Subject: Religious Studies
Credit units: 3
Offered: Either Term 1 or Term 2
Weekly hours: 3 Lecture hours
College: Arts and Science
Department: Arts and Science Dean's Office


This course provides a historical and thematic overview of the principal religious traditions of Japan. We will initially focus upon the practices, rituals, world-views, institutions, and teachings related to Buddhism and the worship of the indigenous gods (kami) in early and medieval Japan. Next, we will explore how the people of Japan, from early modern to contemporary times, share a common awareness of religion that provides worldly benefits. This course will therefore place a particular emphasis on the understanding of religion as it has been, and continues to be practiced in everyday life for individuals, families, communities, and the state. This means we must consider religion and culture not as abstract, monolithic and ahistorical phenomena, but as expressions of the social realm. Class readings will center on primary materials in English translation and selected secondary scholarship so that each student will consider for themselves the sectarian categories of Buddhism, Confucianism, Shintoism, New Religions, and so forth.

Permission of the Department.
Prerequisite(s): 3 credit units RLST or 18 credit units at the university level.

Upcoming class offerings

For full details about upcoming courses, refer to the class search tool or, if you are a current student, the registration channel in PAWS.


Examples of current or recently-offered class syllabus material can be found on the Open CourseWare website.

The syllabus is a public document that provides detail about a class, such as the schedule of activities, learning outcomes, and weighting of assignments and examinations. Please note that the examples provided in Open CourseWare do not represent a complete set of current or previous syllabus material. Rather, they are presented solely for the purpose of indicating what may be required for a given class.

For more information about syllabi, visit the Academic Courses Policy.