Journal for the Academic Study of Religion, Vol 29, No 1 (2016)

‘Religions of Practice’: The Case of Japanese Religions

Douglas Ezzy
Issued Date: 30 Aug 2016


‘Religions of practice’ are religions that prioritize ritual practice, with little concern for creeds and belief. In these religions, ethical obligations are communicated through ritual practices and aesthetic responses to symbols. Some theories of religion characterize ritual practice and religious aesthetics as secondary outcomes of religious belief. Such characterizations misunderstand the significance of religious ritual practice. A neo-Durkheimian theory of religion that examines ritual practice alongside belief provides a more sophisticated understanding of religious experience. A range of ethnographies of Japanese religions are reviewed to illustrate the argument. Aesthetics and ritual performance are central to many Japanese religions. These generate a strong sense of relational and communal entwinement and are associated with an ambivalent or pluralistic moral ontology.

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DOI: 10.1558/jasr.v29i1.30306


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