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Overview

The belief that the dead need affection, that to neglect them is a cruelty, that their happiness depends upon duty, is a belief that has almost cast out the primitive fear of their displeasure. They are not thought of as dead; they are believed to remain among those who loved them.... From their shrine they observe and hear what happens in the house; they share the family joys and sorrows; they delight in the voices and the warmth of the life ...
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Overview

The belief that the dead need affection, that to neglect them is a cruelty, that their happiness depends upon duty, is a belief that has almost cast out the primitive fear of their displeasure. They are not thought of as dead; they are believed to remain among those who loved them.... From their shrine they observe and hear what happens in the house; they share the family joys and sorrows; they delight in the voices and the warmth of the life about them.
-from "The Religion of the Home"

In 1889, Westerner Lafcadio Hearn arrived in Japan on a journalistic assignment, and he fell so in love with the nation and its people that he never left.

His love letters to his adopted country, including 1894's Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan and 1896's Kokoro: Hints and Echoes of Japanese Inner Life (both available from Cosimo Classics) helped fire global interest in Japanese culture as it was opening to the West in the 1890s, and in 1904, he published this engaging and highly entertaining series of essays.

An early Western attempt to decipher the "outward strangeness" of all things in Japan, and to place the nation and its people in a larger historical context, this is a lyrical work, singing with respect and love.

Bohemian and writer PATRICK LAFCADIO HEARN (1850-1904) was born in Greece, raised in Ireland, and worked as newspaper reporter in the United States before decamping to Japan. He also wrote In Ghostly Japan (1899).

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781596056589
  • Publisher: Cosimo
  • Publication date: 12/1/2005
  • Pages: 560
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 1.25 (d)

Read an Excerpt


The Ancient Cult The Ancient Cult THE real religion of Japan, the religion still professed in one form or other, by the entire nation, is that cult which has been the foundation of all civilized religion, and of all civilized society,—Ancestor-worship. In the course of thousands of years this original cult has undergone modifications, and has assumed various shapes; but everywhere in Japan its fundamental character remains unchanged. Without including the different Buddhist forms of ancestor-worship, we find three distinct rites of purely Japanese origin, subsequently modified to some degree by Chinese influence and ceremonial. These Japanese forms of the cult are all classed together under the name of " Shinto," which signifies, " The Way of the Gods." It is not an ancient term; and it was first adopted only to distinguish the native religion, or " Way " from the foreign religion of Buddhism called " Butsudo," or " The Way of the Buddha. ' The three forms of the Shinto worship of ancestors are the Domestic Cult, the Communal Cult, and the State Cult; — or, in other words, the worship of family ancestors, the worship of clan or tribal ancestors,and the worship of imperial ancestors. The first is the religion of the home; the second is the religion of the local divinity, or tutelar god ; the third is the national religion. There are various other forms of Shinto worship ; but they need not be considered for the present. Of the three forms of ancestor-worship above mentioned, the family-cult is the first in evolutional order, — the others being later developments. But, in speaking of the family-cult as the oldest, I do not mean the home-religion as it exists to-day;— neither do I mean by "family" anything corresponding to the term " household." The Japanese family in early...
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