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PROPHET MOTIVE: Deguchi Onisaburo, Oomoto, and the Rise of New Religions in Imperial Japan, by Nancy K. Stalker. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2007, 265 pp., $49 (cloth)

Reviewed by Florian Coulmas Japan has sometimes been called an irreligious country, but students of religion know that this is only because Western notions of religiosity do not necessarily apply to Japan, and because the Christian mission has been remarkably unsuccessful in this country. How important a role religion plays in Japanese life is perhaps best attested by the many religious movements that came into being in addition to Buddhism, Shintoism and Christianity, the three creeds officially recognized by the Meiji government in the late 19th century as part of its modernization efforts. They are collectively known as “new religions” and have at times attracted a numerous following, especially during hard times.

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