False Rites
Author: Setsuko Shinoda
Specifications: ISBN  978-4103133612
469 pages
13.8 x 19.2 cm / 5.5 x 7.7 in (WxH)
Category: Fiction
Publisher: Shinchosha Publishing Co., Ltd.
Tokyo, 2008
Awards: Shibata Renzaburo Award, 2009
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Set in contemporary Japan and told with a suspenseful touch, the story follows the rise and fall of a new religion created for the sole purpose of making money. Masahiko Suzuki, 38, has a position of responsibility in the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, but he has always dreamed of becoming a writer. Encouraged by editor Makoto Yaguchi, 40, he produces a lengthy fantasy tale with roots in Tibetan Buddhism that is to be the basis for a role-playing game, and in a fit of overconfidence, resigns from his post. But then Yaguchi's company goes bankrupt and Suzuki's manuscript is orphaned. Without jobs and on the verge of homelessness, the two men decide to launch a website touting a new religion, which they name Seisen Shinpokai?literally, "The Holy Spring of the True Law." The site is well received on the web, and before the year is out the two have found a building and are arranging to move their church from the virtual world to the real world. Fabricating a false background for Suzuki as the founder, inventing doctrines without any truth, handcrafting their own Buddha statue, and patching together sham initiation rites, they broaden the church's appeal from the directionless younger generation to small business owners. Its following grows to some 2,000 believers in three years, and sums on the order of 100 million yen flow in and out of church coffers . . . But attacks by a major religious group with strong political ties and a former author, together with charges of tax evasion, cause Suzuki to lose sway, and the church is taken over by a group of fanatical women who have no use for him anymore, leading to a spectacular downward spiral.

(Vol. 1) ISBN 978-4103133612

(Vol. 2)  ISBN 978-4103133629, 445 pages