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Spiritual business? A critical analysis of the spiritual therapy phenomenon in contemporary Japan

Gaitanidis, Ioannis (2010) Spiritual business? A critical analysis of the spiritual therapy phenomenon in contemporary Japan. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Abstract

In the last fifteen years and particularly since the rise to media stardom of self-proclaimed "spiritual counsellor" Ehara Hiroyuki, ―"the spiritual" (supirichuaru) has become a buzzword in Japanese popular culture. A look at the shelves of every bookstore reveals that by now, in Japan, almost anything can be ―"spiritual" (for example, spiritual spot, spiritual money, spiritual motherhood or spiritual cuisine). This "spiritual boom" has stemmed from the popularisation of what this study calls spiritual therapies, which correspond to the group of alternative therapeutic techniques that, in the West, are characteristic of the New Age Movement. Examples of spiritual therapy include past-life regression therapy, reiki, channelling and re-connective healing. The increase in demand and consumption of such techniques has recently attracted criticism from local researchers who warn against the pitfalls of the ―"spiritual business"; yet, so far, everyone has failed to take into account the voices of those who are supposed to gain from these transactions: the spiritual therapists. Using information collected during interviews with 68 practitioners and participant observation of spiritual therapy sessions and promotional fairs, this study argues that the popularity of the spiritual therapy phenomenon epitomises deeper changes in contemporary Japanese society. A critical analysis shows that, in order to avoid biased support for, or criticism against spiritual therapy, the phenomenon should be seen through its point de capiton, where the interaction of its four aspects, the business, the therapeutic, the ideological and the social, gives us a full and meaningful view. Consequently it becomes clear that spiritual therapy has developed according to the fundamental features of a globalising new spirituality culture and expresses the morality of the fundamental this-worldly-benefit-seeking character of Japanese religious culture, which is adapted to express the physiomorphic, ideological and socio-economic changes in contemporary Japanese society.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts (Leeds) > School of Modern Languages and Cultures (Leeds) > East Asian Studies (Leeds)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.529709
Depositing User: Ethos Import
Date Deposited: 11 Mar 2011 11:47
Last Modified: 07 Mar 2014 11:23
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/1375

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