Tenrikyo is a Japanese new religious movement that, like others, has tried to expand overseas and which has achieved this expansion most successfully in Taiwan. The article will focus on Tenrikyo in Taiwan and ask why it has done comparatively well. The Tenrikyo religious community has endured, and continues to survive, both a colonial and post-colonial environment in Taiwan. I contextualize Tenrikyo’s development within the framework of Japan’s relations with Taiwan, arguing that the issue of Tenrikyo’s missionary activities in Taiwan is not only inextricably linked to the historical development of Japanese religion itself, but also to colonialism. In addition, I argue that certain aspects of Tenrikyo’s doctrine, idioms and practice are compatible with the religious system in Taiwan, thus enabling Tenrikyo to make inroads into local religion through the process of inculturation. Based on my ethnography, I show that practicing Tenrikyo’s rituals such as Mikagura-uta played a prominent part in the propagation of Tenrikyo in Taiwan.
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