Religious Piety, Ritual, and the Performing Arts in Japan: Cultural Exchange with East Asia, Historically and Today

CJRC Religion and Social Life in Premodern Japan Project

Lecture by Professor Koichi Matsuo of the National Museum of Japanese History. Please note: this lecture will be in JAPANESE only.

**This lecture will be in JAPANESE ONLY** 


"Religious Piety, Ritual, and the Performing Arts in Japan: Cultural Exchange with East Asia, Historically and Today" 


In Japanese religions, both historically and today, the influence of Buddhism introduced from the Chinese continent (including the Korean peninsula) during the ancient period has been extremely great. This continental Buddhism fused with Japan’s ancient kami rites and practices, creating unique religious forms and cults. Cultural transmissions from China did not come to an end during the ancient period but continued during the medieval and early modern periods, and it was under such influence that the Buddhist culture of each period emerged. Things that are often introduced as unique aspects of Japanese culture—the way of tea (chado); the arts of flower arrangement; theater forms such as noh, kyogen, bunraku, joruri puppet theater, and kabuki; even the festivals that mark the four seasons—bear signs of Chinese, and especially Buddhist influence. They underwent a unique process of reception in Japan, and many continue even to this day, receiving not only local and domestic recognition, but in many cases also receiving UNESCO recognition as world cultural treasures or items of cultural heritage. In many ways the significance of this transmitted culture is difficult to understand using historical documents. But it is possible to physically experience such culture through its music, song, dance, and other embodied forms. In this lecture Prof. Matsuo will introduce some of the films he has produced, films that document aspects of this ongoing cultural exchange between Japan and the Chinese continent. He will also consider the unique aspects of festivals and performative arts in Japan, both of which carry strong religious or cultic elements.

Dr. Koichi Matsuo is a Professor in the Research Department of the National Museum of Japanese History (Rekihaku) in Chiba, Japan.