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Document Type(s):Book Chapter
Book Title:On Understanding Japanese Religion
Article/Chapter Title:Prehistoric Background of Japanese Religion
Editor(s):Kitagawa, Joseph M
Author(s):Kitagawa, Joseph M
Publisher Name:Princeton University Press
Place of Publication:Princeton, N.J.
Date of Publication:1987
Annotation:Kitagawa describes the geological history of the Japanese archipelago, its relationship to human migration, and the controversies over the continuity and/or discontinuity between subsequent historical cultures. Of special interest is the section on language, myth, and religion that dates the first Japanese myths to the eighth century BCE. He mentions the Kojiki (Records of Ancient Matters) and Nihonshoki (Chronicles of Japan) and describes Shinto cosmogony, Izumo myths, and the role of the gods (kami) in Japanese religious life drawing parallels with the religious life of Eurasian fishing and hunting peoples during the neolithic period. Kitagawa urges that the study of Japanese religion should contain terms of inner logic and he therefore questions the accuracy of using “Shinto” to denote this early phase of Japanese religious history.
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