Chapter 5, “Anarcho-Buddhist Utopia: Taishō Tolstoyans,” focuses on several new developments within Buddhism during the brief but immensely significant Taishō period, beginning in 1912. This period witnessed the full emergence of a powerful if diverse socialist movement in urban Japan, which would inspire prominent writers such as Kawakami Hajime and Miyazawa Kenji to explore the possibilities of Buddhist(ic) social activism and economic reform. In addition, the life and work of Russian writer and thinker Count Leo Tolstoy had an immense impact on the intellectual, religious, and political culture of the period. This chapter examines these developments in light of modernist sensibilities and argues that much of Taishō Buddhism—at least at the intellectual level—can be characterized by a utopian and an “aesthetic” turn, one that diverged from both the state-centered program of earlier Buddhist reform movements, and the social concerns of New Buddhism.
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