A Not So Exotic Ideal: Wenceslau de Moraes’s Discourse on Religion in Japan (68563)

Session Information: Japanese Studies
Session Chair: Zhouyan Wu

Monday, 22 May 2023 15:25
Session: Session 3
Room: Room A (Live Stream)
Presentation Type:Live-Stream Presentation

All presentation times are UTC + 9 (Asia/Tokyo)

The Portuguese diplomat and writer Wenceslau de Moraes first went to Japan as a tourist in 1889, subsequently lived in the country from 1897, married a Japanese girl and, after her death in 1912, retired to her native town until passing away in 1929. Deeply touched by Japan, he wrote about the place in several books and other published writings. He engaged with the topic of religion in Japan occasionally, albeit only briefly. Although it was not his focus, it was a matter that impressed him from the beginning. An illustration of this can be found in his earliest book, Sketches of the Far East — Siam, China and Japan (1895). His interest in religion deepened with time, and, by the 1920s, he viewed it as a matter of central importance in understanding Japan and its people, an idea which he articulated in Glimpses of the Japanese Soul (1926). Notwithstanding the different ways in which Moraes approached the issue of religion in Japan, his trail of thought was, on the one hand, driven by a thread of admiration for Japan which he deemed ideal and superior to other places and, on the other, based on a Western discourse with Christian trappings. Through an analysis of published and archival documents, including his correspondence and diplomatic documents, this paper examines this apparently tense or incongruous combination, and places it in the context of Western views about religion in Japan and of the contacts between Christianity and the phenomenon of religion in Japan.

Antonio Eduardo Hawthorne Barrento, University of Lisbon, Portugal

About the Presenter(s)
Dr Antonio Eduardo Hawthorne Barrento is a University Assistant Professor/Lecturer at School of Arts and Humanities of the University of Lisbon in Portugal

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Posted by Clive Staples Lewis

Last updated: 2023-02-23 23:45:00