We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

Neither Monk nor Layman

Clerical Marriage in Modern Japanese Buddhism

Richard M. Jaffe

Publication Year: 2011

Buddhism comes in many forms, but in Japan it stands apart from all the rest in one most striking way—the monks get married. In Neither Monk nor Layman, the most comprehensive study of this topic in any language, Richard Jaffe addresses the emergence of an openly married clergy as a momentous change in the history of modern Japanese Buddhism. He demonstrates, in clear and engaging prose, that this shift was not an easy one for Japanese Buddhists. Yet the transformation that began in the early Meiji period (1868–1912)—when monks were ordered by government authorities to marry, to have children, and to eat meat—today extends to all the country’s Buddhist denominations. Jaffe traces the gradual acceptance of clerical marriage by Japanese Buddhists from the premodern emergence of the "clerical marriage problem" in the Edo period to its widespread practice by the start of World War II. In doing so he considers related issues such as the dissolution of clerical status and the growing domestication of Japanese temple life. This book reveals the deep contradictions between sectarian teachings that continue to idealize renunciation and a clergy whose lives closely resemble those of their parishioners in modern Japanese society. It will attract not only scholars of religion and of Japanese history, but all those interested in the encounter-conflict between regimes of modernization and religious institutions and the fate of celibate religious practices in the twentieth century.

Published by: University of Hawai'i Press


pdf iconDownload PDF (47.3 KB)
pp. ix-x

Figures and Table

pdf iconDownload PDF (23.2 KB)
pp. xi

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (77.8 KB)
pp. xiii-xviii

While gathering materials in 1989 for a study of Zen Buddhism during the Edo period, I came across a surprising passage in an 1899 compilation of current S

read more

Preface to the Papeback Edition

pdf iconDownload PDF (47.4 KB)
pp. xix-xx

In the years since the publication of the hardcover edition of Neither Monk nor Layman, my research has continued to focus on developments in Japanese Buddhism from the beginning of the Meiji period until the present. Although my current work is not directly connected with the debate over clerical marriage, as I have read through the writings of various twentieth-century Japanese Buddhists...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (37.6 KB)
pp. xxi-xxii

Given the length of time it has taken me to complete this project and my gregarious personality, it is only natural that I have many people to acknowledge. All of them helped make this a far better book than it would have been otherwise. I am deeply grateful to my mentors at Yale University. In particular, I thank Professor Stanley Weinstein for his teaching and friendship. He demonstrated a standard of scholarly thoroughness and accuracy...

Reference Abbreviations

pdf iconDownload PDF (45.2 KB)
pp. xxiii-xxiv

Ministries and Other Government Institutions

pdf iconDownload PDF (36.2 KB)
pp. xxv

read more

Chapter 1 Introduction

pdf iconDownload PDF (374.1 KB)
pp. 1-8

More than a century after the decriminalization of nikujiki saitai, marriage by Buddhist clerics is now a familiar part of Japanese life. According to a rough estimate made by Kanaoka Sh

read more

Chapter 2 Pre-Meiji Precedents

pdf iconDownload PDF (439.5 KB)
pp. 9-35

By the start of the Meiji period, both critics of Buddhism and many Buddhist clerics themselves generally acknowledged that a significant number of clerics ignored the rules governing clerical behavior. In particular, late Tokugawa and early Meiji authors alleged that the regulations banning sexual relations, meat eating, and alcohol consumption by the Buddhist clergy were frequently and flagrantly being violated...

read more

Chapter 3 Jodo Shin Buddhism and the Edo Period Debate over Nikujiki Saitai

pdf iconDownload PDF (427.3 KB)
pp. 36-57

Against the backdrop of the systematization of the status system, the increased control of clerical behavior by the Tokugawa and domainal authorities, the sporadic but prominent enforcement of antifornication statutes, and the increasingly vocal contention over meat eating, a sustained debate...

read more

Chapter 4 The Household Registration System and the Buddhist Clergy

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.1 MB)
pp. 58-94

From the last decades of the Edo period through the early years of the Meiji era, the Buddhist clergy were confronted with the most violent assault on Buddhist institutions in Japanese history. Over the course of the Bakumatsu era, Buddhism was increasingly attacked from a variety of perspectives by Confucians, Shint

read more

Chapter 5 Passage of the Nikujiki Saitai Law: The Clergy and the Formation of Meiji Buddhist Policy

pdf iconDownload PDF (413.6 KB)
pp. 95-113

The 1872 decriminalization of clerical meat eating, marriage, and several other associated practices was an integral part of the social reforms that ended most special legal treatment for the Buddhist clergy. As discussed in the previous chapter, the various measures enacted by the Meiji regime, although resisted by many members of the Buddhist clergy, did find some support even among Buddhist reformers...

read more

Chapter 6 Horses with Horns: The Attack on Nikujiki Saitai

pdf iconDownload PDF (3.3 MB)
pp. 114-147

The new laws relaxing regulations regarding clerical deportment as well as the announcement that meat would be eaten at the court were met with considerable resistance from different factions of the clergy. One early violent incident occurred a little more than one month after the court announced that meat would be part of the imperial menu. On Meiji 5/2/ 18 (March 26, 1872), a group of ten members of the Onatake confraternity...

read more

Chapter 7 Denominational Resistance and the Modification of Government Policy

pdf iconDownload PDF (401.7 KB)
pp. 148-164

The ferocious protest that arose following the promulgation of the nikujiki saitai law caught the officials in the Ministry of Doctrine by surprise. In spite of much serious resistance from leading Buddhist clerics, however, ministry officials refused to rescind the new order. During the next six years, Buddhist leaders tested the government’s resolve to stay the course and tried to maintain control of the clergy in the absence of government intervention on their behalf...

read more

Chapter 8 Tanaka Chigaku and the Buddhist Clerical Marriage: Toward a Positive Appraisal of Family Life

pdf iconDownload PDF (2.4 MB)
pp. 165-188

Although the first wave of responses to the decriminalization of nikujiki saitai were overwhelmingly negative, by the 1880s some Buddhist intellectuals began openly to criticize the position taken by the leaders of the Buddhist denominations. One of the earliest, most radical responses to the problem of clerical marriage was propounded by Tanaka Chigaku (1861–1939)...

read more

Chapter 9 The Aftermath: From Doctrinal Concern to Practical Problem

pdf iconDownload PDF (2.0 MB)
pp. 189-227

Almost a generation had elapsed since the decriminalization of clerical marriage, when the editors of the S

read more

Chapter 10 Almost Home

pdf iconDownload PDF (397.1 KB)
pp. 228-242

The struggle over nikujiki saitai, which continues to this day, was prolonged and exacerbated by several important trends in the history of modern Japanese religious institutions. As part of the government’s effort to modernize social life, Meiji officials abolished government enforcement of such status-based legal strictures as the prohibitions against meat eating, marriage, or abandonment of the tonsure by ordained Buddhist clerics. In effect...


pdf iconDownload PDF (1.1 MB)
pp. 243-253


pdf iconDownload PDF (1.1 MB)
pp. 254-274


pdf iconDownload PDF (408.2 KB)
pp. 275-288

E-ISBN-13: 9780824860585
Print-ISBN-13: 9780824835279

Publication Year: 2011

Research Areas


UPCC logo

Subject Headings

  • Buddhism -- Japan -- History -- 1868-1945.
  • Marriage -- Religious aspects -- Buddhism.
  • Buddhist priests -- Marriage -- Japan.
  • Buddhist priests -- Family relationships -- Japan.
  • You have access to this content
  • Free sample
  • Open Access
  • Restricted Access