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The Religions of Japan From the Dawn of History to the Era of Méiji   By: (1843-1928)

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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 Héishiro), 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 débris 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 Uyéno, 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... Continue reading book >>




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