Academic journal article Japanese Journal of Religious Studies

The Development of Early Modern Onmyodo

Academic journal article Japanese Journal of Religious Studies

The Development of Early Modern Onmyodo

Article excerpt

This article examines the development of Onmyodo in the early modern period of Edo Japan. Although much of the focus on Onmyodo has been on the ancient and medieval periods, early modern Onmyodo had a completely different historical meaning due to various social developments in the Edo period. First, the Tsuchimikado family gained official recognition from the shogunate so that all divination activity required licensing from them. Second, calendar creation and astronomical observations, formerly the responsibility of the Imperial Court's Onmyodo Bureau, shifted to a new "office of astronomy" created by the bakufu. This system, in which religious practitioners such as those affiliated with Onmyodo were incorporated into the bakufu's ruling framework, was dominant during the Edo period but was systematically dismantled by the Meiji government in the late nineteenth century.

KEYWORDS: Tsuchimikado family-calendar-warrior Onmyodo-Shosha negi kannushi hatto-shuinjo-manzai

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The first academic study of Onmyodo ... (the way of yin-yang) was Saito's study of Onmyodo in the Ocho period. For a long time, this was the only available reference work (Saito 1915). It covered nearly all the basic topics in Onmyodo: Chinese Onmyodo texts, the organization of the Onmyodo Bureau in the ritsuryo ... system of governance, tenmondo ... (astrology) and divination, rekido ... (calendar studies) and divination, ideas surrounding the use of natural disasters and auspicious signs in politics, and so on. The next serious academic work to appear was Murayama's general overview of Japanese Onmyodo (1981), the first comprehensive overview of Onmyodo history, covering ancient to early modern times. With the publication of this book, scholars were given a resource that covered Onmyodo not only of the Heian period (794-1185) Imperial Court, but also the Kamakura period (1185-1333) and Muromachi period (1336-1573) warriors, the general populace, and early modern times. However, it is clear that Murayama's primary interest was in Heian period Imperial Court Onmyodo: he held warrior Onmyodo to be an imitation of it, and the popularized Onmyodo of the masses to be its skeletonized version. Murayama's view of Onmyodo history maintained that the content of Onmyodo was gradually emptied out in each era following its peak in the Heian period, with it falling into ruin at the end of the medieval era. According to his view, in the medieval and early modern eras, Onmyodo lost its substance and became vulgarized with the passage of time.

After the publication of Murayama's book, naturally the next generation of scholars criticized his work, using it to drive their own research forward. Among them, some argued that the peak of Onmyodo was not during the Heian period, but the Muromachi period. Yanagihara Toshiaki and Imatani Akira drew attention to the fact that the onmyoji ... (Onmyodo practitioner) Abe Ariyo ?? ... carried out national prayers under Muromachi shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu ... that resulted in him being promoted to the Second Junior Court Rank (junii ...). Thus, they concluded that the era of Yoshimitsu was "the golden age of Onmyodo" (Yanagihara 2002, 123-40; Imatani 1990).1 As for scholars working on early modern Onmyodo, since Murayama barely covered the topic, they did not directly criticize his work. However, this does not mean they shared his view of Onmyodo history. Through their research, it became clear that early modern (early Edo) Onmyodo had a completely different historical meaning than its previous forms (Endo 1994; Murayama 1992; Hayashi 2005; Umeda 2009). Two landmark events in its history include the following. First, thanks to recognition by the shogun Tokugawa Tsunayoshi ... in 1683 through a shuinjo ... (letter bearing the shogun's vermillion seal), the Tsuchimikado ... family (descendants of the Abe family) began to manage onmyoji throughout Japan. They recognized religious practitioners and entertainers as onmyoji, certified their activities, and created an onmyoji social status group. …

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