From the first half of the nineteenth century onward, a new stratum of religious affiliation has emerged in Japan that is not directly related to the traditional customs, practices, and beliefs of Shinto shrines, Buddhist temples, and household gods. The emergence of a number of new religious movements (shin shukyo) offers alternative modes of religious faith and belonging. Many of these movements have generated a large following in Japan; some have become global in their reach, attracting a transnational membership. As the traditional emphasis on the household has eroded in modernity, there is evidence that some of the new religions have made inroads into the areas formerly dominated by the established religions, including creating their own funeral rites. This article first presents definitions and characteristics of new religions in Japan, then examines generations of new religious movements, structures, familial patterns and conservatism, centers of faith and pilgrimage, control and secession, and the importance of Japanese new religious movements in the study of religion.
This article surveys East Asian new religions through a discussion of specific new religious movements (NRMs) in China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam. Without diminishing the uniqueness of each culture, these countries share a common cultural heritage from China which makes their attitudes toward new religions different from those of the West. However, like their counterparts in the West, East Asian NRMs embody a bewildering variety of ideals and opposing tendencies.
Peter B. Clarke
Several of the new religious movements (NRMs) of modern times have become global movements. Among these are the Soka Gakkai of Japan; the Brahma Kumaris, Sathya Sai Baba, and Hare Krishna of India; the Tzu Chi Buddhist Compassion and Relief Society of Taiwan; and Scientology, which began in the United States in the early 1950s. In order to become global movements, NRMs must often depend heavily on one particular ethnic group as they expand beyond their home base. On arrival in new cultural contexts, movements are most likely to appeal to first- or second-generation economic migrants from the same ethnic background as the missionaries who brought the movement to the region in the first place. While being themselves part of the process of ever-increasing globalization, NRMs also throw light on the dynamics and mechanics of this process, on how it plays itself out. This article discusses the globalization and “glocalization” of NRMs, as well as NRMs as vehicles of a new spirituality.