Meiji prison religion benevolent punishments and the national creed

Adam Lyons

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


This article examines the origins of prison proselytization in Japan in the 1870s and 1880s by exploring the relationship between the Great Promulgation Campaign (daikyō senpu undō) and the development of a modern carceral system. It argues that prison chaplaincy (kyōkai) developed as the “spiritual successor” to the Great Promulgation Campaign's national instructor (kyōdōshoku) system. The article concludes that local activism on the part of Buddhists was the driving force behind the introduction of Buddhist teachings to prisons and that Buddhists mobilized in this way because they found it politically advantageous to position themselves as guardians of the public good.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)219-249
Number of pages31
JournalJournal of Religion in Japan
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Chaplaincy
  • Meiji Restoration
  • Prison religion
  • Religion and state
  • Shin Buddhism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Religious studies


Dive into the research topics of 'Meiji prison religion benevolent punishments and the national creed'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this