In Search of the Way: Thought and Religion in Early-Modern Japan, 1582-1860

ISBN : 9780198795230

Richard Bowring
352 ページ
156 x 234 mm

In Search of the Way is a history of intellectual and religious developments in Japan during the Tokugawa period, covering the years 1582-1860. It begins with an explanation of the fate of Christianity, and proceeds to cover the changing nature of the relationship between Buddhism and secular authority, new developments in Shinto, and the growth of 'Japanese studies'. The main emphasis, however, is on the process by which Neo-Confucianism captured the imagination of the intellectual class and informed debate throughout the period. This process was expressed in terms of a never-ending search for the Way, a mode and pattern of existence that could provide not only order for society at large, but self-fulfilment for the individual. The narrative traces how ideas and attitudes changed through time, and is based on the premise that the Tokugawa period is important in and of itself, not merely as a backdrop to the Meiji Restoration of 1868.


Part I: 1582-1680
1 From Hideyoshi to Ietsuna
2 The fate of Christianity
3 Creating a new order
4 The Confucian turn
5 Two individualists
6 The Way of the Kami
7 The Way of the Warrior
8 The Way of Man

Part II: 1680-1786
9 From Tsunayoshi to Ieharu
10 The encouragement of learning
11 Recasting the Chinese mould
12 Matters of faith
13 The Way of the Former Kings
14 Contesting Confucian values

Part III: 1786-1860
15 From Ienari to Iemochi
16 Competing visions of the future
17 In search of times past
18 A new kind of Shinto
19 A time for action
20 Retrospect


Richard Bowring graduated from the University of Cambridge with first class honours in Japanese in 1968, and a PhD in 1973. He has taught at Monash University, Columbia University, Princeton University, and the University of Cambridge, taking retirement in 2013. He was made an Honorary Fellow of Downing College, Cambridge in 2013, and was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon by the Japanese Government in 2013.