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Death and the Afterlife in Japanese Buddhism Hardcover – September 24, 2008

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Hardcover, September 24, 2008
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Jacqueline I. Stone is professor of Japanese religions in the Religion Department of Princeton University. Mariko Namba Walter is a research associate at the Edwin O. Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies and the Fairbank Center for East Asian Research at Harvard University.

Mariko Namba Walter is a visiting professor at Bucknell University, Lewisburg, PA, and teaches on shamanism and Asian religions.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 382 pages
  • Publisher: University of Hawaii Press; 1 edition (September 24, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0824832043
  • ISBN-13: 978-0824832049
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.5 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,032,199 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Perhaps because it's a religious tradition that emphasizes impermanence, Buddhism often gets saddled with handling funerals. In Japan this holds especially true, and generally for the average person there Buddhism is primarily if not exclusively associated with funerary rites (to the point that a wide-eyed 20-something's interest in the religion can strike them as mildly morbid). These rites clearly make for Buddhism's most prominent role in society and are thus the economic backbone maintaining its institutional presence, about which a multitude of key doctrinal and ritual phenomena cluster as well. And yet scholarly studies of Japanese Buddhism tend to avoid this subject like the plague.

Well, except for this fine collection of articles with a deceptively dull title. "Death and the Afterlife in Japanese Buddhism" rushes in where other studies fear to tread, exploring this key aspect of Buddhism as it has developed in Japan with exemplary depth and breadth. The assorted articles range in time from the early Heian to the contemporary present and cover a good variety of schools and disparate Buddhist traditions. Some articles are extremely specific, focusing for example on one apocryphal sutra and the beliefs and practices surrounding it, while others step back and consider the larger issues and ramifications of, say, the disconnect between certain Buddhist teachings and certain Buddhist funerary practices. Each article is of high scholarly caliber and yet eminently readable, and each is interesting, informative, or thought-provoking in its own manner. If I had to pick one, though, Mariko Walter's article unearthing the underlying pan-sectarian structure of Buddhist funerals is in particular a priceless resource repaying repeated reference.
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My son wrote a college paper on this and got a 100%! He loved the book. It's well laid out and easy to understand.
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