Religion and gender in Japan

Authored by: Yumi Murayama , Erica Baffelli

The Routledge Companion to Gender and Japanese Culture

Print publication date:  December  2019
Online publication date:  December  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138895201
eBook ISBN: 9781315179582
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter focuses on a few themes emerging from the intersections of women’s lives and religion in contemporary Japan, with a particular emphasis on current debates, especially amongst scholars in Japan. While religious ideologies and practices tend to assert gender stereotypes and often do manifest themselves as a male-dominant system or oppressive dogma, scholars have also argued that religion could provide women and other minorities with ways to achieve agency if the teaching, practice, and system could become a tool for liberation. This chapter will provide an overview of these debates, focusing in particular on mountain asceticism and the exclusion of women, ideas of kegare in folklore studies, women in contemporary Buddhist institutions, the role of jizoku (women living in temples because they married Buddhist priests), the mobilization of women in new religious movements, and recent developments emerging in Christian churches.

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