New Perspectives on Shintō

  • Datum: Thu, Nov. 8, 2001, 14:00–18:00
  • Ort: Institut für Ostasienkunde, Japanologie
  • AAKH Campus, Hof 2, Spitalgasse 2-4, 1090 Wien
    Google Maps
  • Organisation: Institute for Asian Studies of the Austrian Academy of Sciences
  • Kooperation: Institute for East Asian Studies of Vienna University


Even today opinions in Japan vary greatly about the actual meaning and the religious contents of Shintō. Often called a religion without a dogma Shintō lacks a central authority capable of mandatory decisions in theological matters. Tradition seems to be the only determining factor that shapes Japan’s reputedly native religion. Yet, if one traces the traditions of various Shintō institutions historically, one encounters in most cases influences that are all but of native origin. This perplexing picture becomes more understandable, when we realize that in contrast to general knowledge, the very idea of Shintō as an independent, indigenous religion is a comparatively recent conception. Based on this general assumption, the lectures refer to the development of “Shintō” in subsequent historical periods. Arranged in chronological order they cover a timeframe from the 8th to the 19th centuries.

The lectures will last for about 30 minutes, giving time for discussion and a coffee break. Apart from specific historical topics discussions will address the question to which extend the term “Shinto” itself is valuable as an analytical category of Japanese religious studies.



  • 14:00 Introduction (Bernhard Scheid, Wien)
  • 14:15 Early occurrences of the term Shintō (Mark Teeuwen, Oslo)
  • 15:15 Buddhist Shinto or Shintō Buddhism? Buddhist initiation rituals concerning the kami in medieval and early modern Japan (Fabio Rambelli, Sapporo)
  • 16:15 Way of the Kami and Way of Japan: some reflections on the “innocence” of “Shintō” (Bernhard Scheid, Wien)
  • 17:15 Sôgen Senji: the Yoshida house and the identity-making of local tutelary shrines (Hiromi Maeda, Boston)


  • Mark Teeuwen graduated from Leiden University and is professor for Japanese religion and history at the University of Oslo. He is author of Watarai Shintō: An Intellectual History of the Outer Shrine of Ise(Leiden, 1996) and editor (with John Breen) of Shintō in History: Ways of the Kami (London, 2000).
  • Fabio Rambelli graduated from Venice University and is associate professor at the Department of Cultural Studies, Sapporo University. Known for his poignant semiotic analysis of Japanese esoteric Buddhism, he is preparing a book on Poetics and Politics of Mandala, which is now under review at Stanford University Press.
  • Bernhard Scheid graduated from Vienna University and is research fellow at the Institute for Asian Studies, Austrian Academy of Sciences. He recently published Der Eine und Einzige Weg der Götter. Yoshida Kanetomo und die Erfindung des Shintō (Wien, 2001).
  • Hiromi Maeda studied at Tokyo University and Harvard. She is about to finish her Ph.D. on Yoshida Shinto in the Edo period.