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Zen Sanctuary of Purple Robes

Japan's Tokeiji Convent Since 1285

Sachiko Kaneko Morrell, Robert E. Morrell

Publication Year: 2006

Zen Sanctuary of Purple Robes examines the affairs of Rinzai Zen’s Toµkeiji Convent, founded in 1285 by nun Kakusan Shidoµ after the death of her husband, Hoµjoµ Tokimune. It traces the convent’s history through seven centuries, including the early nuns’ Zen practice; Abbess Yoµdoµ’s imperial lineage with nuns in purple robes; Hideyori’s seven-year-old daughter—later to become the convent’s twentieth abbess, Tenshuµ—spared by Tokugawa Ieyasu at the Battle for Osaka Castle; Toµkeiji as “divorce temple” during the mid-Edo period and a favorite topic of senryuµ satirical verse; the convent’s gradual decline as a functioning nunnery but its continued survival during the early Meiji persecution of Buddhism; and its current prosperity. The work includes translations, charts, illustrations, bibliographies, and indices. Beyond such historical details, the authors emphasize the convent’s “inclusivist” Rinzai Zen practice in tandem with the nearby Engakuji Temple. The rationale for this “inclusivism” is the continuing acceptance of the doctrine of “Skillful Means” (hoµben) as expressed in the Lotus Sutra—a notion repudiated or radically reinterpreted by most of the Kamakura reformers. In support of this contention, the authors include a complete translation of the Mirror for Women by Kakusan’s contemporary, Mujū Ichien.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Title Page

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pp. vii-viii


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p. ix

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pp. xi-xviii

In the entry for the fourth day of the seventh month in the year Kencho\ 4 [1252], during the reign of Emperor Gofukakusa, the Azuma kagami (Mirror of the East, ca. 1270)2 notes: “The sky was clear. At noon the wife of Yoshikage, Superintendent of Akita Castle, had an easy delivery of a girl . . . She was called Horiuchi-tono.” (In a little...

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pp. xix-xx

As evening shadows lengthen we look back, nearly a quarter century, to the start of a project now finally realized. Our collaborative article, “Sanctuary: Kamakura’s To\keiji Convent,” appeared in the June-September 1983 issue of the Japanese Journal of Religious Studies through the efforts of Nanzan’s James W. Heisig, W. Michael Kelsey, and...

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1. Winds of Doctrine:The World of Thought and Feeling in Late Kamakura Japan

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pp. 1-14

In spite of her family’s prominent position in the Kamakura military establishment, we know few details about Lady Horiuchi’s life. But since she was raised in harsh times dominated by the Spartan ideals of the newly risen samurai class, we can make some confident inferences about the kind of person she must have been. We should envision neither...

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2. Muju Ichien’s Mirror for Women(Tsuma kagami, 1300):A Buddhist Vernacular Tract of the Late Kamakura Period

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pp. 15-38

An obvious place to begin our search for such factual items bearing on the mind-set of a woman of the military class in the last decades of the thirteenth century would be all kinds of available literature from that time, not necessarily—or even primarily— the official pronouncements of church or state, literarily or historically...

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3. Abbess Kakusan and the Kamakura Hojo

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pp. 39-54

As only the “second Englishman in Japan,”2 and at a time of civil unrest when sober historical fact could not easily be disentangled from popular rumor and exaggeration, Cocks can be excused for his inaccuracies. But in comparing accounts of Kamakura at the peak of its prosperity, several generations after Yoritomo, with what he saw of...

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4. Princess Yodo’s Purple-clad Nuns

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pp. 55-75

Tokimune’s defense against the Mongols had been a military success, but its economic consequences included the erosion of Hojo political authority and its collapse within decades. The military government took the reasonable precaution of preparing to defend the country against a possible third invasion from the mainland and...

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5. From Sanctuary to Divorce Temple:Abbess Tenshu and the Later Kitsuregawa Administrators

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pp. 77-93

Will Adams (Miura Anjin, 1564–1620)2 arrived in Japan at the western island of Kyushu in 1600 and is recognized as the first Englishman to set foot in that country. In the same year, at Sekigahara, Tokugawa Ieyasu (1542–1616) won a decisive victory over his competitors and went on to unify the country under a two and a...

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6. Everyday Life at Matsugaoka Tokeiji:Sacred and Secular

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pp. 95-111

As noted in the preface, we are here concerned with the continuity of serious Rinzai Zen practice at Matsugaoka To\keiji during its long history, while giving the popular caricature of “divorce temple” its due—but no more than that. Popular views over time tend to define all historical “facts” unless and until these are consciously...

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7. The “Divorce Temple”in Edo Satirical Verse

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pp. 113-135

Among the entertainments of the eighteenth-century Edo townsman was a new verse form called senryu, after the pen name of its most prominent promoter, Karai Hachiemon (Senryu, 1718–1790). Like haiku it consisted of seventeen syllables, usually in groups of 5-7-5. But it required no seasonal reference (kigo) or “cutting words”...

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8. Meiji through Heisei:Tokeiji and Rinzai Zen Continuity

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pp. 137-148

The new Meiji government was quick to implement the intentions of the Constitution of 17 June 1868. The old system of court and shogunate, with considerable local autonomy, was replaced by a centralized authority in Tokyo. “On January 22 [1872] it was decreed that Buddhist nuns might let their hair grow out, eat meat...


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pp. 149-156


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pp. 157-191

Annotated Cross-Referenced Indexto Major Cited Texts

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pp. 193-203


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pp. 205-227


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pp. 229-246

E-ISBN-13: 9780791481448
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791468272
Print-ISBN-10: 0791468275

Page Count: 266
Illustrations: 13 b/w photographs, 5 tables, 5 figures
Publication Year: 2006

OCLC Number: 74712891
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Zen Sanctuary of Purple Robes

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Tōkeiji (Kamakura-shi, Japan) -- History.
  • Women's shelters -- Japan -- History.
  • Divorce -- Japan -- History.
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