Asian Ethnology Podcast

Japanese New Religions: Media, Women, and Violence

Interviewer: Ben Dorman, co-editor Asian Ethnology

Recorded 11 January 2018, Nagoya, Japan

This episode's guest is Erica Baffelli, senior lecturer in Japanese Studies at The University of Manchester. Erica’s research interests include religion in contemporary Japan, new religions, religion and media, and religion, women and violence. She discusses her work interviewing members of Japanese new religions and the issues researchers face while producing research on these groups.

Episode Summary

  • Intro :24

  • Reasons for studying Japanese society and new religions :53

  • Discussion on studying media and religion; initial work on internet research 5:35

  • The new religions Erica studies (Agonshū, Kōfuku no Kagaku, Aum Shinrikyō, Aleph, Hikari no Wa) 8:31

  • Interview methods 17:01

  • Themes in interviews - female ex-members of Aum (ascetic practices, perceptions of society, violence, etc.) 19:12

  • Work with Kōfuku no Kagaku 25:36

  • Issues researchers face when dealing with new religions 27:18

  • Ways that new religions view media external to themselves 29:28

  • Comparative work between Japan and other areas in Asia; future project on women participating in organizations that commit violence 33:38

  • Forthcoming book (co-authored with Ian Reader) on the lifecyle of a new religion - Agonshū - in the first generation 35:49

  • Work on representation and portrayals of Aum women in media; healing practices across Asia 38:25

  • Outro 41:31

Publications discussed/considered in this episode


Contested Positioning: "New Religions" and Secular Spheres Japan Review 30: 129-152 (2017).


Media and New Religions in Japan, Routledge (2016)

Music used with kind permission of the performer, shamisen master Koji Yamaguchi.

Copyright 2018 by Asian Ethnology Podcast