Academic journal article Japanese Journal of Religious Studies

The Development of the Temple-Parishioner System

Academic journal article Japanese Journal of Religious Studies

The Development of the Temple-Parishioner System

Article excerpt

This essay examines the historical conditions for the establishment of the templeparishioner or danka system. It is difficult to pinpoint the exact beginnings of this system. While there are medieval precedents, the broad development of the relationship between a temple and its parishioners as established through funerary rituals is primarily a phenomenon of the early modern period. I argue that there are roughly five distinct phases to the development of the templeparishioner system: the proto-temple-parishioner system during the medieval period, the beginnings of the temple-parishioner system in the first half of the seventeenth century, the establishment of the temple-parishioner system in the second half of the seventeenth century, the establishment of the registration of religious affiliation, and the emergence of fully developed funerary Buddhism after 1700.

KEYWORDS: danka-temple-parishioner system-terauke seido-anti-Christian campaign-shumon aratame-funerary Buddhism

(ProQuest: ... denotes formulae omitted.)

UNTIL THE LATE medieval period, commoners did not hold funerals at temples; such rituals were limited to emperors, aristocrats, and upperclass warriors. For example, Senny.ji ... in Kyoto was in charge of performing funerals for successive emperors until Emperor Komei's ... reign. During the Heian period, Kofukuji ... in Nara and Byodo'in ... in Uji were established as clan temples through the donations of the Fujiwara "... to pray for the repose of its family members, as was Jufukuji ... in Kamakura (founded by Hojo Masako ... as the clan temple for the Minamoto ...). A temple like Meigetsu'in-... in Kamakura would be named after the posthumous Dharma name of Uesugi Norikata ... and serve as the clan temple for the Uesugi family for future generations. In other words, these types of temples were originally places where memorial services could be held for the founding donor.the kaiki danna ... (the term danna 'h"... is the basis for the term danka ... or temple parishioner).and that his or her descendents would support financially thereafter. In time, temples were built for other powerful figures in Japanese society such as feudal lords and local rulers, who also financially supported the running of their family temple. Thus, in the medieval period, commoners or those without the financial means to establish their own temple never built tombs within Buddhist temple grounds or held memorial services for their ancestors at a temple.

With the collapse of the medieval order, however, lower-class warriors reigned over upper-class warriors by inverting the social order. Families that originally founded the temples (kaiki danna) often lost their status in society, which, in turn, made the management of temples unstable. This meant that temples searched for new economic opportunities and began to perform funerals not just for founder families but also for commoners. This shift is reflected in the topics of lectures held by eminent monks, such as those of the S.t. Zen school. In Eihei Koroku ..., the collected sayings of Zen Master Dogen "... (1200.1253), the ratio between lectures on Zen meditation versus those on funerals is 99% (Zen meditation) to 1% (funerals). D.gen focused on Zen meditation in the context of explicating monastic regulations. On the other hand, in Ents. Shodo zenji goroku ..., a collection of Zen Master Shodo Kosei's ... (1431.1505) sayings, the ratio between lecture topics focusing on Zen meditation to funeral is 8% (Zen meditation) to 92% (funerals). This text reveals a sharp increase in lectures on funerals and a significant decrease in those on Zen meditation. In short, by 1500, clerics in the S.t. Zen school found themselves performing funerals as a normal part of their daily ritual life, alongside the practice of Zen meditation. The economic basis of S.t. Zen school temples also shifted by this point from funerary practices for founder families to those for commoners. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.