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Book Cover for: Religion and Tourism in Japan: Intersections, Images, Policies and Problems, Ian Reader

Religion and Tourism in Japan: Intersections, Images, Policies and Problems

Ian Reader

In this study, Ian Reader presents new insights into the relationship between religion and tourism more generally and into the contemporary religious situation in Japan. He counteracts scholarship that claims tourism increases religious activity, shows that tourism is a factor in increasing secularization in Japan and draws attention to the role of the state in such contexts.

Although the Japanese constitution prohibits the state from promoting religion, this book shows how state agencies nonetheless encourage people to visit religious sites, by presenting them as manifestations of a shared heritage, in ways that distance them from 'religion'. Reader examines theoretical understandings of religion and tourism and presents case studies of famed pilgrimage routes and temples. He shows how Zen monasteries are now 'tourist brands' and pilgrimages are the focus of TV entertainment programmes, portrayed as opportunities to eat sweets.

Examining the nationalistic rhetoric of nostalgia and unique heritage that underpins the promotion of religious sites, Reader also considers why priests acquiesce in such matters.

Book Details

  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic
  • Publish Date: May 29th, 2025
  • Pages: 272
  • Language: English
  • Dimensions: 9.21in - 6.14in - 1.00in - 1.00lb
  • EAN: 9781350418875
  • Categories: Religion, Politics & StateAsia - Japan

About the Author

Ian Reader is Professor Emeritus at the University of Manchester, UK. His prime areas of research are on religious dynamics in the contemporary world, with a special focus on Japan, on pilgrimage and on the links between religion and violence. He is the author of numerous books, articles and chapters about such issues, including Pilgrims Until We Die: Unending Pilgrimage in Shikoku, co-authored with John Shultz, (2021) and Dynamism and the Ageing of a Japanese "New" Religion, co-authored with Erica Baffelli (Bloomsbury, 2019).

Praise for this book

"Reader breaks new ground in this study on the role of the state and commercial enterprises in promoting tourism, and how their policies impact shrines and temples in areas undergoing depopulation. A strong case is made that the 'touristification' ofreligious sites as 'cultural heritage' tends to 'dereligionize' them, circumvents conflictsover religion-state separation, and contributes to the ongoing process of secularization." --Mark R. Mullins, Professor of Japanese Studies, University of Auckland, New Zealand

"Being based on a lifetime of research, this book brings home illuminating insights, for example on the role of the state and religious estrangement as key factors in the interplay of religion and tourism in Japan. This well-written book is of relevance far beyond scholars of Japanese religions." --Michael Stausberg, Professor of Religion, University of Bergen, Norway