Sacred Space pp 215-249 | Cite as

Geotyping Sacred Space: the Case of Mount Hiko in Japan



Shugendō, an institutional and ritual system elaborated in Japan over a period of several centuries, evolved as a vehicle to achieve Buddhahood by means of various austerities and ascetic practices that were performed in mountains, with the assistance of complex rituals related mainly to Esoteric Buddhism and sometimes to Taoism, and through diverse cults rendered to combined native and foreign deities.1 These cults were given in what is often referred to as [Shinto] shrines and [Buddhist] temples, even though those shrines and temples formed, for much of their history, associated cultic centres known as “shrine-temple multiplexes” (jisha or, less commonly, shaji).2 Popularly known as yamabushi, the practitioners of Shugendō were ubiquitous in Japanese society for nearly a thousand years. They disappeared almost completely at the end of the nineteenth century, when the Japanese government abolished their institutions and forced them to return to lay life or become Shinto priests.3 Prior to being submitted to the political and social erasures characteristic of the forms assumed by modernity in Japan, however, the yamabushi had produced a striking culture. Though it may have been dismissed or regarded as subsidiary by a number of scholars, it is an essential aspect of Japanese history.


Religious Practice Twelfth Century Ritual Practice Eleventh Century Eighth Century 
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  1. 1.
    Shugendō has been little studied in the West. See G. Renondeau, Le Shugendō: Histoire, doctrine et rites des anachorètes dits Yamabushi, Paris 1965;Google Scholar
  2. H. Rotermund, Die Yamabushi: Aspekte ihres Glaubens, Lebens und ihrer Sozialen Funktion im Japanischen Mittlealter, Hamburg 1968;Google Scholar
  3. B. Earhart, A Religious Study of the Mount Haguro Sect of Shugendō, Tokyo 1970;Google Scholar
  4. and I. Averbuch, Yamabushi Kagura: A Study of a Traditional Ritual Dance in Contemporary Japan, Ithaca, N.Y., 1996. There are also a few articles on discrete aspects of Shugendō. Of the studies mentioned above, Renondeau grants Mount Hiko twenty-two lines; and Rotermund and Earhart both mention it just twice.Google Scholar
  5. 2.
    For a definition of these terms see Kuroda T., Jisha seiryoku, Tokyo 1980;Google Scholar
  6. see also A. Grapard, The Protocol of the Gods: A Study of the Kasuga Cult in Japanese History, Berkeley, Calif., 1992.Google Scholar
  7. 3.
    See A. Grapard, “Japan’s Ignored Cultural Revolution: The Meiji Separation of Shinto and Buddhist Divinities (shimbutsu bunri) and a Case Study: Tōnomine,” in History of Religions (1984), pp. 240–265.Google Scholar
  8. See also J. Ketelaar, Of Heretics and Martyrs in Meiji Japan: Buddhism and Its Persecution, Princeton 1990.Google Scholar
  9. 4.
    See M. Foucault, “Technologies of the Self,” in L.H. Martin, H. Gutman & P.H. Hutton (eds.), Technologies of the Self, Amherst 1988, pp. 16–49.Google Scholar
  10. 5.
    Hōren is discussed in some detail by Japan’s pre-eminent historian of the Usa Hachiman cult, Nakano H., in Hachiman shinkō-shi no kenkyū, Tokyo 1975, vol. 2, pp. 504–511.Google Scholar
  11. 7.
    See Nagano T., Hikosan Shugendō no rekishi-chirigaku-teki kenkyū, Tokyo 1987;Google Scholar
  12. Hirowatari M., Hiko-san shinkōshi no kenkyū, Fukuoka 1994;Google Scholar
  13. Hirose M. & Fukuoka Komonjo wo Yomu Kai (eds.), Hiko-san nemban nikki, Fukuoka 1994;Google Scholar
  14. Kawazoe S. & Hirose M. (eds.), Hiko-san hennenshiryō — kodai, chūsei — hen, Fukuoka 1987;Google Scholar
  15. see also Tagawa Kyōdo Kenkyūkai (ed.), Hiko-san, Fukuoka 1979.Google Scholar
  16. 8.
    See Engi-shiki: The Procedures of the Engi Era (English transl. by F. Bock), Tokyo 1970–1972.Google Scholar
  17. 13.
    I borrow the term “chronotype” from J. Bender and D.E. Wellbery, editors of Chronotypes: The Construction of Time (Stanford 1991), who modified Bakhtin’s term “chronotype,” itself borrowed from Einstein. I use the term “geotype,” which I have not seen before, to refer to a structurally related concept on the spatial level.Google Scholar
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    In Takakusu J. & Watanabe K. (eds.), Taishō Shinshū Daizōkyō, Tokyo 1924–1932, vol. 19, no. 1000a.Google Scholar
  19. 16.
    The version I use is presented in an unpublished study by Misaki R., “Jichin oshō to hokke — hō-Kyōto Shōren-in Kissui-zō ‘Hokke becchō-shi’ wo chūshin toshite,” presented at the Third International Conference on the Lotus Sutra in Japanese Culture, held in Honolulu, Hawaii, in January 1992.Google Scholar
  20. 17.
    Takeuchi Rizō (ed.), Usa Jingū-shi, Beppu, Japan, 1988, vol. 5, p. 12.Google Scholar
  21. 18.
    In Nakano T. (ed.), Dai Nihon zokuzōkyō, Kyoto 1905–1912, vols. 7 & 19.Google Scholar
  22. 19.
    This issue is discussed in more detail in A. Grapard, “Visions of Excess and Excesses of Vision — Women and Transgression in Japanese Mythology,” Japanese Journal of Religious Studies, XVIII (1991), pp. 3–22; and “Geosophia, Geognosis, and Geopiety: Orders of Significance in Japanese Representations of Place,” in D. Boden and R. Friedland (eds.), NowHere: Space, Time and Modernity, Berkeley, Calif., 1994, pp. 372–401.Google Scholar
  23. 20.
    See A. Grapard, “Flying Mountains and Walkers of Emptiness: Toward a Definition of Sacred Space in Japanese Religion,” in History of Religions (1982), pp. 195–221.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    See the early eighteenth-century painted scroll describing these festivities in Murakami T., Hiko-san Shugendō Emaki, Kyoto 1995.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    In Nagano T., “Hikosan sei-iki (shizen) wo hogoshita Shugendō,” in Tagawa Kyōdo Kenkyūkai (ed.), Kyōdo Tagawa, XXXII (1990), p. 40.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    The information given in the following discussion is based on Nagano T., “Hikosan Shugendō ni okeru shimbutsu bunri no juyō to teikō,” in Sakurai T. (ed.), Nihon shūkyo no seitō to ihan, Tokyo 1989, pp. 117–148.Google Scholar

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© The Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities 1998

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