The Religions of Japan

William Elliot Griffis
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The Religions of Japan

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Title: The Religions of Japan From the Dawn of History to the Era of M¨¦iji
Author: William Elliot Griffis
Release Date: March 31, 2005 [EBook #15516]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1
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THE RELIGIONS OF JAPAN
FROM THE DAWN OF HISTORY TO THE ERA OF MEIJI
BY
WILLIAM ELLIOT GRIFFIS, D.D.
FORMERLY OF THE IMPERIAL UNIVERSITY OF TOKIO; AUTHOR OF "THE MIKADO'S EMPIRE" AND "COREA, THE HERMIT NATION;" LATE LECTURER ON THE MORSE FOUNDATION IN UNION THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY IN NEW YORK
"I came not to destroy, but to fulfil."--THE SON OF MAN
NEW YORK
CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS
1895
COPYRIGHT, 1895, BY CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS
TROW DIRECTORY PRINTING AND BOOKBINDING COMPANY NEW YORK
IN GLAD RECOGNITION OF THEIR SERVICES TO THE WORLD AND IN GRATEFUL ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF MY OWN GREAT DEBT TO BOTH I DEDICATE THIS BOOK SO UNWORTHY OF ITS GREAT SUBJECT TO THOSE TWO NOBLE BANDS OF SEEKERS AFTER TRUTH THE FACULTY OF UNION THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY OF WHOM CHARLES A. BRIGGS AND GEORGE L. PRENTISS ARE THE HONORED SURVIVORS AND TO THAT TRIO OF ENGLISH STUDENTS ERNEST M. SATOW, WILLIAM G. ASTON AND BASIL H. CHAMBERLAIN WHO LAID THE FOUNDATIONS OF CRITICAL SCHOLARSHIP IN JAPAN
"IN UNCONSCIOUS BROTHERHOOD, BINDING THE SELF-SAME SHEAF"

PREFACE
This book makes no pretence of furnishing a mirror of contemporary Japanese religion. Since 1868, Japan has been breaking the chains of her intellectual bondage to China and India, and the end is not yet. My purpose has been, not to take a snap-shot photograph, but to paint a picture of the past. Seen in a lightning-flash, even a tempest-shaken tree appears motionless. A study of the same organism from acorn to seed-bearing oak, reveals not a phase but a life. It is something like this--"to the era of Meiji" (A.D. 1868-1894+) which I have essayed. Hence I am perfectly willing to accept, in advance, the verdict of smart inventors who are all ready to patent a brand-new religion for Japan, that my presentation is "antiquated."
The subject has always been fascinating, despite its inherent difficulties and the author's personal limitations. When in 1807, the polite lads from Satsuma and Ki[=o]to came to New Brunswick, N.J., they found at least one eager questioner, a sophomore, who, while valuing books, enjoyed at first hand contemporaneous human testimony.
When in 1869, to Rutgers College, came an application through Rev. Dr. Guido F. Verbeck, of T[=o]ki[=o], from Fukui for a young man to organize schools upon the American principle in the province of Echizen (ultra-Buddhistic, yet already so liberally leavened by the ethical teachings of Yokoi H¨¦ishiro), the Faculty made choice of the author. Accepting the honor and privilege of being one of the "beginners of a better time," I caught sight of peerless Fuji and set foot on Japanese soil December 29, 1870. Amid a cannonade of new sensations and fresh surprises, my first walk was taken in company with the American missionary (once a marine in Perry's squadron, who later invented the jin-riki-sha), to see a hill-temple and to study the wayside shrines around Yokohama. Seven weeks' stay in the city of Yedo--then rising out of the d¨¦bris of feudalism to become the Imperial capital, T[=o]ki[=o], enabled me to see some things now so utterly vanished, that by some persons their previous existence is questioned. One of the most interesting characters I met personally was Fukuzawa, the reformer, and now "the intellectual father of half of the young men of ... Japan." On the day of the battle of Uy¨¦no, July 11, 1868, this far-seeing patriot and inquiring spirit deliberately decided to keep out of the strife, and with four companions of like mind, began the study of Wayland's Moral Science. Thus were laid the foundations of his great school, now a university.
Journeying through the interior, I saw many interesting phenomena of popular religions which are no longer visible. At Fukui in Echizen, one of the strongholds of Buddhism, I lived nearly a year, engaged in educational work, having many opportunities of learning both the scholastic and the popular forms of Shint[=o] and of Buddhism. I was surrounded by monasteries, temples, shrines, and a landscape richly embroidered with myth and legend. During my four years' residence and travel in the Empire, I perceived that in all things the people of Japan were too religious.
In seeking light upon the meaning of what I saw before me and in penetrating to the
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