Japanese New Religions and the Internet

A Case Study


  • Erica Baffelli University of Otago




New Religious Movements, Japan, Internet, Kōfuku no kagaku


Kofuku no Kagaku was founded in 1986 by Okawa Ryuho and it remains one of the most interesting of the Japanese new religious movements in terms of its use of media. However, until December 2004, the only official Japanese website of the group was that of its publishing house. This paper discusses why a group whose success was, from the beginning, connected to an extensive use of mass media decided to open its official website quite late in its lifespan, if we compare it to other religious groups in Japan. Their reluctance to use the Internet seems to be in contradiction with the media strategies of the group. This paper seeks to answer some crucial questions that arise from this contradiction. Could the delay in the creation of a website be related to the risk of members being exposed to online criticism? Is the lack of images of the leader on the Internet a consequence of a new image strategy?

Author Biography

Erica Baffelli, University of Otago

Erica Baffelli is Lecturer in Asian Religion at the University of Otago (New Zealand). Both her doctoral research (Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, 2005) and her post-doctoral research project as fellow of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS, 2005–2007) investigated the relationship between the media and ‘image construction’ of Japanese new religious movements. Her research interests lie primarily in the groups’ self-presentation, both online and offline, and in the interaction between religion and popular cultures.


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How to Cite

Baffelli, E. (2011). Japanese New Religions and the Internet: A Case Study. Journal for the Academic Study of Religion, 23(3), 255–276. https://doi.org/10.1558/arsr.v23i3.255