Yuniterian: The 19th Century Japanese Unitarian Journal

Here is a picture of the cover of the first issue of Yuniterian, the journal published by the Japanese Unitarians beginning in 1890 (Japanophiles will be interested to note that the title is in hiragana–this was before katakana became the standard for foreign borrow words).

Front cover of Yuniterian issue 1

Front cover of Yuniterian issue 1

Yuniterian was renamed Shuukyou (“Religion”) in 1891, and merged with Rikugou Zasshi (“Cosmos Journal”) in 1898, by which time the Unitarians had come to dominate Rikugou Zasshi. The Japanese Unitarians were a mix of Buddhists and Christians who approached Unitarianism as a religious impulse or set of principles, rather than a separate denomination. They used Unitarian ideas to reform Japanese religion, making it more rational, modern, historical, and activist. Never touching the grassroots, the Japanese Unitarian movement nonetheless had a significant impact on the intellectual class as they sought to bring Japanese society up to speed with the West at the turn of the century. Many worked toward combining Buddhism and Unitarianism into a new religion of the future that could become the national religion of Japan. This plan finally faltered when the Unitarians refused to disavow Unitarianism’s specifically Christian character. Later, the partially Unitarianized reformist Buddhisms were eventually exported to the United States and Canada, and now that Unitarianism has indeed ceased to be a specifically Christian denomination, some of that Unitarianized Buddhism has proven to be highly attractive to contemporary Unitarian-Universalists, completing the circle.

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1 Comment

Filed under Buddhism, Liberal Religious History, Unitarian-Universalism, Unitarianism

One response to “Yuniterian: The 19th Century Japanese Unitarian Journal

  1. I so want your book on this…

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