By Wilburn Hansen
Hirata Atsutane (1776-1843) has been the topic of various reports that target his value to nationalist politics and jap highbrow and social background. even if popular as an ideologue of eastern nationwide studying (Kokugaku), Atsutane's importance as a non secular philosopher has been mostly ignored. His prolific writings on supernatural topics have by no means been completely analyzed in English before. In whilst Tengu speak, Wilburn Hansen specializes in Senkyo ibun (1822), a voluminous paintings centering on Atsutane's interviews with a fourteen-year-old Edo road urchin named Kozo Torakichi who claimed to be an apprentice tengu, a supernatural creature of eastern folklore. Hansen uncovers intimately how Atsutane hired a planned approach to ethnographic inquiry that labored to govern and stimulate Torakichi's surreal descriptions of daily life in a supernatural realm, what Atsutane termed the opposite global. Hansen's research and research of the method starts off with the speculation that Atsutane's undertaking was once an early test at ethnographic learn, a brand new methodological method in nineteenth-century Japan. Hansen posits that this "scientific" research was once tainted through Atsutane's wish to determine a discourse on Japan now not constrained through what he thought of to be the unsatisfactory result of verified jap philological equipment. a coarse cartoon of the milieu of 1820s Edo Japan and Atsutane's place inside it offers the backdrop opposed to which the drama of Senkyo ibun unfolds. There keep on with chapters explaining the connection among the implied writer and the skin narrator, the opposite international that Atsutane helped Torakichi describe, and Atsutane's nativist discourse touching on Torakichi's terrific claims of a newly chanced on Shinto holy guy referred to as the sanjin. Sanjin have been partially outlined through supernatural talents comparable (but eventually better and therefore greater) to these of the Buddhist bodhisattva and the Daoist immortal. They have been visible as holders of mystery and robust applied sciences formerly idea to have come from or been perfected within the West, akin to geography, astronomy, and armed forces expertise. Atsutane sought to deemphasize the impression of Western know-how via claiming those powers had come from Japan's different global. In doing so, he creates a brand new Shinto hero and, via organization, asserts the prevalence of local jap culture. within the ultimate element of his ebook, Hansen addresses Atsutane's contribution to the development of recent eastern identification. by way of the past due Tokugawa, many intellectuals had grown uncomfortable with endured cultural dependence on Neo-Confucianism, and the Buddhist institution was once less than hearth from positivist historiographers who had started to query the numerous contradictions present in Buddhist texts. With those conventional discourses in disarray and Western rationalism and materialism gaining public reputation, Hansen depicts Atsutane's production of a brand new non secular identification for the japanese humans as one inventive reaction to the pressures of modernity. while Tengu speak provides to the small physique of labor in English on nationwide studying. It additionally fills a void within the zone of old non secular reports, that's ruled via reviews of Buddhist priests and clergymen, via supplying a glimpse of a Shinto spiritual determine. eventually, it counters a dead ringer for Atsutane as a forerunner of the ultra-nationalism that eventually used to be deployed within the provider of empire. Lucid and available, it is going to locate an appreciative viewers between students of Shinto and jap and global faith. as well as faith experts, it is going to be of substantial curiosity to anthropologists and historians of Japan.