Shinto and Buddhism in Japan

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Shinto and Buddhism in Japan

Postby Kim O'Hara » Mon Oct 31, 2016 11:17 pm

I’m still sorting out photos and impressions from my holiday in Japan a few weeks ago and one issue I would appreciate informed views on is the relationship between Shinto and Buddhism.
Before I went there, I vaguely assumed that Japan was a Buddhist country with traces of its older religion, Shinto, in the background - much as pre-Christian elements survive in Europe. When I got there, however, it began to look like they were both alive and co-existing quite happily.
A few examples:
• In Nara there is a famously immense Buddha image in its own (immense) hall - http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e4100.html - but on the other side of the park, there is a long walk up through the forest to a Shinto shrine, Kasuga Taisha http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e4102.html - “It was established at the same time as the capital and is dedicated to the deity responsible for the protection of the city,” and (as far as I could judge on just one visit) is at least as important to the locals as the Daibutsu.
• Similarly, the fox shrine, Fushimi Inari, on the edge of Kyoto - http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3915.html - seemed to be as popular as any of the major temples around the city.
• Koyasan was founded by Kukai 1200 years ago as the centre of Shingon Buddhism, which it still is, but the local deities were not displaced at all. Rather, they were invited to serve as protectors of the new temple precinct, according to a visitor guide book prepared by Shingon temple staff.
• There seems to be hardly any physical separation of the two religions. Houses often had both shrines, as in http://dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?f=115&t=23940. Buddhist temples often had small Shinto shrines in the grounds, although I’m not sure if the reverse ever happens.
• In one extreme case, I couldn’t work out the affiliation of a small Osaka temple precinct, or whether it counted as two temples (one of each), or whatever.

Osaka temple from above.jpg
Osaka temple from above.jpg (214.75 KiB) Viewed 875 times

Osaka temple Fudo and attendants.jpg
Osaka temple Fudo and attendants.jpg (194.54 KiB) Viewed 875 times

Osaka temple Jizo in the corner.jpg
Osaka temple Jizo in the corner.jpg (115.95 KiB) Viewed 875 times

I guess my questions are, Have I misinterpreted anything I’ve seen? and How do Japanese people understand their religious life?

:namaste:
Kim

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Re: Shinto and Buddhism in Japan

Postby shaunc » Tue Nov 01, 2016 2:33 am

Hi Kim in S.E. Asia it's not unusual to mix and match religions. The Chinese do it with taoism and Buddhism, the vietnamese also have a local nature type religion that they mix with Buddhism, the Japanese and shinto/Buddhism as you've mentioned.
Many Asian people are superstitious and have a strong belief in ghosts and spirits etc and mix their local beliefs with the introduced religion.
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Re: Shinto and Buddhism in Japan

Postby Admin_PC » Tue Nov 01, 2016 3:44 am

While you're completely correct that many schools coexisted with Shinto, Jodo Shinshu is the only one that I know of that explicitly separated itself from Shinto. Also, in the Meiji Restoration period during the persecution of Buddhism many Buddhist temples were forced to propagate Shinto. On the other hand, a syncretic blend of Shinto & Buddhism was found with Shugendō schools of mountain asceticism and during the Edo period (1613) these schools were forced to choose between Shinto & Buddhism (Shugendō itself being outright banned as "superstition").
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Re: Shinto and Buddhism in Japan

Postby Nyedrag Yeshe » Thu Nov 10, 2016 10:44 pm

Kim O'Hara wrote:I’m still sorting out photos and impressions from my holiday in Japan a few weeks ago and one issue I would appreciate informed views on is the relationship between Shinto and Buddhism.
Before I went there, I vaguely assumed that Japan was a Buddhist country with traces of its older religion, Shinto, in the background - much as pre-Christian elements survive in Europe. When I got there, however, it began to look like they were both alive and co-existing quite happily.
A few examples:
• In Nara there is a famously immense Buddha image in its own (immense) hall - http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e4100.html - but on the other side of the park, there is a long walk up through the forest to a Shinto shrine, Kasuga Taisha http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e4102.html - “It was established at the same time as the capital and is dedicated to the deity responsible for the protection of the city,” and (as far as I could judge on just one visit) is at least as important to the locals as the Daibutsu.
• Similarly, the fox shrine, Fushimi Inari, on the edge of Kyoto - http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3915.html - seemed to be as popular as any of the major temples around the city.
• Koyasan was founded by Kukai 1200 years ago as the centre of Shingon Buddhism, which it still is, but the local deities were not displaced at all. Rather, they were invited to serve as protectors of the new temple precinct, according to a visitor guide book prepared by Shingon temple staff.
• There seems to be hardly any physical separation of the two religions. Houses often had both shrines, as in http://dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?f=115&t=23940. Buddhist temples often had small Shinto shrines in the grounds, although I’m not sure if the reverse ever happens.
• In one extreme case, I couldn’t work out the affiliation of a small Osaka temple precinct, or whether it counted as two temples (one of each), or whatever.

Osaka temple from above.jpg
Osaka temple Fudo and attendants.jpg
Osaka temple Jizo in the corner.jpg
I guess my questions are, Have I misinterpreted anything I’ve seen? and How do Japanese people understand their religious life?

:namaste:
Kim

I fact, in the past, before Meiji restoration. Many buddhist temples were 'joint' buddhist-shinto temples, or Jingu-Ji/神宮寺, that means plainly temple-shrine! Specially in the case of Hachiman shrines, and Kumano. Some few temples still have this feature, but its a rarity!
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jing%C5%AB-ji
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Re: Shinto and Buddhism in Japan

Postby Kim O'Hara » Thu Nov 10, 2016 11:05 pm

:thanks:
The more I learn, the more deeply entangled it all seems. :thinking:
I guess that's what happens in such a long historical span, though.

:namaste:
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Re: Shinto and Buddhism in Japan

Postby Nyedrag Yeshe » Thu Nov 10, 2016 11:28 pm

Kim O'Hara wrote::thanks:
The more I learn, the more deeply entangled it all seems. :thinking:
I guess that's what happens in such a long historical span, though.

:namaste:
Kim

Many Kami were considered 'emanations' of Buddha figures, the goddes Amaterasu was a manifestation of Buddha Vairochana according to Shingon School. In fact the two religions were totally interwined up to some point in history. Shingon called this sincreticism of Shinbutsu Shugo and Tendai called it Ryobu Shinto. And again Meiji government, forced the total separetion of both, but even before that some schools praticed this sepration, specially in Kamakura era. But none forbade its members from venerating kami and participating in shinto rites!
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shinbutsu_bunri
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shinbutsu-sh%C5%ABg%C5%8D
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gongen

Note bellow in the image, a buddhist temple altar, with not only buddhist statuary but also shinto worship tools like the mirror and the shimenawa rope. Many temples before meiji era may have looked just like this
Image
“Whatever has to happen, let it happen!”
“Whatever the situation is, it’s fine!”
“I really don’t need anything!
~Tsangpa Gyare Yeshe Dorje (1161-1211)
ओं पद्मोष्णीष विमले हूँ फट । ओं हनु फश भर हेये स्वाहा॥ सर्व मङलम
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Re: Shinto and Buddhism in Japan

Postby Kim O'Hara » Fri Nov 11, 2016 4:28 am

Thanks again, NY.
I came across a reference somewhere which said that some Buddhist temples had adopted the Shinto practice of keeping the primary worship image hidden away - I think they called it a ni-Butsu. Would that be right? If so, how common?

:namaste:
Kim

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Re: Shinto and Buddhism in Japan

Postby jake » Sat Nov 12, 2016 1:35 am

Kim O'Hara wrote:Thanks again, NY.
I came across a reference somewhere which said that some Buddhist temples had adopted the Shinto practice of keeping the primary worship image hidden away - I think they called it a ni-Butsu. Would that be right? If so, how common?

:namaste:
Kim


Hi Kim, I believe the term is Hibutsu and it is fairly common from my limited experience.
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Re: Shinto and Buddhism in Japan

Postby Nyedrag Yeshe » Sat Nov 12, 2016 3:50 pm

Yes, Hibutsu (秘仏), I believe they are more common among Shingon and Tendai temples, many of them have a Zushi or a miniature shrine in the altar that houses the main Image or Honzon.

But I personally don't know if this is due to shinto influence as some people suggest. In Tibetan tratidition, people who expose their tantric deities images, tend to keep one always hidden or secret, in order to respect the precept of keeping one's practice secret. I believe that tantric elements may have influenced this tradition in Japan too.
“Whatever has to happen, let it happen!”
“Whatever the situation is, it’s fine!”
“I really don’t need anything!
~Tsangpa Gyare Yeshe Dorje (1161-1211)
ओं पद्मोष्णीष विमले हूँ फट । ओं हनु फश भर हेये स्वाहा॥ सर्व मङलम
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Re: Shinto and Buddhism in Japan

Postby Queequeg » Sun Nov 13, 2016 6:09 pm

This is a complicated question.

First, "Shinto" as a religion is a relatively recent phenomena. This is a complex and highly contentious issue, so we should just acknowledge this and move on.

This is my liberal view. Conservatives in Japan would be very critical of what follows.

Shinto as we know it today, as a public religion, started in the Meiji period (1868-1915) and fundamentally is concerned with the identification of the Emperor with the divine (there have been empresses, some of whom are remembered as the greatest heads, but not in a very, very long time; maybe 1000 years?). This is not to say that the emperor was not considered divine before - the imperial family has been associated with Amaterasu-omi-kami, the goddess of the sun, since pre-history. However, the organization of the major shrines oriented to the establishment of Imperial power, is a modern innovation.

Shinto is fundamentally, in its earliest forms, animism. There is a major pantheon of kami first recorded in early texts, but modern scholars believe that those texts are descriptive of the clan totems of ruling elites. Shrines such as Ise started as family shrines, and with the rise of those families, became more - to the extent that a family was the state, these clan religions became national religions.

Beyond the major pantheon, kami are everywhere - in each stream, or mountain. In remarkable rocks and trees. In the weather, in the sky. Etc. Etc.

These kami are not part of some overall religious system - I think its better to consider them as expressions of an animistic sensibility. A remarkable rock, for instance, because of its unusual size or location, will be perceived as having some divine character that is understood as kami. Similarly a an old, gnarled tree will be considered divine. The same in a more straight forward manner for a river or mountain. Maybe a way to understand them is that they are something like sprites.

There isn't really a high philosophical sensibility in kami, except to say that the world is sentient, populated with innumerable spirits. It is also important to note that the kami are considered familial. Even dangerous kami are family to those who perceive them.

Buddhism was introduced to Japan by Korean emissaries who gifted some statues, texts, and monks and nuns to the imperial family. Thereafter, there was a political struggle in which the victor was a family that had converted to Buddhism. (Their faith might be read more broadly as an openness to the introduction of learning from the continent). Thereafter, Buddhism was established as the foundation of the Japanese state (in Shotoku Taishi's constitution) and more elaborately codified in the system of laws, making Buddhism the state religion, replacing the imperial families clan kami as the protectors of the state - its commonly described that Buddhism was a sort of super religion that benefited the state more effectively than the appeasement of kami.

Buddhism has built into it a model for the assimilation of local deities - Brahma, for instance, is a student of Buddha, and many Vedic gods are protectors. This same model was applied to the kami, and it worked because the sensibility of kami does not really interfere with Buddhism, and vice versa. The two systems can comfortably coexist. Over time, these two systems were synthesized into a single fluid sensibility best described by the term honji suijaku, which asserts that the Japanese kami are actually avatars of Buddhist deities. Amaterasu is really Mahavairocana, for instance. Alternatively, kami are converted into dharma protectors.

Contrary to the assertions of modern Shintoists, this fluid relationship between Buddhism and kami prevailed more or less from the introduction of Buddhism through the modern period.

Accordingly, temple grounds often include shrines to kami who protect the precincts, or the dharma. Shrines were closely associated with nearby temples and the kami were closely associated with the honzon (istadevata, yidam) of the particular temple. These associations were ended in the Meiji period with the establishment of State Shinto, but this is a modern development.

I think for many Japanese, there still is no hard line between kami and Buddhism. The sensibility that prevailed in pre-modern times continues to inform people, perhaps subconsciously.
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Re: Shinto and Buddhism in Japan

Postby Kim O'Hara » Sun Nov 13, 2016 11:55 pm

Thanks, Qq.
I just looked up "honji suijaku" and came across an inverted form of it - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honji_suijaku#Inversion - which claimed that the kami were the originals and bodhisattvas are emanations of them. It does seem to be the exception, though!
It's beginning to feel as though anything we can say about either of the two religious traditions is partly true. :tongue:

:namaste:
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Re: Shinto and Buddhism in Japan

Postby Queequeg » Mon Nov 14, 2016 12:13 am

Kim O'Hara wrote:Thanks, Qq.
I just looked up "honji suijaku" and came across an inverted form of it - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honji_suijaku#Inversion - which claimed that the kami were the originals and bodhisattvas are emanations of them. It does seem to be the exception, though!
It's beginning to feel as though anything we can say about either of the two religious traditions is partly true. :tongue:

:namaste:
Kim


That inverse relation is curious and interesting, but I don't think its was ever a majority view...

I think that last line... You might be catching on about Japanese in general. Things are always only sort of true.
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Re: Shinto and Buddhism in Japan

Postby Coëmgenu » Mon Nov 14, 2016 5:10 am

Queequeg wrote:This is a complicated question.

First, "Shinto" as a religion is a relatively recent phenomena. This is a complex and highly contentious issue, so we should just acknowledge this and move on.

This is my liberal view. Conservatives in Japan would be very critical of what follows.

Shinto as we know it today, as a public religion, started in the Meiji period (1868-1915) and fundamentally is concerned with the identification of the Emperor with the divine (there have been empresses, some of whom are remembered as the greatest heads, but not in a very, very long time; maybe 1000 years?). This is not to say that the emperor was not considered divine before - the imperial family has been associated with Amaterasu-omi-kami, the goddess of the sun, since pre-history. However, the organization of the major shrines oriented to the establishment of Imperial power, is a modern innovation.
I am very interested in your labeling of your history as "your liberal view" since it offers something of a window into the mind of an informed person who has move knowledge of Japanese society than myself. What is "conservative" in Japan? What is "liberal"? These are questions many of us can never really learn because they require direct longterm contact with Japanese society and Japanese people.

As a would-be ethnomusicologist, we do a lot of interdisciplinary work with cultural anthropologists. I would move back the dates of your "founding of modern shinto" back to the Kamakura period (1185-1333), when Chinese Confucianism radically transformed how the Japanese contextualize their society, and relate to "Heaven"/"Kami". This is a musicological-centric view, however, based on how it is this period of rapid "Confucianization" that really magnifies and intensifies the until-then nascent role of the Japanese Emperor as a "High Priest character" somewhat aloof from political or cultural concerns of governance. Musicologically, this is reflected in the development of Japanese Confucian court music, 雅楽, based on Confucian models as to how one shows appropriate obeisance to Heaven and the Emperor of Heaven, whom the Emperor on Earth, in Confucian thought, was said to be modelled upon, ideally. Confucianism is very, very much centred around the divine role of the Emperor. When Japanese society, and shintoism as well, became meshed in the conceptual matrix of Chinese Confucian thought-and-action, and assimilated and transformed it into Japanese Confucian thought-and-action, a transformation in the role of the Japanese Emperor occurred.

Much of the rituals, folk piety, and ceremonial idioms of Japanese worshipful-behaviour is derived from the "Japanification" of Confucian values, traditions from China, and ritual rubrics.

This is also attested to in the multiple layers of Shinto practice. In the older layer we have a more shamanic and animistic animal-based focus, with a female priesthood of shamans who would interact and be possessed by spirits (kami?) and ritually dance.

After the introduction of Chinese cultural Confucianism into Japan, we have a male priesthood with greater societally-based ritual preoccupations, and the role of the female shaman is transformed into a priestess whose dance to the Gods is not possession, but worship.

I am only an ethnomusicologist however. I am not specialized in Japanese history, so things I have said here may be very wrong. Most of the information I get about Japanese history is from reading other ethnomusicologists' work concerning 雅楽, which can certain lead to echo-chamber magnifications of wrong facts occasionally.
"My pure land is not destroyed,
yet the multitude sees it as consumed in fire,
with anxiety, fear, and other sufferings
filling it everywhere."
(Saddharmapuṇḍarīkasūtra XVI)

All these dharmāḥ are the status of dharma, the standing of dharma, the suchness of dharma; the dharma neither departs from things-as-they-are, nor differs from things-as-they-are; it is the truth, reality, without distortion.(SA 296, 因緣法)
揭諦揭諦,波羅揭諦,波羅僧揭諦,菩提薩婆訶(Prajñāpāramitāhṛdayasya Mantra)

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Re: Shinto and Buddhism in Japan

Postby narhwal90 » Mon Nov 14, 2016 2:33 pm

I apologize in advance for the absurdity, but I wonder if there might be an analog in Pokemon; to wit the latest version. The various characters to be found all over, various powers, and perhaps with conflicts as well. Which isn't say I am suggesting a relationship between pokemon and kami, but might they be related by way of cultural context, I am tempted by the concept of Pokemon cashing in on the tradition of kami.

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Re: Shinto and Buddhism in Japan

Postby Queequeg » Mon Nov 14, 2016 10:51 pm

Coëmgenu wrote:I am very interested in your labeling of your history as "your liberal view" since it offers something of a window into the mind of an informed person who has move knowledge of Japanese society than myself. What is "conservative" in Japan? What is "liberal"? These are questions many of us can never really learn because they require direct longterm contact with Japanese society and Japanese people.


On the issue of Shinto

Conservatives - View kami worship as the indigenous pure religion of Japan and view Buddhism, and sometimes Confucianism, as foreign impurities. They deny the syncretic nature of Buddhism and kami worship for most of the last 1500 years. They believe that Shinto has been a separate and distinct religion with a consistent ethos since time immemorial.

Liberal - acknowledge that the interactions between Buddhism and kami worship is complex and far from simple distinction. Acknowledge that kami worship is a complex, nuanced system with considerable variation throughout Japan and from shrine to shrine.

As a would-be ethnomusicologist, we do a lot of interdisciplinary work with cultural anthropologists. I would move back the dates of your "founding of modern shinto" back to the Kamakura period (1185-1333)


State Shinto is generally agreed to have been started as an ancillary to the Meiji restoration. That does not deny that many shrines have long and complex histories that are inextricable from political, economic, social and religious history.

The fact is, though the term Shinto has been around since at least the Asuka period, it didn't have the cohesive meaning of codified kami worship related to the divinity of the Emperor until the 19th c.

when Chinese Confucianism radically transformed how the Japanese contextualize their society, and relate to "Heaven"/"Kami".


If the intro of Confucianism is the key factor, then that would push the date back to the sixth or seventh c. The same family that championed Buddhism also championed Chinese learning, particularly, Confucianism. That was when the Japanese started building their capital on the Chinese grid model, when they adopted the Chinese legal system, etc. etc. That is when the transformation from shaman tribal leader to Emperor happened.

This is a musicological-centric view,


That is a really interesting lens through which to look at history. My wife is an art historian and looks at paintings to uncover political and economic power dynamics as they relate to particular shrines and temples.
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Re: Shinto and Buddhism in Japan

Postby Coëmgenu » Tue Nov 15, 2016 12:40 am

Queequeg wrote:
Coëmgenu wrote:As a would-be ethnomusicologist, we do a lot of interdisciplinary work with cultural anthropologists. I would move back the dates of your "founding of modern shinto" back to the Kamakura period (1185-1333)


State Shinto is generally agreed to have been started as an ancillary to the Meiji restoration. That does not deny that many shrines have long and complex histories that are inextricable from political, economic, social and religious history.

The fact is, though the term Shinto has been around since at least the Asuka period, it didn't have the cohesive meaning of codified kami worship related to the divinity of the Emperor until the 19th c.
Cool. There are a lot of Confucian rubrics and texts regarding the divine role of the Emperor as mediator and facilitator between Heaven and earth that would have been circling with the proto-gagaku manuscripts of Chinese ceremonial music in Japan after at least 1200, though, I only know this because that is when the first major transmission of yǎyuè into Japan took place, along with the first importing of full Chinese court orchestras. It may well have not interacted with latent kami-veneration though.

Queequeg wrote:
Coeëmgenu wrote:This is a musicological-centric view,


That is a really interesting lens through which to look at history. My wife is an art historian and looks at paintings to uncover political and economic power dynamics as they relate to particular shrines and temples.
It can be an interesting lens, but when your only lens into a history is through music manuscript data and archaeomusicology, you can certainly get some misconceptions, such as my misconception that Neoconfucianism entered into Japan in approx 1200.
"My pure land is not destroyed,
yet the multitude sees it as consumed in fire,
with anxiety, fear, and other sufferings
filling it everywhere."
(Saddharmapuṇḍarīkasūtra XVI)

All these dharmāḥ are the status of dharma, the standing of dharma, the suchness of dharma; the dharma neither departs from things-as-they-are, nor differs from things-as-they-are; it is the truth, reality, without distortion.(SA 296, 因緣法)
揭諦揭諦,波羅揭諦,波羅僧揭諦,菩提薩婆訶(Prajñāpāramitāhṛdayasya Mantra)

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Re: Shinto and Buddhism in Japan

Postby Queequeg » Tue Nov 15, 2016 7:10 pm

Coëmgenu wrote:]Cool. There are a lot of Confucian rubrics and texts regarding the divine role of the Emperor as mediator and facilitator between Heaven and earth that would have been circling with the proto-gagaku manuscripts of Chinese ceremonial music in Japan after at least 1200, though, I only know this because that is when the first major transmission of yǎyuè into Japan took place, along with the first importing of full Chinese court orchestras. It may well have not interacted with latent kami-veneration though.


Are you sure about the dates?

by 1200, the Imperial house was just ceremonial. Real power rested with the military junta in Kamakura. And things just went down hill from there for the next three and half centuries. There were not a lot of big ideas developing and spreading during those centuries, though I guess you could argue that the various schools of thought hunkered down - like Toynbee's concept of the chrysalis while the country muddled through centuries of civil unrest and war. Maybe the phenomena you are referring to laid the foundation for the neo-Confucian revival in the Tokugawa period. Notwithstanding, the Imperial House is a non-factor until it is nominally resurrected to be the face of modernization in the Meiji period.
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Re: Shinto and Buddhism in Japan

Postby Coëmgenu » Tue Nov 15, 2016 9:44 pm

Queequeg wrote:
Coëmgenu wrote:]Cool. There are a lot of Confucian rubrics and texts regarding the divine role of the Emperor as mediator and facilitator between Heaven and earth that would have been circling with the proto-gagaku manuscripts of Chinese ceremonial music in Japan after at least 1200, though, I only know this because that is when the first major transmission of yǎyuè into Japan took place, along with the first importing of full Chinese court orchestras. It may well have not interacted with latent kami-veneration though.


Are you sure about the dates?

by 1200, the Imperial house was just ceremonial. Real power rested with the military junta in Kamakura. And things just went down hill from there for the next three and half centuries. There were not a lot of big ideas developing and spreading during those centuries, though I guess you could argue that the various schools of thought hunkered down - like Toynbee's concept of the chrysalis while the country muddled through centuries of civil unrest and war. Maybe the phenomena you are referring to laid the foundation for the neo-Confucian revival in the Tokugawa period. Notwithstanding, the Imperial House is a non-factor until it is nominally resurrected to be the face of modernization in the Meiji period.
We'll whether it's accurate or not, the narrative that I've inherited is that the position of the Emperor, historically, has been more of a "high priest" role, and less a commander-in-chief role. He hasn't traditionally involved himself in administrative or military affairs. His role was chiefly religious/sacred. I recall reading somewhere, I'll look for where precisely, that generally warring factions would each argue that they have the "will of the Emperor" behind them, since the Emperor was considered "above" interactions with common folk and getting mired in "dirty" politics and no one could really verify (or would verify) what the Emperors opinion on something was because he was always cloistered away preoccupied with the the ritual functions of his role as High Priest of Amaterasu.
"My pure land is not destroyed,
yet the multitude sees it as consumed in fire,
with anxiety, fear, and other sufferings
filling it everywhere."
(Saddharmapuṇḍarīkasūtra XVI)

All these dharmāḥ are the status of dharma, the standing of dharma, the suchness of dharma; the dharma neither departs from things-as-they-are, nor differs from things-as-they-are; it is the truth, reality, without distortion.(SA 296, 因緣法)
揭諦揭諦,波羅揭諦,波羅僧揭諦,菩提薩婆訶(Prajñāpāramitāhṛdayasya Mantra)

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Coëmgenu
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Re: Shinto and Buddhism in Japan

Postby Coëmgenu » Wed Nov 16, 2016 2:57 am

Coëmgenu wrote:
Queequeg wrote:
Coëmgenu wrote:]Cool. There are a lot of Confucian rubrics and texts regarding the divine role of the Emperor as mediator and facilitator between Heaven and earth that would have been circling with the proto-gagaku manuscripts of Chinese ceremonial music in Japan after at least 1200, though, I only know this because that is when the first major transmission of yǎyuè into Japan took place, along with the first importing of full Chinese court orchestras. It may well have not interacted with latent kami-veneration though.


Are you sure about the dates?

by 1200, the Imperial house was just ceremonial. Real power rested with the military junta in Kamakura. And things just went down hill from there for the next three and half centuries. There were not a lot of big ideas developing and spreading during those centuries, though I guess you could argue that the various schools of thought hunkered down - like Toynbee's concept of the chrysalis while the country muddled through centuries of civil unrest and war. Maybe the phenomena you are referring to laid the foundation for the neo-Confucian revival in the Tokugawa period. Notwithstanding, the Imperial House is a non-factor until it is nominally resurrected to be the face of modernization in the Meiji period.
We'll whether it's accurate or not, the narrative that I've inherited is that the position of the Emperor, historically, has been more of a "high priest" role, and less a commander-in-chief role. He hasn't traditionally involved himself in administrative or military affairs. His role was chiefly religious/sacred. I recall reading somewhere, I'll look for where precisely, that generally warring factions would each argue that they have the "will of the Emperor" behind them, since the Emperor was considered "above" interactions with common folk and getting mired in "dirty" politics and no one could really verify (or would verify) what the Emperors opinion on something was because he was always cloistered away preoccupied with the the ritual functions of his role as High Priest of Amaterasu.
I just felt the need to further caveat my statements. I have a musicology-centric viewpoint here and am "arguing" (though not really "arguing" since I acknowledge my lack of expertise on this subject) from that perspective. However, having an "anything-centric" perspective is a blessing and a curse. You gain access to areas of knowledge that only come through specialization, but over-specialization has the potentiality to breed vast ignorances and arrogances, because you assume that you, a highly educated highly specialized thinker, knows a lot about X aspect of Y culture (in my instance, I feel I know a fair amount about Japanese Classical music/gagaku), but that doesn't actually translate into "a lot of" knowledge about Y culture.

That being said I am over-specialized in the musicology of Japanese history, and that may lead me to have several misconceptions, intermixed with insights from my specialization. Hopefully I don't make too many foolish statements in my attempts to share information.
"My pure land is not destroyed,
yet the multitude sees it as consumed in fire,
with anxiety, fear, and other sufferings
filling it everywhere."
(Saddharmapuṇḍarīkasūtra XVI)

All these dharmāḥ are the status of dharma, the standing of dharma, the suchness of dharma; the dharma neither departs from things-as-they-are, nor differs from things-as-they-are; it is the truth, reality, without distortion.(SA 296, 因緣法)
揭諦揭諦,波羅揭諦,波羅僧揭諦,菩提薩婆訶(Prajñāpāramitāhṛdayasya Mantra)

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Queequeg
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Re: Shinto and Buddhism in Japan

Postby Queequeg » Wed Nov 16, 2016 1:02 pm

I'm sorry- I did not mean to put you on the spot. I was asking about the date because it sounds like what you describe could have happened when Chinese learning was first introduced. It very well may have been an ongoing process that took a leap around 1200 with another round of introduction. That points to another interesting topic - the ongoing commerce with the continent which tends to be down played.

In any event's it's really interesting that historians now draw on everything to gain insights on the past. It demonstrates how all phenomena are interdependent and provide unique vantage points to their context.

:smile:
“Once you have given up the ghost, everything follows with dead certainty, even in the midst of chaos.”
-Henry Miller


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