The National Museum of Ethnology (Minpaku) is a research center for ethnology and cultural anthropology.

Research on Various Concepts Concerning Analysis of Religious Behavior

Joint Research Coordinator TACHIKAWA Musashi

Reserch Theme List


In past ethnology, folklore studies and religious studies have employed such working concepts as hare, ke, kegare, sei, zoku, jo and fujo in discriminating between the sacred and the profane. Hare and ke were used in particular to analyze religious activities in Japan, while sei (sacred) and zoku (profane) appear to have been mostly used when considering Judeo-Christian traditions. However, nowadays when considering religion in Japan there is a strong tendency to consider everything, for example forms of religious practice, such as nibutsu (prayer) and Zen, or funerals and annual activities, as being unified. For such a standpoint hare and ke alone are not sufficient, and it is not clear how concepts like sei and zoku can be effectively applied. This research examines basic concepts that can be used for integrated thinking regarding diverse patterns of behavior, including rites throughout a lifetime, annual events and individual religious practice.