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Buddhist Culture in Early Modern Japan

Summary and Keywords

Buddhist culture was most active and prosperous in early modern Japan (1600–1868). Buddhist temples were ubiquitous throughout the country, and no one was untouched by Buddhism. Buddhist priests wielded considerable power over the populace, and Shinto was largely subject to Buddhist control. Buddhist culture attained this considerable influence in early modern Japan through the performance of death-related rituals and prayer.

Death-related rituals (also known as funerary Buddhism) were rooted in the nationwide anti-Christian policy of the Tokugawa bakufu that utilized the administrative machinery of Buddhist temples. Using the opportunity provided by the anti-Christian policy, Buddhist temples were able to bind all households to death-related rituals and this, in turn, gave rise to the danka system in which dying a Buddhist soon became the norm in early modern Japan.

Given the rigid social status, mutual surveillance, and highly regulated nature of everyday life in Tokugawa Japan, people through prayer often turned to Buddhist deities to seek divine help for their wishes or ad hoc solutions to worldly problems. Beyond being sites of prayer services, Buddhist temples also served as spaces of learning, relief, and/or leisure, thus catering to people from all walks of life. Both prayer and play were also integral to Buddhist culture in early modern Japanese society.

Keywords: anti-Christianity, danka system, funerary Buddhism, ancestral rituals, buffer zone, deities and images, prayer, amulet and talisman, pilgrimage, play

There were more than a hundred thousand Buddhist temples (probably twice as many if subtemples are counted separately) in early modern Japan (1600–1868). Japan’s population grew to about thirty million by 1700 and remained flat thereafter, and the country was divided into about 73,000 administrative units (about 63,000 village units and 10,000 ward units). This meant that at least two or three Buddhist temples existed in each village or ward with an average population of about four hundred people.1 No village was without a Buddhist temple, and no person was unaffected by Buddhism.

How were Buddhist temples able to sustain themselves? Some were endowed with large tracts of arable land, but most had to find other income sources. Regardless of their sects, histories, sizes, or locations, most Buddhist temples in early modern Japan received a steady income from either death-related rituals or prayer services or, more commonly, from both.

In fact, in early modern Japan, all families were affiliated with Buddhist temples: everyone died a Buddhist and was given a Buddhist funeral. Both the funeral and the postmortem rituals were to one degree or another under the aegis of Buddhist temples. By securing funerary patron households Buddhist temples ensured a stable income; and the funerary patron household, once it was affiliated with a Buddhist temple, tended to stay with it generation after generation. This enduring relationship between patron households and Buddhist temples, cemented through recurring rites and services related to death and ancestor veneration, was the financial foundation of early modern Japanese Buddhism.

In the early 19th century, Terakado Seiken (b. 1796–d. 1868) commented on Asakusa Sensōji in Edo, a Buddhist temple famed as a site of prayer, in his Edo hanjōki (A record of Edo’s prosperity): “Sensōji is first among the places for burning incense in the city . . . Worshippers do not stop coming to the temple even for a moment.”2 Sensōji was crowded with people who came to worship its famed deity, the Asakusa Kannon, in the form of a statue of Avalokiteśvara Bodhisattva. As Terakado Seiken observed, visitors crowded the path to the temple, and once they arrived in the main hall they began to pray, first making small offerings, then burning incense, joining their hands, bowing, uttering a few words to the Asakusa Kannon, and then purchasing prayer amulets and talismans. About 60 to 80 percent of Sensōji’s sizable annual income came from such prayer-related activities.3 Buddhist temples were places of worship, and this worship manifested itself in many different ways, all of which contributed to temple finances. As far as laypeople were concerned, death-related rituals and prayer activities comprised the two axes of their Buddhist devotion.

Funerary Buddhism and the Danka System

In early modern Japanese society, Buddhist rites for deceased family members were divided into three stages: a funeral ceremony for burying the deceased, a series of postmortem rituals designed to bless the soul of the deceased and to transform it into an ancestral deity, and annual memorial services for venerating ancestral deities. In theory, through Buddhist salvation, Buddhist death-related rituals were supposed to help the soul of the deceased settle in the Buddhist paradise (or pure land). However, these rituals were also mixed with local customs and native beliefs that often had little to do with Buddhism. As scholars in the field suggest, Japanese people believed that instead of settling in a remote paradise (the other world) far from descendants, ancestral deities stayed nearby so that they could interact with their relatives.4 An ancestral deity, which was usually referred to as hotoke (literally, “Buddha”), was believed to be in constant communication with its descendants through the channels provided by various forms of ancestor worship. Funerary Buddhism was not doctrinaire, and this enabled it to be compatible with local customs related to ancestral spirits.

Nevertheless, once a household was affiliated with a Buddhist temple via funerary Buddhism, it was expected to remain loyal to that temple throughout the generations. This continuing relationship between Buddhist temples and individual families was understood in terms of the danka system. The term danka (also called danna or dan’otsu, which comes from the Sanskrit word dana [“giving”]), refers to a household affiliated with a Buddhist temple through an exchange in which the former pays fees and the latter provides rituals. The danka system dictated the interactions between patron families and Buddhist temples via the medium of death-related rituals and ancestor worship. This system, more than anything else, framed how Buddhist temples functioned in early modern Japanese society.

Funerary Buddhism, which the danka system buttressed and nurtured, accommodated as well as appropriated Japanese needs and wishes for the well-being of deceased family members.5 Instead of repeating the ritual approach to death and the afterlife that had prevailed in medieval times and had reflected the Buddhist theory of karmic retribution understood in terms of individual accountability, Japanese in the early modern period adopted familial Buddhism, which did away with the idea that one could not escape from the karmic doctrine of salvation and retribution—a doctrine that held each individual to be solely responsible for his or her fate after death. People felt that familial Buddhism solved for them the problem of hell, which was associated with the theory of karmic retribution, transmigration, and individual accountability.

In medieval times, people with means often resorted to certain ritual services that Buddhist priests offered in exchange for high fees. The medieval Japanese believed that the Buddhist merit that such rituals were supposed to generate would help improve their karma. However, these ritual services were complex, specialized, and not very affordable. In contrast, not only was familial Buddhism performed by family members as a group, but it also had a simple ritual format and transferred Buddhist merit to the deceased. Familial Buddhism, which Buddhist temples eagerly embraced, spread to all levels of households as it promised to liberate the deceased from the karmic cycle of transmigration. The deceased, whose family members treated him or her with a series of Buddhist rituals, was given a posthumous Buddhist “name” (kaimyō) as proof of salvation and was believed to become and remain a benevolent ancestral deity. The danka system played a central role in ensuring that these rituals took firm root in early modern Japanese society.

The Danka System and Anti-Christianity

Interestingly, when it began to gain influence, the danka system was neither a readymade system nor a law imposed upon the entire population; rather, it was perceived as a mandatory custom completely in line with the Tokugawa bakufu’s anti-Christian policy. Thus, in looking at how the danka system shaped familial funerary Buddhism, it is important to be clear on its anti-Christian context, which irreversibly transformed the role of Buddhism in Japanese history.

The nationwide anti-Christian policy of early modern Japan evolved from a measure that forced Kirishitan (Christian followers or converts) to abandon their religion. It was first practiced in Kyushu in the 1610s and then gradually spread to other areas. In Kyushu, once a person was suspected of being a Christian, on the threat of execution the government required him or her to obtain a document from a Buddhist temple certifying non-Christian identity. Buddhist temples antagonistic to Christianity were readily available in all local villages, and public authorities increasingly opted to utilize them as agents of anti-Christian inspection. As a result, the idea that being non-Christian meant being Buddhist began to take root in Japanese society.6 For someone suspected of being Christian, a non-Christian certificate issued by a Buddhist temple (or temple certification) was not a matter of choice but a matter of remaining alive.

In the 1660s, the Tokugawa bakufu, which had tried various means of Christian suppression, including fumie (forcing a suspect to trample on a Christian image) and group surveillance, decided to adopt the system of temple certification. This was considered to be most effective, and it became a national policy imposed on the entire country, including all daimyo domains.7 The procedure of temple certification was known as terauke, according to which the tera (“temple,” the head priest of a Buddhist temple) was “commissioned” (uke) by the government to check and certify that persons affiliated with the temple had nothing to do with Christianity.

There were some variations in and some short-lived exceptions to (e.g., Shinto certification, which was tried in Okayama domain) how this system was practiced; however, it remained fully operational until the Tokugawa bakufu ceased to exist. The system of anti-Christian certification worked as follows. Each year all residents were required to obtain their non-Christian certificate from their Buddhist temple and to submit it to their village or ward head. Those who failed to submit a non-Christian certificate were suspected of being Christian and were subjected to heavy punishment, including execution. On an annual basis, village or ward officials who collected non-Christian certificates from the residents under their jurisdiction were required to draw up a register of the population household by household. This register, initially called a “register of sectarian inspection” (shūmon aratamechō) and later a “register of sectarian population” (shūmon ninbetsuchō), was proof that the village or ward was free of Christians. The government strictly supervised the annual process of anti-Christian inspection to make sure that Japan was not tainted by the evil of Christianity.8 Those not mentioned in this annual population register had no place in early modern Japan.9

Once the annual anti-Christian inspection was in place, Buddhist priests, who could wield influence as quasi-public officials, kept those whom they inspected as funerary patrons. The danka system was thus a byproduct of Buddhist temples capitalizing on the government’s anti-Christian policy. The Tokugawa bakufu, which directly administered only about one-fourth of the country and was fully aware of the daimyo of about 260 who, according to the bakuhan principles of local autonomy, controlled their respective domains, opted to mobilize Buddhist temples to effect nationwide control of the populace. Under the danka system, every new death was subjected to death-related rituals and ancestor worship as conducted within the framework of the danka system. In early modern Japan, no one, including the shogun and the emperor, was free of Buddhist death rituals.

Buddhist Death Rituals and Early Modern Japanese Society

Rituals for the deceased were not immune to changes in how families were organized and structured. The new family structure that began to spread in the 17th century moved away from that of the extended family, which had followed medieval uji (clans) principles. The new family system was represented by the term ie, referring to a single household comprising a household head and his immediate family members. The ie cherished generational continuance, and this being the case, household members were expected to respect their ie not only as a family unit but also as a socio-religious institution.10 Funerary Buddhism supported the spiritual values of the ie—values that the ie’s ancestors, current members, and descendants were imbued with.

Early modern Japanese believed that their ie was protected by their ancestors, who would extend to them their divine help. In return, descendants cared for their ancestors by providing them with ritual veneration. The bond between ancestors and descendants was cemented through familial Buddhism, which itself was grounded in the danka system. People believed that ancestors would suffer from “malnutrition and starvation” if their ritual care was neglected, and they also believed that the protective power of ancestors was inseparable from the rituals associated with familial Buddhism.11 Each household maintained a domestic Buddhist altar for the purpose of practicing rituals in honor of the ancestors. This altar spiritually united family members throughout the generations.

As far as Buddhist priests were concerned, the danna household’s Buddhist altar ensured that the household members were in compliance with the danna relationship. When a priest from the temple visited its danna household, he performed a brief ritual, usually in the form of chanting and prayer, while standing before the altar. In particular, during the time of the Bon (or Obon, an annual custom held between the thirteenth and the sixteenth days of the seventh month that involved honoring ancestral deities), Buddhist priests made a round of visits to their danna households to offer ritual chanting and to collect fees. These visits were often referred to as “inspections of the Buddhist altar.”12

Unlike in traditional China and Korea, in early modern Japan the value of filial piety applied to the well-being of the household as an institution rather than to its individual members. In China and Korea, Confucianism guided the practice of filial piety; in early modern Japan, it was familial Buddhism and the danka system that guided filial piety. Some Confucian critics thought that it would be ridiculous to relegate the ritual control of filial piety to Buddhist monks who were, after all, required to “leave the family” (shukke) and to renounce ordinary family life (e.g., with the exception of Jōdoshinshū monks, they could not marry and were detached from their families). Nonetheless, under the danka system, Buddhist monks played a crucial role in promoting filial piety by offering death-related rituals and various forms of ancestor worship. Confucianism, for its part, had no place in the ritual practices associated with filial piety in early modern Japan.

The Buddhist Temple as a Space of Relief and Comfort

In early modern Japan, it was common that crowds of visitors to famous Buddhist temples were engaged in sightseeing and leisure as well as prayer. Visitors were attracted to storytelling halls, vendor stalls, teahouses, archery halls, street circuses, and the like that were often set up on or around temple compounds and catered to those who sought diversions from their daily routines. The fascination of well-known Buddhist temples lay not only in their opportunities for prayer but also in their opportunities for play. Although this phenomenon did not just emerge in early modern times, its popularity increased significantly, representing a different level of Buddhist adaptation.

Tokugawa Japan put a lot of stress on its population by subjecting it to its anti-Christian policy, its rigid status system, and its ethics; however, it also offered new opportunities for a better and peaceful life.13 For example, merchants and artisans in castle towns, including Edo and Osaka, were well positioned to capitalize on the consumption economy of urban centers, whereas peasants (villagers) found commercial agriculture conducive to their economic well-being. Unlike Japanese in the previous period, many early modern Japanese were able to take advantage of abundant resources and enjoy facilities in which to carry on leisure activities. Nevertheless, they were fully aware of the bounds of their individual behavior, and they were careful not to overstep them.

In 1687, the Tokugawa government decided to draw up a nationwide register of all former Kirishitan and their descendants and relatives and to subject everyone on it to special surveillance. This amounted to viewing all those related to former Kirishitan through blood or marriage as members of Kirishitan “family groups” (ruizoku).14 Upon the shogunal order, in the following year, all of the nation’s local domains began to submit to the bakufu two registers (one for survivors, the other for the dead) pertaining to Kirishitan ruizoku. These people were no longer Kirishitan, but they had to be scrutinized because they were descendants of former Kirishitan (often two or three generations removed). Once they were registered and accused of carrying the blood of Kirishitan, there was virtually no way for these innocent residents to avoid heavy social discrimination and annual inspection: they were strictly subjected to surveillance for five generations (if they were direct descendants of korobi Kirishitan) or three generations (if they were other ruizoku).15 When a ruizoku person died, the body was first salted and then handled after inspection according to government instructions. A familiar saying—“even a drop of Kirishitan blood will turn one’s blood from red to black”—was an alarming reality of which everyone was keenly aware.16 Indeed, to ensure mutual surveillance of the populace, the government organized all households into five-man group associations, which were collectively accountable for anti-Christianity and all other government regulations and exhortations.

Early modern Japanese society did not allow much free space for individual life. To claim membership in the community, villagers were required to cooperate and to collectively subject themselves to that institution. For example, tax payment was the responsibility of the village as a whole, so individual evasion or negligence was all but impossible. The head of the household was considered a “public man who was required to participate in the management of the village as the representative of his household.”17 The survival of individual households and their members was part of a system of mutual support as well as mutual surveillance, from the communal use and maintenance of natural resources (e.g., water, firewood, and pastures) to various government regulations. Every household was assigned a social status, and everyone was required to abide by what was expected in terms of ethical and social behavior. The social structure was superimposed on individuals and was not to be questioned.

Tokugawa leaders insisted that the ideal social order could be achieved only when each social class dutifully carried out its designated function. The assumption was that society was a zero-sum game—an increase in one place could come only as the result of a decrease in another place. Tokugawa leaders were, therefore, most concerned with the possible erosion of the benefits and privileges of the ruling class, “not only in their functions, but also in the quality of their dress, food, and housing, in behavior and speech, and in intellectual and cultural activities.”18 By the mid-18th century, however, Japanese society had lost some of its class-bound cultural distinctions. This was due to the progression of a commercial economy that created new jobs in commerce, trade, transportation, construction, processing, small enterprise, and entertainment, all of which benefited commoners. In contrast, the samurai class in the lower echelons became increasingly impoverished.

The new economic situation encouraged commoners to seek opportunities for learning, stress release, and fun. Religious sites, particularly Buddhist temples, which remained relatively free of the social structure of governance, became receptive to, and supportive of, much of what the commoners now wanted. Buddhist priests taught reading and writing to local children, as did Shinto priests and other commoner teachers. As time progressed, what were usually referred to as terakoya (“temple schools”) proliferated as many Buddhist temples offered their spaces as centers of learning for local children. For local residents involved in village conflicts and fearing official or personal reprisal, Buddhist temples offered safe spaces (at least temporarily). In a custom known as “entering the temple” (terairi or nyūji), threatened individuals could sequester themselves within a local temple for protection and then ask the abbot to mediate a negotiated resolution to the problem through a process involving apology or repentance.19

To be sure, Jōdoshinshū followers wove Amida worship into their conservative ethical life and were conciliatory, even subservient, toward secular power. Stories of myōkōnin (the highest honor in Jōdoshinshū) invariably affirmed that faith should be kept in the Amida Buddha, one’s filial duty to parents must be fulfilled, and loyalty to one’s lord must be maintained.20 Buddhist teachings emphasizing hard work, ancestor veneration, and frugality shored up the principles of social order, and thus secular and religious interests were merged. However, over time commoners gained more confidence in their individual lives, choosing to pursue their own notions of ethical virtue and their own economic interests, albeit within the bounds of the existing social structure.

In the late 17th century, Ihara Saikaku (b. 1642–d. 1693) and Chikamatsu Monzaemon (b. 1653–d. 1724) captured the emerging spirit of commercialism, according to which status was gauged by the medium of money, meaning that a social hierarchy based upon “given” status and privilege was no longer valid.21 By the late 18th century, as Yasumaru Yoshio suggests, in the consciousness of a commoner “business and morality were reconciled, and economic salvation and moral salvation became interchangeable.”22 Buddhist temples, due to their liminal position in society, played a vital role in cementing this equation: they served as a relief valve enabling the cultural energies of the populace to be released and regenerated.

The Buddhist Culture of Prayer

Biographies of rebirth in the “pure land” (ōjōden), compiled and circulated by Pure Land Buddhists, stressed the chanting of nenbutsu. Previously, chanting nenbutsu had been a common practice and was a prayer dedicated to ensuring rebirth in the pure land. Interestingly, the ōjōden in early modern Japan highlighted ethical values useful for life in this world rather than what might be useful for life in the after-death world.23 The vibrant print culture of early modern Japan ushered in a publication boom for Buddhist texts, including the Tripitaka, didactic treatises, Buddhist hagiographies, sectarian histories, ritual manuals, temple chronicles, and miraculous stories. Many of these publications inspired the populace to pursue prayer in their search for a better life.24

Buddhist temples, which housed a variety of supernatural beings such as buddhas, bodhisattvas, “wisdom kings” (myōō), and deva (heavenly deities), were predominantly places of prayer. In early modern Japan, these Buddhist deities were readily accessible without having to go through formal procedures or incurring financial burdens. At any time, visitors could satisfy their religious needs, unhampered by status or name, by tossing a few copper coins into a box placed in front of a Buddhist hall. It became common for Buddhist temples to install boxes for saisen (“offertory coins”) so that worshippers could make casual offerings and then offer prayers on their own.

Unlike in the previous period, in Tokugawa Japan people’s concerns increasingly shifted toward what was commonly characterized as the pursuit of genze riyaku (literally, “this-worldly benefits”), or ad hoc solutions to worldly problems, rather than concentrating on “Buddhism’s transcendent dimension.”25 They wrestled with their daily issues in the context of the here and now rather than in the context of the next life, and they sought divine help for their problems through prayer to Buddhist deities.26 Prayer guidebooks such as the Shinbutsu gankake chōhōki (Record of accumulated treasures by prayer to deities and buddhas), which, in the early 19th century, were published one after the other, offered specific advice on which prayers should be directed toward which deities.27

Early modern Japanese were particularly eager to seek a divine cure to any disease that was beyond their control or comprehension. Medical knowledge and effective medicines were limited, and, when available, medical services were often far beyond financial reach. Epidemics would occur and spread quickly. Outbreaks of smallpox, often in combination with measles and other diseases, were extensive and devastating. Young children in particular were vulnerable to smallpox, which was the primary cause of infant mortality. The mortality rate reached an incredibly high 70 to 75 percent in the early modern period.28

It should be noted that the prayer culture associated with this-worldly benefits was often related to the popularity of particular Buddhist images enshrined at famous Buddhist temples rather than with abstract ideas or Buddhist doctrines about divinity. The Asakusa Kannon of Sensōji exemplified how particular Buddhist images became the focus of popular prayer. The Asakusa Kannon refers to a tiny, allegedly gold statue (about five centimeters tall) of the Buddhist deity Avalokiteśvara (“Kannon” in Japanese), which is enshrined in a sealed container in the Main Hall of Sensōji. The story has it that this particular statue was found by two fishermen brothers on the eighteenth day of the third month of 628 in the Sumida River. According to the chronicle of Sensōji (the Buddhist temple that originated from the temporary shelter), the brothers enshrined the statue (given the name “Asakusa Kannon”) in a temporary shelter and offered it flowers.

In the Main Hall of Sensōji, flanking the Asakusa Kannon, six more Kannon images were enshrined, all of various sizes and all shoulder to shoulder. In addition to the Main Hall, Sensōji had five other halls in which a number of other Kannon images were also enshrined. But none of them was considered comparable in power and popularity to the Asakusa Kannon.29 Prayer at Sensōji was directed toward the Asakusa Kannon, not to other Kannon images.

Nowhere does Buddhist doctrine state that the efficacy of a prayer to a Buddhist deity is dependent on its being made to a particular statue of that deity. The twenty-fifth chapter of the Lotus Sūtra, widely circulated in Japan as an independent sutra under the title of Kannongyō (Fumonbon), explicitly discusses the degree of compassion exercised by Avalokiteśvara Bodhisattva (Kannon), stating that it reaches everyone and everywhere to save people from the “seven difficulties” (shichinan) and the “three poisons” (sandoku), and to grant the “two desires” (nikyū).30 Moreover, the Lotus Sūtra states that the salvific power of Avalokiteśvara is attainable by easy “paths” (igyō) and that, in responding to each request, it will appear in one of thirty-three forms, depending on which is the most suitable. The number thirty-three is a Buddhist metaphor for infinity and, thus, signifies the endlessness of Avalokiteśvara’s compassion.

However, such doctrinal hermeneutics fall short of explaining the spectacular popularity enjoyed by the tiny Asakusa Kannon statue at Sensōji. In fact, most Buddhist temples in Japan housed Kannon statues, but all Kannon images were not equally venerated. Buddhist temples never suffered from a dearth of divine statues, but only some of them, such as the Asakusa Kannon, attracted popular worship. The temples famed for prayer efficacy focused worship on a specific image of a specific Buddhist deity.

The story of the extraordinary religious power of the Asakusa Kannon informs us how Buddhist divinity was metamorphized into a material artifact, nurtured, and made popular within Japanese culture. Japanese believed that a deity, including a Buddhist one, manifested itself and its power in a more tangible and miraculous manner when it was worshipped at a designated “lodging place” (referred to as a yorishiro) and at a designated time.31 Unlike in Buddhist culture in China or Korea, for example, Japanese Buddhist culture paid strict attention to the specific yorishiro in which a Buddhist deity would manifest itself and respond to prayer. So, for example, in the case of the yorishiro of the Asakusa Kannon, the Buddhist deity would manifest itself there and only there. The existence of a particular statue associated with a particular deity and its particular religious efficacy was at the center of popular prayer in early modern Japan.

Similarly, Japanese believed that the epiphany offered by a deity would be more tangibly felt and that its salvific power would be better ensured if they worshipped it on particular dates—known as ennichi (“connection day”). In traditional Buddhism, any day that one worships a Buddhist deity is one’s connection day, and the religious merit gained by worshipping the deity does not vary by date. But this was often not the case in Japanese Buddhist culture. For example, Sensōji Buddhists promoted the idea that, by worshipping the Asakusa Kannon on the anniversary of the day on which the statue was discovered (the eighteenth day of the third month), one would acquire far greater religious merit than one would have done on an ordinary day. Furthermore, the connection day for the Asakusa Kannon was expanded in two ways: (1) it went from being a yearly to a monthly event, and (2) new quasi-connection days were created as merit-making dates and were added to or overlapped with the regular monthly dates.32 So constructed, famous Buddhist divinities (images) were widely promoted through chronicles, miraculous stories, advertisements, special events, and word of mouth.

Japanese tended to pay attention to new Buddhist deities in accordance with their fame and popularity. There was even a sporadic phenomenon that some scholars dub hayarigami shinkō (literally, “belief in fashionable deities”). According to the fashion of the day, people moved from one deity to another or from one temple to another. According to Miyata Noboru, Japanese in the early modern period created a new divinity either through the process of matsuri age (“to worship and then send up”) or through the process of matsuri sute (“to worship and then send off”). In other words, deification involved two stages: (1) granting divinity to any object that possessed uncommon power by paying “homage” (matsutte) to it; and (2) “sending it up” (ageru) if it was benevolent or “sending it off” (suteru) (i.e., outside the community) if it was malevolent.33 The process of deification was so malleable that, in theory, any Buddhist object could be installed as a deity (usually in the form of an image) if it was believed to possess extraordinary power.

Perhaps kaichō events spoke most vividly to how popular prayer evolved in the early modern period. Kaichō (literally, “opening of a curtain”), which has no direct counterpart in other countries, refers to the special public exhibition of a hibutsu (“secret Buddha”) that is otherwise enshrined in a sealed “receptacle” (zushi) and kept “secret” behind its “curtain.” A kaichō is therefore a special religious event that provides an opportunity for worshippers to come face to face with a secret Buddhist statue, achieve an epiphany, and then appeal directly to its compassion.34 A kaichō could be held either at the home temple or at an outside temple. In early modern Japan, there were many secret Buddhas (including those in Jōdoshinshū and Nichirenshū) (more than five hundred in total), and those renowned for their religious efficacy attracted crowds of worshippers when kaichō events were held for fundraising or other purposes. The religiosity of Japanese, not necessarily bound by a particular locality or sectarian affiliation, ensured the prosperity of many Buddhist temples (e.g., Zenkōji in Nagano, Seiryōji and Kiyomizudera in Kyoto, Hannyaji and Hasedera in Nara, Zuiganji Godaidō in Matsushima, Mōtsūji in Hiraizumi, and Shinshōji in Narita) that were blessed with unusual secret or quasi-secret Buddhist images.

Buddhist Soteriology Beyond Prayer

Beyond trying to understand the hermeneutics of the prayer rituals in which they were engaged, prayer patrons, after conducting their worship, usually wanted tangible proof of the deity’s fame and efficacy. A Buddhist deity was more meaningful to prayer patrons when they could possess palpable objects that they believed embodied its mysterious power and salvific efficacy.35 Such objects—“talismans” (ofuda), “amulets” (omamori), and “votive offerings” (kumotsu)—could be bought at or were distributed by prayer temples.36 It was commonly believed that these products embodied the supernatural power of Buddhist deities and that when properly carried or placed, they protected their holders from misfortune and helped them to realize their wishes.37 Buddhist doctrines of salvation came in material form. This being the case, Japanese in early modern Japan traveled widely in search of sacred objects.

With the increasing number of popular Buddhist deities, pilgrimage courses that connected famous religious sites, known as “numinous places” (reijō), were created and multiplied. Among the renowned tours of such places were the three separate circuits of Kannon sanctuaries that were regionally grouped in Kansai (thirty-three sites), Kantō (thirty-three sites), and Chichibu (thirty-four sites) and mutually connected as a set of one hundred sites of Kannon; the Kumano pilgrimage courses; and the eighty-eight sanctuaries of Kūkai in Shikoku. Pilgrimage to a particular site, such as Ōyama in Sagami, Narita Shinshōji in Narita, Zenkōji in Nagano, Kōyasan, and Haguro, also boomed thanks to the active promotion of oshi (religious managers/guides), who maintained and controlled an elaborate network of patrons (dannaba) in local areas and brought them to their affiliated Buddhist temples (and Shinto shrines).

Over time, circuits of pilgrimage sites proliferated and were replicated throughout the country, sometimes redundantly and haphazardly, thus creating numerous miniature circuits. For example, in the 1730s, a new pilgrimage circuit of thirty-three Kannon sanctuaries was created in Edo, and in the 1830s another was created in the Asakusa district. To a great extent, these “localized amulet-issuing circuits,” all conveniently arranged within the boundaries of Edo (or even within the district of Asakusa), eased the burden of traditional pilgrimage, which required at least a month or two as well as money for accommodations and meals.38

Making a pilgrimage to Buddhist sites provided people with a good excuse to take refuge from the tedium of daily life and to enjoy the pleasure of travel, sightseeing, street markets, and local attractions. The zeal with which local branch temples sent their local patrons to their head temples helped to transform the latter into “famous places” (meisho) that should be visited.39 The Tokugawa bakufu, which initially tried to control the movements of people by requiring travelers to possess “passports” (ōrai tegata), eased up the regulation as the distinctions between “visiting a temple or shrine” (jisha mōde) and “making a tour of noted places” (meisho meguri) became blurred.40 Indeed, travel took various forms, ranging from a months-long pilgrimage to a remote place to a casual, day-long outing to a destination within walking distance. Some critics lamented that, caught up in the sweep of “seeing things and playing outdoors” (monomi yusan), even “virtuous” housewives rarely stayed at home.41

As the tourism industry promoted the package tour to a wide swath of the populace, travel became even more pleasure oriented. Responding to market demands, new hostelry chains soon entered the travel business and paved the way for a tourism boom. Along with these industries, easily available travel guidebooks boosted the pleasure tour. Prayer was still the tatemae (“principle”), but it was an open secret that, for most travelers, asobi (“play”) was the honne (“real intention”).42 Buddhism fully embraced play.

It is no wonder that the precincts of many Buddhist temples and their “front districts” (monzen) were easily transformed into “bustling zones” (sakariba) of play (albeit tinged with Buddhist sacrality), where peripatetic preachers, mountain ascetics, itinerant artisans, vagabond artists, peddlers, storytellers, misemono (“display of things”) sellers, and even social outcasts gathered and made a living.43 Buddhist temple compounds served as “unconnected-to-anything” (muen) sites—a Buddhist term that signified a state of freedom that one could enjoy without being terribly hampered by social restrictions.


Buddhist institutions were integral to the governing apparatus of the Tokugawa regime and its anti-Christian practices, and Buddhist priests were the vanguard agents of “family values” tied to the danka system. Far more than any other religious tradition, Buddhism was politically opportunistic, socially oriented, family centered, and culturally accommodating. In 1872, the Meiji government introduced a new family registration system to replace the anti-Christian inspection that had helped to cement funerary Buddhism in Tokugawa Japan.44 Despite the new regime’s anti-Buddhist policy, funerary Buddhism survived.

However, in Meiji Japan, Buddhism was no longer convenient as a venue for an alternative lifeworld. Meiji leaders and their supporters condemned Buddhism as an obstacle on the path of “civilization and enlightenment” (bunmei kaika), and they implemented harsh measures against Buddhist institutions and clerics, including separating Shinto and Buddhism (shinbutsu bunri), moving to “abolish the Buddha and discard Śākyamuni” (haibutsu kishasku), and confiscating agricultural lands from Buddhist temples. They ushered in a truly traumatic time for Buddhist temples, many of which were transformed into Shinto shrines, destroyed, or abandoned along with their possessions. Small temples were merged with bigger ones, and all temple properties were severely depleted.45

Buddhist clerics and their institutions struggled to adapt to this hostile environment. It was not an age for people to turn to offering Buddhist prayers to solve their individual problems; rather, they were expected to adapt to the new society, which was now, like Buddhism, being subjected to structural reform. In other words, problems were now considered to reside in the social structure rather than in individuals. Buddhist prayer culture, which lost much of its customer base, took many decades to recover. Indeed, it did not fully recover until the economic boom after World War II.

Primary Sources

Early modern Japan was the home of a publication boom, and a majority of these publications were Buddhist materials related to scriptures, treatises, chronicles, didactic pieces, and ritual manuals. As well as being published, many materials were hand-copied, circulated, and shelved at temples or in households. Source materials on early modern Buddhism are vast and diverse, beyond anyone’s easy grasp and widely diffused throughout Japan. In addition, more and more materials continue to be uncovered, and only a tiny portion of them have been catalogued and made available to the public for research.

For more than fifteen years, for example, a research team led by Tamamuro Fumio has worked to catalogue the documents that Sōjiji in Noto preserved, and most of them pertain to early modern Buddhism. The items listed in the compiled catalogue number more than thirty-three thousand. Some documents are hundreds of pages in length. None of these handwritten documents is available in print, and, so far, research based upon them has resulted in no more than a few journal articles and book chapters and a couple of books, all in Japanese. Of course, source materials for research on early modern Buddhism are not limited to temple documents such as those owned by Sōjiji.

Depending on which subject one pursues, relevant primary sources differ greatly. Some people tend to think that, in order to study Japanese Buddhism, they need to delve into Buddhist scriptures and Japanese annotations. Others bypass the doctrinal side of Buddhism and instead pay attention to its daily practice as perceived by laypeople. The study of early modern Japanese Buddhism could go in many different directions, including doctrinal inquiry, institutional history, sectarian hermeneutics, Buddhism and the state, social history, popular culture, art history, Buddhism and gender, and interactions with other religious traditions.

One characteristic of early modern Japanese Buddhism is a lack of sectarian distinction with regard to key religious functions, whether death rituals, prayer, or interactions with local customs (Jōdoshinshū being, to some extent, an exception). This means that there would have been no urgency to explore Buddhist scriptures specific to early modern Japanese Buddhism nor would there have been a compelling need to examine distinct sectarian doctrines. Given that Buddhism penetrated people’s daily lives and was interlaced with folklore and local customs and manners, it would be useful to be aware of the relationship between early modern Buddhism and the Tokugawa governing system—a system that not only conditioned people’s everyday lives but also framed the raison d’être of all their institutions. The following section lists some select primary sources and groups them in terms of potential research themes.

Sectarian/Individual Institutions

Edo bakufu jiin honmatsuchō shūsei 江戸幕府寺院本末帳集成‎. Tokyo, Japan: Yūzankaku shuppan, 1981.

Kinsei jiin shiryō sōsho 近世寺院史料叢書‎. Tokyo, Japan: Tōyō bunka shuppan, 1985–1986. Meiji ishin shinbutsu bunri shiryō 明治維新神仏分離史料‎. Tokyo, Japan: Tōbō shoin, 1928. Nanzenji monjo 南禅寺文書‎. Kyoto, Japan: Nanzenji shūmu honjo, 1972–1978.

Sensōji nikki 浅草寺日記‎. Tokyo, Japan: Kinryūsan Sensōji, 1979–2016.

Sensōjishi 浅草寺志‎. Tokyo, Japan: Sensōji shuppankai, 1939, 1942.

Shingonshū zensho 真言宗全書‎ and Zoku Shingonshū zensho 続真言宗全書‎. Kōyasan, Japan: Shingonshū zensho kankōkai, 1933–1939; 1975–1988.

Shinshū shiryō shūsei 真宗史料集成‎. Kyoto, Japan: Dōhōsha, 1974.

Taikei Shinshū shiryō 大系真宗史料‎. Kyoto, Japan: Hōzōkan, 2006–2017.

Tendaishū zensho天台宗全書‎. Tokyo, Japan: Daiichi shobō, 1973–1974.

Yugyō nikkan 遊行日鑑‎. Tokyo, Japan: Kadokawa shoten, 1977–1979.

Yūtenjishi shiryōshū祐天寺史資料集‎. Tokyo, Japan: Daitō shuppansha, 2002–2014.

Zōjōji shiryōshū 増上寺史料集‎. Tokyo, Japan: Zōjōji shiryō hensanjo, 1983–1984.

Zoku Jōdoshū zensho続浄土宗全書‎. Tokyo, Japan: Shūsho hozonkai, 1915–1925.

Buddhism, Politics, and the State

Edo machibure shūsei 江戸町触集成‎. Tokyo, Japan: Hanawa shobō, 1994–2003.

Gofunai jisha bikō 御府内寺社備考‎. Tokyo, Japan: Meicho shuppan, 1987.

Honkō kokushi nikki 本光国師日記‎. Tokyo, Japan: Zoku gunsho ruijū kanseikai, 1966–1971. Kinsei hōsei shiryō sōsho 近世法制史料叢書‎. Tokyo, Japan: Sōbunsha, 1940.

Koji ruien 古事類苑‎. Tokyo, Japan: Yoshikawa kōbunkan, 1967.

Nagasaki Hiradomachi ninbetsuchō 長崎平戸町人別帳‎. Fukuoka, Japan: Kyūshū shiryō kankōkai, 1965.

Nihon shūkyō seido shiryō ruijūkō 日本宗教制度史料類聚考‎. Kyoto, Japan: Rinsen shoten, 1974.

Ofuregaki shūsei 御触書集成‎. Tokyo, Japan: Iwanami shoten, 1976.

Rokuon nichiroku 鹿苑日録‎. Tokyo, Japan: Zoku gunsho ruijū kanseikai, 1991.

Shūkyō seido chōsa shiryō 宗教制度調査資料‎. Tokyo, Japan: Hara shobō, 1977.

Tokugawa kinreikō 徳川禁令考‎. Tokyo, Japan: Shihōshō shomuka, 1895.

Buddhism, Society, and Economy

Enkiridera Mantokuji shiryōshū 縁切寺満徳寺史料集‎. Tokyo, Japan: Seibundō, 1976. Kankoku kōgiroku 官刻孝義録‎. Tokyo, Japan: Tōkyōdō shuppan, 1999.

Kawachiya Yoshimasa kyūki河内屋可正旧記‎. Osaka, Japan: Seibundō shuppan, 2015–2017. Kinsei ōjōden shūsei 近世往生伝集成‎. Tokyo, Japan: Yamakawa shuppansha, 1979.

Morisada mankō 守貞漫稿‎. Tokyo, Japan: Kokugakuin daigaku shuppanbu, 1908.

Oshioki reiruishū koruishū 御仕置例類集 古類集‎. Tokyo, Japan: Meicho shuppan, 1971. Taikei Shinshū shiryō: denkihen 8 (myōkōninden) 大系真宗史料:伝記編8(妙好人伝‎). Kyoto, Japan: Hōzōkan, 2009.

Zenkoku minji kanrei ruishū 全国民事慣例類集‎. Tokyo, Japan: Seishisha, 1976.

Buddhism, Popular Culture, and Folklore

Bukkyō gyōji saijiki 仏教行事歳時記‎. Tokyo, Japan: Daiichi hōki shuppan, 1988.

Bukō nenpyō武江年表‎. Tokyo, Japan: Kokusho kankōkai, 1925.

Edo meisho zue 江戸名所図絵‎. Tokyo, Japan: Jinbutsu ōraisha, 1967.

Nihon shomin bunka shiryō shūsei 8: yose misemono日本庶民文化史料集成8:寄席 見世物‎. Tokyo, Japan: San’ichi shobō, 1976.

Nihon shomin seikatsu shiryō shūsei 18: minkan shūkyō 日本庶民生活史料集成18:民間宗教‎. Tokyo, Japan: San’ichi shobō, 1972.

Seji kenbunroku 世事見聞録‎, 1816.

Shokoku fūzoku toijō kotae 諸国風俗問状答‎ (in Nihon shomin seikatsu shiryō shūsei 日本庶民生活史料集成‎). Tokyo, Japan: San’ichi shobō, 1969.

Shinkō sōsho 信仰叢書‎. Tokyo, Japan: Kokusho kankōkai, 1915.

Tōkyō fūzokushi 東京風俗志‎. Tokyo, Japan: Nihon tosho senta, 1983.

Zoku Nihon zuihitsu taisei bakkan 11: Minkan fūzoku nenchū gyōji 続日本随筆大成別巻11:民間風俗年中行事‎. Tokyo, Japan: Yoshikawa kōbunkan, 1983.

Discussion of the Literature

Compared with works (in English) on medieval Buddhism, those on early modern Buddhism are lacking not only in quantity but also in quality. As in other areas of research in Japanese studies, Japanese scholarship leads research on early modern Buddhism—a reality largely attributable to the fact that Japanese scholars are better positioned than others to glean data from source materials. They have relatively easy access to a variety of primary materials (handwritten source materials are not easily available) and obviously command the linguistic skills needed to understand and examine them. English-language scholars are endeavoring to catch up with their Japanese peers.

Monographs devoted to Buddhism in early modern Japan are scarce, although the topics they cover address many important issues pertaining to Buddhism and society. Through his case studies of a few Sōtōshū temples, Duncan Williams’s The Other Side of Zen: A Social History of Sōtō Zen Buddhism in Tokugawa Japan discusses how Buddhist clerics and laypeople/families interacted with regard to funerary practice, prayer service, devotional activity, and the use of herbal pills. By discussing spatial symbolism, clerical education, public patronage, pilgrimage, and ritualists and guides involved in the management of lay devotees and networks, Barbara Ambros’s Emplacing Pilgrimage: The Ōyama Cult and Regional Religion in Early Modern Japan sheds light on the Ōyama cult, which boomed in the early modern period. Nam-lin Hur’s Prayer and Play in Late Tokugawa Japan: Asakusa Sensōji and Edo Society focuses on Asakusa Sensōji in the latter half of the early modern period and explores how the dual activities of prayer and play unfolded in Edo against a backdrop of politics, economics, and cultural tradition. In another book, Death and Social Order in Tokugawa Japan: Buddhism, Anti-Christianity, and the Danka System Hur traces how funerary Buddhism came to dominate the populace and how it reflected (and was projected onto) the politics, economy, society, and culture of early modern Japan.

Interestingly, Obaku Zen Buddhism has received relatively intense scholarly attention. Helen Baroni’s Obaku Zen: The Emergence of the Third Sect of Zen in Tokugawa Japan details how this branch of Zen Buddhism, which originated in China, took root in Japan as a distinctive institution whose focus was on the establishment of Manpukuji, its main monastery, which owed much to the patronage of the bakufu and imperial family. In comparison, Jiang Wu’s Leaving for the Rising Sun: Chinese Zen Master Yinyuan and the Authenticity Crisis in Early Modern East Asia pays attention to the transmission of the Linji Chan to Japan by examining the Buddhist practice and thought of Yinyuan, the founder of Obaku, in the context of the Ming-Qing transition. Regarding individual Buddhist clerics, Gina Cogan’s The Princess Nun: Bunchi, Buddhist Reform, and Gender in Early Edo Japan, written in the context of women and society, examines the life of the nun known as Bunchi (b. 1619–d. 1697), a daughter of Emperor Go-Mizunoo, who founded a Rinzai Zen nunnery called Enshōji. On the other hand, Helen Hardacre’s Religion and Society in Nineteenth-Century Japan: A Study of the Southern Kantō Region, Using Late Edo and Early Meiji Gazetteers homed in on an area west of Edo and provides a detailed description of religious institutions (including Buddhist temples) in the 1830s to 1840s in terms of governance, inter-institutional interactions, popular religious life, and economics.

It should be noted that Buddhism in early modern Japan was deeply intertwined with Shinto, Shugendō, and folklore. Sarah Thal’s Rearranging the Landscape of the Gods: The Politics of a Pilgrimage Site in Japan, 1573–1912 shows how Konpira, originally a Shinto deity, was associated with Pure Land Buddhist worship and thereby attracted crowds of worshippers as a deity that could ensure seafaring safety. Miyake Hitoshi’s The Mandala of the Mountain: Shugendō and Folk Religion traces what happened between Buddhism and Shugendō. Books on Buddhism and art related to early modern Japan include Gregory Levine’s Daitokuji: The Visual Cultures of a Zen Monastery, Patricia Graham’s Faith and Power in Japanese Buddhist Art, 1600–2005, and John Rosenfield’s Preserving the Dharma: Hōzan Tankai and Japanese Buddhist Art of the Early Modern Era. Although not fully devoted to early modern Japanese Buddhism, Sarah Horton’s Living Buddhist Statues in Early Medieval and Modern Japan offers a useful perspective for understanding worship directed toward Buddhist deities (Amida, Kannon, Jizō, and secret Buddhas). Similarly, Fabio Rambelli’s Buddhist Materiality: A Cultural History of Objects in Japanese Buddhism enlightens students of Japanese Buddhism with a discussion of material objects (including ritual implements, icons, and sacred texts) through which Japanese shaped and practiced their Buddhist ideas and beliefs.

Journal articles and book chapters on Buddhist deities, faith and devotion, Zen practice, Buddhist–Shinto amalgamation, and/or patronage include Duncan Williams’s “Edo-Period Tales of the Healing Jizō Bodhisattva: A Translation of Enmei Jizōson Inkō Riyakuki,” Patricia Graham’s “Naritasan Shinshōji and Commoner Patronage during the Edo Period,” Michel Mohr’s “Zen Buddhism During the Tokugawa Period: The Challenge to Go Beyond Sectarian Consciousness,” Bernhard Scheid’s “‘Both Parts’ or ‘Only One’? Challenges to the Honji suijaku Paradigm in the Edo Period,” and Alexander Vesey’s “For Faith and Prestige: Daimyo Motivations for Buddhist Patronage.” For their part, Alexander Vesey’s “Entering the Temple: Priests, Peasants, and Village Contention in Tokugawa Japan” and “Temples, Timber, and Negotiations: Buddhist-lay Relations in Early Modern Japan through the Prism of Conflicts over Mountain Resources,” Anne Dutton’s “Temple Divorce in Tokugawa Japan: A Survey of Documentation on Tōkeiji and Mantokuji,” Diana Wright’s “Mantokuji: More Than a ‘Divorce Temple’,” Sachiko Kaneko Morrell and Robert Morrell’s Zen Sanctuary of Purple Robes: Japan’s Tokeiji Convent Since 1285,” and Fabian Drixler’s “The Politics of Migration in Tokugawa Japan: The Eastward Expansion of Shin Buddhism” examine roles of Buddhist temples in village life, divorce, and/or migration. Studies of individual Buddhist temples, sects, priests, and Buddhist legends include those by Barbara Ambros’s “Shingon Buddhism in the Early Modern Period,” Kevin Bond’s “Of Saints and Blood: The Narita Buddhist Sword Cult in Edo Japan,” Paul Watt’s “Body, Gender, and Society in Jiun Sonja’s (1718-1804) Buddhism,” and George Keyworth’s “‘Study Effortless-Action’: Rethinking Northern Song Chinese Chan Buddhism in Edo Japan.” Others, such as Eiki Hoshino’s “Pilgrimage and Peregrination: Contextualizing the Saikoku Junrei and the Shikoku Henro,” Max Deeg’s “Komusō and ‘Shakuhachi-Zen’—From Historical Legitimation to the Spiritualisation of a Buddhist Denomination in the Edo Period,” Barbara Ambros’s “The Display of Hidden Treasures: Zenkōji’s Kaichō at Ekōin in Edo,” Nam-lin Hur’s “Invitation to the Secret Buddha of Zenkōji: Kaichō and Religious Culture in Early Modern Japan,” Mark MacWilliams’s “Temple Myths and the Popularization of Kannon Pilgrimage in Japan: A Case Study of Ōya-ji on the Bandō Route,” and Toshikazu Shinno’s “Journeys, Pilgrimages, Excursions: Religious Travels in the Early Modern Period,” delve into Buddhism and pilgrimage, peripatetic Buddhists, and/or kaichō events. On issues relating to how Buddhism in early modern Japan later came to be viewed so negatively and subjected to suppression, Orion Klautau’s “Against the Ghosts of Recent Past: Meiji Scholarship and the Discourse on Edo-Period Buddhist Decadence” and Martin Collcutt’s “Buddhism: The Threat of Eradication” offer useful information.

Despite all these aforementioned works, a vast number of source materials remain untapped. So topics for future research are almost limitless. In addition, many topics that Japanese scholars have actively explored are not fully reflected in English-language scholarship. Buddhism in early modern Japan is a field of research that offers promising opportunities for those who have the language skills, the mental agility, and the desire to enter it.

Further Reading

Ambros, Barbara. Emplacing Pilgrimage: The Ōyama Cult and Regional Religion in Early Modern Japan. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center, 2008.Find this resource:

    Ambros, Barbara. “Shingon Buddhism in the Early Modern Period.” In Esoteric Buddhism and the Tantras in East Asia. Edited by Charles D. Orzech, Henrik H. Sørensen, and Richard K. Payne, 1009–1017. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2011.Find this resource:

      Ambros, Barbara. “The Display of Hidden Treasures: Zenkōji’s Kaichō at Ekōin in Edo.” Asian Cultural Studies 30 (2004): 1–26.Find this resource:

        Baroni, Helen J. Obaku Zen: The Emergence of the Third Sect of Zen in Tokugawa Japan. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2000.Find this resource:

          Bond, Kevin. “Of Saints and Blood: The Narita Buddhist Sword Cult in Edo Japan.” Bulletin of the School of Oriental & African Studies 77, no. 2 (2014): 313–335.Find this resource:

            Cogan, Gina. The Princess Nun: Bunchi, Buddhist Reform, and Gender in Early Edo Japan. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center, 2014.Find this resource:

              Collcutt, Martin. “Buddhism: The Threat of Eradication.” In Japan in Transition: From Tokugawa to Meiji. Edited by Marius B. Jansen and Gilbert Rozman, 143–167, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1986.Find this resource:

                Deeg, Max. “Komusō and ‘Shakuhachi-Zen’—From Historical Legitimation to the Spiritualisation of a Buddhist Denomination in the Edo Period.” Japanese Religions 32, nos. 1–2 (2007): 7–38.Find this resource:

                  Drixler, Fabian. “The Politics of Migration in Tokugawa Japan: The Eastward Expansion of Shin Buddhism.” Journal of Japanese Studies 42, no. 1 (2016): 1–28.Find this resource:

                    Dutton, Anne. “Temple Divorce in Tokugawa Japan: A Survey of Documentation on Tōkeiji and Mantokuji.” In Engendering Faith: Women and Buddhism in Premodern Japan. Edited by Barbara Ruch, 209–245. Ann Arbor: Center for Japanese Studies, University of Michigan, 2002.Find this resource:

                      Graham, Patricia Jane. Faith and Power in Japanese Buddhist Art, 1600–2005. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2007.Find this resource:

                        Graham, Patricia Jane. “Naritasan Shinshōji and Commoner Patronage during the Edo Period.” Early Modern Japan 12, no. 2 (2004): 11–25.Find this resource:

                          Hardacre, Helen. Religion and Society in Nineteenth-Century Japan: A Study of the Southern Kantō Region, Using Late Edo and Early Meiji Gazetteers. Ann Arbor: Center for Japanese Studies, University of Michigan, 2002.Find this resource:

                            Horton, Sarah J. Living Buddhist Statues in Early Medieval and Modern Japan. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007.Find this resource:

                              Hoshino, Eiki. “Pilgrimage and Peregrination: Contextualizing the Saikoku Junrei and the Shikoku Henro.” Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 24, no. 3–4 (1997): 271–299.Find this resource:

                                Hur, Nam-lin. Death and Social Order in Tokugawa Japan: Buddhism, Anti-Christianity, and the Danka System. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center, 2007.Find this resource:

                                  Hur, Nam-lin. “Invitation to the Secret Buddha of Zenkōji Kaichō and Religious Culture in Early Modern Japan.” Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 36, no. 1 (2009): 45–64.Find this resource:

                                    Hur, Nam-lin. Prayer and Play in Late Tokugawa Japan: Asakusa Sensōji and Edo Society. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center, 2000.Find this resource:

                                      Keyworth, George A. “‘Study Effortless-Action’: Rethinking Northern Song Chinese Chan Buddhism in Edo Japan.” Journal of Religion in Japan 6, no. 2 (2017): 75–106.Find this resource:

                                        Klautau, Orion. “Against the Ghosts of Recent Past: Meiji Scholarship and the Discourse on Edo-Period Buddhist Decadence.” Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 35, no. 2 (2008): 263–303.Find this resource:

                                          Levine, Gregory P. A. Daitokuji: The Visual Cultures of a Zen Monastery. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2005.Find this resource:

                                            MacWilliams, Mark W. “Temple Myths and the Popularization of Kannon Pilgrimage in Japan: A Case Study of Ōya-ji on the Bandō Route.” Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 24, nos. 3–4 (1997): 375–411.Find this resource:

                                              Miyake, Hitoshi. The Mandala of the Mountain: Shugendō and Folk Religion. Translated and edited by Gaynor Sekimori. Tokyo, Japan: Keio University Press, 2005.Find this resource:

                                                Mohr, Michel. “Zen Buddhism During the Tokugawa Period: The Challenge to Go Beyond Sectarian Consciousness.” Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 21, no. 4 (1994): 341–372.Find this resource:

                                                  Morrell, Sachiko Kaneko, and Robert E. Morrell. Zen Sanctuary of Purple Robes: Japan’s Tokeiji Convent Since 1285. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2006.Find this resource:

                                                    Rambelli, Fabio. Buddhist Materiality: A Cultural History of Objects in Japanese Buddhism. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2007.Find this resource:

                                                      Rosenfield, John M. Preserving the Dharma: Hōzan Tankai and Japanese Buddhist Art of the Early Modern Era. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2015.Find this resource:

                                                        Scheid, Bernhard. “‘Both Parts’ or ‘Only One’? Challenges to the Honji suijaku paradigm in the Edo Period.” In Buddhas and Kami in Japan: Honji suijaku as a Combinatory Paradigm, edited by Mark Teeuwen and Fabio Rambelli, 204–221. London, U.K., and New York, NY: Routledge, 2002.Find this resource:

                                                          Shinno, Toshikazu. “Journeys, Pilgrimages, Excursions: Religious Travels in the Early Modern Period.” Monumenta Nipponica 57, no. 4 (2002): 447–471.Find this resource:

                                                            Thal, Sarah. Rearranging the Landscape of the Gods: The Politics of a Pilgrimage Site in Japan, 1573–1912. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2005.Find this resource:

                                                              Vesey, Alexander M. “For Faith and Prestige: Daimyo Motivations for Buddhist Patronage,” Early Modern Japan 12, no. 2 (2004): 53–67.Find this resource:

                                                                Vesey, Alexander M. “Entering the Temple: Priests, Peasants, and Village Contention in Tokugawa Japan.” Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 28, no. 3–4 (2001): 293–328.Find this resource:

                                                                  Vesey, Alexander M. “Temples, Timber, and Negotiations: Buddhist-lay Relations in Early Modern Japan through the Prism of Conflicts over Mountain Resources.” Journal of the International Research Center for Japanese Studies 28 (2015): 67–101.Find this resource:

                                                                    Watt, Paul B. “Body, Gender, and Society in Jiun Sonja’s (1718–1804) Buddhism.” In Engendering Faith: Women and Buddhism in Premodern Japan. Edited by Barbara Ruch, 325–340. Ann Arbor: Center for Japanese Studies, University of Michigan, 2002.Find this resource:

                                                                      Williams, Duncan Ryūken. “Edo-Period Tales of the Healing Jizō Bodhisattva: A Translation of Enmei Jizōson Inkō Riyakuki.” Monumenta Nipponica 59, no. 4 (2004): 493–524.Find this resource:

                                                                        Williams, Duncan Ryūken. The Other Side of Zen: A Social History of Sōtō Zen Buddhism in Tokugawa Japan. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2005.Find this resource:

                                                                          Wright, Diana E. “Mantokuji: More than a ‘Divorce Temple.’” In Engendering Faith: Women and Buddhism in Premodern Japan. Edited by Barbara Ruch, 247–276. Ann Arbor: Center for Japanese Studies, University of Michigan, 2002.Find this resource:

                                                                            Wu, Jiang. Leaving for the Rising Sun: Chinese Zen Master Yinyuan and the Authenticity Crisis in Early Modern East Asia. Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press, 2014.Find this resource:


                                                                              (2.) Terakao Seiken, Edo hanjōki, 3 vols., 1832–1836, trans. Asakura Haruhiko and Andō Kikuji, Tōyō bunko 259 (Tokyo, Japan: Heibonsha, 1974), 63.

                                                                              (4.) For example, see Yanagita Kunio, “Senzo no hanashi,” in Teihon Yanagita Kunio shū, vol. 10, 1–157 (Tokyo, Japan: Chikuma shobō, 1969), 94–95.

                                                                              (5.) Ōkuwa Hitoshi, Kinsei no ōken to Bukkyō (Kyoto: Shibunkaku shuppan, 2015), 29–30.

                                                                              (6.) Hur, Death and Social Order, 49.

                                                                              (7.) Herman Ooms, Tokugawa Village Practice: Class, Status, Power, Law (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996), 356–357.

                                                                              (8.) For details, see Hur, Death and Social Order, 95–100.

                                                                              (9.) Matsuura Akira, “Shihai keitai to shūmon aratamechō kizai: Echizen no kuni o chūshin toshite,” in Tokugawa Nihon no kazoku to chiikisei: Rekishi jinkōgaku to no daiwa, ed. Ochiai Emiko, 411–433 (Kyoto: Mineruwa shobō, 2015), 411–412.

                                                                              (10.) Murakami Yasusuke, Bunmei toshite no ie shakai (Tokyo, Japan: Chūō kōronsha, 1979), 302–308.

                                                                              (11.) Hur, Death and Social Order, 201.

                                                                              (12.) Hirayama Toshijirō, “Kamidana to butsudan,” in Sōsō bosei kenkyū shūsei 3: Senzō kuyō, ed. Takeda Chōshū, 204–232 (Tokyo, Japan: Meicho shuppan, 1979), 225.

                                                                              (13.) Yanabu Akira, Hi no shisō: Nihon bunka no omote to ura (Tokyo, Japan: Hōsei daigaku shuppankyoku, 2002), 171–173.

                                                                              (14.) Ofuregaki Kanpō shūsei, ed. Takayanagi Shinzō and Ishii Ryōsuke (Tokyo, Japan: Iwanami shoten, 1976), 634–635.

                                                                              (15.) Tamamuro Fumio, Sōshiki to danka (Tokyo, Japan: Yoshikawa kōbunkan, 1999), 173–176.

                                                                              (16.) Tamamuro Fumio, Edo jidai no Sōtōshū no tenkai (Tokyo, Japan: Sōtōshū shūmuchō, 1999), 151–152.

                                                                              (17.) Ōtō Osamu, Kinsei nōmin to ie, mura, kokka: Seikatsushi, shakaishi no shiza kara (Tokyo, Japan: Yoshikawa kōbunkan, 1996), 412.

                                                                              (18.) Donald H. Shively, “Popular Culture,” in The Cambridge History of Japan, vol. 4: Early Modern Japan, ed. John Whitney Hall, 706–769 (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1991), 711.

                                                                              (19.) For more details, see Alexander M. Vessey, “Entering the Temple: Priests, Peasants, and Village Convention in Tokugawa Japan,” Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 28, no. 3–4 (2001): 309–310, 319–320.

                                                                              (20.) Oguri Junko, “Shinshū kyōdan no risōteki nenbutsushazō,” in Kinsei ōjōden no sekai, ed. Kasahara Kazuo, 175–252 (Tokyo, Japan: Iwanami shoten, 1973), 236–237.

                                                                              (21.) Hirota Masaki, “Kinsei no seijuku to kindai,” in Nihon no kinsei, 16, Minshū no kokoro, ed. Hirota Masaki, 295–330 (Tokyo, Japan: Chūō kōronsha, 1994), 321.

                                                                              (22.) Yasumaru Yoshio, Nihon no kindaika to minshū shisō (Tokyo, Japan: Aoki shoten, 1974), 35.

                                                                              (23.) Hur, Death and Social Order, 302–303.

                                                                              (24.) Sueki Fumihiko, Kinsei no Bukkyō: Hanahiraku shisō to bunka (Tokyo, Japan: Yoshikawa kōbunkan, 2010), 101–105.

                                                                              (26.) Hur, Prayer and Play, 203.

                                                                              (27.) Miyata Noboru, Hayarigami to minshū shuūkyō (Tokyo, Japan: Yoshikawa kōbunkan, 2006), 49–50.

                                                                              (28.) Ann Bowman Jannetta, Epidemics and Mortality in Early Modern Japan (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2014), 97–100; Kitō Hiroshi, Bunmei toshite no Edo shisutemu (Tokyo, Japan: Kōdansha, 2002), 81–95.

                                                                              (29.) Hur, Prayer and Play, 211.

                                                                              (30.) For details, see Gotō Daiyō, Kanzeon Bosatsu no kenkyū (Tokyo, Japan: Sankibō Butsu shorin, 1989), 167–189.

                                                                              (32.) For details, see Gotō, Kanzeon Bosatsu no kenkyū, 212.

                                                                              (33.) For details, see Miyata Noboru, Edo no chiisana kamigami (Tokyo, Japan: Seidosha, 1989), 80–93, and “Matsuri sute no ronri,” Rekishi kōron 3, no. 9 (1977): 65–72.

                                                                              (35.) Given the strong tradition of scripture worship in Japan in the form of sutra chanting and sutra copying, even “the sutras enter the stories as material artifacts endowed with magical power and not as carriers of hermeneutic meaning.” Rambelli, Buddhist Materiality, 103.

                                                                              (36.) For a detailed discussion of “material products” (commonly called gofu) of prayer in the context of Japanese religious culture, see Shimazu Norifumi, “Gofu to kamidana,” in Nihon no gofu bunka, ed. Chidiwa Itaru (Tokyo, Japan: Kōbundō, 2010), 23–38.

                                                                              (37.) For the development of talismans or religious fetishes embodying the religious power of deities in general, see Yabe Zenzō, Shinsatsu kō (Tokyo, Japan: Shiroutosha, 1934), 3–23.

                                                                              (38.) Shimizutani Kōshō, “Sensōji to fudasho,” in Kaminarimon Edo banashi, ed. Sensōji hinamiki kenkyūkai, 3–9 (Tokyo, Japan: Tōkyō bijutsu, 1990), 6–9.

                                                                              (39.) Aoyanagi, “Jisha sankei to ‘jisha no meishoka’: Chūsei kōki kara kinsei e,” in Shiri-zu Nihonjin to shūkyō: Kinsei kara kindai e, dai yon-kan, kanjin, sankei, shukusai, ed. Shimazono Susumu, Takano Toshihiko, Hayashi Makoto, and Wakao Masaki, 57–81 (Tokyo, Japan: Shunjūsha, 2015), 74.

                                                                              (40.) Originally, passports were issued to those who wanted to go to “hot springs or [on] pilgrimage.” For details, see Constantine Nomikos Vaporis, Breaking Barriers: Travel and the State in Early Modern Japan (Cambridge, MA: Council on East Asian Studies, Harvard University, 1994), 137–146.

                                                                              (41.) Takeuchi Makoto, “Shomin bunka no naka no Edo,” in Nihon no kinsei, 14, Bunka no taishūka, ed. Takeuchi Makoto, 7–54 (Tokyo, Japan: Chūō kōronsha, 1993), 30–38.

                                                                              (42.) Hur, Prayer and Play, 190.

                                                                              (43.) William E. Deal and Brian Ruppert, A Cultural History of Japanese Buddhism (Chichester, U.K.: Wiley Blackwell, 2015), 191–192.

                                                                              (44.) Richard M. Jaffe, Neither Monk Nor Layman: Clerical Marriage in Modern Japanese Buddhism (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2001), 60.

                                                                              (45.) For details, see Kashiwahara Yūsen, Nihon Bukkyōshi: Kindai (Tokyo, Japan: Yoshikawa kōbunkan, 2001), 14–20.