History and Reception of Horoscope Astrology in Japan. From esoteric tradition to the boom in fortune telling

Western horoscope astrology has its roots in the astronomical observations of ancient Babylonia. From there it spread, over the course of many years, to Greece, India, the Arab world, Europe and China. It was brought to Japan by Kukai, one of the founder of esoteric Buddhism, as part of the manuscripts he brought back from China such as the Sukuyo-kyo. During the Heian period it gained in popularity alongside the Japanese divination system Onmyōdō, which had its origins in Taoism and the theories of yin and yang and the five elements.

Though having the same point of origin, horoscope astrology developed in different directions on the east and west edges of the European continent, beginning to converge again in the early 20th century. The astronomer and mathematician, Aritaka Kumamoto, studied in Europe with funding from the Meiji Government. Here he encountered the teachings of Rudolf Steiner and, in the UK met the ‘fathers of modern astrology’, Alan Leo and Sepharial. Upon returning to Japan, Kumamoto published on and translated European astrology texts, introducing the horoscope astrology to the modern Japanese audience.

Ryuji Kagami, one of Japan’s leading astrologers, will trace the history of horoscope astrology in Japan from its roots in esoteric Buddhism to the contemporary boom in fortune telling. He will also reflect on the reception of this astrology in Japan, bringing to light a little known chapter in the history of UK-Japan cultural exchange.

Date: Tuesday 12 September 2017, 6:30pm
Venue: The Swedenborg Society, 20-21 Bloomsbury Way, London WC1A 2TH

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