Adherents of several hundred groups known as "new religions" include roughly one-third of the Japanese population, but these movements remain largely unstudied in the West. To account for their general similarity, Helen Hardacre identifies a common world view uniting the new religions. She uses the example of Kurozumikyo, a Shinto religion founded in rural Japan in 1814, to show how the new religions developed from older religious organizations. Included in the book are a discussion of counseling that portrays the many linked functions of rural churches, an autobiographical life history by a woman minister, and a case study of healing.
"What particularly characterizes her [Hardacre's] work is the harmonious blend of theory and concrete illustration... Hardacre has lived with the members of the Kurozumiky not only as a scholar but also as a human beingto be more precise, as a womanwho wants to share their joys and sorrows. This results in a deep empathy with the believers and also with their religion itself."--Jan Swyngedouw, Monumenta Nipponica "With the appearance of this work, Hardacre has established herself as one of the foremost interpreters in this field... Chapter 1, 'The World View of the New Religions,' is perhaps the best succinct introduction to the new religions of Japan to date... One of the real strengths of this work, compared to earlier ones, is that the author is genuinely interested in religious praxis, not just intellectual systems or doctrinal dimensions. Reading this book, one gains a deep appreciation of how religion 'works' for believers."--Gary L. Ebersole, Journal of Religion