Shinnyoen and the transmission of Japanese new religions abroad
This study examines the ways and the extent to which Japanese new religions that seek to attain an international presence adapt and alter their techniques of proselytism in moving from one culture to another, and the ways in which their development varies in non-Japanese cultures. In particular I focus on Shinnyoen, one of the largest new religions in Japan, which has achieved a foothold in Hawaii and other areas with large Japanese immigrant populations, but which has also begun to develop in Europe and other parts of Asia. Currently, movements such as Shinnyoen are in their infancy in Britain, although they have already begun to establish a presence and have developed to some degree beyond the Japanese population. Accordingly, the activities of such religious groups and the ways in which they seek to appeal to and attract non-Japanese followers form a highly appropriate topic for research. This study will examine Shinnyoen and its proselytizing campaign in three diverse locations - the UK, Hawaii, and Singapore - in order to glean a clear account of the dynamics involved in the proselytizing activities of Japanese new religions overseas. The ethos of Japanese new religious movements and the conditions (social, organizational, cultural) conducive for dissemination abroad, especially among local populations, are issues explored in the process. The extent to which these patterns differ at the various locations will also be examined in order to determine whether Shinnyoen attracts, and targets, the same type of people in Britain as it does in Singapore and Hawaii. What will emerge at the conclusion of this study is a clearer picture of the challenges Japanese new religions face in their efforts to expand overseas and flourish in foreign soil and the necessary provisions they must possess in their praxis and organizational structure if they are to meet these challenges.