1999 June 26 conference
5. Tokugawa Religious Practice
Chair: Duncan Williams, Harvard University
This panel proposes to expand scholarly attention from the study of doctrine and thought to that of religious beliefs and practices during the Tokugawa period. English language scholarship of Tokugawa religions has tended to focus on the development of social thought and their implications on Japan's modernization. This focus has generally portrayed Tokugawa society as rational and secular. An alternate approach that studies concrete beliefs and practices in popular religious sites will reveal that religious activities in Tokugawa society were widespread and vibrant. As the Ambrose and Williams papers will show, Shinto, Buddhist, and Shugendo establishments achieved massive popularity by inventing beliefs that their specific religious sites had various meritorious powers such as rain making and healing. The Maeda paper will discuss the ruling side's effort to control such lively religious activity among the populace.
Rather than focusing on a certain religious tradition or school, the three presenters have limited their areas of inquiry by choosing certain locales, Ooyama, Okayama, and hot spring sites, in order to illuminate multifaceted religious activities that were available to the populace in Tokugawa society.
1) Barbara Ambros, Harvard University. "Mountains and Rivers: The Sacred Geography of Ooyama in Early Modern Japan"
Ooyama is a sacred mountain west of Tokyo in modern-day Isehara City in central Kanagawa Prefecture. During the early modern period it was one of the most important pilgrimage sites and cultic centers in Sagami no Kuni with about 1,000,000 parishioners in the Kanto region. In the premodern period, Ooyama was a mixed Shinto-Buddhist and Shugendo site known for rain making and the veneration of Fudo Myoo and Sekison Daigongen, who could grant the faithful healing, protection from disasters, good fortune and business success. Yet it was physical elements made Ooyama a sacred site. A study of Ooyama reveals that the sacred mountain was a complex institution that contained waterfalls and streams, elevations, caves, temples, shrines, shugendo settlements, and mountain paths. This paper examines how Ooyama's sacred space as a whole was organized, how and where its boundaries were drawn and how the various sites were related to each other.
2) Duncan Williams, Harvard University. "Hot Springs and Buddhism in Tokugawa Japan"
The connection between Buddhism and hot springs in Japan begins with the legends of Kobo Daishi (Kukai) and En-no-Gyoja founding a number of the oldest hot springs that are, even today, well known for their curative powers such as Kaga, Kusatsu, Ogo, and Ryojin onsen. During the medieval period, Buddhist priests associated with the esoteric schools as well as monks such as Ippen (Jishu) and Gennsho) continued to found hot springs. This connection between Buddhist monks and hot springs resulted in the development of new temples (Onsenji), new rituals (chanting the nembutsu or praying to Kobo Daishi, Kannon, Jizo for healing while in the hot spring), and new patterns of religious activity (pilgrimage to temples and hot springs as a set).
During the Edo period, these new developments from the late medieval period grew exponentially. Temples managing hot springs, newly discovered springs with names such as Fudo no yu or Mandarayu, or pilgrimage routes that focused on visiting temples and hot springs (such as the Hakone Daigongen and the Seven Springs of Hakone) could be found throughout every region of Japan during the Edo period. This paper examines these developments by looking at Edo-period travel logbooks (docho-ki), priest's diaries (including those of the abbots of Daigoji, Eiheiji, and Daiyozan Saijoji), and hot spring histories (especially Shuzenji, Kusatsu, Atsushio, and Yudanaka Onsenji).
The paper will demonstrate the intricate connection between the Buddhist notions of healing and the power of water and hot springs to effect cures (especially in the form of 21-day hot spring retreats). By a connection to Buddhist or Shugen deities or priests, hot springs could claim efficacy for its waters, while Buddhist and Shugen institutions found connections to hot springs to be an important method of taking root in a given locale.
3) Hiromi Maeda, Harvard University. "Ikeda Mitsumasa's Policy of Controlling Religion during the Kanbun Period
In 1666 Ikeda Mitsumasa , the lord of Okayama domain, launched a series of policies that drastically changed the religious life of Okayama. He destroyed nearly 95 percent of the Shinto shrines and 58 percent of Buddhist temples in the domain. He also initiated an idiosyncratic shrine registration system that worked through Shinto shrines rather than Buddhist temples, which served as a mechanism for controlling Christians. By persecuting Buddhism and regulating religious activity, Mitsumasa attempted to indoctrinate his subjects with Confucian values and spread Shinto rites and thereby tried to alter his subjects' views of religion and ethics. This presentation examines those sects of Buddhism which were especially targeted by Mitsumasa, and how his policies related to the bakufu's control of religious institutions. By means of an investigation into Mitsumasa's religious policies, this paper wishes to underscore the nature of political control over religion during the early Tokugawa period.