Death and Social Order in Tokugawa Japan: Buddhism, Anti-Christianity, and the Danka System. By Nam-lin Hur. Harvard University Asia Center, Cambridge, Mass., 2007. xiii, 550 pages. $55.00. Reviewed by James L. McClain Brown University In Death and Social Order in Tokugawa Japan, Nam-lin Hur takes his readers through an extensive investigation of the danka (or patron household, to use the author's terminology) system of funerary Buddhism in that country's early modern epoch. As Hur points out in the introduction, Buddhism permeated Japanese daily life in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, when perhaps as many as 250,000 temples and subtemples constituted the predominant established religion for a population of approximately 30 million persons. How, Hur asks in the first of many intriguing questions that provide the analytical scaffolding for his monograph, did the Buddhist institutions manage to penetrate every corner of the country, and where did so many temples find the financial resources necessary to support themselves? Moreover, he inquires, why did ordinary Japanese respond so enthusiastically to the astonishing expansion of Buddhism in the early seventeenth century (nearly half of all temples were newly erected between 1600 and 1631) and then remain dedicated temple-goers for generation upon generation
The Journal of Japanese Studies – Society for Japanese Studies
Published: Jan 15, 2009
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