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Japanese to English: Itō Satoshi (Trans. by Lindsey E. DeWitt) “Shintō” in the Muromachi Period General field: Social Sciences Detailed field: History
Source text - Japanese 中世神道の研究は、ここ30年ほどの間で長足の進歩を遂げた。60年代までは神道史学者と一部の仏教史家によってのみ研究されていたのが、70年代における黒田俊雄の「神道」論 、伊藤正義の「中世日本紀」論 をきっかけに、80年代以降、日本文学、日本史学、日本思想史の分野において、それぞれの関心から中世の神道説、神話記述、日本書紀注釈についての研究が展開した。
Translation - English The study of medieval Shintō has progressed steadily over the past three decades. Until the 1960s, it was only studied by Shintō historians and some Buddhist historians, but Kuroda Toshio’s 黒田俊雄 new formulation of “Shintō” (see, in particular, Kuroda 1979, 1983; in English, Kuroda 1981) and Itō Masayoshi’s 伊藤正義 discussion of “medieval Nihongi” (Itō 1972) in the 1970s triggered the emergence of new research from the 1980s onwards on medieval Shintō doctrines, mythological accounts, and Nihon shoki commentaries, based on specific interest in the fields of Japanese literature, historiography, and the history of thought.
The primary focus of research, however, has been on the formation of medieval Shintō in the Kamakura period, and less attention has been paid to the Muromachi period and later developments. This is particularly evident from the fact that research on Yoshida Shintō—the core of Shintō doctrines in late Muromachi period—has not produced major results since the seminal work done prior to the 1970s by Nishida Nagao 西田長男 (1978-1979) and Hagiwara Tatsuo 萩原龍夫 (1962, 1978), with the exception of Demura Katsuaki’s 出村勝明 studies of sources (Demura 1997). That said, the history of the development of Shintō in the Muromachi period has become somewhat clearer of late. Based on the current state of the field, in this article I will present an outline of developments of Shintō in the Muromachi period.
The Formation and Diffusion of Ryōbu, Ise, and Sannō Shintō Doctrines
Medieval Shintō doctrines emerged at the Grand Shrine of Ise toward the beginning of the Kamakura period. Ryōbu Shintō was the first to emerge; at its core was the doctrine identifying the Inner and Outer Shrines of Ise as, respectively, the Womb and Diamond Realms, which developed from teachings dating from the eleventh century according to which Tenshō Daijin 天照大神 was identified with Dainichi Nyorai 大日如来 (Vairocana Buddha 盧舎那仏). The cradle of this doctrine is thought to have been a temple called Sengūin 仙宮院 (no longer extant) in Yoshizu 吉津, Shima Province 志摩国 (present-day Yoshizu in Ise City, Mie prefecture), where the earliest Ryōbu Shintō works, Nakatomi no harae kunge 中臣祓訓解 and Mitsuno kashiwa denki 三角柏伝記, were written. Subsequently, many works were produced at Sengūin and other temples that surrounded the Ise shrines, including Tenchi reigaku hisho 天地霊覚秘書, Sengūin himon 仙宮院秘文, Ryōgū gyōmon jinshaku 両宮形文深釈, and Ryōgū honzei rishu makaen 両宮本誓理趣摩訶衍; one characteristic of these texts is their claim to have been written by important founders such as Kūkai 空海 (774–835) and Saichō 最澄 (767–822).
Among these texts, the most important extant work is the Reikiki 麗気記. Comprised of fourteen written scrolls and four illustrated scrolls, its authorship is attributed to Emperor Daigo 醍醐天皇 (885–930), who received it from a dragon woman who emerged from the Shinsen’en 神泉苑 pond in the Imperial Palace; in fact, it was produced in the late Kamakura period and is a collection of secret Esoteric Buddhist transmissions about the Ise shrines. When Reikiki was transmitted from master to disciple, unique initiation rites called Reiki kanjō 麗気灌頂 were performed (see below). This work has been long regarded as the most important book on kami after the Nihon shoki.
The Watarai 度会 clan, the priests of Ise’s Outer Shrine (Gekū 外宮), greatly stimulated the production Ryōbu Shintō works. As is well-known, the main deity of the Inner Shrine (Naigū 内宮) is Tenshō Daijin 天照大神, whereas the god of the Outer Shrine is Toyouke Ōkami 豊受大神; Tenshō Daijin is the divine imperial ancestor, and Toyouke merely an attendant god in charge of food offerings for her. According to texts such as the Daijingū shozōjiki 大神宮諸雑事記, Toyouke was originally a god from Tango Province (north of present-day Kyoto) that was relocated to Ise during the reign of Emperor Yūryaku 雄略天皇 (418–479), but in fact it is a local god of the Uji Yamada 宇治山田 area, where the Ise Shrines are located. The Watarai, the priests in charge of Toyouke, are descendants of the ancient chiefs of the Ise region (Ise no kuni no miyatsuko 伊勢国造). For the Watarai, a longstanding challenge was how to resist the authority of the Inner Shrine, and the doctrine identifying the Inner and Outer Shrines with the Womb and Diamond Realms gave them a good basis for arguing for the equality of the two shrines. The Sengūin had been in charge of preparing the food offerings for the Outer Shrine, and from early on monks there had an interest in Ryōbu Shintō.
This is the context in which Ise Shinto texts were produced. The first to appear was Hōki hongi 宝基本記, followed by Yamato-hime no mikoto seiki 倭姫命世紀 and Jingi fuden zuki 神祇譜伝図記, and by a trilogy about the shrine known as the Jingū sanbusho 神宮三部書, namely, Gochinza shidaiki 御鎮座次第記, Gochinza hongi 御鎮座本紀, and Gochinza denki 御鎮座伝記 (also known as Ōta no mikoto kunden 太田命訓伝). These too, like the Ryōbu Shintō texts, claimed to be ancient transmissions. Watarai Yukitada 度会行忠 (1236–1305) in particular deserves attention as he was involved in the authorship of several of these texts. His strategy was to take such works as Nakatomi no harae kunge 中臣祓訓解, Mitsu no kashiwa denki 三角柏伝記, and Tenchi reikaku hisho 天地霊覚秘書, erase the Buddhist elements in them, and then mix in material from Watarai genealogies.
(On Ise Shinto, see Teeuwen 1996.) A recent in-depth investigation of the Ōta no mikoto kunden 太田命訓伝, preserved at the Shinpukuji 真福寺 temple in Ōsu (Nagoya), has revealed the name “Yukitada” 行忠 written in black ink on the wooden stick at the center of the scroll (jikugi 軸木) scroll, so it is almost certain that he was responsible for the Jingū sanbusho 神宮三部書 (Okada 2012: 104–105).
It was Watarai Ieyuki 度会家行 (1256–1351?) who arranged and classified the Ryōbu and Ise Shintō books written near Ise in this way. He is also responsible for Korenshū 瑚璉集 and Ruijū jingi hongen 類聚神祇本源, which include excerpts from various texts organized along subjects such as the beginning of heaven and earth, the creation of Japan, the appearance of the kami, and the establishment of the Ise Shrines. It is worth noting that Ruijū jingi hongen was presented to the court, so these ideas spread widely outside the Ise Shrines.
In the late Kamakura period, new Shintō texts were also composed outside the confines of Ise. One center of production was in the vicinity of Mt. Hiei. Hie Sannō 日吉山王 (now Hiyoshi Taisha 日吉大社) was the protector deity of Enryakuji 延暦寺, ever since its foundation by Saichō in 823. In the early Kamakura period, there appeared a tendency toward doctrinal formalization, similarly to what was happening at Ise, which resulted in the formation, later in the Kamakura period, of the doctrine of Sannō Shintō, said to have been developed by a monk called Gigen 義源 (late thirteenth century). Its fundamental text is the Sange yōryakki 山家要略記, consisting of citations that were supposedly taken from the writings of Saichō, Ennin 円仁 (794–864), Enchin 円珍 (814–891), Ryōgen 良源 (912–985) and others related to Hie Sannō, although in fact they were mere fictitious titles created in order to give authority to that discourse. Later, the monk Kōshū 光宗 (1276–1350), who was a disciple of Gigen 義源, compiled the Keiran shūyōshū 渓嵐拾葉集, a set of thematically organized materials about divinities and buddhas from the Tendai school. (On Sannō Shinto, in English, see Breen and Teeuwen 2010).
From the late Kamakura period on, the influence of Ryōbu Shintō spread to various parts of Japan. Mt. Miwa (Miwayama 三輪山), Mt. Murō (Murōzan 室生山), and Hasedera 長谷寺 became centers of production of their own doctrines and texts. Mt. Miwa is the site of the Ōmiwa Shrine 大神神社, an ancient religious center that worshipped the god of Yamato province, Ōmononushi 大物主神. From the mid-Heian period, many ascetics (hijiri 聖) and recluse monks (tonseisō 遁世僧) gathered there. Kyōen 慶円 (1140–1223) was active in the area from the end of the Heian period to the early Kamakura period, and his lineage came to be called “Miwa-ryū” 三輪流 (Miwa lineage). In the late Kamakura period, Saidaji’s Eison 叡山 (1201–1290) and his followers came to Miwa, bringing with them Ryōbu Shintō doctrines; as a consequence, a new belief emerged that the god of Miwa and Tenshō Daijin were one and the same divinity, as expounded in the Miwa Daimyōjin engi 三輪大明神縁起. (On Miwa-ryū Shinto, in English, see Andreeva 2017.)
Mt. Murō, to the east of the Nara basin, had been a place of mountain cults and dragon/snake worship since the Nara period. Murōji 室生寺 that was built nearby was initially controlled by Kōfukuji 興福寺, but from the mid-Heian period the Shingon influence became strong; as a consequence, a legend emerged that Kūkai had buried there a wish-fulfilling jewel (nyoi hōju 如意宝珠) he had brought back from China. In the early Kamakura period, this jewel legend was connected to Ryōbu Shintō, giving rise to the doctrine that the jewel itself was Tenshō Daijin, so the Ise Shrines and Mt. Murō came to be seen as identical.
Hasedera temple in the Hase 初瀬 area of Yamato had long been a popular pilgrimage site open to female pilgrims and a temple for revelatory dreams. From the end of the Heian period, a doctrine emerged here according to which the temple’s main icon, the Eleven Headed Kannon 十一面観音, had the same body as Tenshō Daijin; the central text for this belief is the Hasedera missōki 長谷寺密奏記, attributed to Sugawara no Michizane (845–903). Subsequently, in the late Kamakura period, there began to appear texts that regarded the Ise Shrines, Mt. Murō, and Hasedera as one unified entity began to appear (Itō 2011, 335–336).
In this way, the Ryōbu Shintō doctrines were transmitted to several sacred places, where they were connected to local cults, generated new discourses, and led to the formation of new Shintō lineages.
The Formation of Shintō Initiations/Consecrations (kanjō)
From the end of the Kamakura period to the Nanbokuchō period, Ryōbu, Ise, and Sannō Shintō discourses spread to temples of Mikkyō, Tendai, and Ritsu lineages in various places. In many cases, important texts and related secret doctrines were transmitted through kanjō rituals. Kanjō originally refers to procedures related to succession rites of kingship in ancient India, which entailed pouring water on the head of the new king. Esoteric Buddhism incorporated this kanjō procedure into its rituals of consecration and secret initiation in order to give them authority, but in Japan from the Kamakura period on, kanjō rites were adopted for various types of transmission well beyond Mikkyō and Buddhism in general, in such contexts as the performing arts and artisan crafts. In particular, kanjō were also developed for the transmission of secret Shintō teachings (which were considered part of Buddhist secret knowledge); called shintō kanjō 神道灌頂 or jingi kanjō 神祇灌頂 these rituals may have already existed in the Kamakura period, but their form becomes clearer in the Nanbokuchō period.
It may be assumed that early shintō kanjō were simple affairs; the Reiki kanjō held for the transmission of the Reikiki was the first such rite to be performed with a detailed program and sets of procedures. Shinpukuji in Ōsu (Nagoya) preserves numerous books on Ryōbu and Ise Shintō from the Kamakura and Nanbokuchō periods, and among them documents survive related to the Reiki kanjō. These include the text and illustrated scrolls of the Reikiki, the kanjō injin 印信 (certificate), the transmission lineage, and other documents (and copies of them) from the Reiki kanjō that the monk Gikai 儀海 (1280–?), performed for Yūe 宥恵 (a disciple of Nōshin 能信, Shinpukuji’s founder) in 1353 at the Takahata Fudō 高幡不動 in Musashi province. The illustrated scrolls contain images of the three imperial regalia (sanshu jingi 三種神器) that were used as the main icons (honzon 本尊) of the kanjō; since these images are approximately the same as those used in later Reiki kanjō, the procedure is thought to have already been perfected by that time (Itō 2011: 346–552; Suzuki 2012: 238–246).
Following the Reiki kanjō, similar rituals came to be performed in the transmission of the Nihon shoki as well, in which case they were called Nihon shoki kanjō. Ryōben 良遍, when giving lectures on the Nihon shoki and Reikiki in 1424, performed the Reiki kanjō but does not seem to have done the same for the Nihon shoki, so perhaps this kanjō did not yet exist yet at the time. However, we know that large-scale Nihon shoki kanjō were being performed at Ninnaji in 1513, thus it is likely they developed between the mid-fifteenth and the early sixteenth centuries. On this occasion, a Reiki kanjō was also incorporated as part of the procedure, and the three regalia that had originally been the main icons for the Reiki kanjō, were used for the Nihon shoki kanjō; a serpent-shaped kami was used instead for the Reiki kanjō. In other words, shintō kanjō was originally created for the Reikiki, but as time passed the Nihon shoki became the center of this rite. (On Reiki kanjō, see Rambelli 2002.)
After the latter half of the fifteenth century, a new kanjō appeared, the oyashiro kanjō 父母代灌頂. It envisioned one’s parents as gods, symbolically re-enacted the intercourse between man and woman who gave birth to the initiand, and expressed gratitude for their virtues. As a kanjō about filiality toward one’s parents, it shared the subsequent early-modern Confucian discourse on filial piety, but its emphasis on the sexual act was indubitably medieval. Oyashiro kanjō seems to have been performed by men and women, monastic and lay, and moreover the three regalia used differed depending on the nature of the initiand. For example, in the case of a samurai they consisted of a bow, a long sword, and a short sword; for women, they were rouge, face powder, and a mirror; for farmers, they were a spade, a sickle, and a pot. At the oyashiro kanjō the meaning of the tools, objects of worship, and procedures was explained on the ritual platform; many lecture materials and transcriptions of oral instructions survive.
Apart from this, various kinds of kanjō procedures, originally performed outside the context of Shinto such as sokui kanjō 即位灌頂 (enthronment consecration), waka kanjō 和歌灌頂 (waka poetry consecration), chigo kanjō 稚児灌頂 (children initiation), and kyūhō kanjō 弓方灌頂 (consecration in the art of archery) were gradually incorporated into Shinto. Waka kanjō, for example, was a secret transmission of waka created within the Tameaki lineage 為顕流 and others, but by the sixteenth century it was included, with modifications, in many Shintō texts as one of the Shintō injin (transmission certificates).
The Formation of Shintō Schools
The texts and doctrines of Ryōbu Shintō were transmitted as part of Esoteric Buddhism, Tendai, and Ritsu lineages; initially, there was no special lineage or school of “Shintō.” From the Muromachi period on, however, independent Shintō schools began to take shape. Representative of these are Miwa-ryū Shintō 輪流神道 and Goryū Shintō 御流神道.
Miwa-ryū Shintō was originally a Shingon lineage founded by the aforementioned Kyōen. Kyōen was a hijiri ascetic (or tonseisō recluse monk) active at the Mt. Miwa bessho of Byōdōji 平等寺. According to his biography, the Miwa shōnin gyōjō 三輪上人行状, written shortly after his death by his disciple Tōgi 塔義 (mid-thirteenth century), he was a mountain ascetic (shugenja 修験者) with the power to speak and deal with beings from the other world, such as kami and demons (tengu 天狗). He created some secret teachings, a series of verses titled Sokushin jōbutsu ingon 即身成仏印言 (Nyakubon nyakushōge 若凡若聖偈, Sokushin jōbutsu gigon 即身成仏義言, Yuga no kirimon 瑜祇切文), and by transmitting them to gods and demons he was able to establish a connection with them. In one episode, Kyōen bestowed the Sokushin jōbutsu ingon on the dragon woman of Mt. Murō, who said that it was the same ingon she had received from Krakuchanda Buddha (Kurusonbutsu 拘留孫仏). This was later transmitted as an important secret of Miwa-ryū by special injin. In the early Muromachi period, the dragon woman was replaced by the Miwa god, and a new secret transmission developed called goi kanjō 互為灌頂, according to which Kyōen and the god of Miwa initiated each other, which is thought to have triggered Miwa-ryū’s transformation into a separate Shintō school (Itō 2016b: 12-19; 2016d: 276–281), probably around the mid-fifteenth century. The reason for this dating is that the Nō play Miwa, attributed to Konparu Zenchiku 金春禅竹 (1405–1471), clearly uses the goi kanjō as its material (in Miwa, Kyōen is rendered by Genpin 玄賓) (Itō 2016c: 11–13).1 Mt. Miwa’s Byōdōji 平等寺 and Ōgorinji 大御輪寺 became the main centers of Miwa-ryū Shintō, although in the early Edo period it was also transmitted to Hasedera (by then the main temple of the influential Shingi Shingonshū Buzan sect).
Goryū Shintō is thought to have drawn from the Ryōbu Shintō lineage at Mt. Murō mentioned above. By the first half of the fifteenth century, it had become a separate Shintō school with the Nihon shoki and the Reikiki as its fundamental texts. The origins of the name Goryū (lit., “August lineage”) seem to be due to this school’s connection to the lineage of the Sanbōin goryū 三宝院御流, but when it became a Shintō school, it claimed that its origin went back to Emperor Saga 嵯峨 天皇 (786–842), who had initiated Kūkai in certain secret teachings handed down by Tenshō Daijin. Goryū Shintō spread widely and became the largest Shintō school through the medieval and early modern periods (Itō 2016d: 273–276). It also developed kanjō of its own: the oyashiro kanjō and Nihonki kanjō mentioned above belonged to the Goryū system. Injin certificate transmissions were also organized into some sixty Tate injin 竪印信, seventy-five Yoko injin 横印信, and eighty Hachijūtsū injin 八十通印信.
Goryū Shintō teachings also spread to Tōji and Mt. Kōya at the end of themedieval period. On Mt. Kōya, there emerged in the Kyōhō 享保 era (1716–1736) a man named Eisen 英仙, who organized Kōyasan Shintō by adding elements from Yoshida Shintō (see below) to Goryū Shintō. In the Nara area, Kassai 活済 (1708–77), a monk from Saifukuji 西福寺 in southern Yamashiro province (Tamamizu juku 玉水宿, present-day Ide Town), received Goryū Shintō from lineages at Tōdaiji and Kōyasan and created a new school called Tamamizu-ryū 玉水流. This school was transmitted to Bankei 鑁啓 (1718–1794), a monk from the Chishaku-in 智積院, the main temple of the Shingi Shingon-shū Chisan sect 新義真言宗智山派, and became the core of Chisan-ha Shintō. Miwa-ryū and Goryū are the two major schools of the Ryōbu Shintō system, but in the medieval period there were a series of other Shintō schools as well: Kanpakuryū 関白流, Tsukuba-ryū 筑波流, Suwa-ryū 諏訪流, and Susanoo-ryū 素戔嗚流. Among these, Kanpaku-ryū has a unique lineage that claims a Nijō Kanpaku 二条関白 (it is unclear to whom exactly this refers) as its founder, but the Shintō texts related to this school show little difference from Goryū Shintō, of which it can be considered a subsect (Itō 1999: 1–12). The same is also true of the other schools.
The Appearance of Yoshida Shintō
Miwa-ryū and Goryū are both Shintō lineages of Esoteric Buddhism, and Sannō Shintō belongs to the Tendai school; in other words, these traditions were subsumed within Buddhism and were never independent from it. However, a Shintō school independent from Buddhism appears in the latter half of the fifteenth century: Yoshida Shintō 吉田神道 (also known as Yuiitsu Shintō 唯一神道 and Sōgen Shintō 宗源神道), created by Yoshida Kanetomo 吉田兼俱 (1435–1511). Yoshida Kanetomo was born into the Urabe 卜部 family, which inherited the position of vice director (Jingi Daifu 神祇大副) of the Department of Kami Affairs (Jingikan 神祇官) and served as the shrine priests at Yoshida and Hirano Shrines 平野神社. The Urabe clan, originating with Hiramaro 平麻呂 (807–881) from Izu province, were in charge of tortoise shell divinations at court, but from the Kamakura period they handed down knowledge of the Nihon shoki and other classics and served at court as “the Shintō house” 神道の家 and “the Nihongi house” 日本紀の家.
Kanetomo inherited these family traditions and added to them medieval Shintō teachings, thus establishing his own independent Shintō doctrine. He proclaimed his new Shintō after the Ōnin Rebellion (1467) and, taking advantage of this chaotic period, gathered adherents from among the nobility, the samurai, and Buddhist monks. In 1484, thanks to the assistance of Hino Tomiko 日野富子 (1440–1496), he established the Daigengū saijōsho 大元宮斎場所 on Mt. Yoshida 吉田山 in Kyoto. There, he enshrined deities from all over the country, beginning with those from the two shrines of Ise, and called it none other than the foundational shrine of the whole country since Emperor Jimmu 神武天皇 (Itō 2012: 232–236).2
Kanetomo’s Shintō doctrines are described in detail in his Yuiitsu shintō myōbō yōshū 唯一神道名法要集, which he claims had been written by his ancestor Kanenobu 兼延. According to this document, all previous forms of Shintō—that is, honjaku engi shintō 本迹縁起神道 (in which kami are manifestations of Buddhist divinities, as described in origin narratives [engi] of shrines) and ryōbu shūgō shintō 両部習合神道 (which, as we have seen, amalgamates the two shrines of Ise with the Shingon Womb and Diamond mandalas) were based on Buddhism, whereas his own tradition, genpon sōgen shintō 元本宗源神道, was the only form of Shintō transmitted directly from Tenshō Daijin and Amenokoyane no mikoto 天児屋根尊, the primary deity being Kuni no tokotachi no mikoto 国常立尊 (Taigen sonshin 大元尊神).
Kanetomo further divided his doctrines into disclosed teachings (kenrokyō 顕露教) and hidden teachings (in’yūkyō 陰幽教): the former used the Nihon shoki, Kojiki, and Kujiki 旧事紀 as sources to clarify the creation of heaven and earth, the age of the gods, and the genealogy of rulers and subjects; in contrast, the hidden teachings were based on texts such as the Tengen jinpen jinmyō kyō 天元神変神妙経, the Chigen jinzū jinmyō kyō 地元神通神妙経, and the Jingen jinriki jinmyō kyō 人元神力神妙経, which explain the spiritual power of the three entities [i.e., heaven, earth, and humans] (sansai no reiō 三才之霊応), the three wondrous empowerments (sanmyō no kaji 三妙之加持), and the three kinds of sacred treasures (sanshu no reihō 三種之霊宝). These three “scriptures” had, of course, been created by Kanetomo himself.
Kanetomo then proceeds to explain the meaning of the term Shintō, defining shin as the essence of all things and tō (way) as the origin of all things; he also examines Shintō from the angles of essence (tai 体), function (yū 用), and external appearance (sō 相). First, he divides essence into three origins (sangen 三元), function into three wonders (sanmyō 三妙), and appearance into three conducts (sangyō 三行). Next, he divides the three origins into heaven (ten 天), earth (chi 地), and humans (jin 人), and by dividing the three wonders into supernatural powers (jinzū 神通), power of transformation (jinpen 神変) and divine powers (jinriki 神力), he sets up an “altar of three wonders and nine parts” (sanmyō kubu myōdan 三妙九部妙壇). The three conducts are divided into the six Shintō of heaven (ten no roku shintō 天の六神道), the six Shintō of the earth (chi no roku shintō 地の六神道), and the six Shintō of humans (jin no roku shintō 人の六神道), together making eighteen Shintō. Kanetomo’s “Shintō” is something that permeates heaven, earth, and the human body, and constitutes all of them (Itō 2017: 118–124). Various rituals were performed in Yoshida Shintō based on these doctrines, the central one being called the “three altar rite” (sandan gyōji 三壇行事), comprised of Shintō goma 神道護摩, the Sōgen rite 宗源行事, and the Eighteen Shintō rite 十八神道行事. (On Yoshida Shintō, see Grapard 1992a, 1992b; Scheid 2000)
Kanetomo emphasized the independence and originality of his brand of Shintō, but the concept of a primordial god (Taigen sonshin) was based on the teachings of Kamakura-period Ryōbu and Ise Shintō; three origins, the three wonders nine parts altar and the eighteen Shintō are indebted to yin-yang five elements teachings and Daoist thought, and the three altar rite and other rituals and initiation methods were strongly influenced by Mikkyō and Onmyōdō; in other words, Kanetomo created his form of Shintō by mixing together various intellectual systems that were circulating at that time.
The teachings of Yoshida Shintō were fiercely condemned by several Nativist authors in the Tokugawa period, but regardless of its doctrinal content, it formally established a system of Shintō independent from Buddhism, which decisively influenced later Shintō thought. Most early modern Shintō doctrines, such as Ritō Shinchi Shintō 理当心地神道, Yoshikawa Shintō 吉川神道, and Suika Shintō 垂加神道, derive in some form from Yoshida Shintō, and Yoshida Shintō constitutes not
only the systematization of medieval Shintō, but also the origin of early modern Shintō theory (Itō 2012: 243–245).3
After Kanetomo’s death, there was a temporary confusion, but Yoshida Shintō continued to strengthen its inf luence. His son Kiyohara Nobutaka 清原宣賢 (1475–1550) and his grandson Kanemigi 兼右 (1516–1573) frequently traveled outside the capital, spreading Yoshido Shintō teachings to feudal lords (daimyō) and shrine priests; his great-grandchildren Kanemi 兼見 (1535–1610) and Bonshun 梵舜 (1553–1632) became close to both Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu, and were involved in their deification. When their prerogative to control Shintō shrines was recognized by the Shosha negi kannushi hatto 諸社禰宜神主法度 promulgated by the Tokugawa bakufu, the Yoshida family held a position of authority in the Shintō world throughout the early modern period.
The Reception of Shintō Theories in Buddhist Sects
As we have seen, medieval Shintō was deeply connected to Esoteric Buddhism and the Tendai school, but it also had links to other forms of Buddhism. Let us now look at Shintō connections with the so-called “Kamakura Buddhism” during the Muromachi period.
The Rinzai sect of Zen Buddhism had a tendency of combining Zen and Mikkyō practice (zenmitsu kenshū 禅密兼修) at the time of Yōsai 栄西 (1141–1215) and Enni 円爾 (1202–1280), but since the mid-Kamakura period, when Chinese monks began to come to Japan, this combined practice (kenshū) fell out of favor. As a consequence, Rinzai monks had little to do with shinbutsu shūgō 神仏習合 or medieval Shintō doctrines. However, the discourse on the unity of the three teachings (sankyō icchi 三教一致), which became prominent at Zen temples during the Muromachi period, provoked interest in Shintō, and many Zen monks studied Yoshida Shintō after it emerged.4 Monks like Ōsen Keisan 横川景三 (1429–1493) and Keijo Shūrin 景徐周麟 (1440–1518) attended lectures by Kanetomo on the Nihon shoki and the Nakatomi no harae 中臣祓, and their lecture notes (kikigaki 聞書) are extant (Itō 2012: 117). Compared to Rinzai, the Sōtō sect, which developed later, spread in the provinces. Many biographies of Sōtō Zen monks contain stories about them converting and subjugating local gods. Particularly well known is the story of Gen’ō Shinshō 源応心昭 (1329–1400), who pacified the “killing stone” (sesshō-seki 殺生石) (the nine-tailed fox 九尾狐) in Nasu (Shimotsuke province in Kantō); the biography of Ryōan Emyō 了庵慧明 (1337–1411) includes a story in which he converted to Zen the local god of Mt. Daiyū in Sagami Province, and another of him transmitting the Zen lineage to Hakone Gongen 箱根権現. Other narratives are also found in different sources about Zen monks converting local gods and building Buddhist temples on their land, transmitting the precepts to gods which then became protector deities, or subjugating evil spirits and ghosts (the story about the killing stone is one example). These stories have similarities to earlier, Nara-period tales of gods casting away their kami bodies, and it is interesting to see these newer sects repeating a similar process of diffusion of Buddhism in the countryside. In order for Sōtō Zen to spread among commoners in the rural areas, the mix of Esoteric Buddhism and kami beliefs was essential (Hanuki 1993: 335–359; Itō 2012: 116).
Pure Land sects, at the time of founders Hōnen 法然 and Shinran 親鸞, kept a distance from kami cults, but their successors aimed for more closeness with the gods. The Shinran denne 親鸞伝絵 written by Shinran’s great grandson Kakunyo 覚如 (1270–1351) contains accepted honji suijaku 本地垂迹 belief, as is clear from anecdotes such as Shinran accepting the conversion of Hakone Gongen at Mt. Hakone or encouraging his disciples to accept Kumano 熊野 beliefs (the honji of Kumano Hongū 熊野本宮 being Amida nyorai 阿弥陀如来). Kakunyo’s son Zonkaku 存覚 (1290–1373) wrote Shoshin honkai shū 諸神本懐集 (1324), for the purpose of teaching lay followers; in it, he introduced a theory of honji suijaku. Zonkaku makes a distinction between gonja no reijin 権社ノ霊神 and jissha no jashin 実社ノ邪神. The former are kami as provisional manifestations of buddhas and bodhisattvas; the latter are entities such as living spirits, dead spirits, and animals who do not have an original Buddhist divinity (honji) but are worshiped as kami simply because people are afraid of their wrath. Zonkaku accepts worship of gonja kami but rejects jissha spirits. In this way, he presents a sort of compromise, accepting honji suijaku beliefs in general but retaining the possibility of denying the worship of specific kami (jingi fuhai) represented by jissha entities (Itō 2016: 60–66; in English, see Rambelli 2006/7). Later, Rennyo 蓮如 acknowledged all gonja and jissha without distinction as manifestations of Amida. This development was a result of the expansion of Jōdo Shinshū organizations, which required them to be able to include large communities, and represents a significant shift from Shinran’s
principle to not worship the kami (Hayashi 2015: 248–255).
There are some differences among the various Jōdoshū sects, but they show a general tendency to accept kami belief more easily than Shinshū. This conciliatory attitude increased in the Muromachi period, when some Jōdoshū authors fully accepted medieval Shintō doctrines. One representative example is Shōgei 聖冏 (1341–1420), considered the seventh patriarch of the Chinzei 鎭西 sect, which later became the main Jōdoshū lineage. Active in promoting Jōdo in the Kanto area, Shōgei wrote many works on Pure Land teachings, but at the same time, he studied Shintō seriously and wrote about it. One of his works, the Kashima mondō 鹿島問答, is a dialogue between an old man and a woman at Kashima Daijingū, the shrine dedicated to the most important god of Hitachi province, Shōgei’s birthplace. It explains the relationship between Pure Land and various other beliefs, including kami cults, and develops a unique theory of honji suijaku according to which all kami are manifestations of the Buddha Amida. He wrote this book at the age of 37, but in his later years he began to take the teachings of Goryū Shintō seriously, producing
the commentaries Nihon shoki shishō 日本書紀私鈔, Reikiki shishō 麗気記私鈔, and Reikiki jinzuga shishō 麗気記神図画私鈔. He also seems to have received an official shintō kanjō. In addition, Shōgei also wrote the Kokin jochū 古今序註, a commentary of the poetry collection Kokinwakashū 古今和歌集. In short, Shōgei’s production can be considered an embodiment of medieval scholarship (Suzuki 2012: 175–193).
Regarding the Nichiren sect, the core of its kami belief concerns the sanjūbanjin 三十番神. This is a belief that thirty gods, in rotation over a period of one month (thirty days), support and protect the Lotus Sutra. The sect claims that Nichiren himself initiated this cult, but it originally began in the Tendai school; the most influential theory is that this belief was introduced in the Nichiren sect at the time of Nichizō 日像 (1269–1342), who established Nichiren Buddhism in Kyoto (Sonoda 1967: 178–183). In 1497 Yoshida Kanetomo caused a controversy by claiming that it was his ancestor Kanemasu 兼益 who had instructed Nichiren about the sanjūbanjin. This was a problem for the Nichiren sect, because it claimed that Nichiren had begun the sanjūbanjin cult, whereas in fact that cult already existed in the Tendai sect; Kanetomo exposed this contradiction. Kanetomo presented a forgery entitled Kanemasu-ki 兼益記 as evidence to support his theory, in order to extend the influence of Yoshida Shintō within the Nichiren sect. The controversy ended without a conclusion being reached, but it triggered the development of Yoshida-infused discourses about the kami in the Nichiren sect (Hirono 1924: 30–9, 57–751, 30–10, 37–51); called Hokke Shintō, it centered on sanjūbanjin and the doctrine that the kami abide in heaven (shintenjō hōmon 神天上法門). The earliest writings on Hokke Shintō are the Banshin mondō ki 番神問答記, which summarizes the dispute with Kanetomo, and the Hokke shintō hiketsu 法華神道秘決, compiled by Enmyō Nitchō 円明日澄 (1441–1510). The latter is probably a later apocryphon, but it includes theories of contemporaneous Goryū Shintō, and because parts of it appear in the Jingimon 神祇門, which is said to have been written by Nichiren, we must consider the possibility that Hokke Shintō was also influenced by Ryōbu Shintō. Subsequent works such as the Chinju kanjō kakugo yō 鎮守勧請覚悟要 by Nisshu 日修 (1532–1594), who studied with Kiyohara Nobutaka 清原宣賢, and the Shintō dōitsu kanmi shō 神道同一鹹味抄, clearly drew on Yoshida Shintō teachings (Itō 2012: 117–120). (On sanjūbanjin, see also Dolce 2002.)
“Shintō” begins to function as an independent religion in the Muromachi period. The term “Shintō” already starts to take on the meaning of kami-related thought and doctrine—in addition to its primary meaning of “gods” or “kami rituals”—in the Kamakura period, but it is during the Nanbokuchō and Muromachi periods that it begins to develop into a religion of its own. The first step was the establishment of different schools. Still, schools like Goryū and Miwa-ryū, and perhaps Sannō Shintō as well, were no more than people specializing in kami matters within Buddhism. Only with the establishment of Yoshida Shintō does Shintō appear as an entity quite independent from Buddhism.
Accounts of Shintō by Christians, who arrived in Japan in the sixteenth century, provides useful information to understand the late medieval view of “Shintō.” Christians, in particular the Jesuits, after the arrival of Francis Xavier (1549), studied Japanese religions and East Asian intellectual systems, and criticized them based on their own beliefs. As we see in such works as the Iezusu kaishi Nihon tsūshin イエズス会士日本通信, the Christian evaluation of Shinto was generally low. Especially when compared with complex systems such as Buddhism and Confucianism, Shintō was deemed to be a mere superstitious folk belief, perhaps also because of its polytheistic notions, its versatility that made celestial bodies, plants, animals, and anything else into gods, its this-worldly character (genze riyaku 現世利益), and its mythological accounts based on Yin-yang harmony.
Habian Fukan’s Myōtei mondō 妙貞問答 (1605) treats “Shintō” as an independent religion, after Buddhism (Hossō, Sanron, Tendai, Nichiren, Shingon, Zen, Jōdo, and Ikkō) and Confucianism. In this dialogue-type book, one character explains details of “Shintō” thought based entirely on Yoshida Shintō; in response, the other character argues that Yoshida Shintō simply borrows from Confucianism, Yin-yang theory, and Buddhism, and that Shintō in general is nothing more than a superficial discourse about male and female intercourse (Ebisawa 1966: 219–237; see Baskind and Bowring, trans., 2016). (Indeed, explaining everything through the principle of male and female union is a common feature of medieval Shintō) (Itō 2012: 452–518).5
Subsequently, early modern Shintō developed by criticizing such medieval Shintō doctrines and strengthening its ethical tendency through assimilation with Confucianism; furthermore, by turning into a set of teachings about the emperor (tennōkyō 天皇教), it set the basis for modern State Shintō (kokka shintō).
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