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The Japanese Middle Ages were a period when secrecy dominated many forms of religious practice. This fascinating collection traces the secret characteristics and practices in Japanese religion, while analyzing the rise and decline of religious esotericism in Japan. Esoteric Buddhism developed in almost all Buddhist countries of Asia, but it was of particular importance in Japan where its impact went far beyond the borders of Buddhism, also affecting Shinto as well as non religious forms of discourse. During the Middle Ages, secret initiations became a favored medium for the transmission of knowledge among Buddhist monks, Shinto priests, scholars, actors and artisans alike. The Culture of Secrecy in Japanese Religion looks at the impact of Esoteric Buddhism on Japanese culture, and includes comparative chapters on India and China. Whilst concentrating on the Japanese medieval period, this book will give readers familiar with present day Japan many explanations for the still visible remnants of Japan's medieval culture of secrecy. This compelling look at a largely undiscovered field of research successfully demystifies the study of esotericism and Tantrism, and will be essential reading for scholars of East Asian Buddhism, Japanese religion and religious history.
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