The tricky thing about popular Confucianism is that, in order to understand it, you need to know a little about Daoism (Taoism), or Shinto in the case of Japan, and Buddhism. Just like Christianity according to theology professors are different from Christianity people practice everyday, popular Confucianism is different from academics’ understanding of Confucianism. Popular Confucianism contains elements of Confucianism, Daoism or Shinto, and Buddhism, as well as the horde of other folk beliefs. This is because Daoism (or Shinto in the case of Japan), Buddhism, and Confucianism, all have played important roles in shaping the Confucian culture. Popular Confucian culture is polytheistic, venerating, if not necessarily believing in, many different gods. This kind of religion is sometimes called natural religion, in contrast to revealed religions such as Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Because they are the sum of historical development of cultural customs, it is impossible to give concise definitions to Daoism and Shinto, or summarize what their central religious tenets are.
Daoism in English covers both Daoism as philosophy (道家 dao jia ) and Daoism as religion (道教 dao jiao). There is also another strand of Daoism named xian dao (仙道 Path to Immortality), which can be a part of both kinds of Daoism. Path to Immortality pursues longevity and immortality by trying to eliminate perishable elements in human body through spiritual and physical purification. The method includes ingesting various powdered metals and stones as magic portions. In its pursuit of magical perfection, Path to Immortality is similar to Western alchemy. The famed immortals are described to have slowly desiccated and dissipated their mortal bodily elements so that after a few days in their coffins, they simply disappeared into thin air.
There is a debate if Path to Immortality is an integral part of Daoism or not. In any case, Path to Immortality has given Daoism a bad name. Many rich and famous, including many emperors, wanted Daoists to make the famed immortality portions. Ingesting these potions was a perilous undertaking, not infrequently ending up in worsened health and death. This made Daoism synonym to Charlatanism to some.
Daoism as philosophy is based primarily on the study of two Daoist classics: Laozi (老子, also called Daode Jing 道徳経), which is attributed to the legendary Daoist sage Laozi, and Zhuangzi (荘子) written by the philosopher Zhuangzi (active c. 350–300 BCE). (These ancient books are known by the names of the authors.) Daoism as philosophy regards Laozi as the greatest sage. Laozi is traditionally believed to have lived in the sixth century BCE. However, some scholars believe that he was a legend rather than an actual person. Since his historical existence is under some doubt, the question of when Laozi was written is still debated, with theories ranging from the sixth century BCE to mid-third century BCE. Zhuannzi’s historical existence is usually not questioned. Still, because Zhuangzi, like Laozi, went under many editing, determining what he actually thought and wrote can be tricky. (This is a shared problem of studying ancient scripts. Biblical scholars face similar problems of determining who wrote which parts and when.) It was during the Han dynasty era (206 BCE–220 CE) when Daoism as philosophy got organized and became a school of thoughts known as dao jia.
Daoism as philosophy ponders over the different manifestations of dao (the Way), the guiding principle of the universe. Confucius grew up in a society where Daoism (both as philosophy and religion) was the mainstream culture and considered dao as the principle of the universe. While they see dao as the divine guiding principle, Confucians tend to see their interpretation of dao as the dao. Daoism as philosophy tends to believe that dao can manifest in many different ways. Daoism as philosophy, therefore, tends to oppose the narrow definition of dao of Confucian philosophers. Daoist philosophers often became recluses to escape the kind of social constrains which Confucians tried to uphold.
Daoism as religion regards Laozi the supreme deity, the manifestation of dao in human form who presides over the multitude of gods, spirits, and demons. Daoist deities are similar to ancient Greco-Roman deities: they have superior power, but are not unequivocally different from humans. Daoism as religion has its origin in shamanism of the primitive society. It developed slowly, incorporating various folklore and folk religions, myths, and philosophy of different schools, as well as divination and medicine. China is a country that includes many ethnic groups. Currently 56 ethnic groups are recognized in China, including the dominant Han that constitutes over 90 percent of the population. (Since being a Han is socially advantageous, many mixed ethnicity people call themselves Han, too.) The Chinese also had contacts with far away places such as India and Rome through the traders of the Silk Road. There were quite a wide range of sources Daoism as religion took their inspirations from. Consequently, Daoism as religion has numerous deities that are known under different names. This makes identifying the Daoist deities rather difficult even for specialists.
Daoism as religion saw its earliest organized form in the Celestial Masters and Supreme Peace sects. Founded in the mid-second century, these sects focused on faith-healing, formed armed temple institutions, and fought against local authorities. Starting with these two sects, Daoist sects often played a role in peasants’ anti-government movements, which happened repeatedly in Chinese history.
Buddhism started to arrive in China in the first century CE but did not start to spread until the third century. Buddhism started with Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha, most commonly believed c. 563 BCE to 483 BCE). Siddhartha followed then dominant Brahmanism in leaving the secular world to lead a contemplative life. He, however, rejected the caste system of Brahmanism. (Today, the caste system is officially abolished, but still lingers as custom. The Untouchables periodically perform mass-conversion to Buddhism and Christianity to escape their despised status which exists only within Hinduism.) He also preached compassion not only for fellow humans but also for non-human life forms, in opposition to Brahmanism’s custom of animal sacrifices. Buddha believed that the Brahmin way of concentrating on the self was counterproductive in alleviating human suffering. Instead, he talked about easing suffering through accepting the impermanence of all things.
Siddhartha Gautama did not leave his own writings. After his passing, his students tried to edit and preserve his teachings. Buddhist scriptures come in three categories; the record of Buddha’s and his immediate students’ words and actions; the rule of moral behaviors and prohibitions, and; the logical interpretations of the former two categories. Some 100 years after Buddha’s passing, this early form of Buddhism, called Theravada, divided into two sections, and started to develop different sects of Buddhism. (There are many schools and sects in Buddhism: Today in Japan, for example, thirteen major schools of Buddhism involving 56 sects are officially recognized.) Theravada Buddhism spread and is still practiced in the southern regions such as Sri Lanka, Thai, Myanmar, and Vietnam.
Theravada Buddhism is centered on following Buddha’s footsteps in leaving the world and to lead a contemplative life, and showing humility in accepting alms from those who stay in the society and perform economic activities. This form of Buddhism was better suited the upper strata of the society who could afford to live without working, and left the question of the benefits to those who support the practitioners of contemplative life.
Since around 100, the schools of Buddhism known as the Mahayana became influential. These schools developed more populist characteristics; they preached the salvation of populace through practicing Buddhism. The Mahayana also absorbed Hinduism deities into their system, and, in turn, Buddha became a deity in Hinduism. New ideas, such as that people could be saved through good work of charity and giving alms, and reciting the name of sutra (holy writing), emerged. The idea of the Pure Land in the West where the righteous would go after death also appeared. Some also preached that it was possible to lead a contemplative life without leaving the society, predating John Calvin (1509–1564) by more than a thousand years.
The Mahayana later developed anti-Theravada tendency, calling the southern Buddhism the Himayana (the small vehicle) of focusing on individual salvation. Mahayana Buddhism thrived from the third century and produced many new schools. It spread via the Silk Road to China, and then onto Korea and Japan. In the sixth century, Tantric Buddhism which is a mixture of Mahayana Buddhism, Brahmanism, and Hinduism, appeared. Due to the influx of Islam between the eighth and twelfth centuries, Mahayana Buddhism in northern India largely disappeared and was absorbed back into Hinduism.
The most distinct of the Mahayana sutras is the Lotus Sutra (Saddharmapundariika Sutra; written between 100 BCE and 200CE). The Lotus Sutra is unique among the Buddhist scriptures in its self-claim of ultimate sutra of true knowledge. It claims that the Sutra would give its believers unlimited spiritual and bodily benefits; the believers would be persecuted for possessing the true knowledge, but must spread the knowledge even in the face of persecution, and; the persecutors would eventually suffer severe punishment. (This sounds rather similar to Christian persecution narrative.) The Sutra proved very attractive to the oppressed, because of its militant energy, as well as of its claim that everyone, including women and sinners, can be saved. Its mystic, magical imagery and language also proved attractive, so that the Sutra itself became the object of magical veneration. The Lotus Sutra did not obtain much popularity in India, but was translated into Chinese in the fifth century and became very influential.
Living in the polytheistic culture of Daoism, most Chinese saw no problem in accepting Buddhist teachings. Arrival of benevolent deities was always welcome. And Buddhism even came with the promise of saving the populace. This was exciting. Starting from the third century, Chinese emperors sponsored the translations of Buddhism scriptures. In the fourth century, two highly learned Indian Buddhists came to China, to greatly advance the translations and studies of Buddhism. In the fifth century, the Lotus Sutra arrived, and the Pure Land sect also emerged. Buddhism in China also started to develop the characteristics of focusing on services of the ancestors by performing rituals. Confucian emphasis on filial piety and indigenous beliefs about the dead seem to have influenced this development.
During the fifth century, in part responding to the rising challenge of better-organized Buddhism’s growing influence, Daoists started to form an organizational structure based on temples. Temples ran schools that offered Daoist education in such subjects as history of Daoism, philosophy of Dao, divination, and medicine. They also taught their own moral code, adherence to which was a requirement for professional
Daoists. This temple-based Daoism system, thus, bridged over Daoism as philosophy and Daoism as religion.
Daoism as religion incorporated many Buddhist deities as their gods—though Buddha is an enlightened being rather than a deity—and took many details of Heaven and Hell from Buddhism. Yama, the Indian god of death, came to play an important role in Daoism as religion. Belief in the world of the dead and veneration of the dead ancestors were indigenous to China. When introduced into China, Yama was assigned the role of the god who presides over the world of the dead and moral retribution.
Moral retribution or, more simply put, to make sure that good deeds will be rewarded and bad deed will be punished, is central to Daoism as religion. Sometimes this moral retribution occurs in this world through the intervention of gods, demons, and ghosts. Other times, this retribution occurs after people die when they are judged by Yama. Every human is supposed to have a bug inside the stomach that records every good and bad deed the person does. This bug makes a nightly report to Yama who compiles, with the help of his cadre of bureaucrats, detailed dossier on every human being. Based upon this indisputable evidence, Yama determines the proper place for the dead. (A similar idea is observed in the Last Judgement fresco of the Gothic cathedral of Albi in south France; it depicts the dead carrying a ledger of their good and bad deeds.) The options include going to different levels of Heaven and Hell, as well as sent back to the human world to be reborn, sometimes not as a human but as an animal.
Highly philosophical concept of karma came to be mostly misunderstood as same as moral retribution. While Buddhist idea of reincarnation based on karma excludes the possibility of remembering previous lives, reincarnation came to be understood as the extension of previous life into the next as authorized by Yama. Buddhism’s idea of Ten Kings of Hell also went through transformation in China. Daoism as religion adopted Buddhism’s Ten Kings of Hell as their own gods. In China, Ten Kings of Hell, like many other Daoist gods, have both Buddhist and Daoist names.
Just as Daoism as religion envisions the afterworld as the extension of this world, it envisions the celestial world as having a similar structure to this world; Emperor of Heaven rules the Celestial Court supported by bureaucrats and servants, just as Emperor of Earth does.
Confucianism became the state doctrine in the Han dynasty era (206 BCE–220 CE). Therefore, Daoism as religion accepts Confucian teaching as the doctrine of human morality and venerates Confucius as one of their gods.
There are differences between temple-trained Daoists’ religion and popular Daoism that includes more folksy unorthodox magic. For thousands of years, people believed and some still believe that the deities and demons could do them both favors and harm, and spent (and spend) much energy and money to ward off evil powers and invite good fortune by performing rituals. Popular Daoism includes uneducated masses’ simple beliefs. Confucian intellectuals who pride themselves in not speculating upon such subjects as gods, demons, and supernatural often disdain popular Daoism for its magical thinking.
Sometimes competing with each other, and sometimes learning from each other, Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism, came to coexist as integral parts of Chinese culture by the beginning of Tang dynasty era (618–917). The Tang emperors regarded Laozi as their ancestor, and made Daoism the state religion, which greatly strengthened the influence of Daoism. On the other hand, some Tang dynasty emperors were Buddhist and great patrons of Buddhist temples, which made the Tang dynasty era the Golden Age of Chinese Buddhism. The Golden Age was ended by Emperor Wu’s crack down, during which Buddhist temples were raided and destroyed, and the Buddhist priests and nuns were killed (845). The confiscation of temple riches greatly enriched the imperial coffer. Buddhism in China never recovered the same degree of prosperity afterwards. (There were four emperors who persecuted Buddhism; Emperor Wu’s persecution was the severest.)
Such persecutions, however, were exceptions rather than the norm, and people mostly came to take coexistence of Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism as granted. (In the novels we review, we will see many instances of this coexistence.) Some later Daoism schools even incorporated Christian and Islamic elements into their teachings. Such ecumenism is based on the idea that dao, with its many manifestations in human and natural world, is the universal guiding moral principle for all humans.
This ecumenism works far better in ideas than in reality. Muslim and Christian minorities did face repeated persecutions. Since Christians and Muslims in China have been small in number, most Chinese are not familiar with these faiths and have only vague understanding of them. For these reasons, they regard Christians and Muslims in a similar way Americans regard “cult” members; unfamiliar, therefore, possibly dangerous. W hen the Christians and Muslims were persecuted in China, the contents of their beliefs were not the main reason. They were persecuted when their religious sensitivities made them a group that challenged and disrupted the prevailing social order the authorities tried to maintain. Maintaining the social order has been something of a prime directive in Chinese history. Recent Chinese government’s crack down on Falun Gong is also based on the same reason; Falun Gong members are considered as disruptive to the social order.
Daoism as religion that encompasses Confucianism, Buddhism, as well as any new imported ideas is what largely defined the popular Chinese culture until the communism disruption in the twentieth century. So much so that some Chinese scholars observe that only non-Chinese scholars try to pick Daoism apart into different elements, using tens of different definitions; Daoism is Daoism for the Chinese, with all its complicities rolled in one. This statement reflects the fact that Daoism as religion is so inseparably intertwined with the development of Chinese culture.
Daoism as religion yielded tangible power in Chinese history. Because Daoism as religion was what uneducated peasants understood as the way of the world, army generals used the tales of gods and heroes of popular Daoism novels in conducting armies consisted of peasants. During peasant uprisings, such as the Boxers Uprising (1897–1900), the agitators often used stories of magical power told in the popular tales such as The Journey to the West and The Creation of Lesser of Gods. Even under the Communist condemnation of Daoism (as well Confucianism and Buddhism) as superstition, Daoism as religion did not disappear.
In 1961–65, the People’s Republic of China saw a wildfire of “superstitious” rumor. The rumor said a woman overheard two toads foretelling the New Year’s fortune. One toad spoke of food aplenty, but the other toad prophesied that the elderly could survive only if they were given sugar filled dumplings in numbers equal to their age. This strange rumor struck nerves because of its timing. China suffered terrible famine in 1959-1961, caused by the combination of unusually bad weather and the mismanaged Great Leap Forward (1958-60) movement. The Great Leap Forward was Chairman Mao’s national reform program that was to dramatically increase the agricultural output of China, but completely failed to deliver. The estimated death toll in those famine years varies from 20 million to 46 million.
So, the rumor caused considerable anxiety. Sure, you might not really believe in toads’ prophecy, but would you take the risk of ignoring it and letting your parents suffer the consequences, just after they had survived a terrible famine? Even worse, if you ignore the rumor, your parents might think you don’t care about them.
As more and more women rushed to their home villages with dumplings and other delicacies in order to ensure the survival of their parents, the toad-inspired panic spread from one region to another, eventually spreading to over two thirds of the nation. What vexed the communist government most was that even the party officials joined in this act of “irrational superstition.”
After the death of Mao Zedong in 1976, assaults on “feudal superstitions” loosened, and Daoism in the mainland China has made an impressive revival since. One manifestation of such revival is the baby boom of the year of “Golden Pig”. The Chinese Lunar year that starts in February 18, 2007 and lasts until February 6, 2008 is the year of Pig according to the traditional twelve animal calendar system. This particular year of Pig is somehow believed to be the “Golden Pig” year, an auspicious year to be born, since the child born in this year is supposed to be not only sharp-brained and industrial as any other Pig year-born, which includes me, but also destined to become rich. Because of the one child policy, many young couples planned to have their babies in this year, which resulted in some two-fold increase in the number of births.
This does not mean that the Chinese are particularly superstitious or lack the capacity for rational thinking. In the technologically advanced countries such as Japan and the US, people avidly consume horror movies and TV shows replete with ghosts, zombies, vampires, psychics, and angels. I doubt that any amount science and technology could ever eliminate people’s craving for supernatural. Latest scientific researches, such as the British psychologist Richard Wiseman’s Quirkology (2007), have been showing that superstitious or magical thinking pattern is deeply ingrained to human brains regardless of the East or the West.
Daoism as religion still has deep influence in China, Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, and their expatriate communities throughout the world with regional differences. Some call this popular Daoism as religion the Confucian culture. I do not agree with such classification, because it will exclude Japan from the Confucian culture, to which Japan clearly belongs.
The Japanese indigenous religion of Shinto also developed intertwined with Buddhism and Confucianism. Shinto is, like Daoism, the amalgamation of indigenous folkloric customs. When the Yamato dynasty established their hold on power in the central Japan in the early seventh century, the imperial house started to reorganize existing Shinto myths. The imperial house claimed that they were the descendant of the Sun goddess Amaterasu who had created the country. Since she was the founder of the country, she was the top of the gods’ hierarchy, which entitled her descendants, the Yamato family, to rule the land. Shinto at this time (and until the Meiji era) was mostly the matter of venerating different gods related to families and communities, not a state religion.
As the state religion, the Yamato dynasty chose Mahayana Buddhism, partly because the better established dynasties of China and Korea had already embraced Mahayana Buddhism. Shotoku Taishi (commonly believed 574-622), the most revered prince of Japanese history, is usually credited for having established Buddhism in Japan. The legend tells that he was a devote Buddhist since childhood. He sent missions to China to learn more about Buddhism, as well as commissioned the building of a number of temples. Though Confucianism and Daoism were also imported, they were accepted in limited ways, such as to supplement Shinto with more advanced divination and ghost busting techniques. Daoism as existed in China could not be imported to Japan because Daoism was so intimately tied to China’s geography and folk customs. Daoism in Japan was a reference point of the intellectuals and not the adopted religious custom. (This is similar to the current situation in the West where intellectuals are fascinated by Daosim as philosophy but indifferent to Daoism as religion.) Though Shotoku Taishi used Confucian ideas such as the importance of royalty to one’s master in his famous Seventeen Charters that defined the foundation of the ancient Japanese government, Confucianism was treated as a part of Buddhism, rather than the philosophy on its own right.
Through its tie to the imperial and other powerful families, Buddhists played important roles in the ancient and medieval Japanese political history. As it was the case with Buddhist and Daoism deities in China, Buddhist and Shinto deities were often believed to be the same deities manifested in different ways. Buddhist and Shinto deities were often venerated side by side at the Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines.
gained crucial importance in the early seventeenth century, when the Tokugawa
Shogunate embraced Confucianism as its state philosophy. The Tokugawa Shogunate
also made all Japanese to be registered at the Buddhist temples of their preferred
sect. Shinto also lived on as the family and community customs. Thus, the
Tokugawa government established the pattern in Japan where Confucianism lived side
by side with Shinto and Buddhism, much the same way as Confucianism, Daoism,
and Buddhism do in Daoism as religion.
The Tokugawa Shogunate closed the country to the Western traders, except the Dutch who did not try to proselytize the Japanese. Japan lived in the self-imposed isolation until the mid-nineteenth century when the Westerners used their superior military power to force Japan to open the ports for trade. Japan went through a period of fierce political debate about how to deal with the Westerners, which led to the civil war between the faction that wanted to reform the Shogunate and the faction that wanted to remake the Japanese society by creating a modified constitutional monarchy with the emperor as the patriarch. The latter won and formed the new government (the Meiji Restoration 1868).
Shinto went through a radical change after the Meiji Restoration. Knowing that China had been forced to accept unfair trade treaties with the Western countries, the founders of the Meiji government wanted to create a modern Japan that could resist the Western colonizers. (Japan did have to accept unfair trade treaties and spent a long time trying to reverse these treaties.) They decided to introduce an accelerated modernization of industry from top down and reorganize the feudal society into a state by creating the national identity centered upon the emperor.
The Meiji Constitution (1889) declared that the emperor was a living god. Modeled after the Prussian constitution, the Meiji Constitution gave a sweeping power in the hand of the emperor. The emperor had supreme power in every aspect of the governance. The lower house of parliament was to be democratically elected (by the males who paid more than a certain amount of tax). The upper house was consisted of aristocrats. The parliament was to write laws, but could not enact the laws. The emperor was the sole enactor of the laws; the parliament was merely to assist the emperor. The judiciary, cabinet, military were also to assist and advise the emperor. Though the people had rights such as freedom of speech and religion under this constitution, the rights were described as “benevolent gifts” from the emperor. It was a radical departure from the previous era when the emperor had no role in common people’s lives.
With the constitution, the Meiji reformers established the new state religion of Tenno (emperor) cult. The Meiji government removed the imperial family from their traditional tie to the Shingon (True Words) Buddhism sect, and started new Shinto ceremonies as state functions. The government also tried to purify Shinto by separating it from Buddhism, which led to the destruction of Buddhist temples (1870-1871). (Despite this, Japan still boasts having 75,000 Buddhist temples and Buddhist customs are part of everyday life.) The government also mandated that Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples, as well as schools, must preach that the emperor was a living god. The government claimed that Shinto was not religion but the practice of traditional custom, and, therefore, it does not violate the freedom of religion stated in the Meiji Constitution.
As a part of the effort to forge a new national identity, the Meiji government made Tokyo dialect be taught as the standard spoken Japanese. (The dialects variations were large enough to make communication sometimes impossible among native speakers of Japanese.) Even though they did not totally abandon the traditional ways, the Japanese complied with the government’s demand in learning Tokyo dialect and accepting the state-mandated Shinto. Since Japan had developed a civil society during the some 250 years long Tokugawa period which was mostly peaceful and prosperous, Japan succeeded in a swift industrialization and modernization.
The Meiji Constitution lacked the idea of civilian control; the military answered to the emperor but not to the parliament, cabinet, or judiciary. Once the generation that guided the Meiji reforms was gone, the military started to abuse this constitutional blind spot. From the 1930s, especially since 1940 until 1945, the military acted as they wished under the pretext of serving the emperor. Theoretically, Emperor Hirohito could rein the military in. However, the military could confine him under the excuse of illness if the emperor proved to be a too much of obstacle to them. No politician pulled enough weight to stand up against the military. So, though he from time to time expressed his objection to the hawkish attitude of top military brass, the emperor mostly passively tagged along with them. When it became apparent that Japan was going to lose the war, the uncertainty of what would happen to the emperor if Japan surrendered delayed the government's decision to surrender. In the end, the emperor took the initiative to accept the unconditional surrender, though his fate was not certain. After the surrender, in cooperation with the American occupation force, the emperor declared himself not a living god but a human on the New Year's Day of 1946. The new constitution of Japan (1947), written under the direction of American GHQ, defines the emperor as the symbol of national unity.
Today, if you ask what religion they follow, most Japanese would say that they do not follow any religion. This is partly because the word religion is understood to mean only revealed religions. But they still follow the traditional religious customs. They venerate Shinto deities, less out of conviction but out of custom, on traditional occasions such as New Year and festivals and some still keep kamidana ( a shelf space) at home to venerate various deities. When a death occurs, most of Japanese go to a Buddhist temple for the funeral ceremony. The Japanese still read the Analects as their Classic and as the source of moral guidance. Though they know magic stories of Daoism as religion through shared cultural literacy and also share some concepts such as Yama (enma in Japanese) as the god who presides over moral retribution, Japanese do not venerate deities of Daoism as religion nor perform Daoist rituals. Nonetheless, Japanese and other East Asians recognize having a common bond in people’s shared understanding of human morality, i.e., in popular Confucianism.
Stephen T. Asma, Why I am a Buddhist: No-nonsense Buddhism with Red Meat and Whiskey (Charlottesville, VA: Hampton Roads Pub. Co., 2010).
Yu-lan Fung, History of Chinese Philosophy (Princeton: Princeton Up, 1952).
Hu Futan, Dogaku to Senngaku (Taoism and Inner Elixer) (available at http://www2s.biglobe.ne.jp/~xianxue/DandX/DandX.htm in Japanese).
Kung –chuan Hsiao, A History of Chinese political Thought, Volume I: From the Beginning to the Six Dynasties (Princeton: Princeton UP, 1979).
Noritada Kubo, Dokyo no Kamigani (Daoist Gods) (Tokyo: Kodan-sha, 1996).
Shigeyoshi Murakami, Nihon Shuukyo Jiten (Encyclopedia of Religions in Japan) (Tokyo: Kodan-sha, 1988).
Isabelle Robinet, Taoism: Growth of a Religion (Stanford, CA: Stanford UP, 1997).
Benjamin Schwartz, The World of Thought in Ancient China (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard UP, 1985).
Hobokushi, Ressendenn, Shinsenndenn, Sanngaikyou (Baopozi, LieXianyun, Shenxianyun, Shanhaijiang 抱朴氏、列仙仙、神仙伝、山海経 ) (Tokyo: Heibonsha, 1976).
Joseph W. Esherick, The Origins of the Boxer Uprising (Berkeley/ Los Angeles: California UP, 1987).
S. A. Smith, “Talking of Toads and Chinese Ghosts: The politics of “Superstitious” Rumors in the People’s Republic of China, 1961-1965,” The American Historical Review, 111 (2006), p. 405-27.
Nicholas Humphrey, Leaps of Faith: Science, Miracles, and the Search for Supernatural Consolation (New York: Springer, 1999)
Stuart Y. Vyse, Believing in Magic: The Psychology of Superstition (New York: Oxford UP, 2000).
Takii Kazuhiro, The Meiji Constitution: The Japanese Experience of the West and the Shaping of Modern State (Tokyo: I-House Press, 2007)
Ama Toshimaro, Nihonjin ha naze Mushukyo nano ka (Why Are the Japanese “Religionless”?) (Tokyo: Chikuma, 1996).
John W. Dower carefully rebuts the widely held belief that the Japanese had no intention of surrendering in his Cultures of War: Pearl Harbor / Hiroshima / 9-11 / Iraq (New York: Norton & Co., 2010), p. 225-241.