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Control, repression, and tolerance in early modern Japanese religion

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Speakers and abstracts

Bardy, Yannick

  1. Shintō priests and the Yoshida in Izumi province
  2. Dr. Yannick Bardy (University of Lille)
In Kansei 5 (1665), the Shogunate put forward a regulation for priests of Shintō shrines, the Shosha negi kannushi hatto. Set in five articles, the hatto decreed that shrine priests without rank had to wear a simple white court dress (kariginu). For colored dresses, they were obliged to obtain permission from the Yoshida. It is generally assumed that this decree established the Yoshida as the leading authority of Shintō. However, the Yoshida were soon challenged by other important shrines and families, such as the Ise and Izumo shrines, or the Shirakawa house in the mid-18th century. Thus, the Yoshida house was not the only existing priestly network during the Edo period. Moreover, membership in such networks was not compulsory for ordinary shrine priests and the majority of them did not conform to the networks’ rules.
In this conference, I will present several cases of rural shrines in Izumi province, south of Osaka, and their priests. While there existed village shrines, hamlet shrines and even family shrines in every Izumi village, I will focus on tutelary shrines responsible for several villages. I will discuss why the Yoshida network was attractive for priests of such large community shrines by looking at the reasons why they joined the Yoshida, the processes leading to such decisions, and their consequences. In doing so, I hope to clarify the relationship between rural priests and the Yoshida in early modern society.

Boot, W.J.

  1. Anti-Confucian polemics and the position of Shintō
  2. Prof. emer. W.J. Boot (Leiden University)
The old assumption that the Edo Period coincides with Confucianism will find few adherents nowadays, but the consequences have yet to be drawn. The study of Buddhism and the study of Confucianism still tend to be two different worlds - to the extent that the Buddhism of the Edo Period is studied, of course. In order to arrive at an adequate understanding of the intellectual world of the Edo Period, both have to be taken into account as mutually related entities.
One of the best approaches is the study of Buddhist-Confucian or Confucian-Buddhist polemical exchanges, of which there are many. On the basis of joint research of such sources that we carried out in Leiden during the last several years, I will report on two of them (Jinjakō jahai bukkyō ron, republished as Jinjakō bengi, by the Shingon monk Jakuhon (1631-1701) and Fusō gobusshin ron by the Ōbaku monk Chōon (1628-1695)). For background comparisons, I will also make use of the exchange between Hayashi Razan and Matsunaga Teitoku, Ju-butsu mondō, and the anonymous text Denchū mondō. All these texts are written from a Buddhist point-of-view, and they all attack Razan and, especially, his Honchō jinja kō.
The central issue in this polemic is the relation of Buddhism and Confucianism respectively with Shintō. Put simply, both Confucians and Buddhists argue the appropriateness of their presence in Japan in terms of their (closer) relation to Shintō, or even, of their identity with Shinto. This explains the importance of Honchō jinja kō, which during much of the Edo Period was the authoritative account of Shintō and took a critical attitude versus Buddhism. It also explains the importance of a figure like Shōtoku-taishi, and of the apocryphal text Sendai kuji hongi taisei-kyō, which is attributed to Shōtoku-taishi, and in the writing of which Chōon was heavily involved.

Hayashi Makoto

  1. 暦と墓―渋川春海の神道思想― (Calendar and grave: The Shintō ideas of Shibukawa Shunkai)
  2. Prof. Hayashi Makoto 林 淳 (Aichi Gakuin University, Nagoya)

Hur, Nam-lin

  1. The cultural politics of Buddhism in early modern Japan
  2. Prof. Nam-lin Hur (University of British Columbia, Vancouver)
Buddhist culture was most active and prosperous in early modern Japan (1600–1868). Buddhist temples were ubiquitous throughout the country, no person was untouched by Buddhism, Buddhist priests wielded considerable power over the populace, and Shintō was largely subject to Buddhist control. But Buddhism was not a state religion. Where did its influence come from? I suggest that Buddhism derived its strength primarily from two functions which it offered to early modern Japanese society: firstly, death-related rituals by Buddhist temples, and secondly, prayer rituals dedicated to Buddhist deities.
I examine the ways in which Buddhism was involved in death rituals and prayer worship against a backdrop of early modern Japanese politics, economy, and society. Buddhism, not Shintō, was the tool of the anti-Christian policy of the Tokugawa bakufu which determined to root out Christian elements from society. In some daimyō domains, Shintō was employed as a tool of anti-Christian certification, but the endeavor was short-lived and unsuccessful. Using the opportunity provided by the government’s anti-Christian policy, Buddhist temples were able to bind all households to death-related rituals. As a result, dying a Buddhist became a norm in early modern Japanese society and with a Buddhist solution of afterlife, people found peace and were free from anxiety across all social classes. However, in a society in which social status, premodern economy, communal life, and government power dictated everyday life, people often turned to Buddhist (and Shintō) deities believed to offer alternative answers to the problems and wishes that could not be accommodated within the boundary of the given. Beyond being sites of prayer worship, Buddhist temples also offered spaces for an array of pastimes that catered to people from all walks of life not in a quotidian setting.
On the whole, I attempt to contextualize Buddhist culture that unfolded in early modern Japan in terms of functions, social structure, and governance and, thereby, to suggest a framework in which specific issues related to early modern religion could be discussed in an integral manner.

Inoue Tomokatsu

  1. 疑似儒教としての神道 (Shinto as a quasi-Confucianism)
  2. Prof. Inoue Tomokatsu 井上智勝 (Saitama University, Japan)

Köck, Stefan

  1. A “missing link” in the establishment of Shintō? – Implications of the practice of shintō-uke in Okayama domain
  2. Dr. Stefan Köck (Austrian Academy of Sciences)
The civil duty to obtain a certification of orthodoxy by Shintō shrines (shintō-uke) marks the last phase of reforms by Ikeda Mitsumasa in Okayama-han. Implemented in 1666, this measure had profound political, economic and religious consequences that affected several agents at local and national levels. Shintō-uke served to suppress the Fujufuse-group of the Nichiren-shū and to reduce the number of Buddhist temples and the clergy severely. Simultaneously, Mitsumasa pursued his aim of fostering Confucian learning in Okayama-han. Shintō shrines seemed to be well suited for the control of the populace. When it became necessary to appoint new priests, the Yoshida family was approached for certification.
However, the measures did meet with opposition. Tendai temples filed their complaints with the bakufu. Fujufuse adherents opposed them on the local level. Finally, in 1691 Okayama-han had to give in to the bakufu and reverted to the customary form of tera-uke certification.
Shintō-uke thus touches on the relationship between bakufu and han as well as han-internal relations between ruler and ruled. Regarding religio-political developments on the national level, it is related to internal struggles of the Nichiren-shū. Another question, which needs further investigation, is whether shintō-uke became instrumental for the Yoshida family in their endeavour to further strengthen their position in the sphere of Shintō .
While these developments created well documented dramatic short-term effects in Okayama, the question remains whether shintō-uke had any lasting impact on Japanese religious history. It seems worth noting, for instance, that it brought about for the first time in Japanese history a thorough separation of Shintō and Buddhism on a regional level. But what about medium and long term effects? I will take this talk as an opportunity to test a central hypothesis of my present research project, namely that shintō-uke may be regarded as a “missing link” in a process leading to the establishment of Shintō as a separate religion in the Meiji period.

McMullen, James

  1. The worship of Confucius in the Okayama domain in the early Tokugawa period
  2. Prof.emer. James McMullen (University of Oxford)
The sekiten or sekisai ceremony to venerate Confucius is the largest Confucian ritual performed in Japan and, unlike much Confucian ritual, is not based on kinship relations. It was usually performed under official patronage and on academic premises. Adopted in ancient Japan under the ritsuryō system, it lapsed during the Sengoku period. However, it was revived under the Tokugawa regime, particularly in provincial academies (hankō). By the time that feudalism was abolished, some 80% of such schools observed some sort of regular ritual of veneration of Confucius. Yet until Tokugawa Tsunayoshi’s flamboyant ceremony of 1691, sustained uptake of the ceremony had been negligible.
The sekisai of the Okayama domain was no exception. Despite the enthusiasm for Confucianism of the first daimyō Ikeda Mitsumasa and the early foundation of an educational institution for samurai, regular performance was finally established only in the Tenna period (1681-84). Analysis suggests that after the death of the third shogun the disincentive against the ceremony in the Jōō period (1652-55) was political and related to sectarian divisions among Confucians. Further pressure came in reaction to Mitsumasa’s Confucian policies in the Kanbun period (1661-73). Only late in Mitsumasa’s rule was a domain school for samurai founded and a gōkō, a school for commoners, established at Shizutani. Even then, in both cases regular performance of the ceremony was delayed and the version of the liturgy eventually chosen was small-scale and relatively apolitical. In due course in both cases, the ceremony was complemented by veneration of the domain ancestor.

Nakai, Kate Wildman

  1. Judicial approaches to heterodoxy: Evidence from Shogunal court cases
  2. Prof.emer. Kate Wildman Nakai (Sophia University, Tokyo)
The prohibition of Christianity left a lasting imprint on Tokugawa society. Tokugawa rulers likewise banned the Nichiren offshoots Fuju Fuse and Sanchō-ha and took action against people seen as engaging in heterodox (ihō, isetsu, kikai, etc.) activities. What did this mean in practice? For the latter half of the Edo period, judicial records provide insight into shogunal policy in this area. From the mid-eighteenth century shogunal offices put increasing weight on deciding cases (and particularly calibrating punishments) on the basis of precedent. Rules for Deciding Judicial Matters (Kujikata osadamegaki), compiled in the 1730s, set the basic framework for determining punishments for a wide range of crimes and misdeeds, but it proved insufficient for dealing with cases that did not fit neatly within its somewhat general typology of wrongdoings. As a result, beginning in 1804, the Deliberative Council (Hyōjōsho) selected cases that it had reviewed and organized them by category into a body of precedents to use in future deliberations. Four such collections, known as Criminal Judgment Precedents (Oshioki reiruishū) are extant; they include cases dating from 1771 to 1839.
The only heterodox activities taken up in Rules for Deciding Judicial Matters were ones associated with Fuju Fuse and Sanchō-ha. By contrast, Criminal Judgment Precedents incorporates categories such as “heterodox practices and the propagation of outlandish notions.” Under these categories it presents judgments of incidents ranging from lay people performing irregular rituals, to Buddhist priests and their followers engaged in practices associated with Hiji Hōmon (a covert True Pure Land offshoot), to shrine priests conducting malevolent invocations. Rules for Deciding Judicial Matters makes no mention of Christianity, and it appears only in the last extant compilation of Criminal Judgment Precedents (post 1839), where it makes up a distinct category, set apart from more “ordinary” heterodox practices. Its inclusion at that point resulted from the discovery of a group of people in Osaka and Kyoto in 1827 believed to be Christians and the realization that there were no established precedents for deciding appropriate punishments. Analysis of these materials should make it possible to get a more precise picture of how shogunal officials dealt with heterodoxy on the ground from the mid-eighteenth century to the 1830s.

Pickl-Kolaczia, Brigitte

  1. Tokugawa Shintō against Tokugawa Buddhism: Religious reforms in Mito in the second half of the 17th century
  2. Brigitte Pickl-Kolaczia, MA (Austrian Academy of Sciences)
The persecution of Christianity and other heretic religious groups led to the introduction of shūmon aratame, the inspection of religious affiliation. Though not decreed by law, the duties (and privileges) of certifying a person’s religious affiliation fell to Buddhist temples. This system was to be applied in the whole of Japan. However, not everyone was comfortable with the power its implementation gave to Buddhism and its institutions. In the 1660s three daimyō, Hoshina Masayuki (1611–1672) of Aizu, Ikeda Mitsumasa (1609-1682) of Okayama, and Tokugawa Mitsukuni (1628-1701) of Mito, took measures against Buddhism's hegemony. While Masayuki and Mitsumasa aimed for a replacement of the tera-uke seido with a shintō-uke seido (certification by Shintō-shrines), Mitsukuni’s measures against Buddhist institutions were the most extensive and radical. Within a thirty-year period, approximately 60 percent, or 1.433 Buddhist temples, in Mito were destroyed and their priests and monks either laicised or banished. In 1674, Mito introduced a reduced shintō-uke system, by handing the certification of religious affiliation for Shintō priests over to the Yoshida- and Shizu-shrines in Mito.
Mitsukuni and his successor Tsunaeda (1656-1718) aimed at establishing a system of one shrine per village and the separation of Buddhism and Shintō. By the 1690s, they had achieved both. Shinbutsu bunri became especially visible with the abolishing of almost all Hachiman-shrines, due to their connotation with Buddhism.
The objective of my presentation is to shed some light on how these measures furthered Shintō’s emancipation from Buddhism as a separate religious system and how they affected not only the religious institutions and the procedure of shūmon aratame, but the people in Mito and their religious practices.

Scheid, Bernhard

  1. Political realities and religious visions: The life and afterlife of Hoshina Masayuki
  2. Dr. Bernhard Scheid (Austrian Academy of Sciences)
In the second half of Japan’s 17th century, we encounter a new type of political figures who — under the sway of newly invigorated Confucian ethics — not only regarded themselves as paragons of morally guided political behavior but also dealt personally with leading intellectuals and left their traces in both the political and intellectual fields. Characteristically they combined Confucian ethics with a new understanding of “Shintō” in an attempt to create a moral and ritual framework independent from Buddhism and yet compatible with native genealogical traditions. In the sphere of intellectual history, they were part of a longer lasting trend towards Shintō-Confucian syncretism (shinjū shūgō). In the field of “Realpolitik”, on the other hand, these figures initiated the first forms of what has become known as “separation of buddhas and kami” (shinbutsu bunri) by political measures that challenged the traditional hegemony of Buddhist temples over Shintō shrines.
Together with Ikeda Mitsumasa and Tokugawa Mitsukuni, Hoshina Masayuki (1611–1673) is among the best known power holdersrulers of this type. From 1651 to 1669, Masayuki acted as the regent of his nephew, the infant shogun Tokugawa Ietsuna (1641–1680, r. 1651–1680) and was thus probably the most influential figure in national politics. At the same time, he seems to have treated Aizu, his own domain, as a kind of testing ground for new, Shintō-friendly politics towards the end of his career. Finally, he became the only political figure after his grandfather Tokugawa Ieyasu who was granted shogunal permission to be deified as a kami after his death. In this talk, I will survey Masayuki’s Shintō-related visions and policies. In particular, I will evaluate their significance in relation to the pro-Buddhist mainstream of Tokugawa religious policy making.

Sonehara Satoshi

  1. 明神・権現論争と徳川の「神国」 (The dispute on myōjin/gongen titles and the Tokugawas' concept of “divine country”)
  2. Prof. Sonehara Satoshi 曽根原理 (Tohoku University, Sendai)

Stone, Jacqueline I.

  1. When the Lotus went underground: The Nichiren fuju fuse movement and the Kanbun-era persecution
  2. Prof. Jacqueline I. Stone (Princeton University)
The fuju fuse branch of the Nichiren sect, like Christianity, was outlawed under the Tokugawa regime. Fuju fuse (“neither receiving nor giving”) means refusing to make donations to, or to receive offerings from, those who do not embrace the Lotus Sūtra, even the ruler himself. This stance derived from the founder Nichiren (1222-1282), who had taught exclusive devotion to the Lotus as the sole path of liberation in the present age and rejected all compromise with other, provisional teachings. The fuju fuse movement began in 1595, when Hideyoshi ordered that each Buddhist sect send a hundred priests to participate jointly in monthly memorial rites for his ancestors. Fearing that Hideyoshi would otherwise destroy their institutions, a majority of Nichiren-shū abbots in Kyoto complied. But a few, led by Busshōin Nichiō, refused. The sect became bitterly divided between hardline fuju fuse adherents and a more accommodating, ju fuse (“receiving but not giving”) faction. With the establishment of the Tokugawa bakufu, the controversy expanded to the Kantō.
Initially, bakufu suppression was uneven and targeted only specific temples and abbots (such as Nichiō, whom Ieyasu had exiled to Tsushima). But during the Kanbun era (1661-1673), in tightening its oversight of temples and shrines, the bakufu issued edicts targeting the fuju fuse branch and eventually prohibited its temples from issuing temple certification (terauke) for affiliated danka families. This amounted to a complete ban. Priests and lay followers refusing to convert to the ju fuse faction or other approved sects were imprisoned, exiled, or executed; many committed suicide. At this point, remaining fuju fuse adherents went underground, upholding their teaching in secret until they achieved legalization in 1876. The circumstances of the “Kanbun-era persecution” suggest that the Tokugawa bakufu refused to countenance any religious group publicly espousing a principle that transcended the authority of worldly rule.

Teeuwen, Mark

  1. National policy and local dynamics: The impact of the 1665 Shrine Clauses at the Ise Shrines
  2. Prof. Mark Teeuwen (University of Oslo) 
The 1665 Shrine Clauses (Jinja jōmoku, otherwise known as Shosha negi kannushi hatto) gave the Yoshida house nominal control over unranked shrine priests. On the surface, one would not expect this ruling to have much impact on the Ise Shrines, whose priests already held court ranks. Yet the 1660s proved a decisive moment at Ise. Here, the Shrine Clauses were used in unexpected and probably unintended ways to solve local issues with great effect. Ise had developed into the country's largest pilgrimage hub during the preceding century, and the business of catering to the needs of pilgrims was hotly contested between multiple groups of actors, making the lives of consecutive local magistrates (Yamada bugyō) very difficult. In this talk, I will argue that it was the Shrine Clauses that ultimately made it possible to cut out at least one such group, and achieve a truce between the others.
Ise is just one example of the realignments that took place at the larger complexes of shrines and temples in different corners of the country. The local dynamics of these sites resulted in very different outcomes. The Ise case will provide an example of the lasting impact of the brief spate of “sectarian engineering” by shogunal policy makers in the 1660s and 1670s.

Triplett, Katja

  1. The rebuilding of Manjuji in Funai in the context of emerging state control
  2. Prof. Katja Triplett (Leipzig University)
The late Muromachi period saw an unprecedented series of iconoclastic activity when Christian daimyō destroyed Buddhist temples, Shintō shrines as well as Shugendō sanctuaries in their domains. After the downfall of the Christian daimyō in Kyūshū, the Tokugawa officials took the opportunity to rebuild and establish religious institutions loyal to the shogunate.
In this paper, I will focus on the history of Manjuji in Bungo, the family temple of the Ōtomo in Funai (todays Ōita). Manjuji was founded by Ōtomo Sadachika (1246–1311), the fifth of the family line, in 1306. When his descendant, the influential Japanese Christian ruler Ōtomo Sōrin (1530–1587), received baptism, he ordered to have the temple burnt. While the actual circumstances of the order remain unclear, later anti-Christian narratives such as the seventeenth-century Chronicle of the Ōtomo Clan (Ōtomoki) emphasize the karmic retribution Sōrin allegedly suffered for his destruction of temples and shrines.
Eventually, Manjuji was re-established in Funai on behalf of the new lords of Bungo, the Takenaka. This temple rebuilding seems to have been part of early Tokugawa policy of state control through Buddhist institutions. Other case studies from Kyūshū are also discussed in regard to the rebuilding Buddhist and Shintō institutions as instruments of policy implementation.

Tronu, Carla

  1. Anti-Christian religious control in early modern Nagasaki
  2. Dr. Carla Tronu (University of Kyoto)
By the time the Tokugawa banned Christianity in 1614, Nagasaki was the most important commercial port in Japan, the center of the Catholic Church in Japan and the Japanese headquarters for all the missionary orders. Beyond this, the active engagement of the population with the Catholic calendar and the parish system made Nagasaki a “Christian city”. Ieyasu had first favored the missionaries for the sake of foreign trade, but once the English and the Dutch had offered a purely commercial relationship, the missionaries were seen as a threat for the ongoing attempts to unify the country. The shogunate therefore expelled them from Japan and developed a systematic strategy to de-Christianize the archipelago, specifically Nagasaki.
The anti-Christian measures regarding believers, space and ritual started with a ruthless policy of elimination (exile or execution, together with the destruction of churches and devotional objects), followed by strategies of appropriation (torture and apostasy, together with the use of former priests as religious inquisitors, former churches as Buddhist temples, and Christian images in anti-Christian rituals). The persecution of Christians produced a large number of victims, many of whom were claimed martyrs by the Catholic Church and subsequently became objects of study by Western and Japanese scholars. The appropriation of space and ritual, however, has not been paid the attention it deserves. I argue that actions over sacred space and ritual practices played a key role in both the response of the Nagasaki Christians to the prohibition of Christianity and the central authorities’ enterprise of de-Christianising Nagasaki. The central government first eliminated all the Christian churches and then reversed their function and symbolic meaning for the Christians by producing new spaces in their place, where the population was forced to engage in specific anti-Christian actions or non-Christian religious rituals.

Walthall, Anne

  1. Controlling belief and corralling practice: The Yoshida, the Shirakawa, and the Shogunate versus Hirata Atsutane
  2. Prof.emer. Anne Walthall (University of California Irvine)
Hirata Atsutane wrote voluminously on Japan’s myths, history, and foreign relations, sought information about the unseen world, and worshipped the gods and spirits every day. He spent years attacking the Neo-Confucianism of the Hayashi Razan School while accepting the importance of the social relationships it emphasized, and he attacked Buddhist teachings while participating in the customary Buddhist practices of his day. He even enjoyed the company of Buddhist monks and counted the imperial abbot of Kan’eiji, one of the shogun’s mortuary temples, among his chief supporters.
One question surrounding Atsutane’s practices and beliefs concerns his relations with the Yoshida and Shirakawa shrine organizations. Atsutane acknowledged that the Mutobe family with the blessings of the Yoshida had made it possible for him to present his works to the retired emperor, the emperor, and the retired emperor’s consort. Despite this support, when the Shirakawa solicited his help in bringing Shintō priests into its organization, he jettisoned the Yoshida. Interrogating this decision should shed light not merely on the politics of Shinto shrine organizations at this time but also on the questions of which beliefs and practices mattered most to him and the Shirakawa.
When the shogunate exiled Hirata Atsutane to Akita in 1840 and forbade the publication of his works, it assumed that was the end of him. Instead Atsutane and his family fought back. In Edo Kanetane continued to sell Atsutane’s books and even publish more sub rosa. In Akita Atsutane wrote voluminous letters inveighing against his enemies, seeking support for getting the exile decree lifted, and trying to discover precisely why he had been exiled. Since the shogunate did not have to give a reason for its decision, this question remains unsolved. One goal of this paper is to explain the various ways it has been answered and what they mean for our understanding of politics and belief at the beginning of the Tenpō reforms.

Öster­reichi­sche Aka­demie der Wissen­schaften
Institut für Kultur- und Geistes­geschichte Asiens

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