This seminar examines the cultural construction of animals in Japanese myth, folklore, and religion. We will discuss various kinds of animals: those that occur in the natural world, those that are found in myths and folklore, and those that have appeared in popular media such as animation. We will explore how images of various animals were culturally constructed as tricksters, gods, monsters, or anthropomorphic companions; how animals were ritualized as divine, demonic, or sentient beings in Buddhism, Shinto, and folk religion; and how animals could serve as metaphors that embodied collective ideals or anxieties. Most of our readings will focus on primary and secondary texts from the Japanese tradition (in English), but we will also read theoretical texts on human-animal relationships and historical studies on animals in the larger Asian context. We will also view and analyze several Japanese films, both anime and documentaries, that deal with animals and environmental issues.