The Fox and the Jewel is not only a study of Japanese religion but of Japanese society in general, doing away with the simple prejudice that the Japanese are less individualistic and more group oriented than other people. This book also shows how interdisciplinary work by anthropologists can give a more complete picture of a society than the more highly specialized studies of some Japanologists limiting their view, for example, to literature, sociology, or a single religious tradition of Japan.-- "Asian Folklore" Smyers presents a very individualized form of Japanese religion ... challeng[ing] the perception of cultural uniformity.-- "Japanese Journal of Religious Studies" Not only closes the gap [in critical scholarship on Shinto] but offers a new model of scholarship by encouraging the rest of us to examine the textual with the experiential, the institutional with the personal. The book is also accessible for the general public.-- "Journal of Asian Studies" An excellent overview of not only Inari worship, but of how one element of religion functions in Japanese society. And the author also has a very readable style.-- "H-Net Reviews" A well written and detailed report on a religious phenomenon that can be found throughout Japan, and even in Japanese diasporas.-- "Journal of Japanese Studies" A sustained reflection, supported by keen and sympathetic observation ... rich in hints about the way Japan really works. It is well worth reading.-- "Japanese Studies" A highly focused anthropological study that has all the academic virtues ... combined with the best qualities of good journalism ... that bring a subject to life.-- "Japan Times" Richement documentee-- "Archives de Sciences Sociales des Religions" Prasentiert faszinierendes ethnographisches Material und bietet Einblick in die Ablaufe an bedeutenden Kultstatten Japans.-- "NOAG". Karen A. Smyers is assistant professor of religion at Wesleyan University. This book describes the rich complexity of Inari worship in contemporary Japan. It explores questions of institutional and popular power in religion, demonstrates the ways people make religious figures personally meaningful, and documents the kinds of communicative styles that preserve the appearance of homogeneity in the face of astonishing factionalism.
Great, informative book Great, informative book. It was a little dry at times, so it took me a bit longer to get through it. But ultimately it was worth it. Shipping was super fast and book came in perfect condition. Very pleased.
Jewel of a Book While this book is targeted at more academic readers, I found it to be fascinating and highly relevant to my research. Smyers explores the nature of Inari within Japanese culture: how Inari is regarded in different ways by specific temples of Buddhism, Shintoism, and by different approaches of shamanism; how Inari is depicted as male or female, old or young, and as foxes as literal or as messengers; how and why Inari is worshiped as a figurehead of rice, money, fertility, and many other needs; the symbolism of Inari's jewel, etc. In particular, I was seeking details about kitsune as the spirit fox shown in mythology. Smyers cited some sources I had already read but also brought in new tidbits about dog sorcery as anti-fox and how foxes are integrated into Japanese culture. I made many notes so I can return to sections in the future The read is somewhat dry at times, especially at the start as it delves into the difference between temples, but I found it a quick read once it went into more mythological aspects about foxes and jewels. This was a book I had on my wish list for a long time because of the cost (about $30) and I am very glad I bought it and will keep it as a reference source. If you have any interest in Japanese mythology, Inari, and kitsune, I highly recommend it.
Oirented towards contemporary Inari worship, but includes many historical details It is written in an academic style, and can be a bit dry at times. But on the up side that means it also has good footnotes and lots of detailed references. I read it primarily because of my interest in historic Shinto practices and Kitsune lore, and was pleasantly surprised at the amount of history details it contained. Despite not being my main interest, I found the information about contemporary practices interesting - though I did skim some of the parts dealing with current temple politics (though I would have loved to have seen more details about historic politics). There are a large number of excerpts and quotes (good for those of us who do not have access to the original material). I found the historic excerpts (Kitsune folk tales primarily, compared to other English translations I have) to be fairly concise summaries, missing some of the flavor. No real complaint here, there are a lot of excerpts, and the author is usually making some interesting point. I am just saying don't expect full translations of the Kitsune related stories in Konjaku Monogatari, or a really detailed version of the Kabuki play Yoshitsune senbon zakura (it is summarized in one long paragraph on p99).
Informative book on the God/dess of foxes, rice, curing colds and so much more I read this book many years ago; this was actually a second purchase for a friend. The book is very interesting in how it covers Inari worship in Japan, it's origins, how s/he (Inari's gender and appearance depends on the person asked) came to be asciocated with foxes, Inari worship today, and it's connection to Shinto, Buddhism, and Folk religion. It also deals a little bit on the unfortunate racism the author encountered in her quest to understand Inari worship.
Great book! Recommend to anyone interested in Shinto, and O-Inari-Sama!
Great book on Inari worship and history Great book half way through and love'n it. Very insightful at many levels on the history of Inari. Very glad i got this
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