ANTH 2630 Study Guide - Final Guide: Nihonjinron, Kaizen, Polymorphous Perversity
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Asian Anthro. Final
Religion and Ritual
- Religion is more practical and personal.
- There is no predominant religion in China.
- Chinese people are very religious however they don’t just have one particular religion.
- They go to temples that are associated with certain things that they made need, such as wealth.
Synchretism: combination of various religious practices.
Shinto is considered to be the only native Japanese religion and the others are all foreign imports ( such
as Christianity and Buddhism ).
- Shinto rituals are done at certain times in one’s life.
- It is a polytheistic religion which means they do not have one God but many deities and spirits.
- One of their more important deities is Amaterasu who is the god of the sun.
- Ancestor worship, ghost worship
- Burning incense, fortune telling
- Not an institutionalized form of religion.
Chinese spirit money is fake money that is burnt on special occasions so that their ancestors will have
money in their afterlife.
- Cosmos are organized around natural forces and people should work to be in synch with it.
- Tai Chi
- Slightly mystical religion.
- Confined to China.
- Hierarchy of gods is linked to this religion.
- Life is a struggle against pain and desire.
- People should strive to obtain enlightenment like the Buddha.
- This religion is found in India, China, Japan and Tibet.
- More philosophical, how to behave
- Worship philosophies and not God.
*There are also important Christian practices in China.
During the Cultural Revolution religion was seen to be bourgeois. They wanted to sever China’s tie to
the past which meant smashing the 4 olds ( old customs, old habits, old culture, old ideas). Religion only
got in the way of modernizing the country.
In the 80s and 90s there was a government effort to rehabilitate the temples and so most of them were
handed over to the government and turned into tourist sites. Religion is partly traditional but also has
been commoditized to be modern.
The relationship people have with gods can be compared to the relationship they have with people.
HEAVEN = EARTH
Gods = Officials
The hierarchy of gods
Jade Emperor (God in heaven)
City God (responsible for city and outskirts)
Earth God (protecting area, register marriages)
Stove God (protects home)
*The stove god can be in direct contact with the jape emperor god in heaven because they are distant
cousins and therefore he is able to speak to him without going through all the other gods.
Ancestors and Family
Filiality : you have to care for your parents forever, even after death.
- you should do anything necessary to help your parents.
- Even after death you have to burn money for your parents.
Ghosts and Strangers
- Ghosts are bad and associated with death and misfortune.
- Ghosts wander around looking for food because they are hungry. This happens when they’re
family does not take care of them.
- Ghosts are similar to beggars.
Christianity and Islam in China
The silk roads
- Trade routes stretching across Asia
- Important pathways for cultural and human migration
- Several religions traditions were imported to China along the Silk Road
- In the late 15th century, Italy, Spain, Portugal brought Christian missionaries to Asia.
They did not try and convert higher powers such as the emperors. They went into small towns and tried
to convert people into Protestants.
Hanja is a language of the elite. Hanjul is a more popular / common language that the Bible was
translated into in order to identify more with commoners.
Number of Christians decreased in China in the socialist era because they were trying to destroy all
religions. In Korea therefore the level of Christianity is much higher due to the fact that there was no
socialist era there. In 1997 Korea even had a Christian president.
Hui is an ethnic minority group that lives in China. They speak and look Chinese however they have
Islamic traditions. The follow Islamic dietary rules and they descended from the silk traders.
Rituals of blockage
- Prevent wedding from happening.
- Bride and groom have to fight to get into groom’s home.
- Locked out of new room.
- Bride has to fight people off the bed.
- There is no real reason for this, it is just considered a fun tradition.
Ethnicity in East Asia
Race is biologically meaningful.
Ethnicity is perceived culture.
Ethnicity in Japan