Hokkeji and the Reemergence of Female Monastic Orders in Premodern Japan
Publication Year: 2010
Published by: University of Hawai'i Press
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MY RESEARCH ON THE NUNS of Hokkeji grew out of a broader, cross-cultural interest in the nature of women’s roles in the social lives of religious institutions. Exposed from an early age to doctrines preaching the inferiority of women, I struggled as a young adult to reconcile the moral insights of the tradition in which I had been raised with its oppressive social policies. In ...
Abbreviations and Conventions
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DURING THE SECOND MONTH of the first year of the Kenchō era (1249), twelve women received the complete nuns’ monastic precepts (bikuni gusokukai) of the Four-Part Vinaya (Sifenlü, Jpns. Shibun ritsu) from the priest Eison (also “Eizon,” 1201–1290, aka Shien Shōnin, Kōshō Bosatsu). For several years, these women had been living as lay monastics in the dilapidated buildings ...
1 Pilgrimage, Popular Devotion, and the Reemergence of Hokkeji
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LIKE MOST TEMPLES BUILT in the southern capital of Heijō-kyō (Nara) during the eighth century, Hokkeji’s years of flourishing were limited. Although documentary and archaeological evidence indicates that construction continued on the grounds of the convent even into the early years of the ninth century, the convent lost its financial and political support base with the ...
2 Envisioning Nuns: Views from the Court
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PREVIOUS SCHOLARSHIP HAS VIEWED the revival of Hokkeji primarily through the lens of androcentric Buddhist rhetoric. Following the assumption that nuns and other female practitioners at Hokkeji internalized the androcentric Buddhist teachings propagated by Saidaiji monks and incorporated these doctrines into their daily lives and practices, earlier studies tend ...
3 Envisioning Nuns: Views from the Male Monastic Order
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THE MOST POWERFUL POSITION in the Buddhist world that women of the Heian and early Kamakura periods could hope to attain was that of a great lay patron. As demonstrated in the last chapter, nyoin, as political players whose wealth and influence rivaled that of tennō and retired sovereigns, came to play significant roles in the Buddhist...
4 Hokkeji's Place in Eison's Vinaya Revival Movement
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THE LAST TWO CHAPTERS examined the historical development of two dis-crete discourses on nunhood and women’s religiosity. The first, explored in chapter 2, was that adopted by men and women connected to the elite world of the court. Within these circles, women tended to downplay disadvantages ascribed to female practice in doctrinal texts and focused instead ...
5 Social and Economic Life at Hokkeji and Its Branch Convents
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WERE IT NOT FOR SUBTLE CLUES found in passages such as the one above, the Hokke metsuzaiji engi might leave readers with the impression that Hokkeji’s medieval restoration was a rarefied event, a small-scale revival undertaken by a handful of elite women committed to the veneration of Queen-Consort Kōmyō.1 Insofar as her primary goal was that of a hagiographer, Hokke metsuzaiji engi author Enkyō...
6 Ritual Life at Medieval Hokkeji
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THE ABOVE NARRATIVE, recounted in a 938 entry from Fujiwara no Michinori’s (1106–1160) state history, Honchō seiki, goes on to tell how the main shrine of Iwashimizu Hachiman punished a charismatic nun for ritual performance. By the year 938, it had been at least a century since Japanese nuns had been given the opportunity to receive official state...
7 Representations of Women and Gender in Ritsu Literature
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PREVIOUS CHAPTERS have demonstrated the success with which Hokkeji nuns re-created an institutional framework for female monastic life. In restoring Hokkeji, they tended to adopt the structures and practices of male institutions. Before association with Eison, women at Hokkeji revived the convent as a pilgrimage site, following the broader patterns by which ...
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UNTIL RECENTLY, studies of Buddhist convents in premodern Japan tended to accept one or both of the following premises: (1) that convents served the social function of housing socially problematic women—illegitimate or unmarriageable daughters, widows, and unwanted wives—and (2) that women who entered convents internalized androcentric doctrines. These ...
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Works Cited and Consulted
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Publication Year: 2010