Animals and Religion in Contemporary Japan

Bones of Contention
Since the 1990s the Japanese pet industry has grown to a trillion-yen business and estimates place the number of pets above the number of children under the age of fifteen. There are between 6,000 to 8,000 businesses in the Japanese pet funeral industry, including more than 900 pet cemeteries. Of these about 120 are operated by Buddhist temples, and Buddhist mortuary rites for pets have become an institutionalized practice. In Bones of Contention: Animals and Religion in Contemporary Japan, Barbara Ambros investigates what religious and intellectual traditions constructed animals as subjects of religious rituals and how pets have been included or excluded in the necral landscapes of contemporary Japan.

“In this thoughtfully argued book, Barbara Ambros adroitly maneuvers through difficult terrain—rituals of death, changing cultural conceptions, and the relationships between humans and other animals. While many such studies of animals as pets have focused on North American and European cultures, Ambros’ work in East Asian studies is groundbreaking. Bones of Contention opens up a whole new area in the rapidly emerging field of animal studies and religion.” —Laura Hobgood-Oster, Southwestern University, author of The Friends We Keep: Unleashing Christianity’s Compassion for Animals and Holy Dogs and Asses: Animals in the Christian Tradition

September 2012 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3674-0 / $29.00 (PAPER)