purify, and heal which generally attracts members to NRMs and Shinji Shūmeikai has established itself as one of the better “miracle working” organizations. Rapidly growing from 300,000 members in 1983 to 500,000 in 1994, Shinji Shūmeikai anticipated an increase of 20,000 members per year. What enables their miracle working is apparently associated with the three basic concepts or columns of Meishū-sama (which will later be hooked onto my three explanations for their rapid growth: the giving of jyōrei [浄霊] (“purification of the spirit,” “light”), shizen nōhō/Natural Agriculture (NA), and art.

Shinji Shūmeikai neither categorizes itself as a church, nor as a (apparently outdated) shin or shinkō-shūkyō (new or newly established religion); rather, its members have defined themselves as belonging to a chō-shūkyō— a super/supra-religion, or perhaps a Post-Religion for the post-modern/post-industrial society; societies seeking post-Fordist products (including spiritual associations) which are not of “mass production for mass consumption but rather flexible small batch production of goods that are customized to respond to specific consumer niche markets.” (Slater, 183) The mass-produced religion of modern or traditional societies may be categorized as a belief system lodged in the Enlightenment project of modernity. This theory “exudes a confidence in rationality and in the belief that there is a truth to be known and a position from which to see it” (Sack, p. 8) regardless of the differing or changing individual. A batch-produced religion of post-modernity, however, may focus increasingly around David Harvey’s explanation of flexible accumulation creating a greater variety of products, rapidity of change, and greater options focusing around the individual—whether shopping for a car or for spirituality.

Characteristic of the Post-Religion is flexibility of association, based around the changing needs of the individual and taking account of the increasingly borderless planet on which we live. Post-Religion does not necessarily replace religion, but attempts to unify peoples and beliefs through a commonly held, but frequently lost, motif or spirituality. This flexible association creates fluidity and often results in the rapid turnover of members—if the miracles grow weak one can easily drop out or switch to an alternative Post-Religion.

The rapid growth of Chō-shūkyō, such as Shinji Shūmeikai, appear to be centered around three primary pull factors, which:

(1) provide the individual with both a spiritual and physical cosmological interaction and definition;

(2) purport an ability to purify (which may lead to healing); and

(3) provide an association to an alternative social grouping and sacred place, where one may experience the numinous or simply a sense of Belonging.

Rooted within each of the above categories is the most basic aspect of Shinji Shūmeikai: the giving of jyōrei—a concentration and cosmic recirculation of a light energy which is said to constantly flow through all matter. Degrees of jyōrei receptivity exist along a form of great-chain-of-being, ranging from humans down to rocks. Most commonly the application of jyōrei is from one individual to another. The giver (Shinji Shūmeikai believer) asks permission to the receiver (usually a non-believer) to “pray for their health and happiness.” If permitted, a series of thanks-giving to the teaching of Meishū-sama, three claps, and a focus of energy ensues through one palm of the giver to the forehead of the receiver (with eyes closed). Mid-way through, the hands are exchanged and the receiver lowers his/her head. Afterwards, thanks and claps are repeated—the process takes less than five minutes.

The giving of jyōrei is said to be “contribution in its purest form” and is frequently seen as a very public practice outside train station by college aged students and middle-aged women (two of the primary demographic groupings). During the process, the giver concentrates upon both gratitude (undetermined and undefined) and an intention to help the receiver as “You” (Meishū-sama) see fit, with complete absence of self-proclamation as to what is best for the individual. Throughout, the assumption that one cannot comprehend that which is necessarily “good” or “bad” for the receiver is emphasized. The benefits of this “contribution,” however, are unevenly weighted—towards the giver. The initial light energy with the greatest impact and concentration, enters and permeates the giver. But to what degree this energy is then transferred to the receiver is dependent upon his/her level of giving. Thus the receiver, in simplest terms, serves as the necessary outlet to create the proper circuit for the giver to receive from the jyōrei source.

Through the receiving and giving of jyōrei, Shinji Shūmeikai provides the believer with both a spiritual and physical cosmological interaction and definition, from which the process of purification begins. There are four means of purification:

1. Jyōrei;

2. Sanpai: Jyōrei at a center or at a gathering;

3. Hōshi: Help at anytime, in any form;

4. Haidoku: reading of texts (regardless of faith).

Jyōrei is often described as “true medicine” to return the individual and world to a natural state of being in which poverty, illness, and discord is alleviated. Meishū-sama stated that these three social toxins/poisons have been rationalized by modern society as a natural condition, with no graspable answer towards their alleviation. Deliberation is said only to constrain a natural purification for these ills; as in nature environmental conditions periodically endure stresses which result in natural re-balancing through purification processes; the same is believed possible in the human body and social structure.

Stresses appear in the form of sickness, poverty and discord. To alleviate these stresses and change from an unhealthy to healthy physical state, Shinji Shūmeikai purports the necessity of beginning with a spiritual purification and natural return, through jyōrei. In any form of purification, the spiritual aspect must be addressed before confronting the physical ailment; this stems from the belief that spiritual existence is precursory to the physical. What draws most believers in to Shinji Shūmeikai is the direct experience of healing/recovery from illness or the experience of a spiritual purification/connection through receiving jyōrei.

Although healing may occur, it is not the primary focus of jyōrei. The said intention of giving and receiving jyōrei is simply to increase the amount of light (Fire) energy from the cosmos in order to better, purify, and cleanse the ills of society. By regularly giving jyōrei, Shinji Shūmeikai believes that the power of one’s place can be increased and thereby “form the cities into mountains”—a symbol of purity and the location the jyōrei is strongest.

Nature and the environment is said to have direct effects upon the level of jyōrei. The significance and symbolic qualities of mountains are found in nearly all belief systems, and is particularly strong in Japanese culture/religion (cf. Hori). Shinji Shūmeikai attests that the mountain’s height increases the proximity to the jyōrei source and is therefore a place of esteem. Water also affects jyōrei due to its reflective qualities. Both mountain and water emphasis have been incorporated in creating Shinji Shūmeikai’s international jyōrei center/Sacred Garden of Misono (photo 1) atop a mountain in Shiga Prefecture commanding a view of the Konan Alps, south of Lake Biwa near the town of Shigaraki.

One application of jyōrei’s purifying qualities lends itself to Shinji Shūmeikai’s second basic concept of NA (Natural Agriculture), which is, in effect, the cultivation and widening of environmental consciousness. Instead of chemical or animal product fertilizers, damp fallen leaf and grass mulch is combined with jyōrei to produce foods which apparently strengthen the link between the spiritual and physical levels of purification. An experimental farm (the “Frontier”) (photos 2,3) is located near Misono where believers working in the agricultural industry come from throughout Japan to study this natural form of agriculture and apply it to their personal farms. At this point, for most believers consumption of NA foods is not yet incorporated into daily life and is limited to the times of “pilgrimage/travel” to Misono. However, the common awareness within Shinji Shūmeikai (and within the shin-shūkyō of Sekai Kyūsei Kyō, Mahikari-kyō, and Ōmoto-kyō) of the healing/positive attributes of chemical-free foods may have a great impact upon further developing Japan’s environmental/natural foods movements.

In addition to advances being made in the field of organic agriculture, the Frontier is also attempting to create another symbol to further strengthen the “sacredness and power of the place” of Misono through the breeding of hotaru or fire-flies (photos 4,5). Ultimately the hotaru (naturally a symbol of jyōrei and light energy) will be transferred to the Kumo ga Taki waterfall structure of mountain spring water (photo 6) where visitors purify or neutralize the body and self by rinsing ones hands and mouth before approaching the palatial 50 meter high sanctuary of the Kyosoden. Great consideration through the incorporation of symbol, art, and nature, has been placed in the spatial and spiritual design of the Misono complex. Art (as the third basis of Shinji Shūmeikai) and its application to provide the individual with an association to alternative social grouping and sacred place will be my final point in illustrating the attracting forces, and timely appearance, of Post-Religious organizations. But first a brief tour and understanding of Misono is in order.

With no accessible public transportation from the nearest town of Seta, the approach to Misono is limited to private car, taxi, or most commonly chartered bus. For believers, Misono is the Shinji Shūmeikai Mecca and visits/excursions take on the form of a modern pilgrimage. Most will come to Misono for the initiation ceremony (“swearing in” 2,000 to 4,000 new members on the tenth of each month) where they will hear the purifying miracles of jyōrei and learn the architectural splendors of Misono. From the base of the mountain, it takes approximately 30 minutes to reach the front gate/security check, from where the striking architecture begins, with a prevalence of white (purification) sky-piercing structures.

Misono was designed to “fit into” the environment and surrounding nature. The selected area had a natural plateau upon which the Kyosoden was created as the culmination of the mountain, and only upon reaching Misono is the complex visible. Although the Kyosoden may be seen from the entrance of the complex, it is directly inaccessible. A series of physical separations prepares the mind through spatial variation. These separations, incorporating both Japanese and foreign design, also reinforce the “international” image which Shinji Shūmeikai strives for—as an organization to better the world condition regardless of religion, race, or country. At the top of the first stairway stands the Tenmon (Gate of Heaven): seven rough, white stone sky-piercing sculptures beside which Kyosoden is seen in the background (photo 7). Ascending the steps and passing through the sculptures, believers bow in respect and proceed to the right up a maple tree lined “stone tatami” pathway to Kumo ga Taki. The stones are apparently the only “survivors” from the original streetcar roads of Kyoto. Both the Tenmon and Kumo ga Taki were designed by the sculptor Masayuki Nagare. After purifying hands and mouth (under the guidance and watchful eye of female attendants), one exits Kumo ga Taki and enters a path facing the slender based, upward and outward sloping white carillon designed by I.M. Pei (photo 8). On the left is a delicate, traditional pine garden (also of Pei’s design), which gently obscures the Kyosoden and softs the powerful impact of the bell tower. The counterbalance of the carillon to the Kyosoden strongly reflects the influence of Chinese ying-yang principled fengshui. As a symbol of European culture, designed by a Chinese-American, and housing hand-crafted bells from the Netherlands, Misono’s carillon is “the only one of its kind in Japan”—all contributing to the creation of an international place, markedly different from the world left behind at the base of the mountain.

Upon reaching the carillon, in a graceful grandeur the white and gold, broad based, slenderly ascending Kyosoden is finally accessible across a 14,000 square meter Italian marble plaza, with lighting design by Motoko Ishii. Architect Minoru Yamasaki and Japan’s “god of structural engineering” Yoshikatsu Tsuboi collaborated upon the design of Kyosoden which they say “will stand a thousand years” due to the cabled catenary walls. Traversing the vast space of the plaza, one passes the Daikoku Shrine (to the god of wisdom, wealth, and longevity), and can finally enter the sanctuary of Kyosoden: Meishū-sama Hall. The 60-meter wide, 100-meter long room holds as many as 10,000 people. The white sloping walls with windows surrounding the base and a massive metallic gold screen, designed by American D. Lee Dusell, stand behind an altar containing a sculpture of Meishū-sama, carved by Katsuzo Entsuba; all of this creates a very dramatic transformative experience. A stairway of deep green marble imported from Myanmar leads downstairs to a small art exhibition area from the Shinji Collection (collected/purchased from the New York Metropolitan, the Louvre, etc.). A museum is under construction on a nearby mountain with tunnel access from Misono. Incorporating art, symbol, architecture, and nature, Shinji Shūmeikai has designed its center to fulfill Meishū-sama’s belief in “creating a Paradise on Earth…Words and deeds should embody this beauty…when individual beauty spreads, social beauty comes into being….” (Okada, Shumei lit.)

To experience Misono is to experience a specifically formed sacred space, not of a religious manner but of one deeply spiritual. Misono does not strike one as “religious;” it is however, a highly dramatic and charismatic place. Sixty years ago, followers of Meishū-sama were inspired by his charisma and believed him to be divine. Today, the designers, artists, and architects who have created Misono are praised equally if not more highly, than the original teachings. And here, I propose, is to be found the primary essence of the Post-Religion: the transference of power and group identity from the charismatic person to the creation of a charismatic place, where one may gain association to an alternative social grouping and sacred place.

To cite Bell: [t]he real problem of modernity is the problem of belief. To use an unfashionable term, it is a spiritual crisis, since the new anchorages have proved illusory and the old ones have become submerged…The effort to find excitement and meaning in literature and art as a substitute for religion led to modernism as a cultural mode. Yet modernism is exhausted and the various kinds of post-modernism (in the psychedelic efforts to expand consciousness without boundaries) are simply the decomposition of the self in an effort to erase individual ego.” (Bell in Featherstone, 28-9)

Religious movements, which have increased logarithmically have continued to stress the processes of relativization of self and of society in the world arena, producing a new kind of identity and awareness, one that stresses mankind, that is, humanity as a boundless whole, and a world system or arena that stresses the obvious need for integration. This process of real international integration is said to produce a religious experience that transcends local national context and beings to institutionalize mankind as a whole…a form of species consciousness that is just as concrete in its essentials as more local religious or ethnic identifications. (Friedman in Lash, 357)”

In the above research report I had attempted to illustrate, through the example of Shinji Shūmeikai, a form and direction which religion is taking in the post-modernizing world. The emphasis upon art and its utilization in creating an international, intercultural, and inter-religious sacred space correlates with the post-modernizing theory of an increased movement towards heightening species-consciousness to rekindle basic human relationships to one another and to the Earth, and to establish a more broad-based cosmological world view based not upon rejection but rather toleration.

In approaching such organizations as Shinji Shūmeikai as a movement/phenomenon of post-modern culture (or perhaps Post-Religion), I believe one can then realize that the basis of such chō-shūkyō is not necessarily the teachings, doctrines, and healings, but instead, the Place and the provision of reconnection of the human to its environment. . The most pronounced distinctions among Japan’s chō-shūkyō, as well as the forms and variations which these movements have taken abroad, are in the Place of the Religion—their architecture and its relation to the landscape—with which they have designed and defined their Center. I envision that my continuation of this study will progress in an increasingly comparative manner that explores the post-modern design for human spiritual return. [End of Fulbright report excerpt.]

Twenty-two years later, on December 8, 2015, I arrive at the New York Shumei Center on Elizabeth Street to once again engage as a participant-observer and researcher, in order to briefly gain a longitudinal understanding of two decades’ worth of organizational changes and developments. Following the rinsing of hands and mouth, we enter the chapel to recite the Shintō Amatsu Norito; I receive jyōrei and then join two other Japanese members in the office, where I begin two hours of interviews, in Japanese. Over the two-decade period, the main development has been the shifting of the NRM’s central focus away from its initial miracle-based public healing practices and member initiations, and towards a rebranding and redefining through the vehicles of art, agriculture and education. This massive shift has included the opening of the Miho Museum; the expansion of NA practices throughout the world; the 2007 procurement of UN-recognized status as a sustainable development NGO; ownership of Kishima Island in the Seto Inland Sea as a camp for NA; the creation of Shigaraki no Sato as an NA farm/furusato (home/birthplace) ‘return’ experience; the opening of the Crestone Colorado Institute; and, finally, the 2012 opening of the The Miho Institute of Aesthetics (MIHO美学院) as the first boarding secondary school in Shiga Prefecture.

The 1996 Aum Sarin Subway Attacks changed the previous social dynamic towards NRM activity, from former attitudes of acceptance to demands for a lessened public presence on the part of NRMs. Membership subsequently decreased and has maintained itself at a consistent level, with approximately 370,000 members currently in Japan and annual initiations numbering approximately 2,000-3,000. Public skepticism demanded a new stage upon which to convey the philosophical message, and with the opening of the Miho Museum in 1997 a new form of social contribution was created – and with it a new Center. The I.M. Pei-designed masterwork expanded on the Eliadic hierophanic landscape concept, basing the experience around the Tao Yuan Ming poem “Peach Blossom Spring” – this was Pei’s own personal creation of a Shangri-La. With a construction cost of $215 million—twice the amount of Gerhy’s Bilbao Gugenheim— and an overall budget estimated at over $1 billion, the Miho Museum project cast Misono into the mountainous background, as the new point of pilgrimage became this spectacular ‘temple of art’. The 80% subterranean (as an earthquake precaution) ‘sacred space within a sacred space’ further develops a framework of transcendent passageways from zone to zone.

An additional significant development has been the rebranding of the organization, through a New York PR firm, as “Shumei” outside of Japan. The international expansion of NA in over 15 countries with over 1,500 farms in Japan and over 6,000 in Zambia, a fact which has served as the basis for NGO formation and NA’s inclusion in UN sustainable agriculture initiatives for developing countries. NA has maintained a relationship with the Catskill Mountain Foundation since 2004, as well as a partnership with the J.I. Rodale foundation in Pennsylvania, where exhibition gardens of Rodale’s method of organic and Okada’s NA are displayed (the two men shared written communications in the 1930s when they were mutually made aware of creating food/spirit philosophies. While Rudolf Steiner’s Anthroposophy based biodynamic farming emerged at the same time, contacts were not made through form but, in Shumei belief, through human collective consciousness.). And near the Miho Museum, the space where the Hotaru/Firefly breeding once occurred has been transformed into the Shigaraki no Sato. Where other sites were created as a global pan-cultural development collecting the spiritually best and beautiful, Shigaraki no Sato has focused its efforts on the conservation of two traditional farmhouses and NA farming sites, in order to provide a sense of return away from the web of modern networks of isolation, toward reclaiming the experience of the village. While the 1980s called for a spiritual design based around charisma, the 2010s demand the design of opportunities for soulful return.

As a final legacy of Mihoko Koyama, the Miho Institute of Aesthetics was opened in 2012 with the goals of elevating the human spirit and instilling Japanese styles of appreciation with a global perspective, as well as educating youth around the idea of creating lives based in beauty and truth. Situated near the complex of Misono and the Miho Museum, the school will accommodate 240 students, and currently enrolls 40 students through the first four grades. The dormitories, gymnasium, classrooms, and furnishings all maintain the highest degree of attention to design and beauty, and the chapel even brought I.M. Pei out of retirement for his final project as a tour de force uniting these three sacred sites into a complex of post religious sacred futurism.

Conclusion. I view experience of the ganz andere - this wholly other or holy other - through two perspectives which I call the corporately spiritual and spiritually corporeal. The former evolves around the model of Shinji Shūmeikai (with or without the religio-spiritual associations), and the latter takes the form of the artist/performer. By presenting the isolated example of Shinji Shūmeikai as an NRM which has experienced growth, decline, and rebranded and repackaging of spiritual without the spooky, I have sought to highlight a movement that has succeeded in creating a form of Safe Spirituality, allowing access to the experience of the holy to a public/culture/country unaware that they are receiving the holy. It is through the formation of alternative sacred centers as shown through this brief longitudinal approach to Shinji Shūmeikai, as well as through concurrent international developments, that we are seeing a new return of confluence between Eliade’s notions of the modern nonreligious man and homo religiosus, in alternative forms. This is the beginning of a thawing of the tip of an iceberg, a growing international phenomenon that demands far greater scholarly attention and interdepartmental support than it currently receives. With the Japanese-designed “multifunctional spiritual development of Grace Farms in New Canaan Connecticut” (New York Times, 10/17/15), studies of CrossFit as “spaces other than churches that function as spiritual communities” (ibid., 11/28/15), and museum design and content/collection taking the role of shaping world views (ibid., 11/1/15) we are in the midst of a modern turning point, a human return from an overly networked, hyper-connected state of loneliness. As Miho now eclipses Misono and the pilgrimage buses no longer dock at the “upper level,” (photo 9) new roads lead to new cultivations of the mind and body. Is this newly-incepted system of education – with its drive to cultivate souls and create a new, more connected adult – the modern Waldorf School? Is this the new yeshiva for the formation of a post-religion Nietzschean Übermensch? Decades of future research, attention, spatial turn GIS mapping, and observation will reveal the answer. For my part, I intend to initiate and focus scholarly attention around these questions, using the dual nodes of Shinji Shūmeikai and butoh – combined with my own experience as a postmodern physical performer and artist – as my starting points for exploring the use of Space and Body as vehicles for what I’ve come to call performative spirituality.

Photo/Documentation 1993

(all photos by Jonathan Nosan)


Basabe, Fernando M. Japanese Youth Confronts Religion: a sociological survey. Sophia University, Tokyo in co-operation with Charles E. Tuttle Company, 1967.

Japanese Religious Attitudes. Orbis Books, Maryknoll, New York 1972.

Davis, Winston Bradley, Toward Modernity: A Developmental Typology of Popular Religious Affiliations in Japan. Cornell University East Asia Papers no. 12, June 1977.

Earhart, H. Byron, Japanese Religion: Unity and Diversity (third edition). Wadsworth Publishing Company, Belmont, California 1982.

Eliade, Mircea, The Sacred and the Profane, trans. Willard Trask. Harper Torchbooks, New York, 1959

Ellwood, Robert S. and Pilgrim, Richard Japanese Religion: a cultural perspective. Prentice-Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey 1985.

The Eagle and the Rising Sun: Americans and the New Religions of Japan. The Westminster Press, Philadelphia 1974.

Featherstone, Mike ed. Theory, Culture & Society: Postmodernism. Sage Publications, London, 1988.

Foucault, Michel, “Of Other Spaces: Utopias and Heterotopias,” Architecture /Mouvement/ Continuité

October, 1984.

Glock, Charles Y. and Bellah, Robert N. The New Religious Consciousness. University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles 1976.

Hardacre, Helen Kurozumikyo and the New Religions of Japan. Princeton University Press, Princeton New Jersey 1986.

Lay Buddhism in Contemporary Japan. Princeton University Press, Princeton New Jersey 1984.

Harvey, David The Condition of Postmodernity: An Enquiry into the Origins of Cultural Change. Oxford, Basil Blackwell 1989.

Hori, Ichiro Folk Religion in Japan: continuity and change. University of Chicago Press, Chicago 1968.

Lash, Scott and Friedman, Jonathan Modernity and Identity. Blackwell Publishers, Oxford. 1992.

McGrane, Bernard, Beyond Anthropology: Society and the Other, Columbia University Press, New York 1989.

Morioka, Kiyomi Religion in changing Japanese Society. University of Tokyo Press, 1975.

Morioka, Kiyomi and Newell, William H. eds The Sociology of Japanese Religion, E.J. Brill, Leiden 1968

Offner, Clark B and Van Straelen, Henry Modern Japanese Religions: with special emphasis upon their doctrines of healing. Twayne Publishers, Inc., New York. 1963.

Picken, Stuart D.B. “Japanese Religion and the 21st Century: Problems and Prospects” in “Orientation Seminars on Japan: no. 24”. Office for the Japanese Studies Center, The Japan Foundation, 1987.

Reader, Ian Religion in Contemporary Japan. University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu, 1991.

Sack, Robert David Place, Modernity, and the Consumer’s World: A Relational Framework for Geographical Analysis. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, 1992.

Slater, Don. The SAGE Handbook of Sociology, SAGE Publications Ltd, London, 2005.

Suzuki, D. T., Essays in Zen Buddhism, First Series,, London; New York: Published for the Buddhist Society, London by Rider, 1926.

Swyngedouw, Jan ed. “Japanese Journal of Religious Studies”, Nanzan Institute for Religion and Culture; 18, Yamazato-cho, Showa-ku, Nagoya 466 (052) 832-3111.

Tadao, Umesao ed. Japanese Civilization in the Modern World: Religion. National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka 1990.

Warf, Barney and Arias, Santa ed., The Spatial Turn: Interdisciplinary Perspectives, Routledge, New York, 2009.

113 views0 comments


bottom of page