THE HOLY MAN'S HUT AS A SYMBOL OF STABILITY IN JAPANESE BUDDHIST PILGRIMAGE

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Abstract

In this paper, I examine the way holy men's huts are portrayed in eighteenth century Buddhist tales from the Saikoku and Bandô Japanese Buddhist pilgrimage routes. These stories suggest that holy men's huts are ultimately located in places beyond the ordinary human life of suffering, marked as it is by impermanence and instability. That the hermit's hut transcends the transient world is indicated in two important ways in these tales. First, the holy men's statues of the Buddhist celestial bodhisattva Kannon, which they carry or carve while on the road, display a preternatural mobility or immobility which force the ascetics to stop their peregrination. Second, the places they build their huts to enshrine the statues are revealed as spiritual places (reijô), Pure Land paradises where the living Kannon has a permanent abode. These holy men's huts were the prototypes of the Saikoku and Bandô temples that continue to attract multitudes of Japanese pilgrims who travel there even today seeking freedom from the sorrows of transmigration.

THE HOLY MAN'S HUT AS A SYMBOL OF STABILITY IN JAPANESE BUDDHIST PILGRIMAGE

in Numen

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