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Sacred High City, Sacred Low CityA Tale of Religious Sites in Two Tokyo Neighborhoods$
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Steven Heine

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780195386202

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195386202.001.0001

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Sacred Space Is Alive and Well and Living in Japan

Sacred Space Is Alive and Well and Living in Japan

(p.33) 1 Sacred Space Is Alive and Well and Living in Japan
Sacred High City, Sacred Low City

Heine Steven

Oxford University Press

This chapter offers a critical analysis of the role of sacred space in relation to secular Tokyo in order to better understand the significance of the fundamental contradiction concerning practice and belief. It considers on the basis of the author's personal reflections seen in terms of cross-cultural perspectives how contemporary urban sacred sites seek to preserve a deteriorating past that is greatly affected, for better or worse, by the main factors of modernization. These factors include rapid commercial development and an aggressive emphasis on an efficient use of space as an end in itself accompanied by ecological degradation that causes a deterioration of the natural landscape. Sacred sites must absorb the ongoing impact of a general trend toward secularity, or unbridled mercantilism and consumerism, which tends to dismiss the past as merely anachronistic and thus deviates from and diminishes traditional religious institutional structures. This chapter makes use of on-the-ground observations in inquiring as to where the secular leaves off and the sacred begins in comparison with sacred sites typical of Western cities.

Keywords:   Mizuko kuyō, Oharai, Pilgrimage, Sacred, Secular, Tengu

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