177 , 2017-07-24 , International Research Center for Japanese Studies
This article draws on ethnographic research with a Japanese new religious organization to examine the interconnection between the processes of globalization and contemporary formations of religion and secularity in Japan. By tracing the development of new religions in modern Japan and examining a case study of a Japanese new religion pursuing a globalizing strategy, this article analyzes how leaders are attempting to transform the structure and image of their organization, the responses by members to these changes, and the larger implications of these changes regarding the dynamics of religious globalization and secularization. In line with recent comparative approaches to the secular, it reveals how religious globalization can become a vector for global growth and self-conscious institutional change, which draw simultaneously from global and local notions of religion and secularity. Ultimately, the article suggests that the “formations of the secular” in contemporary Japan are inextricably enmeshed with the processes of globalization, which resonate with broader social changes in Japanese society, and which are refracted through the selective yet dynamic interplay of both religion and secularity on local and global levels.