Media and New Religions
Japanese Religion and Culture
Routledge – 2015 – 186 pages
The history of Japanese New Religions (shinshûkyô), since the late Nineteenth Century, has been strongly influenced by the development of the media and by the image strategies associated with them. The focus of this book is the media narratives created by Japanese New Religions in order to proselytize, communicate with members, and (re)create their image. A great deal of scholarly attention has been devoted to how the media deal with religion and how religion is performed and expressed in the context of the media. However, most research on religion and media in Japan has focused on media representations of religions.
In this book, author Erica Baffelli develops a framework to analyze the interaction of media and religion in the context of Japanese New Religions. In particular, the analysis of the way that religion is ‘done’ in the context of media implies a re-discussion of classical definitions of ritual, charisma, and communitas. In the context of Japanese New Religions, this volume introduces the concept of shinhatsubai (‘new sale’) often used in Japan as an advertising slogan for ‘latest and newest’ products. The notion of shinhatsubai is here used as a descriptive term for Japanese New Religions’ constant image changes and attempts to be attractive.
‘Erica Baffelli’s book breaks new ground by providing us with the first comprehensive analysis of the ways in which Japanese new religions use media forms to create marketable images of themselves and to construct images of their leaders and to transmit their teachings. Her study shows how the charismatic standing of leaders may be constructed and reinforced via media-ised processes, publications and rituals, and how new religions make use of spectacular, media-oriented rituals to attract new audiences. Yet she also shows that new religions at times have problems with new media, as her account of the ways in which they may struggle with the potentialities of the Internet, shows. As such this is a valuable study of importance to anyone interested in Japanese religions, new religions, and the media.’ -- Ian Reader, University of Manchester, UK
1. Media and Religion in Japan: Historical Perspectives 2. Mediating Leader Image: Kôfuku No Kagaku Communication Strategies in 1990s 3. Mediating Rituals: Satellite Broadcasting and ‘Virtual Nationwide Temple’ of Agonshû 4. New Religions in Manga and Anime 5. New Religions and New Media