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Traces of a Forgotten Ritual in Ancient Myths and Legends
Author:
The first book that deals with the territorial cults of early Japan by focusing on how such cults were founded in ownerless regions. Numerous ancient Japanese myths and legends are discussed to show that the typical founding ritual was a two-phase ritual that turned the territory into a horizontal microcosm, complete with its own ‘terrestrial heaven’ inhabited by local deities.
Reversing Mircea Eliade’s popular thesis, the author concludes that the concept of the human-made horizontal microcosm is not a reflection but the source of the religious concept of the macrocosm with gods dwelling high up in the sky.
The open access publication of this book has been published with the support of the Swiss National Science Foundation.

Abstract

The amabiko アマビコ is a chimerical aquatic hybrid similar to an oceanic ape with oracular and thaumaturgic powers, which inspired ludic and religious micro-practices in the late Edo (1603–1868) and early Meiji periods (1868–1912). The present study investigates the genealogy of the amabiko and the pivotal role played by itinerant sellers known as news criers (yomiuri) in the diffusion of images and stories concerning the amabiko, its worshiping protocols, and talismanic effects. Beyond the philological analysis of written documents, I also examine hitherto understudied prints and local gazetteers’ illustrations to understand the salvific value and “ocular luck” (ganpuku) associated with the amabiko. Moreover, this article shows how the socio-religious milieu concerning the amabiko had a trans-social nature, spanning both elite and subaltern classes. The amabiko’s physicality also provides a unique opportunity to explore the uncanny and polysemic contact areas between human and nonhuman bodies.

Open Access
In: Journal of Religion in Japan

Abstract

The Śrīmālādevīsiṁhanādanirdeśasūtra is preserved in toto in one Tibetan and two Chinese translations, in addition to which we have access to a fragmentary Sanskrit manuscript and a considerable number of Sanskrit quotations, contributing to a sizable amount of the text now being available in Sanskrit. The present contribution takes as its impetus a recent contribution on the sūtra and its ideas about tathāgatagarbha, offering a survey of the state of the field of study of the text in its Indian context, and several suggestions for improved understandings.

Open Access
In: Indo-Iranian Journal

Abstract

This paper addresses the relationship between Zen and tantric or esoteric Buddhism in premodern Japan from the point of view of the Buddhas and Buddha bodies considered to be preaching these two traditions. After surveying theories on the dharmakāya teaching already present in Chinese Buddhism, it considers the development of this doctrinal notion in the Japanese tantric traditions. The paper demonstrates that this tantric discourse on the Buddha as preacher provided thinkers such as Enni 圓爾 (1202–1280) and Chikotsu Daie 癡兀大慧 (1229–1312) with a framework to integrate Zen into a tantric world. Eventually, and under the influence of embryological motifs circulating widely in medieval Buddhism, Zen practitioners came to establish their own theories on the human as Buddha body. The paper concludes that medieval Zen and medieval tantric Buddhism should be considered sister movements.

Open Access
In: Journal of Chan Buddhism

Abstract

This paper reconsiders the relationship between esoteric or tantric Buddhism and Zen in premodern Japan. Taking the teachings of Enni 圓爾 (1202–1280) and early modern Sōtō lore as its examples, as well as an adapted version of Wittgenstein’s concept of “seeing-as” as its methodological guideline, the paper argues that the categories of “esoteric Buddhism” and “Zen” themselves should be treated as discursively constructed. From this point of view, the scholarly desideratum is to undertake the genealogical elucidation of the process of their construction. The paper concludes that “esoteric Zen” should be considered a family of strategic, discursive practices predicated on acts of “seeing-as” and their subsequent sedimentation through repetition.

Open Access
In: Journal of Chan Buddhism
In: Founding Territorial Cults in Early Japan
In: Founding Territorial Cults in Early Japan
In: Founding Territorial Cults in Early Japan
In: Founding Territorial Cults in Early Japan
In: Founding Territorial Cults in Early Japan