International symposium

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Shintouke jo.jpg

Control, repression, and tolerance in early modern Japanese religion

Time: 31 Oct. – 3 Nov. 2018
Venue: Institute for the Cultural and Intellectual History of Asia
Hollandstr. 11–13, 1020 Wien
Organisation: Bernhard Scheid, Stefan Köck, Brigitte Pickl-Kolaczia


The beginning of Japan’s Early Modern Period (1600–1867) saw a fundamental change in the relation between “religion” and “politics”, or, more precisely, in the ways that political leaders interfered with religious matters, repressed certain groups as “heretics” and lent their support to others who in exchange helped them sustain their rule. In the wake of anti-Christian persecution, Buddhist schools loyal to the government, in cooperation with administrative institutions, developed a system of coercive “registration at Buddhist temples” (tera-uke). This was arguably the most important and far-reaching measure of religious control under the ruling Tokugawa regime leading to a completely new relationship between Buddhist temples and their clients (danka system).

In the early phase of this system, variations existed. One major variation is the subject of a project named “Shintō-uke: Religious control via Shintō shrines,” carried out by the organizers of this conference. In a nutshell, shintō-uke was an attempt to substitute registration at Buddhist temples by registration at Shintō shrines. This phenomenon was confined to a few domains only, and even within these, it lasted only for a few decades during the second half of the seventeenth century. Nevertheless, shintō-uke provides a unique vantage point on the problems and dynamics of the incipient tera-uke system.

The main objective of this conference is to arrive, together with leading specialists in the field, at a clearer picture of the backdrop against which shintō-uke developed. We wish to explore the agents, guidelines, and obstacles which shaped religious policies at the various levels: bakufu, han, and local village; head temples and rural temples; old shrines and new shrines; and finally patrons of Shintō such as the court and its substitutes (Yoshida, Shirakawa).

Some of the more specific topics and questions of relevance include:

  • Christians and other outlawed and marginalized religious groups: repression and tacit toleration
  • Buddhism as an agent of the state
  • Temporal and regional varieties of religious administration in villages, towns, and metropolitan areas; economic costs; death and funeral rites
  • Danka seido as an autopoietic system of control
  • New conceptions of kami, shrines, and the court: separation of shrines and temples in early Tokugawa
  • Confucian critique of Buddhism


  • Yannick Bardy (University of Lille)
  • W.J. Boot (Leiden University, Prof. emer.)
  • Hayashi Makoto (Aichi Gakuin University, Nagoya)
  • Nam-lin Hur (University of British Columbia)
  • Inoue Tomokatsu (Saitama University)
  • James McMullen (University of Oxford)
  • Kate Wildman Nakai (Sophia University, Prof. emer.)
  • Sonehara Satoshi (Tohoku University, Sendai )
  • Jacqueline I. Stone (Princeton University)
  • Mark Teeuwen (University of Oslo)
  • Katja Triplett (Leipzig University)
  • Carla Tronu (University of Kyoto)
  • Anne Walthall (UC Irvine, Prof. emer.)
  • Stefan Köck (Austrian Academy of Sciences)
  • Brigitte Pickl-Kolaczia (Austrian Academy of Sciences)
  • Bernhard Scheid (Austrian Academy of Sciences)

Free entry. Please register your participation by 24 October 2018 with an email to

Image: Shintōuke jō, Okayama 1771. Image © Stefan Köck, 2017 Languages: EN JP

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