This book is a study of contemporary Japanese Buddhism and the care of the dead. It shows how religious, political, social, and economic forces over the course of the twentieth century led to the emergence of new funerary practices in Japan and how this has made the care of the dead the most essential challenge to the continued existence of Japanese temple Buddhism. This challenge extends beyond the economic, demographic, and social forces of change into the realm of more existential doubts about the role of the tradition and the true meaning of Buddhist understandings of death. Secondarily, it is a study of the primary overseers of shaping tradition within Japanese Buddhism today; of the interplay and tensions between Buddhist ideals, as reflected in the activities of Buddhist intellectuals; and the often conflicting practical needs of temple priests in the context of their daily responsibilities as caretakers for the dead.
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