Academic journal article Japanese Journal of Religious Studies

Wine, Rice, or Both? Overwriting Sectarian Strife in the Tendai Shuhanron Debate

Academic journal article Japanese Journal of Religious Studies

Wine, Rice, or Both? Overwriting Sectarian Strife in the Tendai Shuhanron Debate

Article excerpt

This article examines the Shuhanron emaki (The illustrated scroll of the wine and rice debate) as not only a reflection of late Muromachi-period cultural trends, but also a reworking of its sixteenth-century historical setting. The work ostensibly features three men who each argue their various positions: one extolling wine, the other rice, and the third a balance of both. Yet its references to the Lotus school (also the Hokke or Nichiren school), the Nenbutsu school (the True Pure Land school), and the supremacy of the Tendai school with its belief in the Three Truths and the Middle Way, point to the Tenbun Hokke Uprising of 1536. This conflict featured these three religious parties in brutal violence that devastated the capital, already ravaged by famines and unending warfare. In playfully representing a utopian, yet realistic world full of food and merriment, the makers of this work urge sectarian reconciliation by showing what peace could potentially bring.

KEYWORDS: Shuhanron emaki-Tenbun Hokke no ran-food-chanoyu-tea

(ProQuest: ... denotes non-US-ASCII text omitted.)

The 27th day of the 7th month of 1536 (Tenbun 5) was a particularly bloody and destructive day in the Japanese capital, even in the context of the Period of Warring States. Forces from Enryakuji of the Tendai school ... burned twenty-one temples of the Hokke school (hokke ... meaning "lotus," a popular designation for members of the Nichiren school of Buddhism, which preached sole belief in the Lotus Sutra). These fires eventually consumed more than half of northern Kyoto, as well as most of the southern half. A diarist estimates that three thousand people may have been slaughtered, though he fears many more may have perished.1 This day of violence marked the end of the Tenbun Hokke Uprising (Tenbun Hokke no ran ...) that had its beginnings in 1532.

For four years, a confederacy of Hokke commoner sectarians had maintained an autonomous government in Kyoto. In the power vacuum of the capital in late Muromachi Japan, various warlords, the essentially impotent Ashikaga shogunal house, and sectarians of the Hokke, Ikko, and Tendai persuasions crafted shifting alliances to defend, to regain, or to increase their prerogatives in new configurations of authority only possible in an age of such turmoil. In 1532, the Hokke sectarians were briefly allied with the Hosokawa and even Enryakuji in a coalition of erstwhile foes to defeat the Ikko movement, burning down the True Pure Land headquarters of Yamashina Honganji.2 By 1536, however, the monks of Mount Hiei turned their eyes to the increasingly powerful and independent Hokke sect as a threat, just as they had targeted the Ikko school only four years earlier. The episode that allegedly provoked the Enryakuji monks to strike so violently against the Hokke in 1536 was, many said, an embarrassing loss of face at a lecture on the Lotus Sutra by a Tendai prelate who could not answer a lay Hokke adherent's interjected challenges (Stone 1994, 242). Yet Mount Hiei provided more substantial grounds, accusing the Hokke sectarians of damaging private property, exercising their own judicial authority, usurping taxation rights, and expressing hostility toward believers of other sects. These various accusations were for the most part true, and boiled down to the fact that the Hokke Uprising catapulted into power its followers.a new, wealthy class of Kyoto denizens called the utokunin ... ("profit makers" or "virtuous people" ).by legitimizing their activities ideologically.3 As Berry observes, "Fueling sectarian feeling was political and social antipathy to commoners who had assumed the governing privileges of the old elite" (1994, 166). Thus, Enryakuji ultimately moved with such shocking viciousness to protect its own vested interests in maintaining the traditional balance of power-a balance that the Hokke school had severely disrupted on multiple fronts, politically, doctrinally, and economically. …

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