Patriotism, Secularism, and State Shintō D.C.

Holtom’s Representations of Japan
Avery Morrow, Carleton College <> As published in Wittenberg University East Asian Studies Journal, vol. 36 (2011)

This paper explores the ideology of religious studies with respect to early 20th century studies of Japan. Since 1945, “State Shintō” has been defined in academic literature as a state religion which was enforced by the Japanese government from an undetermined date after the Meiji Restoration until it was disestablished by the Allied Occupation. In fact, the Japanese government took concrete steps to separate their patriotic ceremonies from religion. Our current definition of the term “State Shintō” was produced by the religious scholar D.C. Holtom. Imperial Japan represents a unique case in the history of civilization before World War II. Alone among its East Asian neighbors, it cast off the unequal treaties of the nineteenth century and became recognized by the European nations as a “Great Power”. The West had agreed in the prewar period that Japan had modernized itself and was to be treated as an equal. It was awarded mandate over a group of Pacific islands by the League of Nations after World War I, and would have been the first non-Western host of the Olympic Games were it not for wartime interruptions. To achieve this modernization, it was necessary to engender a perception of Japan as a cohesive nation-state. To this end, imperial Japanese authorities in the late 19th and early 20th centuries can be said to have invented a variety of teachings, actions, and physical institutions designed to inculcate reverence and obedience towards the state and its personification in the emperor. Notable among these were a national war memorial called Yasukuni Shrine (1869), a calendar of imperial holidays (1870s), a document called the 1

Imperial Rescript on Education (1889), attendance at shrines by primary schools (1911), and installation of imperial photographs in homes, schools, and other institutions. For a government that was adapting itself to European civilization for the first time, this was a remarkably modern technique, paralleling contemporary American inventions such as Arlington National Cemetery (1864), Washington's Birthday and Flag Day (1880s), the Pledge of Allegiance (1892), the school flag movement (1890s), and so forth. When the Allies occupied Japan in 1945, however, they saw these developments in a vastly different light. Japanese fascism, the Allies declared, was not merely reliant on local traditions but a “perversion of Shintō”, which was not a cultural vocabulary fit for use by civilized nations, but “a primitive religion put to modern uses.”1 Confusingly, this meant that they could not ban Japanese fascism outright, because this would deny freedom of religion; instead, they could only “disestablish” it, even though there was no church or bureau which was responsible for all of the above institutions. The direct consequence of this report was a document called the Shintō Directive, which in its own words “free[d] the Japanese people from ... compulsion to believe or profess to believe in a religion or cult officially designated by the state.” The Directive reorganized policies that were considered secular by the previous government into part of a religion.2 The most visible consequence of this re-secularization of Japanese culture is the privatization of Yasukuni Shrine, the national war memorial which was once visited annually by the emperor. As a private religious organization, Yasukuni has honored war criminals in its shrine, invited paramilitary groups to its festivals, and built a museum on the shrine grounds devoted to a
1 Ken R. Dyke, “Shinto: A Study Prepared by General Headquarters, SCAP, C I & E Section”, Contemporary Religions in Japan 7.4 (1966) 2 Ibid.


revisionist view of the Pacific War. These actions have led to international controversy in the postwar period, but the Japanese government is unable to regulate this behavior. Why did the Allied regime privatize Yasukuni and other shrines it? Superficially, privatization affirmed the superiority of the Western way of life, and critiqued Imperial Japan’s appropriation of secularist language as the sort of “inappropriate” uses of Western symbols that Homi Bhabha describes as “mimicry”. But the Allies were not consciously trying to create a colonial discourse; rather, they were relying on an existing narrative that denied the legitimacy of Japanese authority. I will here examine the writings of a religious scholar named D.C. Holtom who was largely responsible for creating this narrative, both to understand the normalcy of his opinions within the religious studies of his period and to provoke further thought about the role of religious scholars in constructing and upsetting balances of power. The Modernization Project in Japan In Edo period Japan (1603-1868), a mixture of shrines and temples dotted the Japanese landscape. The temples were built, staffed, and regulated by private monastic institutions, dedicated to Buddhist rites and education. The shrines, however, had no institutional affiliation, except where a Buddhist temple had stepped into maintain them. Shrines served important nonsectarian purposes in Japanese society: they were places where festivals were held and historical or mythological figures, called kami, were memorialized. The kami could be construed variously as heroes from an ancient era, figures who instilled Confucian morality, or an unseen, animist force.3 If asked the common beliefs that all these shrines shared, an intellectual might wager the generic word shintō, meaning matters of kami,
3 Susan Burns, Before the Nation (Durham: Duke University, 2003)


but not without a disclaimer: “The shintō are a difficult thing to speculate about.”4 There was no singular Shintō, the way of the kami. Because shrines were present throughout the country and mostly apolitical, they were employed by the state for censuses and public announcements towards the end of the Edo period. During the Meiji Restoration in 1868, part of the overthrow of the previous government was a “restoration” of the ancient ways of the kami according to a philosophical movement previously founded by Atsutane Hirata and Norinaga Motoori. These two philosophers had identified shrines as heirs to an indigenous Japanese identity superior to the “foreign” Buddhism, and aimed to “restore” their influence in Japanese society, but they were actually inventing a new power structure, so to implement it some new rules had to be made. Shrine owners now separated enshrined kami from the Buddhist images they had previously intermingled with (shinbutsu bunri). Many Buddhist monks left the priesthood to join this movement, but their training was too hasty and their mission too vague. In the popular press, their effort was dismissed as an “insignificant movement”, their public lectures were roundly mocked, and their ineffective government bureau was dubbed the “Ministry of Afternoon Naps.” The government ignored the call to declare their shintō, a term they popularized for the first time, the national religion.5 Instead, a way forward for the shrines was proposed by the Buddhist priest Seiran Ōuchi (1845-1918), who relied on the new,

4 After Toshio Kuroda, James C. Dobbins and Suzanne Gay, “Shintō in the History of Japanese Religion,” Journal of Japanese Studies 7.1 (1981), 10 5 James Edward Ketelaar, Of Heretics and Martyrs in Meiji Japan (Princeton: Princeton University, 1990), 98; Helen Hardacre, Shintō and the State, 1868-1988 (Princeton: Princeton University, 1989), 50, 294; Jun’ichi Isomae, “The Formative Process of State Shintō in Relation to the Westernization of Japan: the Concept of ‘Religion’ and ‘Shintō’,” trans. Michael S. Wood, in Religion and the Secular: Historical and Colonial Formations, ed. Timothy Fitzgerald (London: Equinox, 2007), 96; John Breen, “Ideologues, Bureaucrats and Priests”, in Shintō in History: Ways of the Kami, eds. Breen and Teeuwen (Honolulu: University of Hawai’i, 2000), 234


Western idea of “religious freedom” when he composed a letter to the government bureau in charge of the restoration movement: If you insist on calling this shintō a religion — we should really call it not merely a polytheistic religion, but a rag-bag religion ... if we attach the name religion to the veneration and worship of our imperial ancestors, then, with respect, what will happen is that those who believe that the spirits of the imperial ancestors repose eternally in the other realm will believe, but those who do not will make a mockery of it. Shintō rituals are national or public in character, and so the state should itself perform rites at national shrines.6 Bureaucrats implemented Ōuchi's idea without much variation. The system of national indoctrination was abandoned, and freedom of religion was declared throughout the country in the 1889 Meiji Constitution. But the “freedom of religion” was actually a freedom of personal faith, with an explicit disclaimer that religion could not interfere with public “peace and order.”7 Religion in Japan was, and still is, considered a private matter of one's inner mind, while in contrast, morality was deemed, in the words of the modern scholar Jun’ichi Isomae, “a national, and thus a public, issue.”8 Thus, a new Shrine Bureau was created that continued to own and operate the shrines as public moral institutions, even while a Religions Bureau was separated from it for the regulation of private Buddhist, Christian, and new religious sects. The great majority of Japanese people accepted government control of shrines as uncontroversial, because it was scarcely different from how shrines were managed in the age of their parents and grandparents. They never recognized something called “Shintō” that was distinguishable from other habits of life in Japan, and even today, many Japanese will insist that shrines are not religious but function as a public, nonsectarian part of Japanese culture.
6 Quoted in Hitoshi Nitta, “Shintō as a ‘Non-Religion’: The Origins and Development of an Idea,” in Shintō in History, 255 7 Ketelaar, Of Heretics and Martyrs in Meiji Japan, 131-2 8 Isomae, “The Formative Process of State Shintō”, 93


The Shrine Bureau gave new prominence to the imperial shrine, Ise Jingū, and the imperial ancestors. New shrines were also built (e.g. Yasukuni Shrine) and existing shrines were remodeled to commemorate Japan’s war dead, an innovation on the existing, widely accepted practice of memorializing ancestors to prevent them from coming back as disturbed spirits. Shrines were being used in a way akin to American flags and war memorials, as national monuments and civic institutions. A number of laws were drawn up to prevent shrine priests from using their public position for private interests, and to separate them legally from private religious movements led by charismatic leaders, which were dubbed Sect or Religious Shintō. The term jinja was invented to distinguish shrines from other buildings that housed kami, and it was reserved for nonsectarian purposes. Shrine officials were prohibited from conducting funerals, which were the private business of Buddhists and Christians. They were also banned from proselytizing in any medium, whether by “sermon lecture, printed page or private conversation.”9 Religious Shintō churches were banned from using the torii shrine gate, which was repurposed as a nonsectarian national symbol. These laws made some novel distinctions between religious and secular, causing angst among shrine priests who wanted to continue their “restoration”, but to make such distinctions was the intent of the government. They aimed to separate sect and shrine, so that shrine attendance could remain the duty of all Japanese no matter their private beliefs.10 These policies to distinguish religious Sect Shintō and secular Shrine Shintō had little effect on Japanese perceptions of Christianity. While it had traditionally been viewed as a
9 D.C. Holtom, “Modern Shintō as a State Religion”, in The Japan Mission Year Book, vol. 28 (Tokyo: Kyobunkwan, 1930), 57 10 Nitta, “Shintō as a ‘Non-Religion’,” 266


foreign influence, beginning with the “Three Religions Conference” in 1912, Japanese Christians and missionaries alike were welcomed into the fold of Japanese society.11 Even as relations between Japan and the West grew tense when Japan adopted fascist tendencies and invaded China, there were no restraints put on Christian schooling or missionary work. In 1940, William P. Woodard related his surprise that missionaries from quasi-hostile states continued to operate in Japan without interference, asking, “Is there another country in the world where this could occur?”12 In this sense, at least, it is difficult to dispute the Japanese commitment to freedom of religion. But at the same time, these minority communities often debated the influence of government in their everyday lives. The Shrine Question Even though the Japanese government was embracing freedom of religion and pluralism on its own terms, the Japanese Christian community was uncertain of whether to embrace government practices in return. For missionaries, Japan was an enigma: a Westernized state that had not embraced the religion popular among Western countries. The secular world considered Japan an equal partner in trade and diplomacy, but did that mean its newly invented internal customs were civilized and secular? Both the foreign missionaries and Japanese converts felt confused and tested by the state's invented traditions. The missionaries began complaints against Japanese state policy at the turn of the century by claiming that bowing to the portrait of the Emperor, as was frequently asked of them during school ceremonies, was “Caesar worship.” Their refusal was akin to the Jehovah’s Witnesses' refusal to salute the flag, which had caused them to be labeled traitors
11 A. Hamish Ion, The Cross in the Dark Valley: The Canadian Protestant Missionary Movement in Japan (Waterloo: Wilfred Laurier, 1999), 84 12 William P. Woodard, “The Foreign Missionary in Japan.” In The Japan Christian Year Book, vol. 38 (Tokyo: Kyobunkwan, 1940), 89


to the United States and frequently persecuted.13 Nevertheless, the missionaries were convinced that their way was the only civilized way. The American Baptist perspective on this dispute was not merely that the Japanese had different customs from the missionaries, but that “there is evidently room for progress and enlightenment even among the advanced classes of Japan.”14 But of course, they were not actually talking about technological or social “progress”, but about their own sectarian agendas, which they felt had not been sufficiently disseminated into the Japanese conscience. By the mid-1900s, however, this particular issue had died down. Bowing to the portrait was reconsidered as a patriotic duty, similar to saluting a flag. In 1911, though, controversy flared up again when the Japanese government asked Christian schools to begin sending representatives of each class to a state shrine on an annual basis in order to pay their respects to those who gave their lives for the empire.15 Missionaries were concerned by this development, which seemed to them to violate the separation of church and state. Of course, the Japanese Christians grew up in a culture where families went to shrines together, newspapers talked about them, and the government built them for special occasions. They did not see shrines as alien or blasphemous to their Christian faith; they were rather an integral part of Japaneseness. Many Christians disagreed with the missionary perspective, and drew on familiar Japanese scholars to resolve the question: for example, in 1915 the Christian Tatsu Tanaka (1868-1920) published a book entitled My Opinion of Shintō which cited dozens of authors to prove that the shintō of the modern shrines was non-

13 Shawn Francis Peters, Judging Jehovah's Witnesses: Religious Persecution and the Dawn of the Rights Revolution (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2000) 14 The Baptist Missionary Magazine, October 1898, 4. 15 D.C. Holtom. The National Faith of Japan (London: Trubner, 1938), 73


religious.16 They won over not only other Japanese but also some Western hearts during frequent discussions and meetings on the subject, such as the missionary R.C. Armstrong (1876-1929), who beginning in 1916 agreed that “the Japanese are justified in saying that Shintō is not a religion” and advocated for Christians to continue employing shrine priests in secular ceremonies.17 In 1918, Armstrong expanded on his opinion with a theory of “Shintō as a National Cult,” where he considered the nonsectarian and national value of the shrines: We stand in a transition period in Japan: the fight over the homage and the adoration of the Imperial photograph has been fought, but it has been interpreted in a manner to give offence to no right thinking man, who understands that all of these patriotic ceremonies are nothing but the embodiment of the national spirit of reverence for the Imperial ancestors of the Japanese people. In this sense, bowing before the national shrines may be interpreted. It is not unlike our action in removing our hats in the presence of, and out of respect for the dead.18 Armstrong still had some misgivings: he did not like the “foxes and other animals” which stood inside the gates of some shrines, and looked forward to a stricter government separation between religious and secular activities. But in general, he saw Christianity as a fulfillment of traditional shintō culture, and not a rival threatened by it.19 On the Japanese side, too, there were some goodwill attempts being made at a compromise with Christian qualms. In 1919, the shrine priest Kiyosuke Yasuhara published a book entitled Shrines and Religion. Yasuhara considered that while some kami were

16 Tatsu Tanaka (田中達), Shintō Kanken (神道管見; Tokyo: Japan Christian Social Work League, 1915). Others who expressed their support in writing include Jintarō Takagi, Danjō Ebina, Hiromichi Kozaki, and Toyohiko Kagawa. 17 R.C. Armstrong, “The Religious Value of Shintō”, in The Japan Evangelist 23.11 (1916), 429-433 18 R.C. Armstrong, “Shintō as a National Cult”, in The Christian Movement in the Japanese Empire ... A Year Book for 1918, ed. Edwin Taylor Iglehart (Tokyo: Fukuin, 1918), 266 19 Following the publication of D.C. Holtom's thesis in 1922, Armstrong changed his mind. See “Modern Revivals of Ancient Religions in Japan”, The Japan Evangelist vol. 31, no. 2 (July 1924).


relatives, ancestors or other historical individuals, other kami had weak historical grounding and seemed closer akin to characters of folklore or mythology. To resolve this he proposed that lists of religious and non-religious kami be drawn up, and that some shrines could be granted the ability to reorganize as a religion, while others could remain secular and be purged of any “religious” influence.20 Several religious organizations for private shrines already existed, e.g. Shintō Honkyoku for shrines associated with the restoration movement, and Shintō Taiseikyō for more eclectic shrines; beginning in the 1920s, some religiously oriented shrines were privatized and moved into these groups.21 Writers such as Armstrong and Yasuhara suggest a route the Shrine Bureau could have taken to answer the Christians’ qualms. By reforming their mandates for enshrinements and prayers to match Western expectations for secularity, they could acknowledge and respond to the Christian position without doing too much damage to Japanese customs. But unlike the issue of the imperial photograph, the shrine question was not going away that easily. Among the missionaries there were many who saw “Shintō” as a monolithic entity that could not be reformed. They simply could not see how something that had been described as religion from the earliest accounts of foreign visitors could be reformed into something non-religious. As early as November 1916, a Christian association concluded after two years of debate that shrine attendance could not be permitted.22 To make matters worse, the Japanese authorities seemed uninterested in internal Christian arguments, and did not take much of an effort to respond to them. Their solution to
20 I suspect compromises like this were proposed by many groups: for example, the Buddhist priest Beihō Takashima printed such a proposal in a Tokyo newspaper as late as 1930. See D.C. Holtom, “Modern Shintō as a State Religion,” 41-43 21 Isomae, “The Formative Process of State Shintō in Relation to the Westernization of Japan”, 98 22 “Shrine Worship and Christians”, The Japan Evangelist, vol. 23, no. 12 (December 1916), 458


the problem of religiousness was to purposefully refrain from defining shrines, so that people could interpret them however they wanted.23 A statement of the Home Ministry, which managed the Shrine Bureau, affirms this solution: “Whatever opinion may be held as to what should be done regarding religious attitudes toward the shrines, the government will maintain a neutral position on the ground that religious belief should be free.”24 When the government finally established a committee to discuss religious problems surrounding the shrines in the 1920s, it did not involve Christians in its discussion but put off their complaints for later. One of the few officials who did answer the Christians offered this explanation: Although the word kami continues to be used in the national cult, it has in no way the meaning of a supernatural being, which you give to it. It connotes only illustrious men, benefactors of their country. Consequently all Japanese, no matter what their religion, can pay them honour without doing violence to their conscience. … I have no doubt that you will willingly consent to enlighten your followers and to confirm their patriotism and loyalty towards the Emperor.25 This response contains a good amount of truth, since kami often are human beings, and the aim of government policies was indeed to induce “patriotism and loyalty,” not to convert Japanese away from Christianity. But in his flat-out denial that any religious complaint could be made, the governor also indicates a reluctance to address the Christian perspective, or to make a compromise with them as Yasuhara’s proposals would have done. Perhaps the official was considering such factors as widespread approval of the government uses of shrines, the strong association between patriotic feeling and the preservation of ancient traditions, or Christianity’s insignificance and powerlessness within Japanese society as a whole.
23 Isomae, “The Formative Process of State Shintō in Relation to the Westernization of Japan”, 97 24 D.C. Holtom, The Political Philosophy of Modern Shintō: A Study of the State Religion of Japan (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1922), 66 25 J.D. Evans (?), The National Cult in Japan (Kobe: Japan Chronicle, 1918)


Overview of D.C. Holtom’s Work An anthropological analysis of the situation at this point would have framed it as a stand-off between the Christians and the Japanese. To the overwhelming majority of Japanese, shrine attendance was unproblematic; indeed, as late as 1936 an outside observer concluded that “whatever their religious beliefs,” all Japanese citizens were capable of participating in state ceremonies, and “Christianity alone seemed to conflict.”26 One of these conflicting Christians was Daniel Clarence Holtom (1884-1962), who was initially sent to Japan by the American Baptist Foreign Mission Society in the early 1910s and continued to live there as a religious scholar through the 1940s, teaching at Japan Baptist Theological Seminary and lecturing at various universities. In 1922, he submitted a Ph.D. dissertation to the University of Chicago entitled The Political Philosophy of Modern Shintō: A Study of the State Religion of Japan. This work initiates a line of argument which remains constant throughout Holtom’s work, even into the postwar period. Within Holtom’s major works are two narratives. The first will ring a bell for students of Japanese history on either side of the Pacific: he discusses such major philosophical figures as Kūkai and Saichō in the early ninth century (who had unified kami with Buddhas) and Norinaga Motoori and Atsutane Hirata in the early nineteenth century, explaining the influence of all of these figures on the development of the concept of kami. He then goes into the important restoration campaign of 1868-1872 as well as the lesser-known ShintōBuddhist combined campaign of 1873-1875, both of which attempted to create a sense of pan-Japanese unity and obedience to the state. In this history, kami is a complicated subject, related to such ideas as Buddha, Emperor, spirit and heart, that changes over time in response
26 E.E.N. Causton, Militarism and Foreign Policy in Japan (London, G. Allen & Unwin, 1936), 30


to the social and political currents of Japanese history.27 At the same time, a teleological narrative, which contradicts this history, dominates his work. According to the history as described by Holtom himself, to put it simply, kami is a term that has developed over time. But in the other narrative, kami is an undeveloped concept: it is a “primitive religion” which should be irrelevant to “the vital interests of intelligent men in the modern world.”28 Although Holtom does not accept Shintō-influenced government as legitimately modern, he occasionally intimates that if it were to conform to his teleological path, a “modern”, Western-style religion would eventually appear. Holtom begins his book Modern Japan and Shintō Nationalism (1943) not with a description of the history of Japanese nationalist movements, but with a presentation of the evolution of religion from its primitive state to the modern, advanced state typified by Christianity. He questions “our essentially sound conviction that religion ought somehow to have a more vital adjustment to contemporary social life than that reached through dogma and theology,” lumping this belief in with things such as “Christmas trees ... Santa Claus ... fairies and elves, our names for the days of the week” and calling all these things the “outmoded” remnants of “communal folk religions.” He claims that because of the saving sacrifice of Christ, religion has progressed beyond “the primitive way of life”, and today represents the fulfillment of all its promises in “the new loyalties of an uncompromising and at the same time universalizing monotheism.”29 In this passage, the word “universalizing” is put in contrast to the “communal”. What is being universalized? From the examples given, it appears that Holtom holds in his mind an
27 Holtom, National Faith, 3-76 28 Holtom, Political Philosophy, 179, 301 29 D.C. Holtom, Modern Japan and Shintō Nationalism (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1947), 1


idealized Christianity, which he would like to see both believed and practiced the same way around the world—with Christmas trees and Santa Claus representing profane, tribal remnants of our pre-monotheistic culture. His preference for Christianity is not only made explicit but put in stark contrast to every heathen idea he can think of, including the belief that religion (not just Christianity) should reflect social norms rather than the other way around. His definition of what makes religion good is therefore clearly grounded in this rejection of socially grounded religion and preference for universalist teachings. Assigning the positive value to the universal, he dismisses the communal as its antithesis. From this passage he jumps directly into his representation of Japanese society: “The old communal form of religion that was normal in the West two thousand years ago exists in Japan as a powerful social and religious force.”30 Besides its Christian origins, this teleological narrative is theoretically grounded in evolutionary sociology of Émile Durkheim and the French anthropological school. Although Holtom does not explicitly make the connection, he derives his definition of religion from Durkheim and cites him in his dissertation.31 Durkheim’s classic example of primitiveness is the Australian aboriginal claim that the sun is a white cockatoo, which he saw as a starting point on the “intellectual evolution of humanity.”32 Thus, although he considered all humans to have the same capacity for development, the “primitive mind” remained for him intrinsically different from the “developed mind” and lacked at a cultural level most rational abilities.33 Those holding a “primitive” worldview could not be entrusted with the rights and responsibilities of governing a modern state, for, according to one sociologist, “it was the
30 31 32 33 Ibid., 1-2 D.C. Holtom, “Modern Shintō as a State Religion”, 45; National Faith, 302 Émile Durkheim, The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life (London: George Allen, 1976), 237 E.E. Evans-Pritchard, Theories of Primitive Religion (Oxford: Clarendon, 1965), 80-87


mind of the primitive which, to Western observers of many kinds, was suspect above all.”34 But Holtom was not dealing with a preliterate, unreflective society that would submit easily to classification as “primitive”. On the contrary, the Japanese government was framing itself as secular and Western, and European powers had recognized this. The historical narrative which Holtom expounded shows that the category of kami, like other concepts in Japanese philosophy, had already been debated and discussed for hundreds of years, and that shrines had just recently undergone vast changes in structure that supposedly secularized them in the eyes of the ordinary Japanese citizen. As a polemicist, Holtom was therefore tasked with refuting the Japanese claims of secularity by demonstrating that their shrines were barbarous in both philosophy and execution, or in his own words, that they represented an “old communal form of religion” which he perceived to have been marginalized in civilized countries. Searching for the Primitive In searching for examples of the primitive nature of shrine culture, Holtom took advantage of ancient and medieval treatises which collectively demonstrated the changes which shrines and various kami had undergone throughout Japanese history. Although Holtom praised early modern interpreters of kami discourse such as Motoori and Hirata, he also considered the ancient records of kami to be both more “primitive” and more important than its modern reinterpretation and insisted that the earliest interpretations had only been covered over in folklore out of neglect, as stones are gradually covered in moss. In other words, he denies that these symbols might change over time, as a stone is hewn into a sculpture, and can become non-religious in function.
34 Steve Fenton, Durkheim and Modern Sociology (Cambridge: Cambridge University, 1984), 134


Holtom explains that the stories in the Kojiki, a quasi-historical text which is often used to provide a biography of enshrined kami, have their origins in “the magico-religious ceremonies of the savage” for primitive needs such as “protecting the food supply.” One individual example of this he gives is the kami Takemikazuchi, whom he interprets as a mythological fire god who has been “submerged in ancestor worship” in the shrines that honor him. All this means in practical terms is that the figure seen in the shrine is a human being, whose hagiography has probably changed over time. However, in Holtom’s narrative the beliefs of centuries past are more real than the present-day manifestation.35 To the Japanese themselves, such analysis is unimportant; neither the shrine keepers nor the visiting locals have any interest in psychoanalyzing the origin of Takemikazuchi. But recall that Holtom does not believe in allowing tradition to survive for its own sake, because he holds Westernized cultures to the “higher” standard of monotheism. Therefore, such disinterest is a flaw in the Japanese character. In Modern Japan, he charitably attributes this flaw to a political climate which encourages ignorance, but in National Faith, he explains more clinically that in “Japanese racial psychology,” “strong emotional factors operate to subordinate objective historical data ... to the felt needs of group solidarity and continuity.”36 Sources of Authority This condescending attitude towards participants in the culture is not limited to his readings of the Kojiki and Nihon Shoki, but applies generally to his perception of shrines under the imperial system. One way to defend Holtom’s approach to Shintō and shrine policy would be to claim that he is simply putting the practices of the Japanese into a form that can
35 Holtom, National Faith, 94, 105; D.C. Holtom, “A New Interpretation of Japanese Mythology and Its Bearing on the Ancestral Theory of Shintō”, The Journal of Religion 6.1 (1926) 36 Holtom, Modern Japan, 36; National Faith, 77


be easily understood by English speakers. However, much of what Holtom does is to deny the narratives and analogies of other participants in Japanese life: Japanese Christians, government authorities, and even American missionaries. To show that his interpretation is superior to theirs, Holtom employs a combination of Orientalist discourse and appeals to allegedly intrinsic transcendental symbols which might be found in shrines. In 1942, Holtom wrote a series of articles for The Christian Century in which he sought to reassure a general Christian audience that what they had heard from their Japanese compatriots was false, biased information: “Many of the statements regarding this issue, especially those from Japanese sources, Christian included, represent the propaganda interests of the Japanese government rather than the conclusions that flow from unbiased historical study.”37 In other words, the Japanese themselves, both Christians and scholars, have not recognized the true nature of their shrines, their histories, or even their own government. It is up to Holtom to both uncover the conspiracy which the Japanese could not recognize and determine what is scientific and what is falsehood. Edward Said recognized a similar current in Middle Eastern studies: “The Orient and Islam have a kind of extrareal, phenomenologically reduced status that puts them out of reach of everyone except the Western expert. From the beginning of Western speculation about the Orient, the one thing the Orient could not do was to represent itself.”38 Said’s theory does not apply exactly here, because Holtom’s enemy is not all Japanese, nor is it even all Shintō scholars. It is only those who side with the government account whom he places in opposition to “historical study”. He gives a prominent voice to

37 D.C. Holtom, “Japanese Christianity and Shintō Nationalism”, The Christian Century, January 7, 1942, 11 38 Edward Said, Orientalism (New York: Penguin, 2003), 238


scholars such as Genchi Katō who regarded Shintō as the national religion of Japan, and mystics such as the Religious Shintō leaders who regard the kami as a private source of faith. Although their work was regarded by the Japanese government as “the private opinions of individuals,”39 for Holtom they represent the true nature of Shintō. It was common when discussing the shrine question to draw analogies between the shrines and Western institutions. For example, a Japanese Christian, Toyohiko Kagawa (1888-1960), wrote that “the shrines of state Shintō are the monuments and tombs of men who have rendered conspicuous service for the state. In this respect they differ not at all from the Lincoln Memorial in Washington and the Cenotaph in London.”40 Holtom acknowledges the frequency of these analogies, but does not portray them neutrally as part of the case made by the pro-Japanese side of the debate. Instead, he accuses their proponents of denying “the religious warmth of the Japanese people in their faith in the divine beings of these great shrines”.41 In this response Holtom confusingly claims to be speaking for the true beliefs of the entire Japanese people, even though some of the authors he is attempting to refute are themselves Japanese. At the same time, by emphasizing this sanctity to create such a division, he also denies the “warmth” held by Westerners towards their own political heritage. But if the reader is compelled by his arguments, then the resulting conclusion must be that the government has mandated a state religion. “State Shintō” The result of this discourse defines what Holtom calls State Shintō, the “national faith” of Japan. Holtom did not use the term “State Shintō” in his dissertation, because no
39 Arthur Morgan Young, The Rise of a Pagan State (New York: William Morrow, 1939), 136 40 Toyohiko Kagawa, Christ and Japan, trans. William Axling (New York: Friendship Press, 1934), 86 41 Holtom, Modern Japan, 48


Japanese source used it. He first published it in the 1930 Japan Christian Year Book, and expanded on it in The National Faith of Japan. In the political history outlined in the latter book, Holtom portrays the shrine system as a modern invention, based on ample evidence: the prior work of the restoration movement, the novel separation of kami from Buddhas, and so forth. However, he ignores the modern arguments of the Japanese government that these inventions made the resulting system non-religious in nature. Instead, he employs the second narrative of the shrine system, this one much more hypothetical and speculative, in which he critiques it as a primitive religion. He claims that “the establishment of Shintō as the state religion” occurred sometime “in the early part of the Meiji era”.42 In terms of official declarations, he is simply rewriting history, because no such declaration was ever made, even during the brief restoration era. Such a statement also conflates the equally complex periods of the restoration campaign and the “moral” use of shrines. But when we learn what Holtom means by State Shintō, perhaps he is right after all. Holtom’s list of the elements of State Shintō is an almost complete list of political institutions that gave structure to the Japanese nation. It seems to have begun with shrines alone, but Holtom included in his 1922 dissertation some tangents on other aspects of Japanese nationalism,43 and by 1943 his State Shintō hit list had grown to include all things that missionaries had complaint with: the imperial portrait, the Imperial Rescript on Education, the traditional platforms on which these two things were often housed (kamidana), Imperial House Law, and the unscrupulous use of the classical imperial history text Nihon Shoki in children’s history textbooks. To consider these things “State Shintō” was

42 Holtom, National Faith, 53 43 Holtom, Political Philosophy, 71-79, 182-184


solely up to Holtom, because as all later scholars have had to acknowledge, the Japanese government had never grouped these things together under any classification.44 Conspicuously missing from this list are the Japanese flag, the national anthem, and the symbolic use of the nation’s military forces. Additionally, Holtom explicitly rejects the idea that national holidays were part of “State Shintō”.45 This is probably because the United States had similar institutions. Even in the wartime context, there was disagreement among other academics and missionaries over whether any of these things were even religious, much less part of a unified system called State Shintō. The issue of the imperial portrait, for example, had been resolved decades earlier; as for the textbooks, the 1941 Japan Christian Year Book reported on a campaign to introduce instruction in religion in Japanese schools, using the following choice of words: “The association has been urging the importance of religion in national education, and attacking the existing separation of religion from education.”46 Unlike the Japanologist Basil Hall Chamberlain (1850-1935), who seemed to call Japanese patriotism “the birth of a new religion” mostly for the purpose of analogy, Holtom was adamant that he was “not using the word ‘religion’ in a merely figurative sense” when he talked about Japan.47 But this makes his definition of “State Shintō” bizarre to read: “The ideals of sacred obligations of loyalty to Emperor and Fatherland are inculcated as primary desiderata. The ethical motive of inspiring conduct conducive to good citizenship is dominant. In all these respects we find in State Shintō differentia that are accepted as
44 Wilbur M. Fridell, “A Fresh Look at State Shintō”, Journal of the American Academy of Religion 44.3 (1976), 547-561. 45 Holtom, Modern Japan, 208 46 Japan Christian Year Book, vol. 39 (Tokyo: Kyobunkwan, 1941), 270 47 Holtom, Modern Japan, 2


characteristic in classifying so-called religious data from other fields. There is no good reason why we should make an exception in favor of State Shintō.”48 This is simply a description of patriotism. There is nothing in this description that could not have been applied to England or Germany during the same time period. This also applies to the Durkheimian definition that he uses for “religion”: “a unified system of belief and practice relative to sacred things—whether persons, objects, or beliefs.”49 Holtom did not address this argument until 1945, when he conceded the point: “It would serve no useful purpose in our discussion to point out the extent to which these characteristics of Japanese nationalism have their counterparts in the West ... Certainly Japan has no monopoly of convictions of benevolent destiny ... It is certain that the whole world is one in the urgency of overcoming the devastating influences of exclusive, irrational, prescientific nationalism.” Instead of resting on this conclusion, though, he then exhorts the Allies to repair the Japanese mind to cooperate with something called the “world-spirit” (a secular spirit, undoubtedly): “At the same time it would be doubtful if any country will be called upon to make as thoroughgoing changes as would be needed for Japan to qualify for the possession of the true ‘world-spirit’.”50 Why? Because Japan must develop a religion. Fulfilling Shintō's Destiny Within Holtom’s teleological narrative lies a prophesied outcome for this civilizing project, demonstrated by the unusual value he imbues in the term “Shintō”. In The National Faith of Japan, for example, Holtom claims that official assertions of secular government deny the “intrinsic nature of State Shintō”.51 He claims, in other words, that the government
48 49 50 51 Holtom, “Modern Shintō as a State Religion”, 60-61 Ibid., 45; National Faith, 302 D.C. Holtom, “Shintō in the Postwar World”, Far Eastern Survey 14.3 (February 1945), 33 Holtom, National Faith, 306


is failing to address some religious element which lies behind its explicit wording. But can a government policy have an intrinsic nature behind its legal definition? How would Holtom like to see this intrinsic nature addressed and fulfilled? In both National Faith and Modern Japan, he seems to provide an answer to this question. The former book contains lengthy descriptions of new religious movements such as Tenrikyō which were categorized as religious shintō, emphasizing especially the saintly lives of their founders and exploring the universal virtues they promote. The positive, almost poetic tone of these descriptions is markedly different from anything Holtom has to say about state policy. In the latter work, Holtom quotes from Tenrikyō foundress Oyasama and again remarks, “This is Shintō at its highest ... it is part of the all-pervading fire of the human soul and inspires the conviction that, in spite of the blighting effects of nationalism, there is still such a thing as universal human nature.”52 This explicit avowal of a higher goodness shows that Holtom was imagining a future in which Shintō could be moved forwards on his teleological scale, away from the “old communal forms” and towards universality. Note that he conflates a private religious movement with public policy in the word “Shintō”: this is purposeful. Even if the current mandates are secular, Holtom believes that the shrine system of the future could and should mimic the Christian message and power structure. This is how Holtom recognizes a “religious warmth” in patriotic ceremony, and why he regards State Shintō as possessing an “intrinsic nature”. Beyond the secularist policy, which he sees as a “blight” or an obfuscation, lies a non-political, Western-style religion which might be ranked alongside Christianity were it not for government interference. When he claims that “the worth of Shintō to the world must depend on the success wherewith it is
52 Holtom, Modern Japan, 160


able to adjust itself to the demands of a true universalism”53 (emphasis added), Holtom is asserting the truth of his theological project, and laying the ground for constructing a “Universal Shintō” which will join the ranks of the “world religions”. Reception of Holtom’s Work Holtom’s entire thesis was based on a Western category, religion, that did not exist in Japan before the Meiji Restoration, and he attempted to prove the applicability of this category by denying Japanese narratives and imposing his own narrative. His term “State Shintō” did not correspond to any Japanese entity, and his image of the future of shrines was based on his positive evaluation of new religious movements. Nevertheless, because of his unparalleled expertise and historical knowledge, he was received as an academic with insider knowledge of Japanese culture; he was considered an unbiased and reliable historian.54 It is probable that no other English speaker knew more about the meanings of the word “kami” than he did, so his conclusions on the subject were taken quite seriously. With the onset of the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1937, Holtom’s message was boiled down, along with that of other Japanologists, into increasingly hostile xenophobia. His condemnation of Japan’s “old communal form of religion” became a rhetorical weapon against the Japanese nation. In the American propaganda film “Our Enemy: The Japanese” (1943), we have the core of Holtom’s teleological analysis of Japanese culture delivered to us by former U.S. ambassador to Japan Joseph C. Grew: “The real difference is in their minds ... Their weapons are modern, their thinking 2000 years out of date.”55
53 Holtom, National Faith, 316 54 See, for example, reviews by Saburo Yoshitake in the Bulletin of the School of Oriental Studies 10.1 (1939), and by Paul Clyde in Far Eastern Quarterly 2.4 (1943). A 1964 review by Delmer Brown in The Journal of Asian Studies 24.1 describes it as a “most authoritative study”. 55 “Our Enemy: The Japanese” (United States Office of War Information, 1943)


In his writings at the end of the war and afterwards, Holtom was forced to respond to the widespread perception he had helped to create that Shintō was an evil cult that had to be destroyed.56 In February 1945, he portrayed this opinion as follows: “Can we discover any permanent values in Shintō? Or shall we anticipate a future for Japan in which the institution of the Tennō—‘The Son of Heaven’—is abolished, the shrines and all they stood for destroyed, and education divested of all traces of Shintō nationalism?” He also related that the America mass media had advocated for bombing the shrines.57 In his answers to them, Holtom steps back from advocating for the destruction of his “State Shintō” outright. He points out that shrines are sacred to the Japanese people, and that their fascist use was only one development in a long history. He even advocates to keep Yasukuni Shrine a publicly owned institution, because he believed that privatizing it would “feed the flame of resentment and bitterness”. Unfortunately, his advice on this matter was ignored.58 In 1945, the American Occupation forces issued the Shintō Directive, citing Holtom’s work and employing the language of religious freedom. Yasukuni and other shrines were privatized and the photos of the Emperor in schools were removed, but the shrines were preserved, and they continue to be used in Japan for a rich variety of purposes. Many of these, such as paying respects to war dead, buying good-luck charms, or praying for health and success, continue traditions that already existed in the imperial period. While there are individual shrine priests who aim to imitate Christian preaching, an institutional move towards “true universalism” has not occurred in any meaningful sense. The institutions of the
56 “[Holtom’s work encouraged] the view that Shintō as a whole was merely an ersatz religion, the creation of the Meiji government.” Stuart D.B. Picken, Sourcebook in Shintō: Selected Documents (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2004), 241 57 Holtom, “Shintō in the Postwar World”, 29 58 Holtom, Modern Japan, 206


state, on the other hand, have been radically changed by the Shintō Directive. The Shrine Bureau became a private religious organization, and some (although not all) priests now consider themselves religious practitioners. However, the general population of Japan still believes shrines to be places of public custom and ceremony.59 As a result, the Japanese Supreme Court has been faced with perilous cases such as a lawsuit filed in 1965 by a Communist Party leader against the city of Tsu for holding a ground-breaking ceremony (jichinsai) that employed a shrine priest, or one filed by residents of Ehime Prefecture to prevent its officials from sending money to Yasukuni Shrine. The court ruled for the local government in the first case, but against it in the latter, based on a fragile interpretation of when services become “religious” in nature and when they are purely social.60 Additionally, several bills have been proposed to re-nationalize Yasukuni Shrine as a secular institution. The problem of church-state separation, which was an issue mainly for Christians before the war, has been further complicated by the privatization of shrines, which has legally alienated the Japanese people from their own culture. A Way Forward The general academic result of Holtom’s work is that fascism in Japan has been called in retrospect “State Shintō”, and has become the object of religious studies,61 whereas fascism in Germany and Italy are considered mostly secular and are studied only in terms of history. In Japan, there is now a journalistic “State Shintō narrative” that attributes, rightly or wrongly, the performance of ground-breaking ceremonies, visits to Yasukuni, or money sent to Ise shrine to the legacy of a religious system that must be eradicated from Japanese
59 Toshimaro Ama, Why Are the Japanese Non-Religious? (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 2005) 60 Carl F. Goodman, The Rule of Law in Japan (Fredrick, MD: Kluwer Law International, 2008), 76-78 61 For example, Hardacre’s Shintō and the State.


politics.62 In western academia, the use of the religious category has segregated European nationalist movements from the Japanese other. The general byproduct of this has been confusion over the meaning of Japanese nationalism, but some authors such as Walter Skya have attempted to recast the Pacific War itself as a clash of civilizations between “ethnicreligious nationalisms” and “Western-style secularized nationalisms”, with Imperial Japan representing a hotbed of “fanatical” and possibly “mentally deranged” “State Shintō ideology” pitted in unavoidable battle against the secular, rather than an ideologically and socially complex nation which was attempting to construct its own secularism.63 However, the entire theoretical grounding of Holtom’s polemic has meanwhile been uprooted. If examining Japan through the lens of an evolution on the path to Christianity was somewhat questionable in the 1930s, it is practically extinct now. Durkheim himself abandoned his unilinear theory of religious/secular evolution later in life, acknowledging that perceived religious symbols preserve “collective sentiments” just as well in modern societies as they do in premodern ones.64 As early as 1965, E. E. Evans-Pritchard was referring to Durkheim’s evolutionary sociology and theories of primitive religion in general as the “infancy” of anthropology, pointing out that the real distinction is not between primitive and civilized but between any two different ways of thinking.65 The opportunity is ripe to reevaluate the imperial Japanese polity. In such reexaminations, independent-minded sociologists have found reason to
62 Sakamoto Koremaru, “Thoughts on State Shintō Research” (国家神道研究をめぐる断想), in Kinsei Kindai Shintō Ronkō (近世・近代神道論考) (Tokyo: Kōbundō, 2007). 63 Walter Skya, Japan’s Holy War: The Ideology of Radical Shintō Ultranationalism (Durham: Duke University, 2009), 3, 7 64 Andreas Hess, Concepts of Social Stratification: European and American Models (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2001), 41 65 Evans-Pritchard, Theories of Primitive Religion, 5, 91


question Holtom’s picture of “State Shintō”. They claim that it distorts the religious freedom found throughout the imperial era to a “fanatical ‘cult’ of the emperor”,66 or that it is an essentially meaningless term that is relevant only because of the Shintō Directive and resulting discourse.67 This more modern work implies that citing Holtom uncritically will induce some inaccuracies into even the most well-researched study. Conclusion D.C. Holtom’s work has had lasting influence on how the categories of Japanese politics and Japanese religion were determined in the second half of the 20th century. In fact, insofar as we can call the idea of “Japanese religion” an invented tradition, that is to say an idea foreign to Japan which has been given an ancient appearance,68 Holtom can be given part of the credit for establishing this tradition in the academic world. From an ecumenical perspective, Holtom’s intentions were just as good as any modern religious scholar. He wanted to see a Japan that could move forward within his teleological narrative, a nation that could someday impress the Western world with earnest devotion to a “pure” monotheism unmarred by nationalist fervor. It is not his fault that he lived in an age when the line between ethnography and evangelism was as blurry as has been described here. Although we are more familiar with the problem now, our moral standards are not that different from his, and confronting the dogmas hidden within our “secular” ethnographies has proven no less challenging. The modern sociologist Tomoko Masuzawa recognizes this:
66 Aiko Kojima, “Religion or Civil Religion as the Basis of Nationalism? : State Shintō Plan and National Moral in Meiji Japan ” (paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association, San Francisco, CA, Aug 14, 2004), 14 67 Susumu Shimazono, quoted in Sakamoto Koremaru, “Thoughts on State Shintō Research”. 68 Jun’ichi Isomae, “Deconstructing 'Japanese Religion'”, Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 32.2 (2005)


Missionaries’ views and opinions were informed and predetermined by dogmatic Christianity, so it is said, and such religiously biased observations are palpably at odds with the principle of scientific objectivity and impartiality. This commonplace assessment of the missionary ethnography largely ignores, though it does not necessarily deny, that there is a significant continuity between “prescientific” ethnographic writings and later, academically certified anthropologists’ studies, especially with regard to the position of the observer and the style of notation.69 We undoubtedly have an impulse in modern academia to place subjects within our own teleological narratives. The perception of undercurrents within foreign societies that resemble our own passions brings the Other closer to us and gives us hope for a future reconciliation of our differences. Yet at the same time, emphasizing these perceptions at the expense of the subject’s self-identity can cause misunderstandings in the present day. If it is only those perceived undercurrents within a society which we find to contain a seed of civilization, does that not mean that we have concluded the society at large to be primitive and ignorant? Anthropologists and historians have long understood that political and social choices which may appear primitive to us are the product of cultural history. The only way to write a non-polemical study is to take that history into account. We must acknowledge the influence of these narratives when studying modern social movements that have been caught in the web of “religion”. We may want to regard this category as neutral with respect to the concerns outlined above, but the changes it brings to social discourse are anything but neutral. When we categorize the Hindu nationalist movement as “religious”, as Holtom did for “State Shintō”, what sort of consequences does that have on the way we talk about it? Does it enable people to dismiss Hindutva concerns as the product of an “old communal form of religion”, or to characterize them as ignorant

69 Tomoko Masuzawa, “Culture”, in Critical Terms for Religious Studies, ed. Mark C. Taylor (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1998), 84


nationalists who know nothing about the universalist and nonpolitical essence of “their religion”? Does it allow an American Sanskritist whose area of expertise is 8th century Indian manuscripts to make claims about the legitimacy of a modern political movement in a country she has never lived in, and be taken seriously? How do these things help or hinder understanding of Indian politics within and without India, and what real consequences might they have in terms of organizational, national, or international policy? The forces at play here are not much different from the ones prominent in D.C. Holtom’s day. Timothy Fitzgerald has claimed that the religious and secular are not permanent, natural fixtures in the cultural landscape of all places and times. Instead, he argues that they are “rhetorical categories which have proved useful for certain groups of people with particular objectives and values at specific points in history, and ... that they therefore do not provide an ‘objective’ account of what is in the world.”70 I believe to have demonstrated, in close accordance with his hypothesis, that D.C. Holtom did not employ the category of “religion” in an objective manner in his analysis of Japanese culture, but that his work rather presents itself as an ideological use of religious studies.

70 Timothy Fitzgerald, Discourse on Civility and Barbarity (Oxford: Oxford University, 2007), 66


Bibliography Ama Toshimaro. Why Are the Japanese Non-Religious? Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 2005. Armstrong, Robert Cornell. "The Religious Value of Shintō." In The Japan Evangelist 23.11 (November 1916), pp.429-433 . ——. "Shintō as a National Cult". In Edwin Taylor Iglehart (ed.) The Christian Movement in the Japanese Empire ... A Year Book for 1918. Tokyo: Fukuin Printing Co., 1918. Breen, John. "Ideologues, Bureaucrats and Priests." In Breen and Teeuwen, Shintō in History. Breen, John and Mark Teeuwen. Shintō in History: Ways of the Kami. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 1990. Burns, Susan L. Before the Nation. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2003. Chamberlain, Basil Hall. “The Invention of a New Religion.” London: Watts and Co, 1912. Chamberlain had claimed in an earlier book that National Teaching ended the religious period of Japanese nationalism. But here he claims that some kind of “religion” is resurgent. He does not define “religion” so his use of the term may have been figurative. Durkheim, Émile. The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life. London: George Allen, 1976. Dyke, Ken R. “Shinto: A Study Prepared by General Headquarters, SCAP, C I & E Section”. Contemporary Religions in Japan 7.4 (1966) Evans (?), J.D.71 The National Cult in Japan (Kobe: Japan Chronicle, 1918) Evans-Pritchard, E.E. Theories of Primitive Religion. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1965. Fenton, Steve. Durkheim and Modern Sociology. Cambridge: Cambridge U. Press, 1984. Fitzgerald, Timothy. The Ideology of Religious Studies. New York: Oxford U. Press, 2000. ——. Religion and the Secular: Historical and Colonial Formations. London: Equinox, 2007. ——. Discourse on Civility and Barbarity. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007. Goodman, Carl F. The Rule of Law in Japan. Fredrick, MD: Kluwer Law International, 2008. Hardacre, Helen. Shintō and the State, 1868-1988. Princeton: Princeton U. Press, 1989. Haring, Douglas H. “Daniel Clarence Holtom 1884-1962”. American Anthropologist 65.4 (1963). Hess, Andreas. Concepts of Social Stratification: European and American Models. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2001. Holtom, Daniel Clarence. The Political Philosophy of Modern Shintō: A Study of the State Religion of Japan. Chicago: University of Chicago, 1922. ——. "Review: The Religions of Japan in the Hastings 'Encyclopaedia'". The Journal of Religion 3.2 (1923). Holtom was not the greatest fan of fellow Japanologist W.G. Aston, who saw state shrines as non-religious. In a later book he seems to rewrite Aston’s views. ——. “A New Interpretation of Japanese Mythology and Its Bearing on the Ancestral Theory of Shintō”. The Journal of Religion 6.1 (1926). ——. “The Christian Message and Shintō”. Japan Christian Quarterly, July 1927. ——. “The State Cult of Modern Japan”. The Journal of Religion 7.4 (1927).
71 Re-Romanized from early 20th century katakana; this is my best guess.


Although this is a complete discussion of “religiousness” with regards to the national shrine system, the term “State Shintō” is not used; he has not invented it yet. ——. “Modern Shintō as a State Religion.” In Paul S. Mayer (ed.), The Japan Mission Year Book, vol. 28. Tokyo: Kyobunkwan, 1930. ——. “Recent Discussion Regarding State Shintō.” In Luman J. Schafer (ed.), The Japan Mission Year Book, vol. 29. Tokyo: Kyobunkwan, 1931. ——. “Japanese Christianity and Shintō Nationalism.” The Christian Century, January 7, 1942. ——. “Shrine Worship and the Gods.” The Christian Century, January 14, 1942. ——. “The Sacred Emperor.” The Christian Century, February 11, 1942. ——. “Shintō in the Postwar World.” Far Eastern Survey 14.3 (February 1945), 29 This article defends state shrines; an interesting change in tone. ——. “The Japanese Mind.” The New Republic, May 28, 1945. With claims like “Buddhist pessimism accentuates primitive impersonality” and references to “false gods”, this article seems to reflect Holtom’s missionary attitude. This does not prevent Haring from listing it as a work of “ethnography”. ——. Modern Japan and Shintō Nationalism. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1947. Ion, A. Hamish. The Cross in the Dark Valley: The Canadian Protestant Missionary Movement in Japan. Waterloo: Wilfred Laurier, 1999. Isomae Jun'ichi. “Deconstructing 'Japanese Religion'”. Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 32.2 (2005). ——. “The Formative Process of State Shintō in Relation to the Westernization of Japan: the Concept of ‘Religion’ and ‘Shintō’.” In Fitzgerald, Religion and the Secular, 2007. Kagawa Toyohiko. Christ and Japan. William Axling (tr.) New York: Friendship Press, 1934. ——. "The Church and Present Trends." In Charles W. Iglehart (ed.), The Japan Christian Year Book. Tokyo: Kyobunkwan, 1938. Ketelaar, James Edward, Of Heretics and Martyrs in Meiji Japan. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1990. Ko Wŏn-Sŏp. Panminnja Choesanggi (A record of charges against the anti-nationalists). Seoul: Paegyŏp Munhwasa, 1949. In postwar Korea, a half-dozen ministers who believed in the non-conflict of shrine attendance with Christianity were arrested for pro-Japanese activism, beginning in 1949. The Korean church issued a statement that “since all church leaders participated in Shintō worship, they have to purify themselves through penitence before engaging in church activities.” Of course, among Japanese Christians there was no such call for penitence. Declaring the shrines an abhorrent expression of paganism was a political move which reoriented Korean Christianity with national interests. Kojima Aiko, “Religion or Civil Religion as the Basis of Nationalism?: State Shintō Plan and National Moral in Meiji Japan”. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association, San Francisco, CA, Aug 14, 2004. Koremaru Sakamoto, “Thoughts on State Shintō Research” (国家神道研究をめぐる断想), in Kinsei Kindai Shintō Ronkou (近世・近代神道論考). Tokyo: Kōbundō, 2007. Kuroda Toshio, James C. Dobbins and Suzanne Gay. “Shintō in the History of Japanese Religion”. Journal of Japanese Studies 7.1 (1981). 31

Lee, Kun Sam. The Christian Confrontation with Shintō Nationalism. Philadelphia: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1966. Masuzawa Tomoko, “Culture”, in Mark C. Taylor (ed.), Critical Terms for Religious Studies. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998. ——. The Invention of World Religions. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007. McNair, Theodore N. “Modern Japan as a Mission Field.” In Arthur T. Pierson (ed.), The Missionary Review of the World 23. New York: Funk and Wagnalls, 1900. Mossman, Samuel. New Japan: The Land of the Rising Sun. London: John Murray, 1873. Nitta Hitoshi. "Shintō as a 'Non-Religion'". In Breen and Teeuwen, Shintō in History. ——. The Illusion of "Arahitogami" "Kokkashintou". Tokyo: PHP Kenkyūjo, 2003. This is a study of the Japanese side of the debate which future research could find extremely useful. Unfortunately because of my limited Japanese knowledge I was only able to briefly skim its contents. “Our Enemy: The Japanese”. United States Office of War Information, 1943. Peters, Shawn Francis. Judging Jehovah's Witnesses: Religious Persecution and the Dawn of the Rights Revolution. Lawrence, KS: University Press Of Kansas, 2000. Picken, Stuart D.B. Sourcebook in Shintō: Selected Documents. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2004. Said, Edward, Orientalism. New York: Penguin, 2003. Sica, Morris G. “The School Flag Movement: Origin and Influence.” Social Education 54.6 (1990). pp.380-84. A point that might be made in future studies: While the Japanese flag was distributed by the government and poorly received in local communities in the late 19th century, the American flag was being pressed onto Congress by a grassroots patriotic movement. Scott, J.W.R. The Foundations of Japan. New York: Appleton and Co., 1922. Skya, Walter. Japan’s Holy War. Durham: Duke University Press, 2009. Woodard, William P. “The Foreign Missionary in Japan.” In Charles W. Iglethart (ed.), The Japan Christian Year Book. Tokyo: Kyobunkwan, 1940. Woodard spent much of his life preparing his 1972 book. This short submission to the Year Book demonstrates his keen eye for detail in describing the missionary climate in Japan on the eve of the Pacific War. ——. The Allied Occupation of Japan and Japanese Religions. New York: Brill, 1972. Woodard refutes the idea that “State Shintō” was non-religious based on the legal point that shrines and sects were managed by the same local bureaus, rather than discussing the Christian shrine debate in full. But this is only an appendix to his unbiased and complete book on the postwar situation, which I am indebted to. Young , Arthur Morgan. The Rise of a Pagan State. New York: William Morrow, 1939.


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