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In Session: The Care and Management of Religious Organizations in Early Modern Japan
1: The Re-Emergence of Enryakuji and the Re-Organization of Jōbodai-in as a "Detached Cloister"
Friday, March 26, 2021
12:00pm – 1:30pm EDT
Tohoku University, Japan
Jōbodai-in was a typical Buddhist seminary (dangisho) in many respects, but unlike many other temples that were managed through the maintenance of secular relations such as patronage from a local lord, Jōbodai-in kept a certain distance from such power relations, and order was maintained within the temple with an orientation towards scholastic ability. It also maintained connections to other seminaries it financially supported through the purchase and sale of sacred teachings. These multiple revenue streams were made possible by medieval Japan's pluralistic society, in which people actively participated in fundraising campaigns. This presentation explores how these medieval characteristics of the temple were transformed in the early modern period, causing a loss of both local control and distinguishing characteristics. When Tendai temples were integrated into an umbrella organization, it became difficult to continue carrying out activities that crossed denominational lines. Dominated by the head temple (Enryakuji) through its head priest's appointment, Jōbodai-in's unique position as a place that valued scholarship also appears to have been relatively diminished. From the seventeenth to the middle of the eighteenth century, Jōbodai-in was led by an influential member appointed by the head temple. It was relegated to a subordinate position, supporting the head temple financially and academically, thus making it difficult to train its own successors. This limitation on the independence of individual temples that came with their integration into a unified order was one characteristic of temple organization that emerged in the early modern period.