The Sea and the Sacred in Japan: Aspects of Maritime Religion 1350062855, 9781350062856

The Sea and the Sacred in Japan is the first book to focus on the role of the sea in Japanese religions. While many lead

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The Sea and the Sacred in Japan: Aspects of Maritime Religion
 1350062855, 9781350062856

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Acknowledgements I was born between the land and the sea, in what for many centuries used to be a marshland similar to parts of the Lagoon of Venice today. While I was attracted by the distant view of the low reaches of the Apennines, visible from the beach on especially clear summer days all the way to Mount Titan in the Republic of San Marino, the beach has always been my realm: the sand, the waves, the sea life forms, and above all the imagination of the distant shores on the other side. Also because of all that, it has always been a puzzle to me why Japan, a country with long, diverse, and beautiful coasts, has turned away so radically from the sea: in most coastal cities, the sea is hidden by port and industrial structures, and in the rest of Japan many beaches have been covered by railways, roads, or concrete structures. In religious studies, mountains tend to attract all the attention, and the role of the sea has been neglected. For a long time I have been thinking about how to shift the focus of my research and look at the sea with new eyes. My encounter with Italian philosopher Franco Cassano, the author of what has become over the years a cult book in Italy, Il pensiero meridiano, which I had the pleasure to translate into Japanese more than ten years ago, set in motion for me a number of different lines of thought and activity, and I am very grateful to him for that. This book is dedicated to him. Allan Grapard has also been a constant source of inspiration and innovation, as always, and I am very indebted to him as well. Thus, this book is the result of seeds that were planted many years ago and came to fruition thanks to all the contributors, who accepted the new challenge to address the role of the sea in Japanese religious history, each from their own perspective. Without them, this book would not have been possible. There are also many other people to whom I am greatly indebted for various reasons: they supported me during the various phases of this project; listened to my ramblings about the sea and religion in Japan and provided important feedback, thus helping me to give shape to my thoughts; and attended my presentations on the subject and offered me comments and suggestions. I am grateful to all of them.


"Notes for the Reader." The Sea and the Sacred in Japan: Aspects of Maritime Religion. Ed. Fabio Rambelli. London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2018. viii. Bloomsbury Shinto Studies. Bloomsbury Collections. Web. 18 Nov. 2020. . Downloaded from Bloomsbury Collections,, 18 November 2020, 04:18 UTC. Access provided by: Chinese University of Hong Kong Copyright © Fabio Rambelli and Contributors 2018. All rights reserved. Further reproduction or distribution is prohibited without prior permission in writing from the publishers.

Notes for the Reader Japanese names and terms have been romanized according to the common modified Hepburn system; the Pinyin system has been used for Chinese, and the standard transliteration system for Sanskrit. Japanese personal names are written in the traditional order, with the family name first. In dates, years prior to 1873 (when Japan adopted the standard Western calendar) have been converted to the Western Gregorian calendar. This book follows the standard periodization of Japanese history (in which the premodern era refers to everything before 1868): Jōmon period: 14,000–300 BCE Yayoi period: 300 BCE –250 CE Kofun period: 250–538 Asuka period: 538–710 Nara period: 710–794 Heian period: 794–1185 Kamakura period: 1185–1333 Muromachi period: 1336–1573 Azuchi-Momoyama period: 1573–1600 Edo (Tokugawa) period: 1600–1868 Modern era: 1868 to the present In the References, some classical texts (Kojiki, Nihon shoki, etc.) are listed in different modern editions according to the preferences of the contributors to the volume.



The Sea in the History of Japanese Religions Fabio Rambelli

“On the Earth there are three sorts of men: the living, the dead, and those who go to sea” Definition of mankind attributed to Socrates or Plato It is perhaps not an exaggeration to say that the study of Japanese religions has chosen to turn its attention away from the sea and has created a cultural environment that is largely continental and landlocked. The emperor is a descendant of gods who came down to earth from a heavenly place, itself described as a mountain plateau (Takamagahara, the high plains of heaven). It is not surprising then if the emperor plays a ritual role as the main rice cultivator (or, perhaps more accurately, the main facilitator of rice cultivation) in the realm. The ritual calendar of most Shinto shrines is based essentially on the agricultural cycle of rice cultivation; in Japan rice itself is a powerful cultural icon endowed with important symbolic value. In addition, much has been written on mountain symbolism and mountain cults, especially Shugendō. We do hear something from time to time about sea dragons, about an elusive paradisiacal land situated beyond the sea known as Tokoyo, and about divine figures (gods or human emissaries?) visiting Japan from there called marebito; we also know that fish, in addition to rice, is a central food offering to the gods. Still, most of our received understanding of Japanese religion is essentially continental and landlocked: Shinto and agriculture, Buddhism and its mountain temples, mountains as abodes of the gods and portals to the other world—all presided over by an emperor envisioned as an agricultural ruler descended from a mountain-like heavenly realm.

The Sea and Japanese Identity Much has been written about the very different visions of the sea held by the two founding fathers of Japanese folklore studies, Yanagita Kunio (1875–1962) and Orikuchi Shinobu (1887–1953), and how those affected their understanding of Japanese culture and identity. Yanagita described a process in which seafaring people were fatally and inescapably attracted by the land and ultimately became a land-based nation: he wrote about these people setting roots (ne wo sashi) in the soil of the islands xii

General Introduction


(shima no tsuchi) as their destiny (innen); significantly, Yanagita saw the cause of that fatal rooting in the land in rice cultivation (Yanagita 1961; see Noji 30–31). In contrast, for Orikuchi the Japanese never lost their connections to their roots beyond the sea. He stressed these connections in his account of gods and ancestors periodically returning to Japan, exemplified by his famous image of marebito, divine or semi-divine figures supposedly visiting from another world beyond the sea called Tokoyo.1 These meta-theories of culture tend to be overly abstract and a-historical, but they still set the tone for many discussions about Japan’s cultural identity. Over the decades, authors have proposed various definitions of the “maritime nature” (kaiyōsei) of Japanese culture. For instance, Shibusawa Keizō saw fishing (ryōgyō) as “internally related” (naimenteki kanren) to the national essence (kokuminsei) of Japan (quoted in Noji 2008: 20–21). Kitami Toshio (1989) writes about the “internal sea-island roots” (uchinaru kaitō no nekko) of Japanese culture, and envisions the relations between the sea and Japanese culture as a spiral. It is not immediately clear what these “internal,” psychological elements are and how they operate. Sakurada Katsunori (1970) described in more concrete terms a mutual interaction between maritime communities and their sea products, and their consumers inland, in which each group affected the other. Noji Tsunenari, developing ideas of Shibusawa and Sakurada, envisions the maritime nature of Japan as a constant re-activation of a land-based culture through elements from the sea (Noji 2008: 194). Ōbayashi Taryō draws our attention to the fact that the culture of Japanese ruling elites has always been predominantly “continental” (nairikuteki) (Ōbayashi 1996: 28), but sea-based elements have never been eliminated. Indeed, texts written by the Kyoto aristocracy suggest a deep dread of sea travel, but sailors and fishermen surely must have seen things in a very different way. Ōbayashi calls our attention to maritime aspects of early Japanese kingship;2 he refers to a Muromachi period encyclopedia, the Jinten ainōshō, which states that until Ōjin, the emperors of Japan, as descendants of sea deities, had a tale like that of dragons; that is why they invented the bottom part of the kimono (suso) in order to hide it (Jinten ainōshō, p. 266b). Ōbayashi also mentions the literature and the arts of sea people (ama) (1996: 52)—a rich and diverse repertory of tales composed in the Kamakura and Muromachi periods, that were very influential in the developments of Japanese arts.3 Finally, Ōbayashi also points out the existence of many influential sea deities (such as Watatsumi, Sumiyoshi, Munakata, Ebisu, Konpira, Gozu Tennō, the boat spirits or funadama-sama) (1996: 63). Differently from these theorizations by folklorists, often surprisingly abstract, historian Amino Yoshihiko questions the long-held standard image of Japanese culture as based on rice-centered agriculture. Amino and his collaborators have also pointed to the importance of the sea for premodern Japanese society.4 Unfortunately, Amino and his school did not pay too much attention to religion—certainly not to the religious elements related to the sea, its people, and the activities related to it.5 We can only gather a first, approximate picture, of the importance of the sea in Japanese premodern religion from a number of scattered sources (temple and shrine narratives, legends, performing arts and, in modern times, fieldwork reports by ethnographers and folklorists). Perhaps, this is in itself an important feature of sea religion: its fluid, decentralized nature, as related to shape-shifting deities, moving from


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one place to another, and to shifting networks of people connected by changing sea routes and trade interests. We find out that many sacred mountains claim to be directly related to the sea by secret passages—cavernous bodies in the earth where dragons fade into whales and other giant fish. From the top of the mountains, the differences between horizontal limits (Tokoyo) and vertical limits (the realm of the kami) disappear. We realize that many important religious centers either worship sea deities (Sumiyoshi, Munakata, Itsukushima, Konpira) or draw a significant part of their functions and symbolism from the sea (Hachiman, Izumo, Kashima, Kumano, even Ise). What would happen if we tried to re-center the study of Japanese religions by focusing not on that continental, landlocked self-understanding, and its related mountains and rice, but turned our attention, instead, to those coastal peripheries? Those endless beaches, intricate sea routes, the abyss and its gifts, its dangers, and its mysteries?

Towards a Religious History of the Sea in Japan There is no sustained study in the intellectual history of the sea in Japan. Accordingly, we know very little about Japanese conceptualizations of the sea, not only in religious thought, but also in cosmology and premodern scientific discourses. The work of French cultural historian Alain Corbin (1995) on European attitudes toward the sea could be a model for such an endeavor. Corbin traces two distinct philosophical trajectories regarding the sea in ancient and medieval European civilization. On the one hand, there are the interpretations based on the Bible (especially the Book of Genesis, the Psalms, and the Book of Job), which describe the sea as the negative limit of nature and culture: the great abyss, the undifferentiated primordial substance which preexisted divine creation, this ungodly sea was thus the utmost alien realm for man, who had been made in the image of God. Authors combined biblical images with readings of classical texts and writers (the Aeneid, Ovid, Seneca), which describe the sea as a dangerous and unknown abyss. In the middle ages, the sea was also considered as the remnant of the Flood, and it was believed to hide in its depths the debris left by that cataclysm. The Flood also became a fundamental element in scientific discourses about the sea and the coastline; the latter, in its irregularity, was also envisioned as a remnant of the chaos brought by the Flood. Seashores, with their ruins and unhealthy, repulsive smell, were envisioned as liminal areas between order and civilization (land) and chaos and demonic forces (the sea). Mysterious sea creatures were models for discussions about monsters and demonic things in general. After the Reformation, the sea, its waves and its perils came to be envisioned as a metaphor for human life, fragile and precarious. However, between the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, authors in France and England began to write in very different ways about the sea and the coast: they became places where the divine wonders of nature could be experienced directly. The newly developed natural theology provided a key element for the reevaluation of the sea.

General Introduction


According to this interpretation, the Flood was a necessary disaster that saved humanity and brought it happiness. The whole of nature was envisioned as an image of God, and as His book. This newly acquired divinity of nature also affected the sea. Natural theologians rediscovered positive, and heretofore neglected, references to the sea in the Bible and in the works of fathers of the Church such as St. Gregory of Nissa, St. Ambrose of Milan, and St. Augustine, who all evoked the splendor of the sea. For the early modern northern European authors, the sea itself, in its composition and movement, was a perfect manifestation of the Creator’s infinite goodness: the salt, necessary for nutrition; the shoreline, protecting human settlements on land; the waves crashing ashore—they all represent nature restraining itself before God’s command; the diversity in marine fauna was no longer monstrous, but a sign of the magnificence of Creation. In the late 1700s, travel along the seashores, first in Holland, then in Campania (southern Italy), became itineraries of choice for elites in search of the picturesque. In addition, sea bathing and the smell of the shore came to be envisioned as healthy practices, curative of a number of physical and mental illnesses. This new understanding of the sea, and the everyday practices it created and allowed, Corbin argues, was made possible by the development of new religious and intellectual discourses. Many of these ideas and practices regarding the sea came to Japan with modernization, but we know little of what preceded them, except for fragmentary information about Kyoto aristocracy (who apparently disliked the sea and sea travel), and early modern customs in Edo (when people used to gather by the sea in the summer evenings and party). This book is a first attempt to provide a general map of the field. Part of the difficulty in writing systematically about sea-based religiosity (in addition to the problems mentioned above, such as disinterest among landlocked elites and excessive focus on rice/agriculture) lies in the enormous transformations of the landscape that occurred from the Edo period and were accelerated during the modern era. When we look at the religious landscape today, there are no large religious complexes—in particular, Buddhist temples—on the sea, and one wonders why, aside from unconvincing arguments connecting Buddhist asceticism with upward verticality (and thus, mountains). However, until the Edo period, important religious institutions such as Sumiyoshi Shrine in Osaka and Hakozaki Hachimangū in Fukuoka were both Buddhist institutions (the former was administered by a Buddhist temple in its compounds which is no longer extant, the latter was a Tendai temple), and were situated on the coast; the same also applies to a number of other Shinto shrines, such as Munakata, Kashima, Katori, Atsuta, and many others (all these were administered by Buddhist temples and were located by the shore). While these institutions’ separation from their Buddhist past was a consequence of the Meiji government’s religious policy of separation of Shinto shrines from Buddhist temples known as shinbutsu bunri, changes in their geography are little known. In other words, it is essential to take into account historical geography and transformations of the landscape in order to understand the religious situation; in this way it becomes possible to challenge the modern spiritual monopoly of the mountains and see anew the relevance of the sea and the coastline. As discussed by Matsumoto Ken’ichi, during the Tokugawa regime the daimyō encouraged land reclamation along the coasts to increase agricultural production and


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tax income; the sakoku policy may also have contributed to make the sea less relevant, certainly for the elites (even though it may have triggered popular imagination about the sea and what lies across from it). After the Meiji Restoration, the aggressive program of industrialization resulted in the creation of industrial complexes by the sea, often on reclaimed areas (Matsumoto 2009); railways and roads were also built along the coasts, often covering or reducing the surface of beaches (and drastically reducing the importance of sea transportation, which was the most important form of transportation in Japan until the modern period). The need to secure more space for a growing population, especially in large cities, was also met with extensive land reclamation projects. As a consequence, Edo was a coastal city of beaches, port facilities, and canals, but Tokyo is largely a landlocked metropolis; Osaka’s coastline is now almost entirely covered with harbor facilities and industrial plants (Osaka castle, once near an inlet, is now hidden in urban sprawl). More recently, expansive public works projects placed millions of concrete tetrapods on large sectors of Japan’s coastline, in a misguided attempt to protect the coast and coastal communities from the sea. In this way, Japan gradually turned away from the sea, not only metaphorically, but also in geographical terms. Former seaside temples are now landlocked Shinto shrines, and a study of these institutions and their practices in premodern times requires an enormous effort of imagining their location in a very different, and long lost, geographical and religious setting.

The Cosmology of the Abyss and Its Gods An exploration of the role of the sea in Japanese religion could begin by recognizing that ancient Japanese texts outline two different cosmologies, and these two cosmologies continue to live on, in somehow altered form, until the late Edo period if not until today. One cosmology is vertical: the realm of the heavenly kami, Takamagahara, on top, Japan in the middle, and the realm of the dead (Ne no kuni or Yomi no kuni) at the bottom. This has become the standard cosmology of Japanese religion: the divinities, who abide on the mountains or above them, are invited to the shrines in the spring in propitiation rituals and sent back in the fall after the harvest in thanksgiving rituals. Important Buddhist temples are built on mountains, their locus classicus par excellence. In terms of material representations of this cosmology, we encounter a twofold structure constituted by a Buddhist temple or Shinto shrine in the plains or mid-range in the mountain and their counterparts higher up in the mountains; the latter are known as oku no in (for Buddhist temples) or oku no miya (for Shinto shrines), respectively, in which oku refers to the distant side of space. However, there is also a second, and equally important—albeit less recognized— cosmological model organized along a horizontal principle. According to that cosmology, already found in the earliest sources along its vertical counterpart, Japan is at the center of the world surrounded by the sea, beyond which there is the elusive realm of Tokoyo and the land of Kara, the Asian continent (see Tanikawa 1983). After all, the gods Izanami and Izanagi created Japan in the sea as an archipelago, not in the middle of a landlocked continent. This horizontal cosmology can certainly be

General Introduction


re-centralized according to several concentric circles, with the emperor at the center, surrounded by the imperial palace, the capital city, the home provinces, the rest of Japan, the sea, and foreign countries—along a centrifugal axis of increasing pollution as one moves farther away from the center—pollution that was envisioned as a threat for the state and social order. But this is not the only possible interpretation. The outside is not only the place where pollution originates, and where it has to be returned to. Riches (wealth, prosperity, fertility) also come from the outside, carried sometimes by figures called marebito, other times by deities, the most representative of which is Ebisu (also included, beginning from around the fifteenth century, in the set of the seven gods of fortune or shichifukujin). Thus, the outside (in particular, the sea) is not only the place where impurity and pollution are thrown away, but also the place where wealth is produced. In this system, the sea seems to play the role of a huge semiotic shifter converting negativity (pollution) into positivity (riches)—and, perhaps, vice versa. We find countless examples of instantiations of this horizontal maritime cosmology and its religiosity: sea deities and coastal temple-shrines with their elaborate rituals and legends, mostly connected to sea routes, trade, movement of people and goods, fishing, and the transformation of fish produce into commodities (therefore involving crafts and industry). An example of this maritime cosmology and its role in religiosity is premodern whaling. Whaling communities often understood whales as avatars of the god Ebisu, who arrived from across the sea to offer themselves in sacrifice for the sustenance of the community (see also Naumann 1974; Kato 2007). In many ways, whaling (and sea religion in general) has elements of cargo cults, in which vessels from distant reaches arrive bringing all sorts of goods—including symbolic goods such as wealth, prosperity and fertility. In the late medieval–early modern periods, the cult of the takarabune (treasure boats) flourished, according to which at New Year’s a boat would come to Japan from the “other world” (Tokoyo or otherwise), sometimes led by the seven gods of fortune (sometimes not), and bring prosperity to all.6 Perhaps these horizontal and vertical cosmologies are not as different and separate as one may initially think. Art historian Kageyama Haruki interestingly pointed to the structural and representational continuities between mountain cults and sea cults (Kageyama 2001: 47–48; 217–225). Islands are sea mountains, as it were; in islands, we often find the dual structure of sacred space outlined above, with the main shrine by the shore and a distant one away in the sea or on a cliff. In this case too, the main shrine is located at the border of human space (the shore and the sea nearby), whereas the distant shrine is in the middle of a sacred space. Yet, the dimensionality of their respective sacred spaces is reverse: mountain cults emphasize verticality, as opposed to the horizontality of sea cults. Kageyama also points to the fact that in ancient Japanese, the concepts of heaven (Jp. ame) and sea (umi) were de facto synonyms, expressed by the same word (ama). We could add to this that the term oku, referring to the most remote part of a specific space, and in particular to the distant depth of a mountain peak, is etymologically and semantically cognate with oki, the deep sea in the distance. One even wonders if mountain cults are not, in fact, later developments of what was originally a sea-based religiosity. Kageyama Haruki, an expert on Mt. Hiei, operates from within a paradigm


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that considers the mountain as the model of sacred space. However, what happens if we treat the sea as primary, instead? In fact, there may be at least two cosmologies of the sea, as indicated by the structure of the most ancient and most important sea deities, namely, Munakata, Sumiyoshi, and Shikaumi. One cosmology, such as Munakata, is horizontal, and distinguishes between the coast (the border uniting sea and land, site of Hetsumiya on the mainland), somewhere mid-distance in the sea (Nakatsumiya on Ōshima island), and a point in the far distance at sea (Okitsumiya on Okinoshima). The other cosmology, at Sumiyoshi and Shikaumi, is one of depth, with the three kami located, respectively, on the surface of the sea (Uwatsutsu no o no mikoto at Sumiyoshi, Uwatsu Watatsumi no kami at Shikaumi), at mid-depth (Nakatsutsu no o no mikoto, Nakatsu Watatsumi no kami), and at the bottom (Sokotsutsu no o no mikoto, Sokotsu Watatsumi no kami). These two tripartite structures may in fact not be abstract and arbitrary. Ethnologist Noji Tsunenari argues that fishing certain fish species that come periodically close to the shore (yoriuo-ryō), in particular tobiuo (flying fish), has played an important role in shaping beliefs and ritual practices in local communities. This type of fishing is practiced in three different zones: sebata (near the coastline), nada (at mid-distance), and oki (in the deep sea) (Noji 2008: 165). Analogously, the types of fish that can be caught differ according to the sea depth where they live, whether near the surface, at mid-depth, or farther deep.

Sea Gods, God-Fish, and Other Supernatural Beings There is no individual sea god in Japan, but a number of deities. In addition to those we have already encountered, such as Watatsumi, worshiped not only at Shikaumi but also in many other shrines all over Japan, Sumiyoshi, and Munakata, the most popular sea gods are Ebisu, Konpira (and its post-Meiji variant Kotohira), the Chinese goddess Mazu (known in Japan as Maso or Seibo), Benzaiten, the divinized form of Empress Jingū, and sea dragons (ryūjin).7 Ruled by the Dragon King (ryūō), who resides in the Dragon Palance (Ryūgū), a legendary realm of bliss, riches, and wisdom (the Palace stores all Buddhist scriptures in extended form, even those that have never been transmitted to the human world), dragons appear everywhere in doctrinal texts, literature, folklore, performing arts, and it would be impossible to provide a comprehensive picture of their presence in premodern Japanese culture (see Kuroda 2003). The beautiful daughters of the Dragon King are also mentioned often: one of them is the protagonist of a famous and influential parable in the Lotus Sutra about the possibility for women to become buddhas (ryūnyo jōbutsu); another is considered to be the wife of Gozu Tennō. Fish deserve a special place in any treatment of the sea (including from a religious studies perspective) not only because of the enormous importance of seafood offerings to the kami (shinsen),8 but also and especially because fish and sea mammals have been associated with gods themselves (see Naumann 1974, Kato 2007, Wilhelm 2005). We have already mentioned Noji Tsunenari’s suggestion that fishing contributed to shaping local communities’ beliefs and ritual practices—perhaps, one could argue, even the

General Introduction


conceptualization of certain sea gods. In more concrete terms, in many places throughout Japan specific fish and sea animals are considered either as the god Ebisu himself or emissaries of the sea gods. This is particularly evident in the case of sea mammals such as whales (see Kalland and Moeran 1992; Morita 1994; Nakazawa 1999); dolphins are also considered divine beings, associated with bodhisattva Jizō; divine emissaries also include sea turtles (Miyata 2007: 4–7). According to Tanigawa Ken’ichi, other sea animals with divine features include orca, salmon, eel, and sardines. Sea animals, envisioned as “spirits of the sea” (umitama) are envoys and vehicles of the gods and should not be treated lightly (Tanigawa 1999: 150–154). Miyata Noboru discusses cases in which fish appear as emissaries of the gods, oracles and foretellers; catfish (namazu), in particular, became the object of beliefs related to its supposed power to control (or cause) earthquakes in the mid-nineteenth century (Miyata 1972: 166–173).9 In various parts of Japan, fish such as katsuo (bonito), bora (mullet), koi (carp), in addition to the previously mentioned tobiuo, are also the objects of important rituals (Yano 2016: 130–137). In some locales, salmon are also considered to be divine beings. Yano Ken’ichi describes a festival dedicated to Sake Daimyōjin (great god salmon) that takes place in mid-November at Sake Jinja (lit., “Salmon shrine”) in Ōsumi (Fukuoka). According to shrine lore, salmon swimming in the Onga river are considered emissaries of the sea god Toyotama-hime; she sends the salmon to her son, the god Ukayafukiaezu no mikoto, as female servants. If a salmon reaches a special stone upriver, it is believed that there will be a good harvest; but if a salmon is captured along the way, there will be bad crops, and the people eating it will be cursed and their progeny will become extinct. The shrine has a salmon mound (sakezuka) built in 1764. Salmon caught in the river are first presented to the mound as offerings, then blessed by the priest with a norito prayer before being consumed (Yano 2016: 128–130). Fishing itself is also a highly ritualized activity, with many different ceremonies taking places at different locales. For example, relatively common is throwing a statue of a buddha or bodhisattva in the water inside the net before the haul; at times of bad catch, rituals called “correcting the tide” (shionaoshi) are reported at some Buddhist temples, such as a Hokkeshū temple in Kamiura and the Hotsumisakidera in Murotosaki (the 24th station in the Shikoku pilgrimage) (Kijima 2015: 88). Other divine, or semi-divine inhabitants of the sea are ghosts (yūrei) and monsters. There is an abundant, albeit little known, body of legends, beliefs, and associated practices related to sea ghosts. They include phantom ships, ghosts of dead sailors and people who drowned at sea, various ghosts seen by sailors at sea (which appear either in visible form or only as sounds), and others still seen on the shore. Sea people have created a rich lore about deities coming to the rescue of a ship and its crew, or, on the contrary, deities leaving a ship in peril; as well as rituals to protect the ships, and others performed at sea and even under water (by ama female divers) (Sekiyama 2005). Sea monsters also have their share of legends, from giant “fish” to mermaids and mermen, which proliferated during the Edo period, also thanks to the skill of Chinese taxidermists who produced amazingly realistic exemplars of strange creatures.10 One of the most famous legends about sea monsters is perhaps the one related to Saruō in Shikoku (Ōbayashi 1996: 217–218).


The Sea and the Sacred in Japan

Methodologies At this point, it should be clear that there is a discrepancy between the wealth of religious images, representations, rituals, and practices related to the sea, and the scarcity of studies about them. This scarcity is not only due to ideological programs that envision Japanese culture as based on land, but also has important epistemological reasons. It is not easy for most of us to understand and describe the cultural dimension of the sea, as several important authors, otherwise well-known for their subtle and sophisticated cultural analyses, have made amply clear. For example, Roland Barthes wrote: “In a single day, how many really non-signifying fields do we cross? Very few, sometimes none. Here I am before the sea; it is true that it bears no message” (Barthes 1972: 112). He was echoing Claude Lévi-Strauss, for whom the ocean had an “oppressive monotony and a flatness” that fails to enliven the imagination (Lévi-Strauss 1973: 338– 339). Carl Schmitt also stressed that “on the waves there is nothing but waves” (Schmitt 2003: 43).11 Where then can we find clues, not only to study the sea, but even before that, to recognize its signification? John Mack, in his cultural history of the sea, offers several useful suggestions (2011). Chapters such as “Concepts of the Sea” (Mack 2011: 72–104), “Ships as Societies” (136–164), and “Beaches” (165–187), among others, explore different ways in which human cultures have dealt with maritime environments and factors, as it is important to distinguish between the sea itself, coastal regions (beaches, their immediate hinterlands, and the portions of sea near the shoreline), and ships— often, these elements are conflated into a general discourse about the sea. Danish marine archaeologist Christer Westerdahl moves in this direction, in his attempts to identify and describe the “marine cultural landscape” (1992, 2011);12 still, also because of his discipline, he focuses primarily on coastal areas and not on the sea as a whole.13 More generally, it is evident that any investigation of the place of the sea in religious ideas and practices does not deal with the “sea” as a homogeneous and self-explanatory entity. Rather, it has to do with coastal areas (beaches and promontories), the proximate sea near the coast and the deep oceanic sea, with the sea surface and its depths, winds and waves; with fish, sea deities, ghosts, and monsters; with sailors and their families on land; with boats, their craftsmen and their technologies; and with the vision of landscapes seen from the sea (including coasts, villages, and especially mountains). Accordingly, many people can speak about the sea (sailors and fishermen, their families and villagers; boat craftsmen, travelers, etc.)—people who often have no voice in our sources (or whose voices are muffled and distorted by their interpreters), and it is to them that we should listen more often. As Greg Dening has written, “Islanders read the sea . . . by hearing what they called, in their different dialects, ‘the language of the sea’” (Dening 2004: 15). Further away, “The wider sea had an even more complex language, and a recognizable system of signs—of ocean swells, seasonal currents, star risings and settings” (Dening 2004: 16). It is obvious that we need a geo-philosophy of the sea (or, rather, perhaps, a thalassosophy?) to help us re-orient our intellectual directions. The term “geo-philosophy” was first introduced by Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, to describe how “thought realizes itself in the relationship between territory and the earth”; they envisioned it not as a

General Introduction


philosophy of the earth (or the land), but rather as a way to emphasize the connection between intellectual activity, the territory, and the landscape (Deleuze and Guattari 1994: 85–114). Since Deleuze and Guattari focused mostly on land (“territory” and “landscape” are two land-based metaphors), we need to find a more clearly articulated sea-centered perspective (the sea-realm and its seascape). In this respect, a work by Italian philosopher Franco Cassano on “meridian thought” and the Mediterranean (as a site of mediation, contact, and conflict, where thought and practices are always confronted with their “others” before they can be brought back home modified and renewed), offers important heuristic tools to conceptualize the role of the sea in Japanese culture and religion (Cassano 1996).

The Chapters in this Book This book consists of this introduction, a preface, and fifteen chapters divided into four parts. Allan G. Grapard, one of the precursors in the study of maritime religiosity (see Grapard 1992), is the author of the Foreword, entitled “Cults and Culture of the Sea: Historical and Geographical Perspectives,” where he outlines some general themes, in particular the role of the ancient Azumi clan in the development of sea-related cults, as well as a variety of performing arts traditions. Part One, “Ancient Sea Myths and Rituals and Their Reinterpretations,” addresses instances of permanence of myths and traditions dating back in their original forms to the eighth century, but which went through a number of transformations. In Chapter one, “Imperial Sea Magic? The Sea Kami and the Great Tasting (daijōsai) at the Early Yamato Court,” Mark Teeuwen studies the presence of maritime themes in ancient myths and their impact on daijōsai, an important imperial enthronement ritual, by discussing recent arguments by Japanese authors. Teeuwen concludes that ancient sea elements were later eliminated from imperial ceremonies. Chapter two, “The Sea and Food Offerings for the Kami (shinsen),” by Satō Masato is a discussion of an important feature of Shinto cults, namely, offerings of seafood to the gods, also in relation to the impact of Buddhist vegetarianism. In Chapter three, “Taming the Plague Demons: Border Islanders and the Ritual Defense of Japan,” Jane Alaszewska outlines the ancient Japanese understanding of the sea as a space of pollution and danger, and the rituals performed for its neutralization by diviners residing in the outlying Izu Islands. Alaszewska shows that remnants of these ancient practices still remain. In Chapter four, “Island of Many Names, Island of No Name: Taboo and the Mysteries of Okinoshima,” we move to another island, Okinoshima, itself considered to be a god, one of the three sea deities of Munakata shrine in northern Kyushu. Lindsey E. DeWitt describes the shifts in understanding and representations of the island, site of ancient maritime rituals and repository of thousands of Japanese national treasures, and a recent addition to the UNESCO world heritage sites list. Part Two, “Sea Deities and Sea Cults,” deals with some instances of maritime cultic traditions that are little known, even in Japan. In Chapter five, “Musical Instruments for the Sea-God Ebisu: The Mythological System of Miho Shrine and Its Performative Power,” Ōuchi Fumi offers a unique perspective on the important and complex sea


The Sea and the Sacred in Japan

deity Ebisu, especially focused on Miho Shrine in southwestern Japan and its peculiar offerings of musical instruments. Chapter six, “An Empress at Sea: Sea Deities in the Legends of Empress Jingū,” by Emily B. Simpson, addresses the role of multiple sea deities and sea cults in the development of legends related to the figure of Empress Jingū, who changed over the centuries from a warrior, seafaring ruler to the object of a cult regarding female ailments. Next, in Chapter seven, “Frogs Looking Beyond a Pond: Shinra Myōjin in the ‘East Asian Mediterranean’ Network,” Sujung Kim presents the history and characteristics of Shinra Myōjin, an important god in Tendai Buddhism, within the framework of its international network connecting central Japan with China and Korea. This is followed by Bernhard Scheid with his analysis, in Chapter eight, “Hachiman Worship Among Japanese Pirates (wakō) of the Medieval Period: A Preliminary Survey,” of the cults of medieval pirates in the East China Sea, focused on the martial god Hachiman. It is particularly interesting to see Hachiman, one of the protecting deities of Japan, being worshiped by people who were often envisioned as enemies of the country. Finally, Gaynor Sekimori presents in Chapter nine, “Shugendō and the Sea,” a critical inquiry on the relations between Shugendō mountain religion and maritime cults. Sekimori argues, against Gorai Shigeru, that there is no special Shugendō related to the sea—even when yamabushi perform practices near the coast, there is no discernible difference from their regular mountain traditions; still, the chapter alerts us to the deep relationships between mountains and the sea. Next, Part Three, “Buddhism and Japan in the Global Ocean,” shifts the attention toward Buddhism, and the profound ties that this religion had in Japan with the sea— particularly related to the fact that Buddhism arrived to Japan from lands beyond the sea, much like gods and semi-divine figures in folklore. Chapter ten, “The Buddhas from Across the Sea: Legends on the Transmission of Buddhism in Ancient and Medieval Temple Narratives (engi),” by Abe Yasurō, is a study of medieval temple origin narratives (engi) that emphasize the arrival from across the sea of Buddhism and temple sacred objects, which problematizes the role of the sea in medieval Buddhist thought as a sacred space of mediation and communication between this world and the other world. Next, Chapter eleven, “Lands and People Drifting Ashore: Distorted Conceptions of Japan’s Place in the World in Medieval and Early Modern Japanese Myths,” by Itō Satoshi, deals with the same problem from a different angle, namely, the limitations of Japanese perceptions of other countries in medieval origin narratives as related to overseas locales. This is followed by Chapter twelve, “Buddhist Japan and the Global Ocean,” in which D. Max Moerman presents premodern Japanese views on Buddhist cosmology and the shifting roles of the ocean and globalization in it. Lastly, Part Four, “Interpretive Constructs,” presents cases of indigenous philosophical and theological speculation about the nature and the role of the sea. In Chapter thirteen, “The World Was Born from the Sea: Reading the Creation of Heaven and Earth in the Ruijū jingi hongen,” Kanazawa Hideyuki proposes a close, critical reading of a medieval reinterpretation of an ancient sea-related myth about the origin of the universe; the author of the Ruijū jingi hongen, an influential text of the Ise Shinto tradition, decided to emphasize the role of water as the primary cosmogonical element. Chapter fourteen, “Orikuchi Shinobu and the Sea as Religious Topos: Marebito and Musubi no kami,” by Saitō Hideki, is an essay on the influential author Orikuchi

General Introduction


Shinobu and his treatment of sea-related themes, such as marebito (godly beings visiting from across the sea) and the fertility god Musubi no kami, which had an enormous impact in shaping the modern Japanese understanding of the sea. Finally, Chapter fifteen, “Sea Theologies: Elements for a Conceptualization of Maritime Religiosity in Japan,” by Fabio Rambelli, is a discussion of religious conceptualizations of the sea based on analysis of the Shinto purification ceremony (ōharae), the folk idea of treasure ships (takarabune) visiting from across the sea to bring wealth, and sea communities’ beliefs in boat spirits (funadama). This chapter shows the centrality of the sea for different groups and at different levels throughout Japanese history, and points to the nature of boats as semiotic mediators between not only the land and the sea, but also nature and culture, and this world and the world of the deities.

Final Remarks Of course, the theme of the role of the sea in the history of Japanese religion can be addressed from a number of different perspectives and case studies, different from the chapters in this book. One thing I decided not to do here, is to deal with the religion of the Ryukyu islands. Many folklorists, beginning with Yamagita Kunio and Orikuchi Shinobu, have taken Okinawan religion as a remnant of ancient Japanese religion and, often, as the model for Japanese religion as a whole. However, in keeping with the premodern orientation of this book, including Okinawa in the mix of essays would be an anachronism, because in premodern times the Ryukyu were an independent kingdom (during the Edo period, they were a de facto protectorate of the Satsuma domain, in addition to their traditional status as a tributary state of both China and Japan). Aside from that, much still needs to be done. Here below are a few proposals for further research trajectories. In general terms, it is necessary to acquire a better knowledge of the decentralized nature of sea-based religiosity, always local and shifting, but also spreading in networks that are not well understood. Thus, there is a need to know more about the main cultic sites of sea religion (Sumiyoshi, Munakata, Kashima, Itsukushima, Konpira, Kumano, etc.) and their spheres: communities, legends, arts, rituals, calendars, but also the relations of these cultic sites (all of them are now Shinto shrines) with the Buddhist institutions that controlled them in the premodern period. It is also necessary to study in depth the Japanese sea deities (Watatsumi, Sumiyoshi, Sukunabikona, Awashima, etc.) in their relations with cult sites, their body of legends and rituals, and their transformations through time and space. One would expect all this to be related to the life cycle, ritual calendar, and symbolic systems of fishing communities in Japan; how different, and in what form, were/are they from the more mainstream ritual systems of agricultural, rice-growing communities? Concerning the growing separation of Japanese culture as whole, and religion in particular, from the sea and sea-based life, it is important to ascertain if there ever was a time or times in which sea religion was more important than it is today (and in which regions of Japan) but then lost preeminence, and if this is indeed the case, when and why that shift happened.


The Sea and the Sacred in Japan

Finally, many texts of medieval and early modern literature and performing arts— from the legend of Urashima Tarō to Hiraga Gennai’s Shidōkenden, passing through countless otogizōshi such as Onzōshi shimawatari and Bishamon no honji, the engi narrative of Gozu Tennō, late medieval kōwakamai, and Nō plays—describe the sea as a space of mediation between the everyday and the extraordinary, the familiar and the foreign, this world and the other world. Beyond the sea we find imaginary lands, both blessed and frightening; strange beings and customs, wealth and destruction. For several centuries, the sea played the role as a trigger of imagination, as if an important part of Japanese culture was striving to overcome its own landlocked, continental nature (a condition that was largely self-inflicted). It is worth exploring the role of the sea and its imagination in Japanese culture, also beyond the history of religion. In any case, it should be clear by now that the sea, far from being a place of monotonous non-signification, a place where “there is nothing but waves” (as in the words of Carl Schmitt), is a place rich with meaning. I would like to conclude with a few words by Jonathan Raban, who writes: “People on land think of the sea as a void . . . The sea marks the end of things . . . In fact the sea is just an alternative known world. Its topography is as intricate as that of land, its place names as particular and evocative, its maps and signposts rather more reliable” (Raban 1986: 220).


Cults and Culture of the Sea Historical and Geographical Perspectives Allan G. Grapard

I chose to write about fascinating phenomena that have been taking place for centuries on end along the shores of western Japan, with a focus on the Inland Sea and some inroads into central Japan, between northern Kyushu and what in the early Heian period (ninth century) was the reach of imperial control—namely, Lake Suwa and the Ina and Azumi Valleys to the south of Nagano City—and on the Japan Sea coasts. Rather than a detailed discussion as befits this venue, I have provided no more than a rapid account, and almost no notes. First, a few points:

1. Sea people: the Azumi groups and cults: sea cults were, first and foremost,

performed by and for seagoing groups who at an early stage engaged in territorial control for various aristocratic houses. As time passed they produced a fascinating culture. 2. The kami of the sea: there is no one specific kami, but constellations of entities to which cults are dedicated. 3. Sea cults and food offerings: the Azumi groups were eventually ordered to participate in the vast and complex system of food offerings as well as in the cultic life of the leading houses forming the imperium. 4. Sea cults and mountain cults: the “peasants” (hyakushō) participated in agriculture during parts of the year and spent the rest of the time fishing or “cultivating” the sea; a number of premodern texts also mention relations between sea and mountain cults, but there is no systematic analysis of these ideas and practices. My interest in sea religion started several decades ago as I was studying the Kunisaki Peninsula and writing my book on the Kasuga cult (Grapard 1992b, 2016). I became obsessed with a dance called Sei-no-o (also referred to as Seinō and Kuwashi-o). I saw this dance for the first time in 1981 at the Kasuga Shrine’s On-matsuri rituals in Nara, and was transfixed by the white-clad men who covered their faces with a white piece of cloth, and danced slowly in the night: two flutists, two “dancers” striking small drums with their hands, and two “dancers” without any musical role.1 xxv


The Sea and the Sacred in Japan

This dance was said to have been performed first by a man called Azumi no Isora, who is regarded as the human ancestor of the Azumi “clan.” The Azumi are perhaps the oldest and most important group of ama, people of the sea who navigated the waters between west Japan, the Islands of Tsushima, Korea (as we call it today), and China, and they formed the oldest known maritime force of the emerging imperial state.2 Their stronghold at that time was northern Kyushu, and they engaged in trade with Korea and China before they were charged with navy duties. An emperor and his retinue were on boats in the Inland Sea when they saw a group of what seemed to be deer swimming toward them, only to realize they were men whose head cover was formed of deer antlers. After a while the emperor gave them the duty of protecting the territory on seas, oceans, and rivers. Indeed, Azumi no Hirafu became Grand General, but in the course of protecting the Korean kingdom of Paekche against the two other kingdoms Silla and Koryo and Tang China, he and the imperial navy were defeated in 663 at the bay called Hakusonkō, and Paekche disappeared. The Azumi then spread along coasts and rivers to many parts of Japan, and gave names to their villages that often include “deer” and “island,” such as Kakojima, Kagoshima, Kashima, Shikashima, and so on. Their ancestral shrine on Shikanoshima Island, north of Fukuoka, has a building containing thousands of deer antlers, as well as two stones representing turtles—a reference to the Azumi’s connection to the Urabe diviners, who used plastrons of sea turtles to perform divination, often in order to decide on days of departure for the continent. The Azumi knew tides and currents, weather patterns, and constellations to guide them at night, and traces of their existence remain all over the islands of the Tsushima Straits, Kyushu, Shikoku and Awaji Islands, the Kii Peninsula coasts and, further away, coastal regions all the way to Kashima, an important Fujiwara site of cult where the Isora narrative also played a role. On the Yin side of the archipelago (along the coast of the Sea of Japan), you can see the same insistence on deer island from names such Kashima City and Kashima district in the Noto Peninsula. More surprising, though, is the presence of the Azumi in the vast, beautiful plain of the same name in central Japan. One of the main shrines on that plain is Hodaka shrine, located at the eastern foot of Mt. Hodaka in Azumino City, north of Matsumoto; its main ritual involves building boats and floating them on Hodaka Pond; one of them is dedicated to Azumi no Isora, and the shrine has a mini-museum outlining the history of the Azumi. The larger part of the Azumi thus left the western part of Japan; some remained in Kyushu and continued the fishing trade, while bringing other seagoing people under their control. Yet other Azumi were ordered by the imperial government to prepare repasts for emperors and to taste food before it was served (a practice known as saba, and a role sometimes referred to as onikui or oninomi). We can now return to Azumi no Isora and that famous but enigmatic dance, Seino-o. The Azumi’s ancestral shrine, Shikaumi Jinja, is located in the Genkai Bay on Shikanoshima Island, north of Fukuoka, and their ancestral entity is Azumi no Isora, still the object of rites on the part of the head priest at the shrine—himself a descendant of the Azumi. The main sacred entities of the shrine are, on the left side, Nakatsu Watatsumi no Kami and Empress Jingū;3 in the center, Sokotsu Watatsumi no Kami and Tamayorihime no Kami; and on the right, Uwatsu Watatsumi no Kami and Emperor Ōjin. These Watatsumi no Kami represent one-third of the main sea deities imperially denominated in the myths; the second third consists of the Sumiyoshi

Preface: Cults and Culture of the Sea


deities (Sokotsutsuno-o no Kami, Nakatsutsuno-o no Kami, Uwatsutsuno-o no Kami); and the third consists of the Munakata deities (Ichikishimahime no Kami, Tagitsuhime no Kami, and Tagorihime no Kami).4 All these kami are broadly worshiped around the country; they symbolize the sea in all its forms, but they also symbolize the imperial government’s appropriation of very ancient deities and the submission of their ritualists to the government. Empress Jingū and Emperor Ōjin are worshiped in the Azumi shrine of Shikaumi due to later re-elaborations of the cycle of myths about Jingū contained in Kojiki and Nihon shoki, which circulated widely with the importance and broad reach of the Hachiman cult. Indeed, these later (medieval) myths offer an interesting explanation of the relationships of these cults. After Emperor Chūai died, struck by a kami, for disbelieving an oracle instructing him to conquer “Korea,” his consort Jingū decided to raise an army and to conquer the land filled with gold—even though she was pregnant. She soon realized she needed the jewels that could control the tides; it was revealed that the jewels were kept by a certain Azumi no Isora in the dragon’s palace on the floor of the sea, but that he would not show himself because of his ugly appearance due to the barnacles, abalone and other shellfish that grew on his face and body. To solve this problem Jingū ordered the building of a stage over water and the performance of music and dance to pique Isora’s interest and lure him out of the sea. Lo and behold, he rose to the platform and danced what is now known as Sei-no-o. Jingū then presented him with a request to give her the jewels, but he wanted something in return. When the consort asked him what kind of request he had in mind, he said: “As I look upon you and see your beauty, I am overwhelmed with a carnal desire to know you.” Naturally, the consort refused and the negotiation reached a stalemate—at which point a voice rose from the consort’s belly and said: “I am not concerned with pollution and your transport does not embarrass me: my only concern is the future of the land I am meant to rule over.”5 Apparently the consort then agreed to satisfy Isora, and she subsequently crossed the straits swiftly and conquered Korea without shedding blood. She then returned to Kyushu, but the pain of contractions assailed her; so she gathered up two large stones and placed them into her waist to delay the birth. Once she reached the coast in what is today Fukuoka, she delivered a baby boy who became Emperor Ōjin. The child’s umbilical cord was placed in a wooden box which was interred, and a pine tree was planted on the spot: this is now the Hakozaki Shrine of Fukuoka. A cult was dedicated to Emperor Chūai not far away, at the Mausoleum of Kashii, and the Hachiman cult developed greatly, adding to the pre-existing maritime cults geared to the protection of sea-goers and official traffic the dimension of protection of the national territory, first recognized in Nara, then established at important templeshrines at Iwashimizu and Kamakura and all around Japan. But this is not nearly the end of the story. In 669 the Kumaso, a group of people originally from southern Kyushu, rebelled against the government, which sent an army to destroy them. Thousands were killed. To mitigate the horror, the Usa religious authorities ordered that a rite of “release of living beings” (hōjō-e) be performed, and it later came to be performed regularly in a large number of Hachiman shrines and temples. The release of living beings at Usa consisted of a very complex series of rites culminating in an offering of shellfish called nina into the sea near Usa.


The Sea and the Sacred in Japan

At the same time, at the Koyo (or Kōyo) shrine west of Usa, puppets were manipulated: a stage was set, and the puppets performed the Isora dance and Sumo bouts. Puppet theater seems to have evolved from Kyushu and spread over the western half of Japan—along the coasts—at the hands of women referred to as kugutsu or kairaishi. These women had no regular home and were constantly on the move. They were protected by deities called Hyaku-dayū, to which small shrines were erected along the Inland Sea, usually not far from Hachiman shrines—where often there were large stones, said to be those that Empress Jingū placed “in her waist.” It was believed that whoever could move these stones would gain riches, but of course no one could. Eventually, these women gathered by Nishinomiya (present-day Kōbe); some went to Awaji Island where, later, they created Ko-Jōruri, which was subsequently developed as Jōruri (bunraku) in Osaka (exclusively by men). These women, protected by the Hyaku-dayū, also carried amulets: these were nina shellfish . . . They also dedicated a cult to an interesting entity: according to the Nihon shoki, the first child born from Izanagi and Izanami no mikoto, which was so deformed that it could not stand because it lacked feet, was declared unviable, then placed in a boat made of reeds, and was abandoned to the currents of the sea. This child, called Hiruko (leech), was to reappear at the “hands” of the kugutsu, and the Nishinomiya shrine complex claimed that it had appeared on a beach in front of the site. Please bear with me; this story gets more complicated, but I must go on very rapidly: the leech child and the sea god Ebisu were equated! This was a major development, a series of stories that spread like wild fire. The leech child rejected but stranded at Nishinomiya was now welcomed as a gift from the sea (an important feature of sea cults around Japan), as a bearer of fortune, as a fisherman who managed to reject his outcast status to a prolific and immensely popular cult that seized city markets everywhere!6 I choose to call these cults “cargo” cults . . .7 The point, though, is this: all over the Japanese coast there are myths and “stories” claiming that objects appearing on shores were believed to carry riches for the future. This has been true for many centuries, as in the case of a camphor tree—observed from afar, from which music and flames emanated, and which was prized so much that people made from it the first wooden statue of Maitreya (today visible at the national museum in Tokyo), as well as koto music instruments (one was found not long ago at the mouth of the Ado River; and Ado is written with the same graphs also read Azumi . . .)—on the western shore of Lake Biwa, and was carbon dated to the fourth century, echoing narratives found in the Fudoki and Nihon shoki. This was also true when corpses of people drowned at sea washed up on the coast: by a well-known trick of reversal of character (like exorcism), the corpses (usually called dozaemon) were said to be a premonition of great fishing catches. Meanwhile, in Nara, it was proposed that the god at Wakamiya shrine in the Kasuga complex was Isora himself, and Zeami Motokiyo’s Fūshikaden argues that the Sei-no-o dance is one important origin of Nō drama . . . So, here we are: we must echo the grand theory of fluidity that Bernard Faure has patiently elaborated in his recent two-volume masterpiece on the gods of medieval Japan (Faure 2016a, 2016b). There is, indeed, something else that structures complex associations between native and foreign divine entities in Japan, something not just

Preface: Cults and Culture of the Sea


vertical, like the honji-suijaku practice still misunderstood (I think), but mediated by a variety of techniques, such as the jewel mediating a number of apparently disparate cults. But Faure does not discuss sea cults; he does not mention Ebisu, although he discusses Daikoku; he only gives three pages to Hachiman, and so forth. One cannot do everything, and I applaud his formidable achievement. What I have simply outlined in these few pages belongs to the same understanding of complex transformations linked by a single or a series of objects, or traits, or statements, or symbols. The jewel studies Faure has engaged in for a long time provide the key to the future exploration of many sea deities and cults; it is definitely true of the Hachiman and Isora cults, and Faure also provides a key to understanding and appreciating the cults the kugutsu engaged in: the nina shellfish, tiny as it is, and containing a body without feet, brings together separate trends and cults and indeed creates a universe of thought and practice that characterizes Japanese cultic and cultural systems. I hope that the discussion of these liquid shifts, these cargo cults, these maritime and military concerns, and the new maps of cultic Japan that this book outlines, will continue.



Imperial Sea Magic? The Sea Kami and the Great Tasting (daijōsai) at the Early Yamato Court Mark Teeuwen

In both Kojiki (712) and Nihon shoki (720), the cosmogony begins with the separation of heaven from earth, or Yang from Yin, along a vertical axis. After the genesis of many generations of deities, the deities of heaven descend to earth where they create land from the sea. In this plotline, the imagery of creation is dominated by water. The earth “floated around” like a fish splashing on the surface or like a sheet of oil, and the first “thing” to arise between heaven and earth was “like a reed shoot,” sprouting up from a muddy floodplain (Kojiki [A] 1: 51; Philippi 1969: 47). The first solid island, Onogorojima, was made of coagulated brine that dripped from a spear, thrust into the primordial waters by the heavenly deities Izanagi and Izanami. On this precarious spot of land Izanami gave birth to the Japanese islands, in Nihon shoki’s main version all referred to with the watery character (“sandbar; shallows; island”). These lands, designated collectively as the territory of the Eight Islands (ōyashima no kuni), extended outwards on an horizontal axis into the “Plain of the Sea” (unabara). The theme of creation from the sea is even more extensive in Kojiki than it is in Nihon shoki. Nihon shoki continues by telling how Izanami, presumably while still on Onogorojima, gives birth to the sea (sic), the rivers, the mountains, the trees and grasses, and finally the ruler of all-under-heaven: the kami of the sun, Amaterasu. In Kojiki, on the other hand, Izanagi visits the deceased Izanami in the dark realm of death, escapes from that polluted place, and purifies himself in a bay in Himuka, on the island of Tsukushi (Kyushu).1 This act of cleansing gives rise to numerous kami, including six sea deities: three called Watatsumi and three others called Tsutsunowo. Amaterasu came into being when Izanagi rinsed his left eye with water from this bay. In the narrative of Kojiki, then, Amaterasu was born from the sea, immediately following a range of sea kami. It was from this Kyushu bay that she was sent to the “Plain of High Heaven” to rule over that elevated realm. Amaterasu goes on to play a central role in the further plotline of Kojiki and (although less unambiguously) Nihon shoki; but surprisingly, the sea fades away. The sea kami listed in Kojiki all but disappear from the narrative, as does the sea itself. The 3


The Sea and the Sacred in Japan

Japan of the early 700s was a land of islands, heavily dependent on sea trade and seafood. Yet the sea plays only a marginal role in the further chapters of the chronicles. We hear of boats being boarded, straits crossed, fish caught and shellfish gathered—but all this happens in the margins of a narrative that is centered squarely on plains, fields, and mountains. Even the rituals of the classical Yamato court (of which, admittedly, we know very little) appear to have focused on sacred trees, stones, hills, and fields, rather than islands, boats, or fishing grounds. In a striking passage, Prince Yamato-takeru, facing death far away from home, praises his beloved Yamato as “a high land, hidden among hills upon hills, rising like green hedges” (Kojiki [A] 1: 221; Philippi 1969: 248). In the setting of landlocked Yamato, it is perhaps only natural that the sea was relegated to a minor role. Or was it? There are a few Japanese scholars who have argued that the sea did after all play a central role in the cosmology and the rituals of the seventh-century court. In this chapter, I will consider the theories of the most systematic among these authors, Mizubayashi Takeshi. In short, Mizubayashi proposes that the largest ritual of the early Yamato court, the yogoto no ōnie ceremony of “Great Tasting” that would later develop into the daijōsai, was a re-enactment of a mythical visit of an imperial prince to the palace of the sea deity Watatsumi, and aimed to grant the newly installed emperor control over “water” by means of sea magic. Mizubayashi’s approach to the Kojiki is highly original, controversial, and thoughtprovoking. I will therefore first sketch his general view of this oldest Japanese chronicle, and then focus on his hypothesis about the Great Tasting and the sea.

The Kojiki and Court Ritual As a professor of Japanese law, Mizubayashi reads the Kojiki not as a work of ancient mythology or early literature, as most scholars have done almost as a matter of course, but as an experiment in political thought. While he does not deny the fact that some of the tales in this chronicle have older roots, he approaches the Kojiki as a painstakingly constructed blueprint for court ritual, created almost singlehandedly by the “genius” Ō no Yasumaro (Mizubayashi 2001: 5). Yamato was a “theater state” where imperial power was expressed through rituals (saishi engeki kokka); the function of the tales collected in Kojiki was to give meaning to that new ceremonial system (Mizubayashi 2001: 290). The so-called jingi rituals (worshiping the “gods of heaven and earth”) were defined by a body of “deity law” (jingiryō) and performed by a newly created Council of Deity Affairs (Jingikan) at the equally new imperial court of Yamato.2 Emperor Tenmu (r.  673–686) initiated the compilation of the Kojiki and the Kiyomihara law code in, respectively, the first and second months of 681. This fact alone, Mizubayashi argues, suggests that the Kojiki was compiled with the express aim of recording the legends that explained the rationale of the court’s new “ritual theater.” Mizubayashi distinguishes between two categories of jingi rituals. The first aimed to extend imperial authority over the entirety of Japan’s eight-island territory. Some of the rituals in this first category aimed to ensure that the emperor gained or renewed the magical powers of his office, allowing him to exercise control over the people and

Imperial Sea Magic?


the environment; others were re-enactments of the primordial transfer of authority over the land and the sea to the imperial ancestors, which had taken place in a distant, divine age. This second category actualized the authority thus transferred to the emperor by staging him (or her) as the chief priest of the territory, the main officiant of rites in which the emperor beseeches the deities to grant prosperity to the realm (Mizubayashi 2001: 291). Mizubayashi argues that the rituals constituting these two categories reflected a cosmology where heaven, land, and sea were intimately interconnected with and interdependent on each other. He finds this relation of interdependence expressed in Kojiki, but not in Nihon shoki. The Kojiki, Mizubayashi maintains, presents Amaterasu as a deity who unites the forces of heaven, land, and sea. In Nihon shoki, in contrast, the land is “colonized” by the forces of heaven, personified by the heavenly deities Takamimusubi and (less prominently) Amaterasu. In this way, Mizubayashi posits the existence of two mythological models: the Kojiki model of two-sided interdependence between heaven and earth (comprising land and sea), and the Nihon shoki model of one-sided subjugation of earth by heaven. He points out that the imperial edicts (senmyō) and posthumous imperial names (wafū shigō) of the late seventh and early eighth centuries reflect the Kojiki model: they refer to the dynasty both as descendants of heavenly deities, called hiko, and as rooted in the land, neko (Mizubayashi 2002).3 This leads him to the conclusion that it was the Kojiki, rather than the Nihon shoki, that informed the ritual practice of the Yamato court in this period. What, then, was the place of the sea in Kojiki’s cosmology? Mizubayashi argues that the Plain of High Heaven (takama no hara), the Middle Land of the Reed Plain (ashihara) and the Plain of the Sea (unabara) are interdependent “plains” or domains of equal importance, blessing the world with light, life, and water, respectively (Mizubayashi 2001: 21). In relation to the sea, he refers in particular to a famous legend about Ninigi’s son, Howori or Hohodemi, who visited the palace of Watatsumi on the bottom of (or beyond) the sea and learned to “control water” (Kojiki [A] 1: 141; Philippi 1969: 154). It is this same tale that Mizubayashi identifies as the “ritual legend” (saigi shinwa) of the Great Tasting, and that will be the focus of this essay. Following Kojiki’s version,4 the Howori tale runs as follows: Ninigi’s sons Hoderi (the ancestor of the Ata Hayato) and Howori (alternatively named Hikohiko Hohodemi) fish and hunt for a living. One day they decide to swap, and Howori borrows Hoderi’s fishing hook; but not only does he fail to catch anything, he ends up losing the hook. Hoderi insists that Howori must find and return it. With the help of the kami of tides, Howori makes his way to the palace of the sea kami, Watatsumi. There Howori asks Watatsumi’s maid for a drink of water, but instead of drinking, he spits a pearl into the cup, arousing the curiosity of Watatsumi’s daughter Toyotama-bime. When Toyotama-bime comes out to see Howori, they instantly fall in love. Watatsumi recognises Howori as “Sora-tsu-hiko,” the prince of the air, son of “Ama-tsu-hiko,” the prince of heaven (Ninigi), and offers him a feast (miae). Howori is seated on eight layers of sealskin and eight layers of silk and offered a hundred dishes; after this, Toyotama-bime becomes his wife.


The Sea and the Sacred in Japan After three years of happiness, Howori decides to return to solid soil. He brings the recovered fishhook, his bride, and two jewels that Watatsumi has given to him. These jewels can raise and lower the tide, and Watatsumi has taught Howori how he can get his revenge on Hoderi with these magical objects. By cursing Hoderi’s fishhook and directing the water away from his rice fields, Howori reduces him to poverty; then he manipulates the tides so that Hoderi almost drowns. In despair, Hoderi swears to serve Howori as his protector. Up to this day, the story concludes, Hoderi’s “dance” mimicking his almost drowning is performed at court— presumably by Hoderi’s descendants, the Ata Hayato (Kojiki [A] 1: 135–143; Philippi 1969: 148–155).

Before we can proceed to the question of how this tale might be connected to the Great Tasting, we need to discuss what that grand ritual of state entailed.

The Great Tasting Needless to say, the Great Tasting has served as “the defining ritual of state Shinto” since the Meiji period under the name of daijōsai (Breen and Teeuwen 2010: 23).5 This has inspired a large body of research into the history and meaning of this ritual, often triggered by new performances of the daijōsai in new political contexts. Interpreting the scarce and ambiguous sources of the ancient period is by no means easy; the long history of skewering such interpretative work in the light of current imperial politics further complicates matters. It is in this context that Mizubayashi offers a fresh perspective. The earliest records of the Great Tasting that are left to us describe roughly the following procedure (here I limit myself to the pertinent rite of the Great Tasting hall, daijōgū): The emperor bathes and enters the first of two Great Tasting halls, called the yuki and suki halls, erected within the central palace courtyard (the meaning of yuki and suki is unclear). In the courtyard, dances are performed by the Kuzu of Yoshino and by dancers from the “yuki and suki districts” that have procured the food offerings. Storytellers from various provinces recite ancient words. When the imperial princes, ministers and officials enter the courtyard, the Hayato “raise their voices, clap their hands, and dance.” Maidens carry in offerings prepared by socalled “sake girls” and by retainers of the Azumi lineage. Within the yuki hall, the emperor offers rice and sake to the kami and symbolically partakes of it himself. The same procedure is then repeated at the suki hall.

This account of the procedures draws primarily on a tenth-century source, the Engi shiki (Protocols of the Engi period, 927; Bock 1970–72, vol. 2: 45–52), with added details from Gōke shidai, compiled around 1100.6 Engi shiki, however, was written more than two centuries after the Kojiki and the earliest versions of jingiryō law. It is unthinkable that Heian-period imperial practice followed pre-Nara precedent without

Imperial Sea Magic?


major changes. After all, the imperial office itself had changed almost beyond recognition in the intervening centuries of turmoil. The Yōrō code of 714 refers to the distant ancestor of the classical daijōsai as the “oncein-a-reign Great Tasting” (yogoto no ōnie; Ritsuryō 3: 214). In Nihon shoki, this ritual gets its first mention in 673, the year Emperor Tenmu ascended the throne. Nihon shoki notes that after this ritual,“presents were given to all those who attended the ōnie: the Nakatomi, the Inbe, the officials of the Kami Bureau (kanzukasa), the district governors of Harima and Tanba, and their laborers” (Nihon shoki [A] 68: 414, Aston 1956: 324–325). Tenmu’s ōnie, then, involved offerings from two districts west and east of the capital, procured by governors and laborers from those places. Article 14 of the Yōrō code specifies that for the once-in-a-reign Great Tasting, “provincial governors are to perform [unspecified tasks]” while court officials were in charge of the “annual ōnie” (toshigoto no ōnie; Ritsuryō 3: 214). Perhaps this same regulation was already included in Tenmu’s Kiyomihara code, promulgated in 689. Even if it was, however, this article reveals only that the once-in-areign ōnie involved offerings from two districts called yuki and suki, while the annual ōnie did not. That is all. Any attempt to reconstruct what the Great Tasting entailed in its earliest form has to make do with this extremely limited amount of source material. Mizubayashi is keenly aware of the fact that all detailed speculation on the classical Great Tasting relies on sources from the tenth century and later. He adheres to the principle that in reconstructing the original yogoto no ōnie, we must assume that those sources describe a radically changed performance. However, as noted, early sources are extremely limited: one article in the Yōrō code, a line or two in Nihon shoki, and the imperial edicts mentioned above, notably those that were issued as part of the accession ceremonies. If we follow Mizubayashi’s reasoning, however, the Kojiki becomes available as another source—if only we can determine which episode in this work applies to the yogoto no ōnie. Mizubayashi hypothesizes that the yogoto no ōnie combined two central elements: a rite in which gods (Watatsumi and the kami of the land) offer food to the emperor; and a rite of hierogamy (sacred intercourse), using the “bed” (shinza) that, according to Engi shiki, was part of the furnishings of both the yuki and the suki halls. This early ritual, he argues, was very different from the classical daijōsai described in Engi shiki and later sources. In short, he sees the reign of Empress Kōken (r. 749–758) as an early turning point, with further changes during the reigns of Emperors Kōnin and Kanmu in the late eighth century. During Kōken’s reign the ōnie was renamed niinae, “New Tasting.”7 Drawing on the edict issued by Kōken when she re-ascended the throne as Empress Shōtoku in 769, Mizubayashi proposes that this renaming implied a radical reinvention of the Great Tasting: rather than receiving offerings from unnamed gods (notably Watatsumi), the empress now presented offerings to her ancestor Amaterasu and shared food with this deity, so as to transform herself into Amaterasu’s heir. The hierogamy, too, faded away at this time, when the incumbent was female. Mizubayashi claims that from Kōken’s reign onwards, emperorship took on a more “despotic” form that was reflected in the format and symbolism of the accession rituals. The Kojiki-based ōnie, which expressed the interdependence between heaven and earth (comprising both sea and land), was turned into the Nihon shoki-style niinae that represented the one-sided colonization of the earth from heaven (Mizubayashi 2001:


The Sea and the Sacred in Japan

382–392, 396–398). From 820 onwards, this niinae was termed the senso daijōsai, or “Great Tasting of the imperial accession.”8

The Great Tasting and Myth Mizubayashi stands in a long tradition of speculation about the meaning of the Great Tasting. In his own overview, he points out that debates about this ritual have focused on three points: the identity of the kami addressed (Amaterasu; the gods of heaven and earth; both; or others); the meaning of the sharing of food between kami and emperor (as an offering from the kami to the emperor; or from the emperor to the kami; or from the provinces to the emperor as a territorial submission rite); and the significance of the bed (as a place where the emperor acquires the “imperial spirit” as a resting place of Amaterasu or as a procurement for a hierogamic rite). Different authors have not only proposed different answers to these questions, but also offered hypotheses about historical transitions from one to the other in classical, medieval, and modern times (Mizubayashi 2001: 395–400). Typically, this quest for meaning has involved attempts to identify a legend that could give narrative direction to the procedure. Almost invariably, authors have pointed at the tale of Ninigi’s descent from heaven. The most influential scholar to elaborate on the connection between the Great Tasting and this tale was Orikuchi Shinobu (1887– 1953). In a 1928 essay, written while the nation was preparing for the 1929 daijōsai of the Shōwa emperor, Orikuchi explained the bed as a reference to the cover in which Ninigi was wrapped before descending from heaven to earth (madoko ofusuma). He imagined that the emperor would lie down on the shinza, swaddled in the manner of the infant Ninigi, waiting to be joined by Amaterasu. Feasted with the offerings from the yuki and suki fields, Amaterasu would then fill him with the “imperial spirit” (tennōrei). Orikuchi interpreted the daijōsai as a ritual that transmitted this timeless imperial spirit to a new incumbent by means of a re-enactment of Ninigi’s descent from heaven—an interpretation that supported official understandings of the emperor’s role within the kokutai structure.9 This basic understanding, linking the daijōsai to Ninigi’s descent from heaven, has since been expanded in different directions. The most prominent theme in this connection is the association of Ninigi with rice. The infant Ninigi (or Ho no Ninigi), whose name is interpreted as a reference to abundant (nigi-) rice ears (ho), descended to the mountain Takachiho, which again contains the key element ho. It is also pointed out that in some variants of Nihon shoki (though not in the main version, nor in Kojiki), Amaterasu gave Ninigi rice ears from her sacred garden (yuniwa no inaho) before sending him on his way (Nihon shoki [A] 67, p.  152; Aston 1956: 83).10 Befitting a postwar context, the meaning of the daijōsai is now not so much about the imperial spirit, but rather about the arrival in Japan of the rice spirit (inadama), bestowed on the land by the heavenly deities and personified by the emperor as he is transformed through his performance of the daijōsai.11 Recently, however, a number of scholars have expressed doubts about the connection between the daijōsai procedures and the Ninigi myth. First of all, the method of cherry-

Imperial Sea Magic?


picking passages from Kojiki, different versions in Nihon shoki, and combining them with later sources has lost credibility. As pointed out most famously by Kōnoshi Takamitsu, Kojiki and Nihon shoki represent different worldviews, and “each text establishes the legitimacy of imperial rule in its own way” (Kōnoshi 2000: 53); therefore, reconstructing a single mythological cosmology by mixing quotations from both works is a flawed methodology. More specifically to the Great Tasting, the myth of Amaterasu bestowing treasures upon Ninigi and sending him down to earth appears to be more consistent with another rite of the accession, sokui, in which the emperor ascends a throne-like platform with a Ninigi-like procession and receives the regalia (Okada 1989: 29–33). Moreover, court records consistently present the rite of offering and sharing food as the core element of the Great Tasting; yet the tale of Ninigi’s descent makes no mention of either offerings or feasting. In order to address such misgivings, some scholars have pointed at the Howori tale as a further myth that might not “inform,” but does “reflect” the procedures of the Great Tasting. Matsumae Takeshi was a pioneer in this regard (Matsumae 1970: chapter 1). As noted above, Watatsumi invited Howori to sit on “eight layers of sealskin and eight layers of silk”; this reminded Matsumae of the shinza used in the Great Tasting and the madoko ofusuma with which Orikuchi had associated it. One of the variants of the Howori tale in Nihon shoki has it that Watatsumi prepared three seats, one of which he covered with a madoko ofusuma; it was when Howori chose this seat, this version reads, that Watatsumi understood that Howori was Ninigi’s son (Nihon shoki [A] 67: 182. Aston 1956: 106).12 Matsumae concluded that when the new emperor sat on the shinza in the Great Tasting, he engaged in a practice similar to Howori in the palace of the sea deity. Matsumae did not, however, propose that the Howori tale was the “ritual legend” of the Great Tasting, nor did he draw the conclusion that the Great Tasting had anything to do with sea magic. He held on to the established view that the Great Tasting reenacts Ninigi’s descent, and merely argued that the Howori tale helped to contextualize the use of the shinza in that ritual. A more radical position, similar to that of Mizubayashi, was taken by Kawakami Junko in 1973. Like Mizubayashi, Kawakami believed the Great Tasting combined a feast with a sexual rite. In this, she built on the work of Saigō Nobutsuna, who pointed out that feasts, including the banquet that followed the Great Tasting, involved “rites of sexual liberation” that might be understood as a form of hierogamy (Saigō 1966).13 This pattern of a feast followed by a sexual rite directed Kawakami’s attention towards the Howori myth, and she pointed out that Watatsumi “made his daughter Toyotama-bime have intercourse” (in Kojiki, maguwai-seshimeki) with Howori immediately after the feast. Kawakami’s reading of the Great Tasting retains many elements from Orikuchi’s theory, but adds the element of a rite of ritual intercourse on the basis of the Howori tale. She argues that the king obtained the power to render the earth productive by means of a hierogamy with the kami of the land. During the Great Tasting, she writes, the king “shared a meal of first fruits with Amaterasu on the shinza, lay down wrapped in the madoko ofusuma, and then attained the full attributes of a king by means of sacred intercourse with the kami of the land, represented by daughters of the deities of the mountains and the sea” (Kawakami 1973: 47–48). Kawakami here sees the marriage of Ninigi with a daughter of the mountain deity Yamatsumi and of his son Howori with


The Sea and the Sacred in Japan

the daughter of Watatsumi as parts of a larger motif: the first heavenly rulers intermarrying and fostering children with the gods of the earth, represented by the mountains and the sea. Kawakami, then, was an early exponent of the idea that the Great Tasting drew primarily on the Howori tale, rather than the myth of Ninigi’s descent from heaven.

Whose Myths? By premising his interpretation of the Howori tale on the assumption that Kojiki is a work of Yamato political thought, Mizubayashi places himself in opposition to scholars who analyze this episode as a legend transmitted by sea people from Kyushu, notably the Azumi and the Ata Hayato (e.g., Tsugita 1966 and 1968; Miyake 1984: 113–142). In contrast to the proposed connections with jingi rituals, the links between these groups and the myth are explicitly spelled out in the text. As noted above, Kojiki identifies Ninigi’s first son and Howori’s rival, Hoderi, as the ancestor of the Hayato lineage of Ata no Kimi. In Kojiki’s account of Izanagi’s ablutions, which gave rise to the Watatsumi deities, these three kami are identified as the ancestors of the Azumi no Muraji. The Azumi were a lineage of Hayato stock that was in early contact with the Yamato court and rose to prominence in the early eighth century as overseers of sea people (ama). As such, the Azumi were key to the maritime diplomacy and warfare of the Yamato court. They had bases in various parts of Japan, but are believed to hail from northern Kyushu. The Azumi were subjected to Yamato power at an early date and subsequently developed into important Yamato allies. The Ata Hayato lived further south, in the periphery of Yamato influence. Their relationship to the Yamato state was troubled, as attested by frequent mentions of Hayato “uprisings” in the chronicles. The pacification of the Hayato was an urgent concern also during Tenmu’s reign. In 682, the year following Tenmu’s orders to compile both the Kojiki and the Kiyomihara code, a large group of Hayato from Ata and Ōsumi traveled to the Yamato court where they presented tribute and performed wrestling as a token of their subservience, perhaps marking Yamato progress in extending its influence into southern Kyushu (Nihon shoki [A] 68: 452; Aston 1956: 356). The Ata Hayato and the Azumi play a remarkably prominent role in the chronicles, in view of the fact that they were such distant and (in the case of the Hayato) potentially hostile groups. According to Nihon shoki, the mountain god’s daughter whom Ninigi married after his descent to Kyushu called herself Kamu Ata Kashi-tsu-hime, a name that suggests she was an Ata deity (Nihon shoki [A] 67: 154; Aston 1956: 85; Tsugita 1968: 18). While Ninigi married an Ata deity, the wife of his son Howori, and the mother of the third heavenly monarch, was the daughter of the Azumi deity Watatsumi. Taken together, the Ata Hayato and the Azumi occupy the entire maternal side of the early imperial genealogy. When Tenmu ordered twelve princes and key allies to compile “imperial annals and matters of ancient times” in 681, a certain Inashiki of the Azumi lineage was among them (Nihon shoki [A] 68: 444; Aston 1956: 350). This has suggested to many that Azumi and probably also Hayato traditions ended up in the chronicles by way of this route (Tsugita 1968: 20). Their prominent presence in the chronicles would

Imperial Sea Magic?


then be a reflection of the importance of the Azumi at a time when maritime relations with the continent were a major cause of concern, and the threat of a Silla-Tang invasion was never distant from courtiers’ minds. If this tale is understood as a tradition of southern tribes like the Hayato, what does that entail for its interpretation? It is no coincidence that tracing the non-Japanese origins of the tale of Howori’s visit to the sea palace has been a favored topic of scholars of comparative mythology. The classical comparison is with myths from Indonesia and Micronesia; others have found parallels with tales from Myanmar, India, or southern China. Some scholars have even concluded that the Hayato hailed from some part of South-East Asia, or formed the northern tip of a southern maritime network (e.g., Senda 1998: 75–77). Such speculations transport the Howori tale to a completely different context, causing different motifs to stand out. At the same time, such perspectives raise the question what role this “foreign” tale played in the overall plot of the chronicles, and how it may have been adapted to that plot by the Yamato compilers. One answer to this last question deserves our attention here. As we already saw above, both the Azumi and the Hayato had a role to play in the Great Tasting. The former prepared and served some of the offerings in the Great Tasting halls, and the latter performed a dance that mimicked Hoderi’s almost-drowning (as noted in Kojiki), and made ritual noises that sounded like “the howling of dogs” (according to one version in Nihon shoki) (Nihon shoki [A] 67: 175; Aston 1956: 100; Miyake 1984: 119). Scholars who stress these aspects read the Howori tale not as the ritual legend of the Great Tasting as a whole, but rather as a tale that includes lineage legends, which explain the rationale behind the participation of these lineages in this grand ritual (see Hashimoto 1991). The Howori tale, they argue, offered divine-age precedents for the elevated position of the Azumi and for the submission of the Hayato—both of which were “performed” during the Great Tasting.

Discussion: Myth and Ritual In a lengthy review of Mizubayashi’s book, Kōnoshi praises his treatment of the Kojiki as a work with its own cosmology, and even appears willing to follow him in reading the Kojiki as “the Constitution of the Ritsuryō state” (Kōnoshi 1993: 83). Yet, he finds fault with Mizubayashi’s understanding of Kojiki’s worldview, notably with his idea that this work sees heaven and earth as mutually dependent, and therefore equally important realms. This, Kōnoshi concludes, “causes the entire argument of this book to collapse” (Kōnoshi 1993: 89). In a reply of equal length, Mizubayashi retorts that Kōnoshi’s work fails to read the Kojiki myths as foundational legends of jingi ritual, and therefore lacks the ambition to find in Kojiki’s narrative new perspectives on the Ritsuryō state (Mizubayashi 1993: 86). It appears to me, however, that Mizubayashi’s thesis raises far-reaching methodological questions beyond issues concerning Kojiki’s cosmology. Most fundamentally, is his idea that the jingi rituals are based on Kojiki myths convincing? Theoretically, his position reminds one of the myth and ritual school rooted in the work of Frazer, who prioritized ritual, or of the phenomenological studies of scholars


The Sea and the Sacred in Japan

like Eliade, who prioritized myth (see Bell 1997: 3–22). Sweeping approaches to myth and ritual have been prominent in Japanese mythological studies, and have been challenged only in the last decade or so. Kudō Hiroshi expresses this new critical attitude as follows: “Both myth and ritual, each in its own way, supported the Ritsuryō system, but both were in constant flux, responding to the changing needs of the times. We need to escape from the once popular static understanding that sees myth merely as a reflection of ritual” (Kudō 2008: 7). With regard to the Kojiki, it appears strange that while the text systematically spells out links between particular gods and lineages, and between acts of those gods in the past and the functions of associated lineages in the present, there are no similar pointers connecting particular episodes with jingi rituals. Such general critiques do not, of course, rule out the possibility that some rituals may be based on specific myths, and vice versa; rather, they reject the generalizations of grand evolutionary theory and call for case-by-case analyses. Even if we question Mizubayashi’s general approach to the Kojiki, his particular hypothesis linking the Great Tasting to the Howori episode might still stand. Does this hypothesis convince as a likely interpretation of the evidence? First, the Great Tasting that Mizubayashi investigates is the pre-Kōken yogoto no ōnie, for which there are almost no sources. He solves this problem by adducing the Kojiki as a source. However, there is an obvious danger here of ending up in a circular argument. Mizubayashi links the Great Tasting with the Howori myth because both include hierogamy; and he bases his claim that the Great Tasting involved hierogamy on the Howori myth. A is based on B, which is based on A. Is such a methodology convincing? The terse article 14 of the Yōrō code, which is our only direct source on the early yogoto no ōnie, points at the growing of offerings in yuki and suki fields in distant provinces as the distinctive feature that sets this once-in-a-reign ritual apart from the annual ōnie. The Howori tale, however, offers no explanation for this distinctive procedure. Rather than in the Howori episode, this practice seems to be foreshadowed in another episode: Kamu Ata Kashi-tsu-hime’s feasting of Ninigi. A variant in Nihon shoki states that after giving birth to Howori, Kamu Ata Kashi-tsu-hime chose two ricefields by means of divination (uraeta), called sanata and nunata. She prepared sake and rice from these fields’ crops and offered them to her husband Ninigi as a celebratory feast (Nihon shoki [A] 67: 156; Aston 1956: 86). This episode is just one example of a potential ritual legend that challenges Mizubayashi’s hypothesis by suggesting an alternative one. Not only can we link key elements of the Great Tasting to episodes other than the Howori tale; vice versa, the Howori tale includes many elements that have no connection to the procedures of Great Tasting, pre- or post-Kōken. Perhaps most strikingly, the treasures that give Howori magical control over water, the two jewels, play no role in the Great Tasting. If the myth were designed to explain the ritual, this would appear illogical. To demonstrate the arbitrariness of Mizubayashi’s selection of mythical elements, it is instructive that other scholars end up connecting the Howori episode to different rituals by focusing on aspects of the tale that Mizubayashi ignores. Kudō, for example, identifies the Howori tale with the jinkonjiki rite of offering and sharing food with the gods, which was part not only of the Great Tasting but also of the central jingi

Imperial Sea Magic?


rituals of tsukinami and niiname. As noted above, Howori spat a pearl into a cup; Kudō suggests that this relates to the rite of “spitting water” which is part of the jinkonjiki ritual. Moreover, a version in Nihon shoki explains that because the hook was found in the mouth of a mullet (ina), such fish are never offered to the emperor (Nihon shoki [A] 67: 173; Aston 1956: 99); Kudō argues that this, too, is a reference to the jinkonjiki procedures (Kudō 2008).14 So, what does all this mean? Generations of Japanese scholars have sought to identify the agendas of particular actors that loom behind the story of Howori and the sea kami. Mizubayashi presents perhaps the most clear-cut hypothesis by focusing on the creators of the jingi rituals at court: Emperor Tenmu and his widow, Empress Jitō. In Mizubayashi’s view, the Howori tale served to convince those who witnessed the Great Tasting, as well as the incumbent himself, that the emperor had power over the sea, or, more generally, over water. His hypothesis certainly has the virtue of clarity. Yet myth and ritual are rarely that unambiguous. The tale of Howori and the sea king has been convincingly identified as a tradition of sea people (Hayato, Azumi, or, more generally, ama) of southern origin. The refashioning of this tale into a Yamato legend produced its share of contradictions. When Mizubayashi interprets it as the work of Ō no Yasumaro, composed with the single purpose of explaining the meaning of the Great Tasting, he ignores the agendas of many other actors who have left their imprint on the versions of this tale in both Kojiki and Nihon shoki. Moreover, what clarity and logic may have existed for a short moment during Jitō’s or Monmu’s reign was soon obscured. If the Great Tasting ever served to demonstrate the emperor’s power over the sea, or over water, nothing of that notion remained by the time of the earliest sources that provide some detail about this ritual (Engi shiki). It would seem to me that Mizubayashi’s theory, in all its systematic neatness, implies that logical consistency is the default condition of the realm of myth and ritual. However, if the Great Tasting was indeed designed to be about the sea, this logic was lost almost as soon as it was constructed. There are few signs in later sources to suggest that such logic and consistency were missed. The ritual followed its own course of development in happy disregard of the meanings and intentions that Mizubayashi unearths. This suggests that the potency of myth and ritual did not lie in some hidden logic, but in altogether different dimensions. Finally, what about the sea? Mizubayashi constructs a new interpretation of Kojiki’s worldview, questioning established understandings of the relationship between heaven and earth, and, within the domain of the earth, between land and sea. It should be noted, however, that even in Mizubayashi’s reading, the sea figures first and foremost as the domain of “water,” which in combination with the life forces of the land and the light bestowed by heaven produces crops. If, as Mizubayashi argues, the Great Tasting once conferred sea magic on the emperor, this magic served to control irrigation and secure abundant land crops, rather than to aid fishing or other marine forms of food production. In the Great Tasting, the emphasis is squarely on producing rice in sacred irrigated fields. In the Howori tale, too, Watatsumi bestowed upon Howori a spell to curse Hoderi’s fishhook and a technique to direct irrigation water at will, destroying Hoderi’s crops. In its Yamato version, this tale of the sea is ultimately about the superiority of rice cultivation to fishing.



The Sea and Food Offerings for the Kami (shinsen) Satō Masato

Translation by Lindsey E. DeWitt

Shinsen, offerings of food and drink to the gods, are an indispensable element of kami festivals in Japan; they are an inevitable research subject in exploring the character of Shinto, in which ritual plays a major role. Rice (or sake made with rice) is normally seen as the most important component of shinsen. Japanese rituals dedicated to the gods (jingi saishi) are considered to be based on rice-farming culture, and the significance of rice as food offered to the kami has been emphasized in the folklore studies of Yanagita Kunio and others. Furthermore, for the last thirty to forty years, attention has also been paid to rituals related to dry-field crop farming or hunting culture in Japan, such as New Year’s Day and animal sacrifice. Particularly important in this respect is the research conducted by Tsuboi Hirofumi (1979), Haruda Nobuo (1993, 2012, 2014), and Nakamura Ikuo (2001; Nakamura, Miura and Akasaka, eds., 2007), among others. If we look at the constituent elements of shinsen as a whole, however, it turns out that marine products are essential as their main items. For example, we know from the section on kami ceremonies (“Jingi shiki”) of the Engishiki (tenth century), the most complete source of information concerning ancient rituals, that together with rice (and rice sake), abalone, bonito, squid, salmon, seaweed, and other marine products were the main pillars of the shinsen of various court rituals. This was by no means limited to shrine rituals in coastal areas rich in marine products but was also true for Kasuga-sai and Chinkasai in Nara, and in the Ainame-sai performed in the home provinces (Kinai) near the capital, all inland areas. Standard shinsen of present-day shrine rites also include raw fish such as sea bream, and dried marine products such as squid and kelp, in addition to rice, sake, vegetables, fruit, salt, and water. Moreover, these marine product offerings are to be placed in the upper row of the altar next to rice (including mochi rice cakes) and sake (made of rice). Although there are many individual case studies concerning shinsen (Iwai and Hiwa 1981; Yano 1992; Koizumi 2001, esp. chapter 2; Nanri 2011; Yoshino 2015), and despite the importance of marine product offerings, not much progress has been made in terms of comprehensive studies since the seminal work by Shibusawa Keizō (1954). The meaning of marine products in shinsen is a major subject that is wide open to further investigation. 15


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Shinsen in the Engishiki It has already been pointed out that in Japanese court rituals, the sacrifice of domestic animals such as calves, sheep or pigs set in the Ci ling was not acceptable, despite the fact that the Laws on Divinities (Jingiryō) of Japan were modeled on the Tang Ci ling (Kikuchi 1971; Inoue 1984). As Shibusawa also points out, a characteristic of the food used as shinsen, according to the “Jingi shiki” of the Engishiki, is that meat (from wild animals or livestock) is not included. However, it is not as if the Japanese at that time did not consume meat. For example, tax items from various parts of the country that appear in the minbushōshiki and the shukeiryōshiki and others include various kinds of meat from wild animals (deer, dried meat of wild boar, salted meat, pickled meat) and birds (dried pheasant meat), which thus seem to have been taken into everyday eating habits as well. These meat items, however, were not adopted in Engishiki rituals, which were under the jurisdiction of the Department of Divinities (Jingikan). There are exceptional cases, as in kinensai, a festival of prayers for good crops, in which a white horse, white boar, and white chicken are offered at Mitoshi no yashiro (Katsuragi no mitoshi no yashiro), or at Ise Shrine, when chicken and chicken eggs are offered during the Yamaguchi-sai and various rituals related to the periodic rebuilding of the shrine (sengū). These have been interpreted as, originally, sacrifices offered at festivals (Yoshie 1995; Hirabayashi 2007, esp. part 1; Harada 2012, 2014), but Shibusawa noticed that in “Shiji saishiki” of the Engishiki there are records of divine horses (shinme) at Ise Shrine and offerings of divine horse at Yamaguchi and various waterdividing (mikumari) shrines, but these horses cannot be interpreted as having been supplied for the sake of sacrifice or as food offerings (shinsen). According to the Toyukegū gishikichō, which predates the Engishiki, divine horses are also listed as offerings next to food items and containers, but in current rituals as well horses are not offered as shinsen. Thus we can argue that, at least at the time the Engishiki was written, horses were not killed in sacrifice or offered as shinsen food to the gods. Now, Maekawa Akihisa argues that the offering of chicken and eggs at Ise Shrine draws on ancient Korean legends of oviparity as well as old folklore from the continent about sacrificing chickens for the purpose of exorcizing evil spirits, as seen in the Jingchu suishi ji (Jp. Keiso saijiki), a sixth-century Chinese account of annual festivals and customs. Okada Seishi criticized this interpretation, however, saying that there are not enough proofs explaining the factors that brought these two phenomena together in one ritual or the concrete path by which these continental beliefs arrived at Ise Shrine and came to be adopted there (Maekawa 1986, esp. Part 3, Chapter 4, and appendix). A survey of the entire set of rituals included in the Engishiki shows cases of meat shinsen in rituals other than those performed for the kami (listed in the “Jingi shiki”). One such case is the offering of three sacrifices in the sekiten, a Confucian ritual, during the Great Learning Ceremony (Daigaku shiki). In Chinese imperial rituals, the three sacrifices are calf, sheep, and pig, but in the Great Learning Ceremony they are defined as large deer, small deer, and pig (boar) or rabbit. Among ceremonies at the Bureau for Yin and Yang (Onmyōryō shiki), dried meat (hojishi) and pickled meat (hishio), in addition to skipjack tuna, abalone, and dried fish, are also offered in nasai (an exorcism

The Sea and Food Offerings for the Kami


ritual) and sangensai. Furthermore, the “Oribe no tsukasa shiki” (Rules of the Weavers’ Office) says that dried meat (hojishi) was offered on Tanabata (seventh day of the seventh month) in the Orime matsuri (the festival for the weaver girl, one of the two protagonists of the Tanabata legend, corresponding to the star Vega). The term hojishi means dried food, and hishio refers to foodstuff pickled in salt or seasoning derived from it, but there is a good possibility that these foods were in fact meat.1 Be that as it may, since these festivals all derived from rituals and annual events in China, they were under the jurisdiction of the University Bureau (Daigaku ryō), Bureau of Ying and Yang (Onmyō ryō), and the Weavers’ Office (Oribe no tsukasa); they were not ceremonies to the Japanese kami in which the Department of Divinities participated. In addition, at the festival of the eight kitchen gods (Kamadogami yaza) described in the Rules of the Bureau of the Imperial Palace Kitchens (Ōiryō [also, Ōinozukasa] shiki) and the festival of the four kitchen gods (Shiza kamadogami) in the Rules of the Office of Imperial Brewery (Miki [also, Sake] no tsukasa shiki), boar meat (ikan) was offered along with eastern abalone, skipjack tuna, seaweed, and so forth. Th is probably shows that the kitchen gods were imported from the continent (see Mizuno 1969a). In any case, these were also rituals in which the Department of Divinities did not participate. References to offering animal meat and performing rituals of animal sacrifice of continental origin in ancient Japan appear here and there in documents such as the national histories, which mentions the rite of killing cows and horses,2 and the story in Nihon ryōiki “How the ritual slaughtering of cows due to the curse of a Chinese god and practicing the virtue of animal release results in positive or negative karmic retribution in the present life”; traces of these practices can also be found in archeological remains of ritual sites (see Sasō 1985; Matsui 2000). It seems that such customs remained in government ceremonies and regional, popular rituals outside the jurisdiction of the Department of Divinities. In the “Jingi shiki,” which prescribed rituals at the court level, there is no provision of meat offerings in the Kamanari wo shizumuru sai, Mikamado sai, Mii narabini mikamado sai, and the Chūgū mikamado sai, which were rituals also dedicated to the tutelary gods of the hearth. Thus, features of continental rituals such as meat offering were wiped out from the rituals managed by the Department of Divinities. This could mean that the court at that time was aware of a clear difference between Chinese imperial rituals, which were accompanied by livestock sacrifice, and the Japanese court rituals for the kami, and intentionally organized a ritual system different from that on the continent. Of course, the food items listed in the Engishiki are not necessarily all shinsen. For example, while the kinensai norito in the “Norito shiki” describes the shinsen offered at the kinensai as “things grown in the vast fields such as sweet vegetables and bitter vegetables, things that live in the blue sea such as broad-finned fishes and narrowfinned fishes, seaweed of the interior and seaweed of the shores,” among the 737 deities receiving state offerings (kanpei) from the Department of Divinities mentioned in the “Shiji saishiki,” for 539 of them it is not listed which foodstuff should be offered as shinsen, and for the remaining 198 there are no items corresponding to “sweet vegetables and bitter vegetables.” This shows that foodstuffs that could not be procured by the Department of Divinities were sourced locally.


The Sea and the Sacred in Japan

In addition, the norito of the Hirose Ōimi-sai (from the “Norito shiki”) mentions “as for animals living in the mountains, there are animals with soft hair and those with rough hair” (a similar passage also appears in the norito of the Fūjin-sai at Tatsuta Shrine). This probably refers to birds and beasts living in the mountains, but birds or beasts are not to be found among the items of the same festival’s offerings (heihaku) in the “Shiji saishiki.” Regarding this discrepancy, one could argue that wild animals were originally offered to the kami but that this custom eventually disappeared and there was a time gap between the definition of rules in the “Norito shiki” (composed earlier, with traces of older practices) and those in the “Shiji saishiki,” but there is also a good possibility that wild animals were indeed offered at those rituals, in which case they were not procured by the Department of Divinities but locally sourced. As we have already mentioned, rice occupies an important place in the shinsen of the Engishiki, and the tradition of adding offerings of abundant marine products as well might be traced as far as the Yangtze civilization of China, where wet-rice agriculture originated. In ancient China, the northern regions combined field-crop production and livestock farming, whereas in the Yangtze River basin wet-rice agriculture prospered; there, people lived off rice cultivation in the marshlands together with collecting seafood in the wetlands, and fishing was inseparably related to rice cultivation. Seafaring people carrying out wet-rice cultivation, who had reached the coastal areas from the Yangtze middle river basin, came to Japan and came to be known as the Yayoi people (Torigoe 2000; Yasuda 2009). It appears that this kind of cultural lineage lies behind the fact that marine products are indispensable to the shinsen of Japanese shrines. We should also add that, for example, freshwater fish such as carp (koi) and sweetfish (ayu), and sea fish widely consumed today such as mackerel (saba) and pilchard (iwashi), are not mentioned in “Jingi shiki,” in which special fish such as abalone (awabi), bonito (katsuo), squid (ika), and salmon (sake) are selectively chosen.3 In reality, there are many examples of freshwater fish, mackerel, pilchard and other diverse marine products being used as shinsen in shrine festivals throughout the country; this may be due to factors such as taste and nutritional value of fish, stability of supply, and convenience of preservation. In other words, the list of foodstuffs that appears among offerings in the Engishiki refers to items that ought to be procured by various government offices of the Department of State (Daijōkan) and the Department of Divinities, under the supervision of the latter. One can imagine that, in addition to such offerings provided by the court, in actual festivals members of ritual groups would also offer a variety of regional shinsen. The ancient Yamato court developed into what is known as ritsuryō state, and actively promoted the development of farmland under a tax system based on rice cultivation. It seems that such a cultural background affected the selection of rice and marine products as the main foods in kami rituals administered by the court’s Department of Divinities. One can envision the outline of a history in which rituals based on livestock culture, which do not fit Japan’s natural environment characterized by high temperatures and plentiful rain, were gradually removed from the standard shinsen.4

The Sea and Food Offerings for the Kami


There are many instances in medieval sources in which shrine shinsen are referred to as “fish and birds” (gyochō).5 Birds are not included in the items of shinsen that appear in the “Jingi shiki” of the Engishiki, but wild birds such as pheasants and ducks are frequently offered together with marine products in shrine shinsen, as in the case of the duck (kamo) of Daikyōsai at Katori Shrine and the “hanging bird” pheasant (kiji) of the Ōshukushosai of Kasuga Wakamiya onmatsuri. Birds are included among the shinsen of Kyoto’s Shimo-Gamo Shrine as well (Fig.  2.1). Although one might think that bird offerings as shinsen is a residue of the Jōmon period hunting culture, people belonging to wet-rice culture, as can be seen in the stele with representations of farmers and fishers/hunters (Shouhuo yishe huaxiang zhuan, Jp. Shūkaku yokusha gazō sen), a well-known example of Han dynasty funerary art,6 also ate fish and birds they caught in wetlands. The addition of birds to marine products as shinsen could be an extension of such ancient genealogy of wet-rice cultural practices. There are also cases where wild animals are offered as shinsen. Deer, wild boar, and other animals were offered at Suwa Shrine and, in the middle ages, at Aso Shrine and Futarasan Shrine, as well as in folk rituals and performing arts such as Shiiba Kagura and Kagami Kagura. These festivals, which drew on hunting cultures from the Jōmon period, took place in areas not suitable for wet rice such as mountain highlands. Nevertheless, it is easy to imagine that, except for some areas, the agricultural development of mountain areas and the ensuing spread of wet-rice culture brought about the decline of hunting-based cultures, as hunting, in contrast with wet-rice cultivation, could hardly provide enough sustenance for a large population; as a consequence, hunting culture elements also gradually disappeared from shinsen. It is important to note, however, that one should not overemphasize the role of Buddhism in the decline in consumption of bird and animal meat, not only in shinsen

Figure 2.1 Shinsen food offerings for special ceremonies (rinjisai) at Shimo-gamo Shrine, Kyoto. From Jinja saishiki gyōji sahō tenko kōkyū, edited by Jinja Honchō. Tokyo: Jinja Honchō, 1994, p. 350. Used with permission from Jinja Honchō.


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offerings but also in everyday eating habits—a tendency that characterizes the entire history of Japan. The Buddhist prohibitions against taking life and eating meat apply to all sentient beings, and fish and birds, which are offered as shinsen, are no exception. The “Flowing Water of Vaiśālī” (“Chōjashi rusui”) chapter of the Golden Light Sutra (Konkōmyōkyō), an important sutra that expounds the release of sentient beings (hōjō), preaches the release of fish, and already in Chinese Buddhism animals released in hōjōe ceremonies were predominantly fish and birds (see Michibata 1985). Thus, the decline of meat-eating habits among the Japanese from the ancient to the early modern periods derives from the development of wet-rice cultivation and the related decline of hunting, together with the lack of real animal farming culture, rather than from Buddhist thought. As a consequence, there was a historical tendency toward rice-based agriculture and fish eating.

The Amalgamation of Buddhas and Kami (shinbutsu shūgō) and Vegetarian Shinsen One might think that the same food items have always been offered as shinsen at yearly festivals throughout history, but instead we must be fully aware that they may change significantly depending on a shrine’s institutional and economic fluctuations. As an example of research on this subject, Yoshino Tōru points to changes in shinsen at Katori Shrine’s Daikyōsai from the Tenshō era (1573–1592) to the present day (Yoshino 2015, esp. Part 1, Chapter  1). Research has also been conducted on changes in shinsen at Hiyoshi Taisha’s Sannō matsuri from the Meiji period (Nasu, Fukamachi, and Morimoto 2014). In addition, the content of shinsen has also changed in conjunction with developments in religious thought. Following the amalgamation of buddhas and kami (shinbutsu shūgō) in ancient and medieval Japan, the shinsen of some shrines were influenced by Buddhism; shinsen also changed substantially following the separation of buddhas and kami (shinbutsu bunri) and the subsequent formation of the modern shrine system in the Meiji era. For instance, at Hiesha (present-day name: Hiyoshi Taisha), which was the protecting shrine (chinjusha) of Enryakuji, records remain about shinsen from the Kamakura, Edo, and modern periods, and their contents show great changes according to the historical period. According to the Yōtenki (Kamakura period), fish and birds were offered as shinsen at the shrine even during the time of amalgamation of buddhas and kami, but in the Edo period shinsen became vegetarian (shōjin) in accordance with Buddhist regulations. Oda Nobunaga’s burning down of Enryakuji likely disrupted the traditions that had continued from the middle ages, and because the Edo bakufu did not recognize Hiesha’s independent shrine territories in the process of rebuilding Enryakuji and thus stipends were provided to the shrine by Enryakuji, one can imagine that the strengthening of Enryakuji’s control over Hiesha was the main cause of these changes. After the Meiji Restoration’s separation orders, Buddhist vegetarian shinsen of the Edo period were abolished under the religious policy of the Meiji state (Satō 2011a). Therefore, when studying the shinsen of shrines, it is dangerous to make historical

The Sea and Food Offerings for the Kami


overviews based only on sources from one historical period and present-day rites; we must keep in mind that shinsen changed significantly according to intellectual trends of the times. According to Kuroda Toshio’s theory (1975), Shinto was subsumed by Buddhism in the age of shinbutsu shūgō; it was no more than one aspect or sect of Buddhism, and there was no specific religious substance to it. This view, however, should be reconsidered (Satō 2007, 2011b). Shinsen can provide useful materials for a critique of this theory. Indian Buddhism did not completely reject meat eating, as long as it satisfied the condition of the “three kinds of pure meat” (Jp. sanshu no jōniku) included in the Vinaya.7 Chinese Buddhism, however, came to strictly observe the prohibitions against taking life and eating meat under the influence of scriptures such as the Nirvana Sutra, the Brahma’s Net Sutra, and the Lan˙kāvatāra sūtra. In Japan these practices of Chinese Buddhism were widely accepted (except for Jōdo Shinshū), and as a rule the meals of monks and nuns, offerings to the Buddha at temples, and meals at abstinences (saijiki) during Buddhist ceremonies, consisted of vegetarian food and did not include meat or fish. On the other hand, the traditional offerings of fish, birds, and wild animals were indispensable for shrine rituals. As the effects of the amalgamation of buddhas and kami became stronger, some shrines began to offer only Buddhist-based vegetarian foods as shinsen. The deities of these shrines were called “vegetarian kami” (shōjin no kami). The earliest example is Usa Hachiman Shrine. A record states that when its god Usa Hachiman traveled to Nara in the middle of the eighth century to aid in the building of Tōdaiji’s Great Buddha, “in the provinces along the roads the killing of living beings was prohibited. Those accompanying the kami were to abstain from wine and meat” (Shoku Nihongi, Tenpyō shōhō 1 (749), entry for 11.28); it appears that by then the god had already become vegetarian. Even in later eras, when imperial messengers were dispatched to Usa and Iwashimizu Hachimangū during the period of religious abstinence (shōjin kessai), the emperor was supposed to take vegetarian meals.8 There were similarly “vegetarian kami” at Gion Shrine (present-day Yasaka Shrine) and Kitano Shrine, which were under Tendai control and had a close connection to Buddhism since the time of their origin. In addition, the gods became vegetarian at Munakata Taisha, where the title of bodhisattva was bestowed on its deities by an oracle in the mid-tenth century,9 and also in cases like Taga Taisha in Ōmi province, where vegetarian shinsen alone were offered at the “Hijiri no miya,” thought to enshrine a kami who took the tonsure and appeared in the form of a Buddhist monk.10 In the case of Kasuga Taisha as well, fish are offered at Kasuga Matsuri, which draws on the tradition of ritsuryō rituals, but vegetarian shinsen (“osome goku”) that do not use fish or birds are offered at the Kasuga Wakamiya Onmatsuri, which is conducted under the leadership of Kōfukuji (Okamoto 1989).11 Thus, we can conclude by saying that kami rituals during the period of amalgamation of buddhas and kami included both vegetarian rituals conforming to Buddhism (such as those for the god Hachiman and the festival of Kasuga Wakamiya), and rituals dating back to ancient Department of Divinities ceremonies, and in some cases, both sets of rituals (and related shinsen) were performed separately for the same deity.


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Accordingly, it is not true that all shrine rituals were transformed to follow in principle Buddhist vegetarianism; on the contrary, the practice of offering animal shinsen overall has not changed. Even though the idea, based on the honji suijaku theory that the true bodies of the kami were buddhas, spread widely, it was not easy to abandon rites contrary to the spirit of the Buddhist precepts and ideals of compassion, and in the end, it was historically impossible to close the gap separating the values of Buddhism and those of Shinto. For example, in Konjaku monogatarishū, there is the story of a man who tried to kill animals in order to make offerings of fish and birds at the yearly festival of Kashii Myōjin. The man died after sinking in a pond, but he appeared to his parents in a dream and told them that he had been reborn in the Pure Land because the act of taking life for the purpose of performing rituals to the kami did not cause bad karma and the three treasures of Buddhism saved him.12 Stories like this suggest that Buddhism struggled with traditional Shinto shinsen involving killing animals, as they run counter to the prohibition against taking life. In addition, frictions regarding the shinsen of fish, birds, and wild animals can be found all over in medieval sources. For example, in Kōgi zuikesshū, the record of a dialogue between Shinsui, a disciple of Hōnen, and a priest at Suwa shrine in central Japan, Shinsui encouraged the prohibition against taking life in Suwa kami rituals. This indicates that there was a significant rift opposing Buddhist ethics and Shinto values, even during the period in which the assimilation of buddhas and kami was dominant. On the other hand, the Shasekishū tells the story of a Buddhist monk who visited Itsukushima shrine and expressed doubts about offering fish to the kami; the kami issued an oracle, saying that offering one’s life, after retribution for past deeds is exhausted, to the kami—who is a manifestation of the buddhas—may constitute the cause and condition for entering the Buddhist path.13 The justification of, and forgiveness for, the taking of life because it is a “skillful means” (hōben) is also seen in the Shintōshū and Suwa daimyōjin ekotoba. These are products of doctrinal compromise on the Buddhist side toward kami rituals involving the taking of life, and follow a logic that cannot possibly be approved from the perspective of Chinese Buddhism. The Japanese Buddhist tendency of tolerance toward alcohol consumption and meat eating could have been fostered by Buddhist involvement in kami rituals under the discourse of the amalgamation of buddhas and kami. In this way, a focus on shinsen provides new perspectives in the study of the amalgamation of buddhas and kami, and at the same time constitutes an important set of materials to understand the formation and development of amalgamation processes.


Taming the Plague Demons Border Islanders and the Ritual Defense of Japan Jane Alaszewska

In the early 2000s I conducted research into the contemporary healing rituals of a remote Japanese island, Aogashima. This island, with a population of 170 (as of 2014), sits at the base of the Izu island chain and occupies a remote Pacific corner of Tokyo Prefecture. My research revealed that the healing rituals of this tiny, peripheral island appear to draw on rituals that evolved in a very different time and place. The symbolism and methods of the Aogashima rites echo those developed a millennium ago for the central Heian court and its emperor. This discovery prompted me to investigate why elements developed within the Heian imperial rites are retained by an outlying island community; and the route through which they arrived in a place which remains one of Japan’s most isolated outposts. This investigation revealed the existence of an important historic connection between the Izu archipelago and the Heian court. Powerful ritualists called Urabe, specialists in turtle shell divination, traveled from various islands (including the Izu islands) to the Heian court. They participated in court activities related to the protection of the emperor’s health and, by extension, the whole country. As I show, these court rituals also served to uphold the spatial structuring of ancient Japan, which served as a metaphor of the power of the elite of the centre over their dominion. This system was conceived according to a series of concentric circles of purity and danger. At the heart was the pure, protected court, the axis of power. This was surrounded by circles of increasing pollution culminating in Japan’s maritime borders. The ocean played a crucial role in the ritual structuring of ancient Japan, as a place where the danger threatening the state was stored; and as a force for countering these dangers through a process of cleansing and purification by water. Communities on islands along Japan’s maritime borders such as the Izu islanders were close to the source of danger. In this chapter I develop the theory that the ancient health-preserving rituals of the central court were reprised on the outlying border islands to guard against the dangers stored up in the ocean. I argue that the contemporary enactment of these rituals on the borderlands is a reflection of the ability of remote communities to provide the space and place for the continuation of ancient ritual systems. In contrast, the militarization of Japan, a process which began in the Kamakura period (1185– 1333), coupled with improved health systems rendered ritual defense obsolete for 23


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Japan’s modernizing, connected communities. Finally, I look at how the ancient centre– periphery structure resulted in the marginalization and demonization of border islands such as Aogashima. As I show, these islands are envisioned as being contaminated by their proximity to the polluting sphere of the oceans, earning the moniker oni-gashima, lit. “demon islands.” The chapter concludes with an exploration of how the demon island symbolism was eventually transformed into a metaphor for the powerhungry Japanese empire as it sought new islands to conquer and assimilate, expanding the maritime borders ever outwards.

Japan and Its Dangers In the Heian period (794–1185), the danger of pestilence as threatening the health of the emperor was associated with menacing demons from outlying areas. These entities were collectively referred to as impure plague demons (kegarawashiki eyami no kami ). According to Saitō (2007: 30), this impure plague demon appears to have been based on Chinese demons. He theorizes that the demon was ascribed foreign status to symbolize its role as an external agent. The measures taken to identify and counter the threats from these beings were based on a symbolic map of Japan in which the pestilent demons were kept outside Japan’s outer borders. Thus, the Engishiki (Procedures of the Engi Era, completed in 927) records a proclamation performed for the Tsuina1 rite to exorcize plague demons. This proclamation, the Tsuina no sai no norito,2 sought to neutralize the plague demon by keeping it outside Japan’s borders. It states: You plague demons, you must stay outside the towns and villages, you must establish your abodes a thousand leagues (ri) beyond the boundaries in the four directions, which are Sado in the north, Mutsu [present-day Tōhoku] to the east, Tosa [present-day Kōchi Prefecture in Shikoku] to the south, and Tōtsuchika [present-day Gotō Islands] to the west (Engishiki: 8).

The Tsuina was performed for the Heian court by the Onmyōji (Yin-Yang masters), ritualists under the jurisdiction of the court’s Bureau of Yin and Yang (Onmyōryō). The incantations performed for the Tsuina court exorcism rite embody the premodern Japanese elites’ conception of their world, as a series of concentric circles. Its core was the court and the emperor. This was surrounded by the capital city, followed by a rural hinterland encircled by borderlands located on the compass points. The plague demons were kept a thousand leagues (ri) beyond these four directions, in areas that were considered outside the control of the state. These demonic areas included the ocean surrounding Sado, Shikoku, and the Goto islands as well as the land of the Emishi, the progenitors of the Ainu who populated the area beyond Mutsu/Tōhoku (Fig. 3.1). This structuring of the premodern Japanese state was ordered according to the concepts of purity and danger. At its core was the pure centre comprising the Heian court and its emperor, the axis of power. Murai (1988: 111) observes that moving

Border Islanders and the Ritual Defense of Japan


Figure 3.1 Conceptual map of the premodern Japanese state according to the Tsuina ritual. Adapted from Gras 2003.

progressively from the center, each successive zone was considered more polluted than the last. Rambelli has aptly described this as “a centrifugal axis of increasing pollution.”3 The external regions, the borderlands, were the most polluted of all, being inhabited by “devils” rather than human beings. This horizontal power structure and its corresponding cosmology were underpinned by rituals performed in and around the Heian court. These rituals were designed to purify and protect the center by identifying sources of danger and creating a ritually protected square around the center. The dangers threatening the state were then cast out beyond the borders of the ritually protected square into the ocean.

The Urabe Diviners of the Border Islands These protective rituals were performed by two sets of agents specializing in prognostication, namely, the Onmyōji of the state’s Bureau of Yin and Yang (Onmyōryō) and the Urabe,4 a guild of plastromancers affiliated to the Department of Divinities (Jingikan). I will discuss the Onmyōji later, but it is the Urabe, diviners who used plastrons for divination, who take center stage in this chapter. The Urabe, the sacerdotal lineage from which Yoshida Kanetomo, the founder of Yoshida Shinto, descended, were state diviners responsible for the administration of kiboku5 (pyro-plastromantic divination) at the Heian court (Bowring 2005: 419). The


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Engishiki states that Urabe, who participated in Jingikan rituals, hailed from three outlying locations, respectively, the islands of Tsushima, Iki, and Izu: Those who excel in the divining arts [the Urabe] are from three provinces (five persons from Izu, five from Iki, and ten from Tsushima). If only persons living in the Capital are employed [as diviners], it will not be easy to fill the need for experts excelling in the arts of divination (Engishiki 3, 26, paragraph 5).6

Tsushima and Iki are islands situated off the coast of Kyushu, southwest Japan.7 Izu no kuni, the historic province of Izu, encompassed both the Izu peninsula on the Japanese mainland and the Izu islands. The Engishiki does not specify in which the part of Izu province these Urabe were located. However, the issue of the location of the Izu Urabe is important. If they hailed from islands then it becomes clear that we are dealing with state diviners only from outlying islands, who were considered to possess greater ritual skills than their counterparts in the capital. Unfortunately, the Engishiki provides no further clarification, but several pieces of external evidence point towards the Izu islands as the Izu Urabe’s base. The first piece of evidence is an archaeological find. A wooden tablet (mokkan) unearthed from the Nara Palace site dated 746 CE mentions a box containing bonito fish (skipjack tuna) as part of the tax tribute from the Urabe of Mishima,8 a district that referred to the Izu islands at the time (Hara 1988: 14). Incidentally, the mokkan also provides evidence of a systematic link between the Izu islands and the imperial court at this time: it demonstrates that the islands served a function in Japan’s trading goods network as suppliers of bonito. The boats transporting bonito could also have enabled the Urabe to travel between the islands and the court. Secondly, documentary evidence from the Izu islands attests to a tradition of plastromancy on the islands in the medieval period led by Urabe diviners. The evidence is contained in the Miyake-ki, a medieval document from the Izu island of Miyakejima, thought to have been completed by the early fourteenth century, and the variant i-hon Miyake-ki. These documents reveal that Mishima Myōjin, the guardian spirit of the Izu islands, was considered a principal deity of plastromancy who could be accessed through the Urabe’s rituals. These medieval documents from Miyakejima thus reveal that by the medieval period, the Urabe and their plastromancy were deeply embedded within the archipelago’s ritual framework. Finally, documentary records from the Edo and Meiji periods reveal that the Izu island of Hachijō served until then as an important centre of pyro-plastomancy, as there was an Urabe diviner based in each of its five villages.9 Yamamoto Hiroko goes as far as to suggest that Hachijōjima was the base of the Izu Urabe mentioned in the Engishiki, citing as evidence the living tradition of plastromancy attested in the nineteenth century (Yamamoto 2007). However, there is too little evidence from earlier periods to reach a firm conclusion. If the state diviners mentioned in the Engishiki were all from outlying islands, then it follows that their island location was connected to their ritual power. Indeed, the first point to notice about these Urabe’s islands is that they were located in correspondence with the maritime boundaries of the ancient Japanese state (Fig. 3.2).

Border Islanders and the Ritual Defense of Japan


Figure 3.2 Location of Urabe islands on premodern Japan’s maritime border. Adapted from Batten 2003. Anthropologist Mary Douglas highlighted the importance of boundaries, how they are defined, and the role they place in maintaining social order. After arguing that the boundaries of a social group had particular potency, she wrote: The idea of society is a powerful image . . . This image has form; it has external boundaries, margins, internal structure. Its outlines contain power to reward conformity and repulse attack. There is energy in its margins and unstructured area (Douglas 2002: 141).

The Urabe island bases occupied a liminal space between the purity of Japan and the danger lurking in the ocean. I draw on Douglas’s theory to suggest that the diviners derived their great ritual powers from the energy to be found in these liminal islands. As the Engishiki and Kojidan show, the Urabe traveled from these islands to participate in rituals held at the imperial court. The court clearly had a vested interest in drawing on the superior ritual powers of the diviners from these islands. Yet there may also have been another agenda at work. If the state felt threatened by peripheral islands’ marginal energy, it is conceivable that forging a relationship with island diviners was a veiled attempt to keep them onside. The incorporation of island ritualists into court activities also served a wider purpose of binding the periphery to the centre and keeping it under control.


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Hashiguchi Naotake (1994: 143–144) argues that the Urabe’s divinatory power extended even beyond Japan to repel enemies from outside its borders. He hypothesizes that the islands of Tsushima and Iki were endowed with a ritual role in opposition to Korea and also, possibly, China. This theory appears to be supported by the Yōrō code (promulgated in 718), which states that those islands were viewed as being of vital importance for the defense of Kyushu against possible attack from the Korean peninsula (Miller 1980: 239). The Urabe participated in Jingikan rituals aimed at the identification and mitigation of the dangers threatening the state, especially curses affecting the health of the emperor. Maintaining order in ancient Japan depended on protecting the health of the emperor. As Okada shows (2007: 1), anxiety over the physical well-being of the emperor could lead to state instability and, for this reason, it was necessary to identify and neutralize any curse affecting the ruler. To this end, the Urabe performed the ōmima no miura, divinations into the cause of pollution affecting the health of the emperor. The Miyaji hiji kuden (the orally transmitted secrets about the duties of the Miyaji) provides a comprehensive record of the performances of the ōmima no miura. It records that the source of the pollution was invariably attributed to tatari, curses emanating from the kami. The results of the ōmima no miura investigations identify the specific kami behind the curse. In order to purify and exorcize pollution, the Urabe performed rituals drawing on the symbolism of the Tsuina, in which they created a pure, protected square around the court, simultaneously banishing danger to the outside. This method of countering danger is clearly articulated in the Urabe’s Michiae no matsuri “Road Banquet” festival.10 The rite took place on the roads bordering the Heian capital in each of the four directions, and consisted of the presentation of banquets to the pestilence gods (ekijin). The gods consumed their banquet and then disappeared outside the capital, taking their illnesses with them. The “Fire-Pacifying” Festival (Chinkasai matsuri) was another such rite (Philippi 1959: 8; Saitō 2007: 34), involving the placement of offerings outside the four corners of the Palace precincts to ward off the danger of fire (Ryō no gige 2: 77–78).11 We can also see this mechanism at work in the Great Purification ritual (Ōharae). This most important court ritual sought to rid the palace and the whole of Japan of pollution, understood as transgressions (tsumi).12 The Urabe performed the Great Purification’s exorcism prayer, the Minazuki tsugomori no ōharae (“Great Exorcism of the Last Day of the Sixth Month”). This prayer ends with the words: Throughout the realm across the four directions from today each and every transgression will disappear.

Finally, this prayer relates that it was left to the diviners from the four island groups to carry the sins out to a river and cast them away in the ocean.13 Thus, the Great Purification reiterates the ancient concept of a pure state protected from pollution along the four directions; the (Urabe?) diviners would carry the pollution out to the sea. As mentioned at the start of this section, the protective rituals carried out during the Heian period to uphold the health of the emperor were conducted in tandem by the Yin-Yang specialists at court (Onmyōji). Saitō Hideki observes similarities between the rituals of the Urabe and those of the Yin-Yang specialists at court (Onmyōji). Although

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these groups were affiliated to different governmental agencies, both were responsible for divination relating to the health of the emperor. The overlap of their roles resulted in frequent competition between the two groups but also in the development of related and overlapping health-preserving rituals (Saitō 2007: 34–35). As I have already mentioned, the Urabe’s method of countering illness, by casting pestilence-causing kami beyond the ritual boundaries of the state, appears to derive from the Onmyōji’s Tsuina rite (see Fig.  3.1 above). There is also evidence to suggest that the Urabe’s and Onmyōji’s health-guarding rituals were at times combined.14 As I have shown, the Heian court drew on repetitive symbolic systems to ritually protect the center and to delineate its borders. As the Tsuina and the Great Purification show, this ancient conceptual structure of Japan places great importance on the role of water. Rivers and oceans purify and cleanse through their capacity to store pollution, to keep it at bay.

Danger Management on the Border Islands Thus far, I have covered two categories of danger which preoccupied the ancient Japanese: cursing kami and their associated pestilence; and tsumi, transgressions which can be expunged through purification (Fukui 2007). There was also a third category of danger that is often overlooked, namely, human threats to the state. Within Japan, there is a long tradition of exiling dangerous people to distant, outlying islands. The Urabe’s border islands were among the chief locations selected as places of exile. Williams (2002: 141) views banishment in Japan as a means of purification for—and of—the community. She cites Florenz’s theory (1900: 57) according to which banishment was aimed at the expulsion of the polluted from the community of the pure; as such, it was a consequence of purification and not intended as the punishment in itself. It would appear that the ancient Japanese did not differentiate clearly between danger emanating from gods and humans; they used similar methods to counter metaphysical and human pollution, casting both out to the same peripheral borderlands. However, one wonders about the communities on the frontline of the dangers threatening Japan and how they dealt with the threats within the ocean? This question drew me to Aogashima, one of the Izu islands and the home to the last Urabe diviners. Taking Aogashima as a case study, I will now discuss the danger-management rites of the border islanders. Aogashima is located at the base of the Izu island chain, approximately 222 miles south of Tokyo. Together with neighboring Hachijō and Kojima islands, it constitutes the southern Izu islands (Izu shotō nanbu). The Izu islands are bisected bilaterally by the powerful Kuroshio sea current. The presence of the current makes it difficult for boats to reach the southern Izu islands even today. In the past, this lent the three southern islands the reputation as of one of Japan’s remotest outposts. Their isolation earned them the moniker “places where even the birds do not stop by” (tori mo kayowanu ).15 Evidence of this historic isolation can be seen in the local dialect, Hachijō hōgen, which contains certain Japanese expressions found in Man’yōshū, the oldest existing collection of Japanese poetry dating to the eighth century (Asanuma

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1999; Kaneda 2001). The region’s historical isolation enabled them to preserve religious traditions that were eradicated from Japan’s more connected communities, including the Urabe and their associated rituals. The historical relationship of the Urabe to the state was anything but straightforward. As I have already mentioned, the Urabe performed an important function for the state in terms of delineating and defending Japan’s ancient borders and protecting the health of the emperor. On the other hand, their liminal position and the alleged power that comes with it made the state deeply distrustful of the diviners. As Dower observes (1986: 235), “included among medieval outcastes were shamans, diviners . . . all of whom possessed conspicuous skills and filled the role of the liminal . . . believed to embody both constructive and destructive forces.” This can also be applied to the Urabe’s situation in ancient times. The relationship of the diviners to the state was complex, conflicted, and at times clearly untenable. This situation came to an end in the Meiji period when, as part of a series of farreaching religious reforms, the new government sought to eradicate so-called magicoreligious specialists, including the Urabe. Plastromancy on Tsushima Island died out in 1871 (Hashiguchi 1994: 144). The Hachijō Urabe clung on for a few more years until 1885 when, according to Kondō’s Hachijō Jikki“both families [who practice plastromancy] have fled and turtle shell divination has died out across the island” (Hashiguchi 1994: 144–145).16 The Hachijō Urabe were more fortunate than their counterparts from Tsushima in that they were able to seek shelter on islands in the south of the Izu archipelago, Aogashima and Kojima. The peripheral location of these islands meant that the religious reforms conducted so zealously on Hachijō made few inroads here. Japan’s last Urabe and their rituals persisted on Aogashima until a generation ago. Aogashima islanders still can (and do) access traditional ritual systems to identify and protect themselves from misfortunes such as serious illness. As we shall see, they draw on the symbolism of the ancient rituals practiced in and around the court in Nara and Kyoto to maintain purity and protect the emperor, and define and protect Japan’s borders by exorcizing and excluding dangerous cursing gods. The Aogashima Urabe’s proclamations to the Buddhist deity Fudō Myōō (Sk. Acala, the immovable one), contain a formula for ritually protecting borders. This states that cursing demons (juso kijin) will be immediately pacified by Fudō Myōō then expelled by Fudō Myōo’s horse, who kicks the demon a thousand ri beyond the boundary: Shuso kijin to mōsaru domo tada ima Fudō Myoō no onma no ato kōtsuki kijin oba senri no soto ni 17

This is redolent of the formula encapsulated within the ancient Tsuina: “The impure plague demon is to be kept a thousand ri outside [the boundary]” (Kegawarashiki eyami no kami no senri no soto ). The appearance of this ritual and its formula for protecting borders on the Southern Izu islands implies that both court and island ritual were involved in the process of upholding boundaries by

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battling cursing, pestilent demons. Interestingly, both on the border islands and in the capital city, it is the healing rituals that provide the key to understanding the symbolic battle with demons. Aogashima islanders consult traditional ritual experts when they are threatened by serious illness. In common with the historic practices of the imperial court, island ritualists begin the treatment by identifying the source of the illness. This could be a curse from another islander (urami caused by envy), but in practice it is usually found to emanate from evil spirits (Alaszewska 2016). Curses can be either newly directed at the victim or inherited from ancestors. Individuals afflicted by such a curse are seen as being in a state of impurity (fujō). Proximity to the polluting sphere of the ocean and its dangers has resulted in the evolution of complicated systems of fujō management and avoidance. For example, complex burial rites are meant to avoid pollution associated with death (Alaszewska 2016). In addition, islanders seek to avoid contamination with blood by housing menstruating women in menstruation huts called tabigoya ( ) and women in childbirth in birth huts (ubuya), isolated from the community. These practices were historically found through Japan. However, as the British explorer and diplomat Ernest Satow discovered when he visited in 1878, the islanders took fujō avoidance to extreme lengths. He wrote: [This practice] obliged every woman to live apart from the rest of the household for seven days during each month, when she was supposed to be unclean, and she might not partake of food cooked at the same fire as that of the other members of the family. In earlier times (we are speaking of Hachijō practice) the woman was driven out into the mountains, where she remained alone in a tent during the period of her seclusion. She had to prepare her own food, and was supposed to hold intercourse with no human being, though it is said that the monthly banishment was often taken advantage of her holding clandestine meetings with a lover, and the women used sometimes to prolong their absence from home more than was necessary. Child-birth was another cause of uncleanness, and the woman in labor had to occupy a separate hut built for the occasion, in which she was supposed to remain cut off from all intercourse with her fellow-creatures: for the defilement ceased not with her, but extended to every one with whom she held communication. In Hachijō women, when about to become mothers, were formerly driven out to the huts on the mountain-side, and according to the accounts of native writers, left to shift for themselves, the result not infrequently being the death of the newborn infant, or if it survived the rude circumstances under which it first saw the light, the seeds of disease were sown which clung to it throughout its life. The rule of non-intercourse was so strictly enforced, that the woman was not allowed to leave the hut even to visit her own parents at the point of death (Satow and Dickens 1878: 455–456).

Islanders believe that people who become ill have been contaminated by fujō pollution, usually believed to emanate from a cursing demon. To treat the ill/polluted person, the ritualists cleanse them by removing and exorcizing the cursing demon through the performance of exorcism. During this stage of the treatment process, the ritualists call

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on their armory of protective deities (oboshina ), consisting in a powerful array of kami and buddhas. These deities are obtained by the ritualists when they undergo the initiation ritual called kamisōze (which denotes the process 18 of the kami entering into the body of the ritualist). When the evil spirit is exorcized, the state of fujō is lifted, alleviating the symptoms of illness. Today, the entire two-step process is referred to as chiryō wo suru (“treating the illness”).

Demon Exorcism on Aogashima In this next section, I describe and analyze an instance of demon exorcism based on a ritual I witnessed on Aogashima in 2003. It had traditionally been performed by an Urabe specialist, but following the death of the last Urabe in 1989 a shamaness (miko), Asanuma Kimiko , had taken over this role. The ritual contains three steps as set out below.

Step 1: Preparation of Ritual Objects to Absorb the Pollution Asanuma Kimiko began by making straw boats and effigies that will carry the curses and their pollution out to sea; these ritual objects are collectively referred to as the moyaimono , “tools to be used in the ritual”.19 First the shamaness prepares straw boats called the nagashimono (“objects to be floated away”), which comprise the shichisō kobune . These seven boats comprise six boats nestling in one larger vessel which is referred to as the fujō-bune (“boat of pollution”). She also made forty-nine human-shaped straw effigies called ura ningyô (lit, “curse effigies”). These comprise forty-eight small effigies and one large effigy, the “parent” (oyakata ). She placed these effigies into a cardboard box and tied a shimenawa straw rope around it to mark its symbolic status as a ritual object. At the ritual’s conclusion these objects will carry the pollution out into the Pacific Ocean.

Step 2: The Exorcism Asanuma Kimiko exorcized the demon and its curse by reciting over a three-day period ritual texts relating to purification and exorcism, including a Shinto formula, the sanshu no oharae (the three types of the Great Purification formula).20 Asanuma Kimiko began to exorcize the cursing spirits through the recitation of nokemono , a formula unique to Aogashima which appear to have some basis in Shugendō.21 When she recited the nokemono, Asanuma Kimiko entered a state of trance, performing a repetitive action called tobu (“jumping” or “flying”); this enabled her to communicate with powerful gods who could help her battle the cursing demon. Asanuma Kimiko then invoked the help of powerful gods to battle the cursing demon by reciting two saimon (proclamations to the deities), namely, the Suso saimon ( ) (“proclamations to the cursing demon”) and the Kanayama saimon (“proclamations to the god Kanayama”: see below).

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Step 3: Casting Out the Curse As a result of her exorcism, the demon and its curse entered the straw effigies. At the end of the ritual, she completed the ritual by placing the effigies in the straw boat of pollution. She sends this boat out to sea and this boat and its effigies symbolically take the polluting curse with them. The methods used in the Aogashima demon exorcism (i.e., the transference of pollution to effigies and its elimination by placing these effigies on boats and casting them out into the water), appear to have historical antecedents in rituals developed for the Heian court. In particular, they appear to draw on the symbolic systems of riverbank purification rites, known as karinpō, performed by the Onmyōji to protect the health of the emperor and his court. As Lomi shows (2014), these rites also involved the placement of pollution-absorbing effigies on boats, floating them onto the water to expel pestilent deities. Let us now look at the exorcism methods in the Urabe’s ritual texts from Aogashima. As we have already seen, the saimon performed in step 2 of the ritual are key to the exorcism, as the ritualists employ them to mobilize their protecting deities to battle pestilent demons. The Kanayama saimon is particularly central to this stage of the ritual. In this saimon, Asanuma Kimiko calls on Kanayama, the god of metal work and her main protecting deity. The version of the saimon she recites in the exorcism opens with Suijin, the water god, as a cursing demon. Suijin appears from the five directions (the four cardinal points and the center), casting curses (juso). Kanayama counters these curses by floating them away in a river. The demon king Kijin then appears from the five directions riding a makara, a sea monster which is also a symbol of the vajra club, a Buddhist ritual object that can be used as a weapon. However, Kanayama cuts off Kijin’s head. The great evil demon Tenmei then enters from the five directions, casting curses; Kanayama repels them. Finally, men and women born according to every sign of the Japanese zodiac appear; each one casts a curse, which is again countered by the all-powerful Kanayama. As I have shown, Aogashima’s rituals and ritual texts use a symbolic logic according to which purity, equated with health and safety, is threatened by pollution caused by cursing demons. This same logic underpins the rites of the Heian court. As Mary Douglas argued, danger arises when pollution crosses the boundary that separates it from purity; at that point, ritual experts have to counter it by re-establishing the boundary and returning the impure to its proper place. In the Heian period rituals, the boundaries are spatial, with an inner boundary around the emperor and the court and an outer boundary around Japan keeping pollution outside. In current Aogashima rituals, the geographic borders are ritually invoked, but the focus is on re-establishing the integrity of the body of the victim by exorcizing the cursing demon that has entered it. We can see a parallel with the Heian period symbolism, in which the body of the emperor was symbolically represented by the borders of Japan, so that preventing polluting demons from crossing that boundary also prevented them from entering the body of the emperor. As Mary Douglas argued, the body is a readily available symbol for society and it is not unusual “to see the powers and dangers credited to social structures reproduced in small on the human body” (2002: 115).


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Figure 3.3 Performing the Aogashima saimon (photo by Jane Alaszewska). Heian rituals were based on a symbolic map of Japan with the emperor and his court at the centre and the demons outside the border of Japan. The outermost circle was the boundary between a civilized and orderly Japan and the chaotic, unpredictable world outside, inhabited by dangerous peoples and demons; this was the world of the sea. This symbolic system was undermined at the end of the Heian period, with the establishment of military governments. The Shoguns were less reliant on rituals to protect Japan; and whereas the emperor remained the symbolic center of state, his well-being was no longer central to the destiny of the Japanese state. These political and symbolic changes underlie the marginalization of the Heian ritual system. As the case study of Aogashima shows, it gradually became a local system sustained by and serving the needs of a liminal maritime community.

Colonizing the Demon Islands “I saw it from afar in the sea / the demon island [Aogashima]” (Oki de mita toki wa / onigashima to mita ga) Shome-bushi (folk song from Hachijō island) This song from Hachijō, which refers to Aogashima, depicts it as the island of demons (oni-ga-shima). The name for Aogashima in island dialect, ongashima, derives from

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oni-ga-shima and reflects a broader Japanese convention of referring to peripheral islands as demonic places or demon-world islands (kikai-shima). In a popular version of the medieval Hōgen monogatari, the warrior Tametomo travels down the Izu islands to a demon island at the southernmost reach of the chain. There he encounters “unusual and mysterious beings, more than ten feet tall, covered all over with black hair—like cattle . . . monsters who speak an incomprehensible language” (Antoni 1991: 168). These monster islanders are described as cannibals: “Long ago, when we were really devils . . . there were no boats, we crossed to other lands and took the Sun Eating People as human sacrifices” (Wilson 2001: 103). Tametomo eventually subjugates these monsters, takes possession of the island, and makes it pay tribute to Hachijō Island. In this narrative from the Japanese mainland, the islanders are demons, contaminated by their proximity to the polluting ocean. Tametomo, the vanquishing hero, brings this demon island into the folds of Japan by pacifying its inhabitants. As Antoni argues (1991: 171), Tametomo releases the demon islanders from their barbaric, subhuman existence, and through their annexation to Japan they gain entrance to the circle of civilization (i.e., the human world). This ethnocentric viewpoint suggests that order could only be imposed on peripheral “demonic” islands by subjecting them to Japanese rule. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the islanders present an alternative view of Tametomo; for them, he is a healer and a cultural hero, rather than a vanquishing colonizer of monsters. The Tametomo Shrine on Hachijōjima is a healing site linked to the prevention of smallpox. The Tametomo saimon (the proclamations to Tametomo), a form of healing ritual, constitutes the core of Aogashima’s initiation ritual. For the Izu islanders, Tametomo is one of the divine agencies to be mobilized in healing rituals, credited with the ability to repel the demon of smallpox. The island view of Tametomo is aptly captured in Utagawa Yoshikazu’s woodblock print: in it, we see Tametomo shrinking this demon to the size of a pea and floating it out to sea, thanks to the symbolic ability of the sea to absorb and purify pestilence-causing pollution. Islanders also connect Tametomo to the region’s origin tales. The folk tale Tametomo densetsu from the Southern Izu Islands records that when Tametomo arrived, Aogashima was populated by men and Hachijōjima by women (Kaneda 2002: 47). When the south wind blew, the sexes were united according to an ingenious matching system arranged around straw sandals (zōri), left out on beaches by the women of Hachijōjima. Murai (1988, 114) provides a chronology of the naming of demon world islands, a process which began in the Heian period and continued through the medieval period. Murai’s chronology reveals a link between the creation of demon islands and specific external threats, such as the 1274 Mongolian invasion of Japan. Thus, in this early period of Japanese history, we can understand that Japan’s liminal maritime borders, marked by its demon islands, were fluid and could be shaped and altered by wider geopolitical events. As part of the twentieth-century colonialist drive, Japanese authorities revisited the old motif of a civilized center versus an uncivilized, barbarous periphery. Mirroring the narrative outlined in Hōgen monogatari, the Japanese government drew on propaganda motifs of patriotic Japanese heroes, such as Momotarō conquering the


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Figure 3.4 Tametomo sends the smallpox demon out to sea from the island of Ōshima (Color woodcut by Utagawa Yoshikazu 1851/1853. Courtesy of the Wellcome Foundation. Wellcome Library reference: 564303i).

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demonic inhabitants of places it wanted to occupy. For example, in the 1942 film “Momotarō and the Eagles of the Ocean,” it is Hawai’i that becomes the “Island of Demons” (Antoni 1991: 166). The liminal maritime boundary thus remains fluid and a conception of Japan that emerged in the ancient period, with its concentric circles of purity and danger, can thus be revisited for different reasons at different historical periods.



Island of Many Names, Island of No Name Taboo and the Mysteries of Okinoshima Lindsey E. DeWitt

The island of Okinoshima, in the Genkai Sea some sixty kilometers off the coast of northern Kyushu, is characterized in the eighth-century chronicles Nihon shoki and Kojiki as the abode of a mist-born goddess, one of three tutelary deities of the Munakata region.1 Archaeological remains confirm ritual practices on the island far earlier, from the fourth century, which attest to robust and flourishing trade in the Tsushima Strait. Today, an aura of myth and mystery surrounds the island, as indicated by various modern appellations: “Island where gods dwell” (kami yadoru shima), “Shōsōin Treasury of the sea” (umi no Shōsōin), and “Island of mystery” (shinpi no shima). Okinoshima’s “mysterious” reputation is deeply connected to certain taboos, some of which continue to be observed. These include taboos regarding purity, speaking about the island, removing anything from the island, and women’s access to the island. This chapter casts several lines of inquiry into these taboos for which the island is famous today. It briefly examines texts by Japanese botanist and Neo-Confucian philosopher Kaibara Ekken (1630–1714), who wrote new, comprehensive histories of Munakata Shrine in the early eighteenth century, and Aoyagi Tanenobu (1766–1836), a nativist historian who served on the island as a border patrolman (sakimori) and kept a detailed diary.2 The writings of these two men mark an important turn in contemporaneous as well as modern understandings of the island’s taboos and mysteries.

Introduction The island of Okinoshima rises 243.5 meters from the Genkai Sea. Despite the fact that relatively few people have visited it in recent times, the complex and faceted layers of meaning it holds belie its remote location and barely four-kilometer circumference. A tiny dot, if and when visible on the map, Okinoshima lies some fifty-seven kilometers from the nearest coast, the Munakata region of northern Kyushu, and 145 kilometers from Busan, South Korea. The island has never been permanently inhabited, and human contact with the place and its “sacred” elements account for only part of what is 39


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said about Okinoshima.3 Treasures unearthed in the twentieth century revealed profound insights into ancient relations between Japan and the Korean peninsula, and into the ritual practices and mythology of the early Yamato state. Indeed, these layers have inspired grand narratives. The range and variety of these narratives and perspectives, some only recently defined, have generated heated discussions in recent years, most clearly over the proposal to inscribe the island and related sites on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO ) World Heritage List. Japan’s Agency for Cultural Affairs (Bunkachō) placed “The Sacred Island of Okinoshima and Associated Sites in the Munakata Region” on its World Heritage Tentative List in May 2009, and the nomination was selected by the Japanese government for official consideration by UNESCO in July 2016.4 The nomination comprised eight sites: Okinoshima and Munakata Taisha Okitsumiya and its three attendant reefs Koyajima, Mikadobashira, and Tenguiwa; Munakata Taisha Hetsumiya on the Kyushu mainland in Tashima; Munakata Taisha Nakatsumiya and the Okitsumiya Yōhaisho on the island of Ōshima; and the Shinbara Nuyama Tumulus Cluster in Fukutsu City. The International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS ), UNESCO’s advisory body, conducted on-site evaluations in September 2016, and in May 2017 officially recommended that Okinoshima alone be granted World Heritage status. At the 41st Session of the World Heritage Committee in Krakow, Poland, the twenty-one-member World Heritage Committee unanimously overturned the ICOMOS evaluation and inscribed all eight sites on its World Heritage List on July 9, 2017. Although scholars have amply documented Okinoshima’s ancient history and archaeology, with special vigor owing to research sponsored by the World Heritage Promotion Committee, there remain gaps in our understanding of the island’s religious and cultural significance extending over many centuries. One such gap, highlighted in this chapter, lies in tracing the complex political and historical processes through which the island became important to both those who have visited its shores and those who seek to limit its access, and attending to fluctuations therein. Through an exploratory assessment of the island’s history via the lens of Edo-era texts, as well as a critique of some ways in which the history of the island has been constructed and imagined, this essay seeks to be a small contribution to a monumental task. It focuses on the (re)attribution of Okinoshima’s alternative modern designations—which distinguish it and provide traction for certain causes—as a unique and exceptional site far out at sea. The designations, related yet distinct, include:

1. “Island where gods dwell” (kami yadoru shima); 2. “Shōsōin Treasury of the sea” (umi no Shōsōin); 3. “Island of mystery” (shinpi no shima) or “Secret island” (hitō). “Island where gods dwell” serves as a window into the island’s mythological roots. “Shōsōin Treasury of the sea” provides a forum to introduce the island’s treasures and their twentieth-century “discovery,” which prompted massive efforts to revitalize the site and, later, propelled the World Heritage nomination. “Island of mystery” directs our attention to peculiar taboos connected to the island. This last designation, the least

Taboo and the Mysteries of Okinoshima


substantiated of the three, constitutes the main focal point of this chapter. The following pages bring the island’s taboos—and its alleged mysteries—into clearer relief through the lens of early modern texts by Japanese botanist and Neo-Confucian philosopher Kaibara Ekken (1630–1714) and nativist historian Aoyagi Tanenobu (1766–1836). The final part of the essay touches on the modern reconfiguration and re-envisioning of the Munakata Grand Shrine’s ritual calendar.

“Island where Gods Dwell”5 Okinoshima’s mythological roots trace back to the Kojiki (Records of ancient matters, compiled 712) and Nihon shoki (Chronicles of Japan, compiled 720). They narrate, in similar yet distinct accounts, the birth of the three Munakata goddesses.6 The trio, as presented in the texts, come into being through a negotiation or contract (ukehi) between Amaterasu, ancestral deity of the Yamato lineage, and her younger brother Susanoo of the Izumo lineage.7 Susanoo, known for unpredictable and often crude behavior, traveled to the heavenly plain (Takamagahara) to visit his sister. Not trusting her brother’s intentions, and believing he might try to seize her land, Amaterasu disguised herself as a man and took up arms. She questioned Susanoo’s purpose for visiting the heavenly plain and asked him to prove that his intentions were pure. He agreed to a ritual pact in which they would both prove their sincerity by producing children together. As described in the Kojiki, Amaterasu asked Susanoo to hand her the ten-span sword he carried. She struck it, breaking it into three sections which, with a jingling noise, she washed in the well of heaven. Amaterasu then chewed the pieces with a crunching noise and spat them out. The deity produced in the misty spray of her breath took the name Takiribime no mikoto (alternatively, Okitsushimahime no mikoto) and became enshrined at Munakata no Okitsumiya (Okitsumiya in the Nihon shoki). Next, Ichikishimahime no mikoto (alternatively, Sayoribime no mikoto) was birthed and then enshrined at the Hetsumiya in Tashima on the Kyushu mainland. Finally, Takitsuhime no mikoto appeared, taking up residence at Nakatsumiya on Ōshima, eleven kilometers off the coast. Of note, as Table  4.1 below demonstrates, the Kojiki and the Nihon shoki present slightly different names (e.g., Tagorihime, Tagorihime no mikoto, and Tagirihime no mikoto) for the goddesses, and only one version of the Nihon shoki specifies Okitsumiya (given as ) as Tagorihime’s dwelling. The fact that specific places were attributed to the goddesses, reflected in their names, indicates a clear connection between Yamato kingly power, the Munakata clan (who emerged as local rulers in the region by the eighth century and maintained a close connection to the Yamato state), and the three sites of Okinoshima, Ōshima, and Tashima.8 The three goddesses served as deities who protected kingly power from those sites; they are even noted in the first alternative version of the Nihon shoki as being explicitly directed by Amaterasu to “go down and be in the middle of the province and attend to help heaven’s descendants.”9 Okinoshima, as the dwelling of Tagorihime, thus served to safeguard the archipelago, playing a key role in what Joan Piggott describes as a “centered but not centralized Yamato polity” (Piggott 1997: 234).


The Sea and the Sacred in Japan

Table 4.1 Names of the Munakata deities according to Kojiki and Nihon shoki Source

Deity name (in order of birth)


Takiribime no mikoto Okitsushimahime no mikoto Ichikishimahime no mikoto (or Sayoribime no mikoto Takitsuhime no mikoto

Nihon shoki (main version)

Tagorihime Tagitsuhime Ichikishimahime

Nihon shoki (first alternative version)

Okitsushimahime Tagitsuhime Tagorihime

Nihon shoki (second alternative version)

Ichikishimahime no mikoto Tagorihime no mikoto Tagitsuhime no mikoto

Nihon shoki (third alternative version)

Ichikishimahime Ichikishimahime no mikoto Tagitsuhime no mikoto Tagirihime no mikoto

Place of residence (or )


Munakata no Okitsumiya Munakata no Nakatsumiya Munakata no Hetsumiya

Okitsumiya Nakatsumiya Hetsumiya (or


The differences between the narratives in the 712 and 720 “histories” likely reflect the political intentions of each; the narration of a history of the Yamato emperor Tenmu and the origins and continuation of the Sun line born of Amaterasu, as well as the grand myth of Ise, were central to these ancient works. Okinoshima’s history and significance are anchored in a maritime environment characterized by extraordinary relations between people and place (and also people moving between places).10 Owing in large part to the strategic location of the area, the three Munakata goddesses and their advocates played a key role in international relations of the time between the archipelago and the peninsula. Okinoshima became the place where connections were forged, treasures deposited, and secrets embedded (and at some point seemingly forgotten until their relatively recent rediscovery).

“Shōsōin Treasury of the Sea” Okinoshima has been most famously termed the “Shōsōin Treasury of the sea,” an allusion to the eighth-century wooden storehouse in Nara that once housed more than 9,000 religious and secular objects from Japan and places associated with the Silk Road.11 Now housed in safer museum storage, many of these items—and the storehouse itself (three attached but distinct storehouses, in fact)—are exceedingly rare in kind and age, and are recognized as National Treasures. Okinoshima’s treasures were largely unknown until the middle of the twentieth century, when three intensive rounds of archaeological excavations, conducted between 1954 and 1971, retrieved some 80,000

Taboo and the Mysteries of Okinoshima


artifacts at twenty-three sites on the island dating from the fourth to the ninth century. The excavations revealed that rituals were performed on the island in four distinct styles: (1) atop rocks (late fourth–early fifth century); (2) in rock shadows (late fifth century–seventh century); (3) partly in rock shadows and partly in the open air (late seventh century–eighth century); and (4) open air (late eighth century–end of ninth century).12 The ritual goods range from a miniature golden loom and five-stringed zither to gilt-bronze horse trappings, bronze mirrors, iron swords, comma-shaped beads, and more. Today, all 80,000 objects are collectively designated a National Treasure (“Artifacts from the Okitsumiya ritual site of Munakata Taisha” [Fukuoka ken Munakata Taisha Okitsumiya saishi iseki shutsudohin]). Okinoshima’s historical status as a site for large-scale rituals by peoples from all sides of the waters that touch its shores came to a seemingly abrupt end at the end of the ninth century, concurrent with the cessation of Japanese embassies to Tang China in 894.13 Concomitantly, Hetsumiya in Tashima emerged from the eighth century as the headquarters of the three Munakata shrines—the place where all three goddesses were collectively worshipped. In short, there no longer seemed to be a need to perform elaborate (and costly) rituals on Okinoshima (Morley 2009: 41).14 Convenience and the increasing sophistication of vessels traveling the seas must have additionally contributed to the changes. Rituals do not seem to have ceased altogether at Okinoshima, however, even if ritual offerings did, evidenced by a lack of archaeological remains after the ninth century. The island no longer hosted major ceremonies, yet the fourteenth-century Munakata ki (Munakata clan records) notes that rites (saishi) had been performed at Okinoshima uninterrupted since ancient times (the text additionally notes that the island’s treasures were well known, in Kyushu at least).15 Unfortunately, many of the details of these rituals, as well as developments at Okinoshima in the medieval period in general, remain obscure. The lack of sources from the ninth through the seventeenth centuries is, in a word, mysterious.

“Island of Mystery” The appellation “Island of mystery” is heavily promoted in literature from the Munakata Shrines and from the World Heritage Promotion Committee. It also circulates widely in popular discourses such as mass media and blogs. What does it mean to call Okinoshima an island of mystery? “Mystery” can be understood in a number of ways, from inexplicable and enigmatic to secret and puzzling. The Japanese shinpi (lit., “sacred” and “secret”) is typically glossed as either “mystery” or “secret” (etymologically, the notion of sacredness is embedded in the construction).16 As far as I have been able to locate, the first “mysterious” story about Okinoshima is recollected by Kaibara Ekken, whose family were advisors to the daimyō (lords) of Chikuzen Province (modern Fukuoka prefecture), in his Chikuzen no kuni zoku shosha engi (Sequel to the Origin Narratives of Shrines in Chikuzen Province, early eighteenth century). The following is a paraphrase of his text: In the year 1600, Kuroda Nagamasa (1568–1623) was assigned to Chikuzen. He heard tales of secret treasures (shinpō) on the island of Okinoshima (then called


The Sea and the Sacred in Japan Okitsushima) and wanted to see them. He asked someone to fetch them but no one would—including shrine priests and ordinary people—out of fear of the island’s divine power, so he turned to Christians who belonged to a church that still existed in Hakata and ordered them to retrieve the treasures. They did, and he looked at them and then stored them in the turret of the castle. Rumbling sounds were heard in the turret and there were rumors of shining objects flying in the sky. Nagamasa ordered the Christians to return the goods, but they were now scared of the divine wrath and refused, so he found a shrine priest named Shirōuemon to put them back exactly where they had been found. Shirōuemon did not heed the command, however, and decided to bury them in various places on the island without telling the locations to anyone. These treasures were made of gold and included golden looms and tools used by female workers.17

The story of Lord Nagamasa involves supernatural elements (e.g., shining objects flying in the sky) as well as secret aspects (e.g., the unknown locations where Shirōuemon reburied the treasures), but what is most conspicuous is the clear moral of the telling: Okinoshima’s treasures were not to be taken off the island. It was taboo. Okinoshima’s designation as an island of mystery is rooted in its taboos, prohibitions designed to keep certain things out (namely, impurities) and set certain things apart as sacred, or pure, and therefore stable. To cast light on Okinoshima’s mysteries and taboos, we can study the writings of Kaibara and Aoyagi, whose works mark an important turn in accounts of the island. Kaibara was born in Fukuoka in 1630. His father was advisor to the Chikuzen daimyō, and Kaibara was able to travel with him to Edo; later he studied Western science in Nagasaki before returning to Chikuzen to serve its lord. Although Kaibara is best known for his writings on botany and Neo-Confucianism, he also held a deep interest in Japanese culture and history, especially the “origins” of Japan and other nativist themes, to which end he wrote a compendium of material related to Chikuzen and Munakata Shrine, as well as Jingikun (Lessons on the Deities, 1704) and Shin Ju heikō aimotorazaru ron (Treatise on the Non-Divergence of Shintō and Confucianism, 1691). Three of Kaibara’s works are relevant to present interests. The first is Chikuzen no kuni zoku fudoki (Sequel to the gazetteer of Chikuzen province, 1709, 30 vols.), completed over the course of fifteen years in Kaibara’s later life.18 Upon returning from his studies, Kaibara served three Kuroda lords, to one of whom, Tsunamasa (1659– 1711), he dedicated this work. Of note, the sixteenth volume covers the three Munakata Shrines and includes sections on Ōshima and Okinoshima, from which I draw below. Kaibara also wrote Chikuzen no kuni shosha engi (Origin Narratives of Various Shrines of Chikuzen province, 1711) and its sequel, Chikuzen no kuni zoku shosha engi, compiling them over thirty-two years and completing them at the age of eighty-two, three years before his death. Chikuzen no kuni shosha engi, which contains Munakata sansha engi (Origin Narratives of the Munakata Three Shrines), was finished in draft form in 1704 but Kaibara continued to revise it until his death in 1714.19 Kaibara’s nephew Tsuneharu finalized it posthumously in 1729. There is considerable overlap and repetition between Chikuzen no kuni zoku fudoki, Chikuzen no kuni shosha engi,

Taboo and the Mysteries of Okinoshima


and Chikuzen no kuni zoku shosha engi in the sections pertaining to the three Munakata shrines. Kaibara’s comprehensive studies of the Munakata Shrines mark an important shift in our understanding of Okinoshima; although Kaibara never visited Okinoshima himself, his writings about the island were groundbreaking, and the most detailed to date. Kaibara based his accounts on the Kojiki, Nihon shoki, and Engishiki (Procedures of the Engi era, tenth century), as well as the no-longer-extant eighth-century Chikuzen no kuni fudoki (Gazetteer of Chikuzen province), and contemporaneous written and oral sources. In addition to Munakata-related mythology and sacred symbols, Munakata sansha engi also provides information on imperial ranks, matters of estate ownership, branch shrines, and lore pertaining to the sites. The second author whose works are relevant for our examination of appellations for and viewpoints about Okinoshima is Aoyagi Tanenobu, who was born in Fukuoka more than one hundred years after Kaibara, in 1766. Like him, Aoyagi traveled to Edo and elsewhere for study, interacting with prominent scholars and even studying privately with famed nativist scholar Motoori Norinaga (1730–1801). In 1794, at the age of twenty-eight, Aoyagi traveled voluntarily to Okinoshima on duty as a border guard (sakimori). During his 100-day stay, Aoyagi kept a diary, the Okitsushima sakimori nikki (abbr. Sakimori nikki), which offers original first-hand accounts of the island and its taboo traditions. Taboos, as they appear in the writings of Kaibara and later Aoyagi, developed alongside and appear to be closely connected to the establishment and maintenance of a manned watch station on the island. In Kaibara’s words: From the sixteenth year of the Kan’ei era [1650], island protectors have been placed by the Fukuoka lords, consisting of three foot soldiers, four boatmen, and two laborers from Ōshima, a total of nine who come in rotations limited to fifty days in two boats sent from Ōshima (Chikuzen no kuni zoku fudoki fasc. 16: 55).

Most of our knowledge of taboos at the island, particularly concerning purity and pollution, comes from Edo-period documents that depict the island as less an abode of the gods or a repository for treasure than a protective border site. It is therefore important to acknowledge the multiple and distinct narratives that feed and shape our understandings of Okinoshima. One stream, based on archaeological remains and ancient myth-histories, depicts the island as an intersection point where religiopolitical rites were conducted as a means to smooth relations between Japan and the Korean peninsula and to provide protection to seafarers. Unfortunately, little is known about the context or content of those rituals, although they seem to be intimately intertwined with the construction of Yamato mythology. Rules and regulations for visiting Okinoshima from the Edo period clearly indicate a different (yet not entirely unrelated) stream, one that emphasizes the island’s identity as a powerful but also strategic place from where the Fukuoka domain and the Japanese state could detect and intercept potential intruders. Let us now turn to the island’s taboos. I have already touched on one—the taboo against taking anything from the island—in the story of Lord Nagamasa. In Chikuzen


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no kuni zoku fudoki, Kaibara elaborates that taking “bamboo, wood, stone, etc.” from the island will upset the gods and cause calamity (Chikuzen no kuni zoku fudoki fasc. 16: 55). He and Aoyagi present several others, including pre-departure divinations on Ōshima, purification rites upon landing, and taboo words and practices on the island.20 Aoyagi narrates in Sakimori nikki that preparatory divinations were conducted at Ōshima, situated just eleven kilometers from the Kyushu mainland, before embarkations on the journey to Okinoshima. Owing to the rough and unpredictable waters of the Genkai Sea, as well as the rocky shoreline and steep drop-offs that ringed Okinoshima, actual visits to the island by priests seem to have been rare, limited to perhaps twice annually, once in spring and once in autumn (Hattori 2011: 141).21 Otherwise, Okinoshima was “worshipped from afar” (yōhai) on Ōshima. There, some fifty kilometers away, the priest of Nakatsumiya (who simultaneously served as priest of Okinoshima) divined the party’s departure, voyage, and arrival conditions. In spring of 1794, departure and arrival were favorable, yet the voyage was not, owing to a lack of wind. Receiving two favorable readings out of three seems to have been sufficient, however, for they set out for Okinoshima on the ninth day of the fourth month on a fleet of seven boats (Sakimori nikki: 448–449).22 The first taboo to be encountered at the island itself concerns seven days of purification rites upon landing, which is still practiced today. Kaibara describes it in the following terms: The island (Okinoshima) has no permanent resident. At first when someone arrives they must purify themselves in the ocean, then proceed to the Shōsanmi shrine where they bathe in ocean water once each day for a period of seven days. On the eighth day they proceed to the main shrine. It is the same for foot soldiers and sailors (Chikuzen no kuni zoku fudoki fasc. 16: 55).23

Aoyagi Tanenobu similarly writes that coming to the island required seven days of morning water ablutions (misogi) before leaving the shores. During Aoyagi’s seven-day purification period, he reveals that the priest accompanying him read from the “Age of the Gods” volume of the Nihon shoki, after being requested to do so (Sakimori nikki: 449). On the seventh day, upon completion of the initial purifications, rites were held at the island’s Shōsanmi Shrine (Senior Third Rank Shrine), which was dedicated to the god of Shika (likely reflecting the influence of nearby Shikanoshima) and situated not far from the shore.24 On the eighth day, Aoyagi and the others visited the inner shrine, Okitsumiya, dedicated to the goddess Tagorihime no mikoto. All men continued to bathe daily in the ocean, even if only to visit Shōsanmi Shrine and not Okitsumiya. Interestingly, Aoyagi notes that visiting the inner shrine without permission would upset the deity, suggesting the existence of varying strata of taboos depending on one’s location (i.e., shore vs. mountain) and revealing that men like Aoyagi did not have unrestricted access to all parts of the island. The notion of “taboo” (imi) itself first appears in Chikuzen no kuni zoku fudoki. There, Kaibara describes the existence of many taboo words, said to be transmitted from older times (although there are no extant historical records of such), which

Taboo and the Mysteries of Okinoshima


function to protect people from the wrath of the gods (Ōshima sonshi: 584). Kaibara enumerates “monk and nun” (nisō), “mountain ascetic” (yamabushi), “woman” (nyonin), “cow” (ushi), “horse” (uma), “deer” (shika), and “rat” (nezumi) (Chikuzen no kuni zoku fudoki vol. 16: 55–56). In Munakata jinja engi furoku, which directly follows Munakata sansha engi, Kaibara lists more, along with their substitute words: Table 4.2 Taboo-words at Munakata and their substitutes death (shi ) woman (onna ) salt (shio ) miso nun (ama ) monk (sō ) vinegar (su ) shō (a unit of volume) bird (tori ) yoke (kubiki )

kuroyōsei hotome naminohana hishiho kaminaga maruyōsei mimitori hakari kurotori tameshi

In an entry from Sakimori nikki, dated from the eleventh day of the seventh month of the year 1794, Aoyagi discusses taboo words (imikotoba) on the island, which ranged from “Buddhist scripture” (Bukkyō) and “monk and nun” to various other items and goods (Sakimori nikki: 461). The island itself, Aoyagi states, is not to be spoken of— Okinoshima is an “island of silence” (iwazugashima) (460). Significantly, Aoyagi also notes that the names of old have disappeared, and the taboo words heard on the island today were “all decided by fishermen” (461).25 It is noteworthy that Aoyagi did not attribute taboo words to priests, especially considering that taboos against blood and death, for example, are often thought to derive from religious concerns. Indeed, Kawakubo Natsuko of the Munakata Grand Shrine Cultural Properties Management Office (Munakata Taisha bunkazai kanri jimukyoku) maintains that taboo words “evolved uniquely” on Okinoshima, pointing out that other records of taboo words, namely those noted in Engishiki, exhibit certain similarities with those pertaining to the island yet they are not exactly the same.26 Okinoshima’s least understood and most sensitive taboo concerns the prohibition of women.27 The deities worshipped at the three Munakata Shrines are unambiguously female, yet today, and purportedly in distant times as well, women are barred access to Okinoshima. According to one popular perspective, the island is a site of purity, and women are by nature subject to bodily impurities that will “upset” the local deities, jealous females who can cause calamities.28 Umi no tami Munakata: Genkainada no mamorigami (Munakata, people of the sea: The gods who protect the Genkai Sea), a manga published in 2015 under the auspices of the World Heritage Promotion Committee, features a female character named Iratsume. When she learns of an imminent boat trip to Okinoshima and desperately wants to accompany her father and young male friend, the answer is negative. Iratsume demands to know the reason, whereupon her father explains the “rule” (okite) of women’s exclusion from Okinoshima.29 He tells her to stay back and learn from her mother how to cook while


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he and the other men are at sea. Iratsume stands alone, looking out to sea, with tears streaming down her face. “Why was I not born a boy?” she inquires of the gods.30 Women’s exclusion from the island is upheld today by Munakata Shrine as a binding regulation. Despite the widely repeated claim that no woman has ever set foot on the shore, the taboo against women is surprisingly difficult to historicize. Kaibara says nothing of it, and Aoyagi makes no direct mention either. In Aoyagi’s description of purification exercises upon arriving at Okinoshima, he does note that the objective of such exercises is to remove “taboo things” (mono imi) brought to the island from outside. No detailed explanation is given as to what precisely “taboo things” entail, but a clue can be found in the section on pre-departure procedures on Ōshima, in which he notes that women’s menstrual pollution (onna no tsuki no kegare) should be avoided. Scholarly perspectives on the history and current status of Okinoshima’s exclusion of women vary. Hattori Hideo of Kyushu University, for example, claims that “the idea itself of women going to Okinoshima had not been envisaged in the Edo period” (Hattori 2011: 151). According to Kawakubo, on the other hand, it is important to recognize that the taboo exists today, even if it is “difficult to find answers for the spiritual and temporal origins of women’s exclusion based on Okinoshima and belief in the three Munakata goddesses” (Kawakubo 2011: 254). Women’s exclusion is rigidly enforced at Okinoshima today despite being difficult to substantiate in historical documents, and it is a taboo that stands out conspicuously when we consider how several of the island’s other taboos, such as taking anything from the island or speaking about the island, have been continuously (and egregiously) broken in the twentieth century. The lack of flexibility in this single regard contrasts dramatically with other dimensions of present-day reality at Okinoshima and the Munakata Grand Shrine, such as its current ritual calendar, which I would like to consider briefly. On October 1 each year, several hundred motorized boats set out for Okinoshima (with male-only participants), escorting one vessel which transports the goddesses of Okinoshima and Ōshima. The goddesses voyage to Hetsumiya, headquarters of Munakata Grand Shrine, where they are collectively welcomed and celebrated. This occasion, the Miare Festival, marks the beginning of the Autumn Grand Festival. The festival is said to transmit an ancient ritual practice called minagate, which refers to the hoisting of a bamboo flagpole on a ship as a sort of military banner and also as transport for a deity. Minagate are mentioned in the Munakata daibosatsu goengi (c. 1290–1313), the oldest extant historical source that comprehensively describes the enshrined deities, rituals, and the shrine’s organization.31 Minagate were purportedly sailed to and from Okinoshima and Ōshima, transporting the goddesses, four times a year until the medieval period, when many rites became obsolete and those that remained came to be conducted on either Ōshima or Tashima.32 In the wake of the successful excavations on Okinoshima, Munakata Grand Shrine priest Kubo Teruo (served 1959–1972) invited Ono Michio from the National Association of Shinto Shrines (Jinja honchō) and the two devised a plan to “adopt a new method” of performing the ritual. According to piecemeal fourteenth-century documents, this had been an “inconspicuous shrine ritual” that entailed bringing effigies of the three goddesses together at Hetsumiya in Tashima and may not have

Taboo and the Mysteries of Okinoshima


involved actual travel to Okinoshima or Ōshima (Mori 2011: 199). The Miare Festival is the main feature of the shrine’s Autumn Grand Festival, a newly configured amalgamation of seasonal rites, the minagate tradition (recreated from medieval accounts), Buddhist hōjōe (rites of animal release), and an ocean parade of local fishermen.33 Nevertheless, the festival is presented as a continuation of ancient practices. A 1962 summary of the Miare Festival, for example, described it in the following manner: “On exactly the 1600th anniversary since the original ‘Minagate,’ the first revival by grand ceremony after a discontinuation of rituals for 400 to 500 years was completed” (Mori 2011: 205). The Miare Festival was designated an Intangible Folk Cultural Property (mukei minzoku bunkazai) by Munakata City on August 22, 2017. Munakata Grand Shrine’s calendar of events is an unprecedented reconfiguration of ritual practices that are given new meaning and form (although they are presented as ancient and unchanged)—it is a modern re-envisioning of the past. Okinoshima’s other taboo traditions have been managed differently: disregarded (i.e., the taboo against taking anything from the island); forgotten (i.e., divinations); or rigidly, perhaps disproportionately, enforced (i.e., women’s exclusion). More research is necessary to fully understand these curious vicissitudes.

Conclusion Waves are a serious consideration for seafarers, especially so in the Genkai Sea, which literary and historical accounts depict as dark, stormy, and violent.34 In the closing portion of Sakimori nikki, Aoyagi notes that his journey home was delayed due to heavy waves that pounded Okinoshima’s shores even after the winds had ceased. The waves left Aoyagi temporarily stranded on the shores of Okinoshima, unable to return to the central shrine in the mountain and unable to leave, as his “purity” had been broken upon coming into contact with the next round of patrolmen who had just arrived from Ōshima and were only midway through the seven-day purification rites (463). The sea arrested Aoyagi’s mobility, locking him quite literally in the liminal, in-between space of the island: a geographical space in the middle of the Tsushima Strait between Japan and the Korean peninsula, a political space between center and periphery, and a symbolic space between purity and impurity. Thinking with the sea can help us to shift away from assumptions regarding the ostensible timelessness of Okinoshima and its environs and better understand the symbolic waves that anchor the island’s multifaceted character.35 Modern depictions of Okinoshima’s significance, for example World Heritage nomination literature and the contemporary Miare Festival, are assembled around a linear and continuous narrative of religious (i.e., ritual) practice that casts the island as an isolated place at sea where “ancient forms of worship and faith” have been “continued down to the present day” (Government of Japan, 2009).36 The reality is far more ambiguous and nuanced than this interpretation permits, however. Okinoshima’s identity is less fixed than fluid, as this chapter has sought to demonstrate by highlighting three discernable waves therein: “Island where gods dwell,” “Shōsōin Treasury of the sea,” and “Island of mystery.”


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There is obviously much that this chapter could not cover. I would therefore like to end it where it began, out at sea, by raising several lingering questions in the hope of stimulating discussion and future investigation. For one, did the aura of myth and mystery that surrounds Okinoshima—the island, its gods, and its treasures—give rise to taboo traditions, or did the taboos themselves engender the island’s mysterious aura? Are they mutually constitutive? Owing to a paucity of sources (and in fact a dearth until the Edo period), this may be difficult to assess with any certainty, but given the current emphasis in popular representations on the island’s mysterious character, such inquisitions seem appropriate and timely. Continuing in the vein of unsolved mysteries, we might also question how widespread the story of Lord Nagamasa and the treasures of Okinoshima was during and after Kaibara’s time. Why and how, if the story was regarded as more fact than fiction, did the island’s treasures remain largely “undiscovered” until the twentiethcentury excavations? Aoyagi’s otherwise detailed descriptions of his time on Okinoshima make not a single mention of the island’s archaeological riches. Was Aoyagi, who would later pen a detailed archaeological report (Ryūen Koki Ryakkō [Brief Considerations of Old Wares in Ryūen], 1822) among various other writings), truly unaware of them? Or did he—and others later—simply take seriously the taboo against speaking about this island of no name? One final inquiry to ponder: why have many of the island’s traditions proven to be flexible (i.e., taboos against taking things from the island and speaking about the island, ritual calendar and content) while others remain stringently fixed (i.e., women’s exclusion)? The prohibition against women is staunchly upheld by Munakata Shrine and local communities as religious tradition, yet it is remarkably difficult to substantiate in historical sources. Instead of accepting uncritically the popular perception that women have long (or always) been prohibited from setting foot on the island, we should judiciously investigate when and why this tradition (and others) became part of Okinoshima and Munakata heritage.37


Musical Instruments for the Sea-God Ebisu The Mythological System of Miho Shrine and Its Performative Power1 Ōuchi Fumi

Introduction Miho Shrine in Shimane Prefecture is well known for its important role in the myths of Izumo. According to the Izumo no kuni fudoki, one of the oldest gazetteers in Japan, compiled around 750, there was a shrine dedicated to the deity of Miho at the eastern end of the Shimane Peninsula, which, according to myth, had been formed by drawing together parts of the Oki Islands, the Korean Peninsula, and the Noto Peninsula and sewing them to the land of Izumo (Izumo no kuni fudoki [A]: 160–161). The shrine is famous for the special rituals connected to a story contained in the Kojiki and the Nihon shoki. The version in the former says that, when the messengers of Amaterasu visited Ōkuninushi to tell him to surrender the land to her, he told them to ask his son Kotoshironushi what he should do. Kotoshironushi, who was at that time fishing and hunting for birds off Miho, answered that his father should accept Amaterasu’s demand and, transforming his upturned boat into a green twig fence (aofushigaki), he disappeared (Philippi 1968: 131, n. 13).2 One of the main deities of Miho Shrine is Ebisu, a sea god whose nature and status in the Japanese religious system is still elusive. As we will see later, Ebisu has multiple characteristics, as a deity of prosperity in general, but with specific associations in various professional fields, such as the god of a good catch in fishing communities, the god of the rice fields in the countryside, and the protector of markets and merchants. He is also identified with Hiruko (the “leech child”), the first child of Izanagi and Izanami, or with Kotoshironushi no mikoto.3 Miho Shrine identifies Ebisu there as Kotoshironushi. A distinctive feature of Miho Shrine is the massive number of musical instruments brought there as offerings to its deities, in particular Ebisu, dating mainly from the late Edo period on. According to tradition, the Ebisu at Miho Shrine is extremely fond of music. The issue of why and how people developed the idea that Ebisu liked these musical dedications is closely connected to multiple themes, such as the characteristics of Japanese sea gods, including those related to Hachiman; the 53

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religio-political status of the Izumo cult, particularly in the Kokugaku (National Learning) movement; and the connection of sea gods to various types of musical performing arts including kagura (a type of musical ritual or drama depicting the mystic world) and puppet plays. As yet, no academic research has been attempted to understand the distinctive custom of donating instruments to Miho Shrine, even though many of the instruments are designated by the Japanese government as important tangible folk cultural properties. This chapter will address how the idea, unique to Miho Shrine, that Ebisu likes music, was formed, and what it signifies in the socio-religious context of premodern western Japan, through an analysis of the myths and folk traditions related to Ebisu and the development of the Kokugaku movement in the Izumo region in the late Edo period, through historical, performative, and theoretical approaches. We will first look into the list of musical instruments dedicated to Miho Shrine focusing on types of instruments, their donors, the historical period, and the purpose of the offering. Then, after exploring the features of Ebisu in the Miho pantheon and the Izumo cult, we will consider the distinctive image of Ebisu as a music lover, casting light on the connection with tales about Azumi no Isora that are closely connected with the development of the Hachiman cult, and looking into a variety of folk traditions about Ebisu and the theoretical background of the music offerings to the shrine. Studying these points will shed light on the dynamics engendered by the correlation between mythological performativity and the materiality of musical instruments.

Analysis of the Musical Instruments The collection of musical offerings was designated an important folk cultural property in 1960. The 864 items include 224 percussion instruments, 231 wind instruments, 34 string instruments, 41 instruments of other types including bells, wooden clappers, a music box, an accordion and wind instruments made of stone, and 316 musical toys.4 Excepting the musical toys, the following features are notable when focusing on the types of instrument, their donors, the historical period, and the purpose of the offerings.

Types of Instruments ●

The largest number of offerings with identification is constituted by drums of different types. The most common is a drum called dō with a long body and drumheads fastened with rivets. Different types of zither including those related to the Izumo cult, with shamisen being the most numerous among strings. A number of precious instruments used for Gagaku and Noh performances, along with a special shamisen that belonged to the famous musician Ogie Royū (n.d. –1787), who created a new genre of shamisen music in the mid Edo period.

Musical Instruments for the Sea-God Ebisu ●


Western instruments, such as a music box and two accordions (very uncommon in premodern Japan), were donated by a warship and a chief vassal of the Matsue domain and by a chief priest of the Ise Shrine. Some rare instruments related to the Izumo cult, such as a stone flute (Jap. iwafue ) and a distinctive type of zither.

Historical Period According to tradition, the oldest offering is a drum washed ashore in Hōki Province (present-day Tottori prefecture) before the sixteenth century,5 when the shrine buildings were burnt down during a war. The official record of offerings shows that the oldest is a drum dedicated by the first lord of Matsue domain, Matsudaira Masanao (1601–1666). It was followed by a small number of offerings made by domain lords, their chief vassals, and wealthy merchants or owners of big ships before the beginning of the nineteenth century. The majority of the offerings listed were donated in the latter half of the Edo period, and subsequently through the Meiji and Taishō periods.

Donors ●

● ●

As mentioned above, the earlier donors were from the upper ruling class and from among the richer merchants. The local neighborhood of Miho Shrine made few registered offerings; particularly notable is the offering by the head priest of Miho Shrine, Yokoyama Masakichi in 1690. The largest number of donations is from the Matsue domain, followed by those from the Oki Islands and from the Hōki region (Tottori). A number of instruments were brought from areas along the important sea route between Osaka and northern Japan in the Edo period. The names of several ship crews and ship owners are recorded. Nakayama Danjō (a.k.a. Nakayama Kotonushi, 1803–1880), the originator of a type of Japanese zither called yakumo koto, donated a stone flute (iwafue). Nakayama Danjō the fifth also dedicated a yamato koto.

Purpose Although there is no information as to the purpose of many of the offerings, there are a number of dedications for safe sailing, especially from the Oki Islands. There are also many prayers for good business, peace in the realm, a plentiful harvest, good health and longevity of the family, particularly of children. During wartime, we encounter prayers for success in war. There are also offerings as signs of gratitude for escaping from danger and for fulfillment of wishes, such as the dedication from the sixth lord of the Matsue domain Matsudaira Munenobu (1729–1782) giving thanks for a safe journey escaping a flood.


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From the above material, we can identify the following six points as the most relevant for the subject of this chapter:

1. The drum said to be washed ashore suggests that a belief in gods coming from the 2.

3. 4.

5. 6.

sea bringing good luck, which Japanese folklorists call yorigami,6 underlies the distinctive custom of musical offerings to the shrine. Different generations of lords of the Matsue domain and their chief vassals made several donations of high-quality instruments used in refined musical genres. In addition, one of the earliest offerings was the one presented by the head priest of Miho Shrine. This distinctive custom was developed by religious and political authorities. Dō drums are the most numerous, along with different types of flutes. Despite the general importance of drums in ritual, the reason for the large number of dō-type drums as offerings to the Miho deity needs investigation. The list of donors suggests a regional connection with ports along the important sea route between Osaka and northern Japan. The role of Ebisu at Miho thus needs to be considered in the broader context of the different types of cults and rituals related to Ebisu along that route, including the close relationship between Ebisu and Azumi no Isora, one of the important figures in the evolution of the Hachiman cult. Distinctive instruments such as the stone flute dedicated by Nakayama Danjō and the yakumo-goto by his fifth successor show the influence of the Kokugaku movement on the tradition of musical offerings. Rare and extremely valuable instruments, such as a famed shamisen, a music box, and two accordions were offered to the shrine (the latter three for success and good luck in war and safe sailing); these instruments may be seen as a type of sacrifice to escape danger, suggesting a link with myths and narratives in which a person or precious things are sacrificed to sea gods or sea dragons.

Who Enjoyed the Music Offerings? Miho Shrine’s explanation for this unique tradition of offering musical instruments is that its main deities love music.7 However, it is actually not easy to know who those deities are. Currently, the shrine has two main deities: Kotoshironushi and Mihotsuhime no mikoto, a consort of Ōkuninushi (a.k.a Ōnamuchi). The shrine highlights Kotoshironushi, stating that it is the head of all shrines dedicated to Ebisu as identified with Kotoshinonushi (shrines dedicated to Ebisu as Hiruko are headed by Nishinomiya Shrine). Nevertheless, no other shrine in either of these groups has a tradition of Ebisu as music lover. Who then is Ebisu at Miho Shrine? In his monumental work on the historical development and the ritual system of Miho Shrine, Wakamori Tarō closely traced the historical changes in its deities (Wakamori 1980: 23–44). The present pair of main divinities was not enshrined there in earlier times. The Izumo no kuni fudoki recorded that there was a shrine on the headland of Miho, dedicated to Mihosusumi no mikoto, a child of Ōkuninushi and

Musical Instruments for the Sea-God Ebisu


a daughter of the god of Koshi (Koshi no kuni). Kotoshironushi appeared in Yoshida Kanetomo’s explanation of Miho Shrine in his Jinmyōchō tōchū (a commentary on the Engishiki jinmyōchō, a list of officially registered shrines in the early tenth period, dated 1503), but Mihotsuhime, not Mihosusumi, was designated as the main deity (Engishiki jinmyōchō tōchū: 576).8 The position of Kotoshironushi at the shrine rose throughout the early modern era. Writings in the late Edo period such as the Un’yōshi, a gazetteer of Matsue domain published in 1717, show that both divinities had come to be given an almost equal position, although Mihotsuhime still enjoyed higher prestige than Kotoshironushi, as her designation of Ichi no gozen (first lord divinity) or Ō gozen (great lord) shows (Un’yōshi: 50–51).9 In his Izumo no kuni shikisha kō (a study on the shrines in Izumo included in the Engishiki, 1843), Senge Toshizane (1746–1831), a member of the main sacerdotal lineage of the Izumo Shrine who led the Kokugaku movement there as an earnest follower of Motoori Norinaga (1730–1801), explained that Kotoshironushi was enshrined at Miho because the Nihon shoki speaks of his frequent visits to that site (Izumo no kuni shikisha kō: 279–280). Wakamori concluded therefore that Kotoshironushi came to be regarded as one of the main deities at the end of the Edo period; his view, however, needs to be amended concerning the time. The Izumo no kuni Miho ryōgū engi (Origin Story of the Two Miho Shrines, 1753), rediscovered by a research group from Kokugakuin University in 1993, shows Kotoshironushi already being paired with Mihotsuhime in 1753. Yet, the picture that Wakamori gave is largely correct. Kotoshironushi was connected to the shrine based on passages in the Kojiki and the Nihon shoki and gained a higher position in the wake of the renewed study of the Japanese classics, particularly by the Kokugaku movement in the late Edo period. The Izumo no kuni Miho ryōgū engi also provides important information on how Kotoshironushi came to be identified with Ebisu as a music lover: Kotoshironushi, being a son of Ōnamuchi, is the god of safe voyages, family prosperity, successful business, a rich haul of fish, and the great virtues of loyalty and filiality (chūkō taigi), who is also known as Ebisu.

Apparently, the shrine officially identified Kotoshironushi with Ebisu at that time. More importantly, this text also mentions the legend that a ship carrying musical instruments could not clear the reefs off Miho as a manifestation of mysterious power of the deities (shin’i) that spread among locals. This suggests that by that time, people may have had an idea that a safe sea voyage could not be accomplished without a musical donation to Miho Shrine. Senge Toshizane’s Izumo no kuni shikisha kō explains this in detail, in a passage scholarship has overlooked until now: The deity enshrined there loves musical instruments so ardently that a ship carrying instruments can never set out to sea. However, it can depart without difficulty if the instruments are covered with something unclean. One should realize how deeply the gods hate unclean things and should make an effort to keep clean everything related to them (Izumo no kuni shikisha kō: 280).


The Sea and the Sacred in Japan

It was thought that the divinity enshrined at Miho demanded musical instruments as long as they were not defiled. This suggests the precious and possibly consecrated nature of the musical offerings there. Still, the reason why the divinity of Miho demanded musical instruments is still veiled in sea fog. Let us now take a closer look at Ebisu. The nature of Ebisu in general is very complicated and elusive; numerous studies from historical, ethnographical, mythological, and religious perspectives have attempted to shed light on this god. Following them, we can identify three broad interpretive lines. The first finds the primordial image of Ebisu in a maritime god who could secure success in fishing. This aspect of Ebisu was often represented by stones brought from the seabed and in objects washed ashore, including bodies of drowned people and whales (Kitami 1991: 79–129). This primordial aspect of Ebisu was later expanded in different directions, such as a god of wealth, commercial success, and agriculture (Yoneyama 2001). In the second interpretive thread, mythological accounts envisioned two types of Ebisu: one as Hiruko, the first child of Izanagi and Izanami who was abandoned at sea because of his deformity, and the other as Kotoshironushi. The reasons for Ebisu’s identification with these two deities are as follows: the topos of Hiruko being cast out to the sea and drifting back ashore overlapped with that of Ebisu coming from across the sea and with Kotoshironushi enjoying fishing, and was appropriate for a god who secures a rich catch. Another mythological interpretation, related to the development of the Hachiman cult, provides the third line of inquiry. The oldest written record about a divinity named Ebisu is found in the Iroha jirui shō, one of Japan’s oldest dictionaries, compiled in the twelfth century. This ebisu is enshrined in one of the subordinate shrines of Hirota Shrine, where it was regarded as the manifestation of Bishamonten (Sk. Vaiśravan.a). The Nihon shoki relates that Empress Jingū dedicated Hirota Shrine to the violent spirit (Jap. ara-mitama) of Amaterasu on her way back from a successful war with the country of Silla, in gratitude for the deity’s support. Later, the area of Hirota Shrine dedicated to Ebisu came to be included in the precincts of Nishinomiya Shrine, and consequently the violent Ebisu was merged with the god Hiruko, who was enshrined at Nishinomiya as a sea god that ensures rich catches of maritime products (Yoshii, ed., 1999: 54–83). Among these complex features of Ebisu, two should be highlighted here. One is the primordial image of Ebisu that comes to us embodied in stones from the seabed; this suggests a cultural link with a sacred stone enshrined in the precincts of Miho Shrine. According to tradition, that stone is the remainder of a pair of stones brought by a fisherman from the vicinity of a sacred reef off Miho called Chi no gozen (Our Lord of the Land), which local people consider the place where Ebisu was fishing. The other feature is the tradition that developed at Nishinomiya Shrine, especially the one related to tales about Empress Jingū. Coming from areas along the sea trade route between Osaka and northern Japan, the donors of the musical instruments to Miho Shrine would have been familiar with the traditions of Nishinomiya Shrine. The image of Ebisu enjoying offerings of musical instruments at Miho Shrine was likely formed within this socio-cultural context.

Musical Instruments for the Sea-God Ebisu


Ebisu as a Music Lover It is unclear when and how the practice of offering musical instruments to Miho Shrine began. The drum said to have been washed ashore before the sixteenth century suggests that the primordial image of Ebisu as a god coming from the sea formed the basis of the offerings; nevertheless, this does not explain why musical instruments in particular were dedicated to the god. In the connection of the Miho tradition with the Ebisu cult at Nishinomiya, which was brought to Miho via the sea route, we can find a clue in the relationship between Ebisu and the Hachiman cult. Scholars of Shinto and religious performing arts such as Nishida Nagao (1960), Nishitsunoi Masataka (1966), Yoshii Yoshitaka (1999), and Suzuka Chiyono (1986: 60–95) have insisted, following Orikuchi Shinobu (1955), that both the Sei-no-o dance, important in the medieval ritual dance repertoire, and the puppet play Ebisu mawashi originated in the image of Azumi no Isora depicted in a series of legends relating to the god Hachiman, such as the Hachiman gudōkun, the Hachiman-gū goengi, and the Hachiman no gohonji. Despite differences in detail, these stories share a basic structure.10 When Empress Jingū was setting off to wage war against Silla, she wanted Azumi no Isora, who lived at the bottom of the sea, to be the pilot of her ship. He hesitated to accept her invitation because of his ugly looks, but he eventually came out from the sea riding on a turtle’s back, attracted by the music and dance (kagura) performed by Jingū’s retinue. Isora gave the empress a pair of precious stones to control the tide, which he had obtained from the dragon king (Hachiman gudōkun (kō): 170–174; Hachiman-gū goengi: 4–6; Hachiman no gohonji: 32–34). The aforementioned scholars see this tale of Isora as the archetype of the Sei-no-o dance, which has been performed in rituals at shrines related to the Hachiman cult in northern Kyushu, including Shikaumi Shrine, and in the Wakamiya Onmatsuri of Kasuga Shrine in Nara.11 More importantly, they also regard the figure of Isora, who emerged from the sea attracted by kagura, as a model of the tradition, maintained by puppeteers affiliated with Nishinomiya Shrine, that Ebisu was seduced into coming up out of the sea by the sound of bells played by maidens, along with the sound of drums, flutes, and bells by people at Nishinoniya Shrine (Yoshi 1943: 168–169. Suzuka 1988: 41–49). It is highly probable that this tale is the source of the image of Ebisu as a music lover through his mythological association with the legend of Azumi no Isora. Even if this is the case, it is still unclear why only Miho Shrine’s Ebisu was believed to enjoy the special offer of musical instruments. The story of Azumi no Isora suggests another possible source of Ebisu’s understanding at Miho. In his investigation of the history and development of the medieval story of Taishokan (Fujiwara no Kamatari, 614–669), a ballad drama in the kōwaka-mai repertoire, Abe Yasurō has pointed out certain critical motifs common to the variants of the tales; two are relevant to our subject here. One is the contest to acquire a miraculous jewel between a man who aims at political power and the dragon king, and the other is a woman who sacrifices herself in order to bring the jewel to that man. Furthermore, it should be noted that the Yuzū dainenbutsu kamegane engi and Kunōdera engi mentioned by Abe show the dragon as being deeply attached to sound


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and musical instruments (Abe 1986). These motifs could have formed one of the bases for the tradition of offering musical instruments that developed at Miho Shrine in a unique fashion. It is important, in this context, to note that belief in dragon and snake gods is one of the distinctive features of the Izumo cult. Izumo Shrine, Hinomisaki Shrine, and Sada Shrine have maintained a special ritual dedicated to the dragon/snake god (ryūjasama).12 Miho Shrine also shares such beliefs as indicated by its norito prayers and rituals dedicated to this type of god (Yokoyamake monjo II: 8, 17). Thus, it is possible that the complex of cultural motifs such as the precious jewel from sea, the dragon/ snake god, and the symbolic images of musical instruments found in numerous narratives may have constituted the foundation for the offering of musical instruments at Miho Shrine.13 Next, I would like to focus on the issue of what types of agencies affected the developments at Miho, by shedding light on two sets of traditions from the regions where the donors of musical instruments lived, namely, the festivals related to Ebisu carried out in northern Kyushu and the kagura plays performed around Izumo. For reasons of space, I will mention only the main points. Some of the festivals performed in Fukuoka show a combination of motifs related to Ebisu and Azumi no Isora. A typical example is the New Year’s festival at Hakozaki Shrine. Known as Tamatori matsuri or Tamaseseri matsuri, it begins by carrying a pair of spherical objects, symbolizing Yin and Yang, to a subordinate shrine dedicated to Ebisu (Tamatori Ebisu-sha), where people start to scramble for the objects. The spheres are finally offered to the god. The local history Hakata-ki explains that the pair of objects, modeled on the two tide-controlling jewels given to Empress Jingū by the dragon king, came from the sea, shining brightly, on the first day of the third year of Meiō (1494) (Hakata-ki: 24).The historical and ethnographical research of Yoshida Shūsaku (2004) gives several examples of this type of Ebisu-Isora combination within the rituals and folk performing arts around Fukuoka. We may see here a connection with the spherical stone from the sea to be found in the precincts of Miho Shrine. It should be noted that a similar type of sacred stone is also enshrined in the precincts of Shikaumi Shrine and Hakozaki-gū, the former being clearly linked to the legend of Isora and Empress Jingū. The printed image of Ebisu holding a precious sphere which is kept at Wakamatsu Ebisu Shrine in Kitakyushu, also demonstrates a direct combination between the two motifs.14 In addition, another subordinate shrine of Hakozaki-gū dedicated to Ebisu (identified here with Kotoshironushi) was closely connected with the famous festival called Matsubayashi, where a gaudy procession including impersonations of Ebisu, Daikoku, and Fukurokuju was accompanied by lively music. At the present form of performance inherited from Matsubayashi, the god Ebisu appears as a pair—a male god holding a sea bream and a goddess embracing a big sphere. Thus, part of the image of Ebisu as a music lover was formed in the development of the legend of Hachiman, which provided the cultural background for the donors of musical instruments to Miho Shrine. The god Ebisu appearing in the kagura performances from around Matsue and the Oki Islands offers us a clearer image of the music lover. Kagura depicting mythological stories derived from the Kojiki and the Nihon shoki can be found throughout the

Musical Instruments for the Sea-God Ebisu


western region of Honshu and Kyushu, the area of the Miho cult; as the ethnographical research by Ishizuka Takayoshi shows, the Ebisu dance (Ebisu-mai) is the second most common in the kagura repertoire there (Ishizuka 1979: 164–166). In the dance, the god gives a cheerful performance representing fishing, accompanied by the drum and the flute. This gave people a vivid image of Ebisu as a music lover and of the drum and the flute as his preferred instruments. The image was enhanced by the rituals performed at Miho Shrine. The shrine has maintained four important rituals: Aofushigaki shinji, Morotabune shinji, Kamimukae shinji, and Mushibarai shinji.15 Among them, the latter two are related to the traditional offering of musical instruments. I will now discuss them focusing on the performative effect of sound based on my own field research. Kamimukae shinji is held very early on the morning of May 5 when it is still dark. A ship with the priests and important members of the shrine religious organization goes to the sacred reef off Miho called Oki no gozen (Our Lord of the deep sea) to summon the gods to the shrine. The music of drum and flute is performed when the ship departs, reaches the sacred reef, and gets back to the bay. Reaching the shore, the officiants take the gods to the shrine in a sacred box in the darkness guided by the sounds of drums from the shrine.16 At the shrine, the deities are enshrined with a dance entitle Shin no kagura, said to have been introduced from Izumo Shrine. It is performed by miko with bells in their hands, accompanied by the drum and the flute. The ritual is performed in the dark and without any words and sounds other than the music; it gives the audience the impression that the deities of the shrine have come to this world lured by the music. Mushibarai shinji is held, again, very early in the morning, on August 7. Priests enter a hall of the shrine where important members of the religious organization are sitting. At the sound of drum and clapper, all lights are extinguished. In the dark, the priests bring out special musical instruments and sacred masks. After the masks are venerated, miko perform a kagura dance accompanied by drums, flute, and bells. At the end of the ritual, the masks and the instruments are taken back to the inner quarters of shrine. I attended the ritual sitting in the hall with special permission. The vibration of the instruments, especially the drums, surrounded me, giving me the feeling that some entity of tremendous power had come. Only a few people beyond members of the local community ever have the chance to attend the Mushibarai shinji, but the music also works effectively in the famous Aofushigaki shinji that also attracts many visitors from far away. The drums called dō have an especially strong presence, not only in the main part of the ritual in which they accompany the procession, but also throughout the period of preparation, signaling by their sound the coming of the day of the ritual. The performative effects of music and sound, that are essential to the rituals performed at Miho Shrine and to the Ebisu dance, support the close connection between Ebisu and music at Miho Shrine. This would explain the large number of drums, particularly the dō, and flutes, donated to the shrine. At the same time, we should be aware that the Kamimukae shinji and the Mushibarai shinji, the two rituals connected with the instrument offering tradition, are rather less important than the other two performed at Miho. The previously mentioned Izumo no kuni Miho ryōgū engi, de facto an official advertisement for the shrine in the mid-Edo period, records


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only the dates of the Aofushigaki shinji and the Morotabune shinji as the main festivals. As Wakamori Tarō explained, the religious organization of Miho Shrine maintained the earlier style of faith to kami, where the community ran the system centered on the lay members temporally consecrated in turn instead of professional Shinto priests. After Shinto priests came to lead the Miho cult, the higher ranks of believers continued to play crucial roles in the system, including the main rituals of Aofushigaki and the Morotabune (Wakamori 1980: 129–136). This being so, the shrine insisted that the divinities enshrined there were fond of musical instruments, by connecting them to the less important but more musically impressive rituals. This suggests that the shrine priests attempted to develop the tradition beyond the earlier religious system there. How did the new evolution of tradition take place?

Theoretical Support by the Kokugaku Movement In my view, theoretical support by Kokugaku discourse encouraged the Miho Shrine priests to develop the custom of offering musical instruments. The offerings register shows clear evidence for this. When the retired chief counselor of the Matsue domain, Mitsuya Gondayū, donated a pair of drums used for Noh in 1868, the head priest of Miho Shrine at the time, Yokoyama Saneoki, wrote in the register: Kotoshironushi created the Ame no iwafue (heavenly stone flute). When Ninigi no mikoto came down to earth from heaven, Kotoshironushi celebrated Ninigi’s departure, forming up a procession and playing the iwafue (stone flute).17

This passage appears to follow Hirata Atsutane’s account in his Koshiden (Traditions from ancient times): According to the Honchō koto hajime (the origin of this country), Ame no iwafue (heavenly stone flute), was created by Kotoshironushi and presented to Ninigi no mikoto; it became obsolete during the reign of Emperor Monmu. The term iwa came from the flute’s purpose to celebrate (iwau) Amaterasu’s grandson. It is said that the shape of the instrument resembles the koka (Koshiden: 72–73).18

Atsutane’s statement was based on Fujiwara no Michinori (a.k.a. Shinzei, 1106–1160); neither the Kojiki nor the Nihon shoki mention it. What is relevant to our subject here is that Miho’s head priest explicitly accepted Atsutane’s idea, which demonstrates the theoretical influence of Kokugaku on Miho Shrine at the end of the Edo period. More importantly, the head priest’s explanation that Kotoshironushi celebrated his departure “forming up a procession and playing the iwafue,” shows a more concrete and detailed understanding of musical instruments than Atsutane’s. Further evidence of the influence of Kokugaku discourse on Miho Shrine can be found in the types of instruments offered. One is the iwafue (stone flute) dedicated by Nakayama Danjō in 1877 following a revelation in a dream. Danjō was a blind musician who created a new type of zither (yakumo koto) following an oracle he had received at

Musical Instruments for the Sea-God Ebisu


Izumo Shrine in 1830; he established a new genre of zither music called yakumo-goto. He published a manual of the instrument Yakumo koto no fumi at the end of Edo period, which includes waka poems written by Kokugaku scholar-priests at Izumo to be sung with the zither’s accompaniment, along with instructions on how to play the instrument. Importantly, the book contains a piece entitled iwafue furi (iwafue song) (Nakayama 1979), first scroll, p. 8)).19 It also contained two waka, describing Miho and Kotoshironushi at Miho, respectively (Yakumo koto no fumi: 2–2, 2–14). Additionally, Nakayama Danjō V dedicated a yakumo koto to Miho Shrine in 1857, also following a revelation in a dream. We can see here that the development of Kokugaku in Izumo brought about the creation of a new musical instrument (yakumo koto) and a new genre of koto music based on it, which eventually developed the understanding of music in the Miho cult.20

Conclusion: Mythological Performativity and Materiality of Musical Instruments It is still not clear when and why the tradition of offering musical instruments to Miho Shrine began, but in this chapter we have seen part of the complicated dynamics through which the idea that the god Ebisu enshrined at Miho loves music was developed. The fact that one of the earliest recorded dedications was made by the head priest of Miho Shrine himself suggests that the shrine priests took an active role in promoting the offering of musical instruments. The dedications made by the ruling class of the Matsue domain added prestige to the practice, and encouraged a growing number of offerings from the region. The shrine needed some theoretical basis for this new tradition; the mythological re-interpretation of the Miho pantheon could have worked as an effective strategy for elevating the status of Kotoshironushi. The shipping route between Osaka and northern Japan also affected the diffusion of the tradition; it linked the ideas associated with Ebisu at Miho Shrine with the complex cult produced by the Nishinomiya Shrine, which contributed to the idea of Kotoshironushi as Ebisu who enjoys music. Performative strategies around Ebisu, such as festivals connecting the legend of Azumi no Isora as a music lover to Ebisu, kagura performances of a dancing Ebisu, and the impressive musical rituals at Miho Shrine contributed to the development of the idea of Ebisu as a music lover. These developments, in turn, encouraged people to offer musical instruments to the shrine, particularly the drums and flutes that were mainly used for these performances. The shrine priests then attempted to develop a more authoritative explanation for the tradition based on Kokugaku discourse by creating an understanding of Kotoshironushi as a creator of music, which led to esoteric offerings such as the iwafue and yakumo koto. We can see here a dynamics in which a creative interaction among mythological performativity, the materiality of musical instruments, and religious-political power enhanced the new vision of Ebisu at Miho Shrine.



An Empress at Sea Sea Deities and Divine Union in the Legend of Empress Jingū Emily B. Simpson

According to legend, Empress Jingū (traditional dates: 169–269 CE ) was a shaman, and after her husband Emperor Chūai’s sudden death, Jingū took up his authority, gathered a fleet and led a successful invasion of the Korean peninsula, with inspiration and support from several deities every step of the way. Upon her victorious return to Japan, she gave birth to a son, the future Emperor Ōjin, and ruled for seventy years until her death. This legend is focused on a sea journey. In order to conquer the Korean peninsula, Jingū must cross the Sea of Japan, do battle and return via the same maritime route. This was more than a political affair: the kami were heavily involved, from suggesting the conquest in the first place, to securing her safe passage across the sea and, in many versions of the legend, ensuring her victory via supernatural control of the tides. In academic scholarship, however, Jingū’s relationship to the imperial family and its religious and political hegemony have generally taken precedence over her relationship with sea deities and maritime religiosity. The legend first appears in the eighth-century chronicles of myth and history, the Kojiki and the Nihon shoki.1 The story has since been adapted in various ways: in historical chronicles and imaginative interpretations of early Japanese history; in shrine temple origin narratives (jisha engi) and picture scrolls (emaki); and in several additional genres, including war tales (gunki monogatari), Noh plays, and court songs. In the Edo period, she appeared in various popular culture items, including woodblock prints, votive tablets, and hina matsuri dolls, and after the Meiji Restoration, she served the imperialist vision of modern Japan as a symbol of empire and conquest. Yet it is the shrine-temple origin narratives (jisha engi) which offer the most detailed explorations of her legend and character. Here, I consider three different versions of the legend as they appear in jisha engi: the relatively early Sumiyoshi taisha jindaiki, the late medieval Rokugō kaizan Ninmon daibosatsu hongi, and the fifteenth-century Kada Awashima jinja engi. These three texts represent three different religious cults: Sumiyoshi, Hachiman and Awashima, 65


The Sea and the Sacred in Japan

respectively, all of which have deep connections to maritime communities and their traditions. Accordingly, sea deities play a principal role in all three texts: Jingū not only acts at their behest and with their aid, but she is sexually linked to two deities, Sumiyoshi and Azumi no Isora. Sumiyoshi is a well-known deity, featured in the early chronicles and prominent in the Jingū legend from the beginning, while Azumi no Isora is a local deity of northern Kyushu. Yet despite their differences, the two sea deities become integrated into the metanarrative of imperial history by marrying the empress, a motif that occurs rarely in the various iterations of the Jingū legend. What purpose does such divine marriage serve in these three versions of Jingū’s story? A union between Jingū and the two sea deities provides prestige and precedent to relatively marginal cults. These texts all describe the sea as a dangerous place requiring a skilled navigator and divine help to cross. By showing that sea gods were critical actors in guiding the successful conquest, and by portraying the empress as consort of a divinity rather than as an imperial widow, these three engi emphasize the importance of maritime cults rather than the emperor system. Indeed, these engi suggest that maritime gods and the cults are an essential part of the imperial polity, just as they are integral to the empress’s successful conquest. Therefore, Jingū’s legend offers an ideal opportunity to emphasize the importance of these cults vis-à-vis the imperial house. Through skillful negotiation and partnership with these sea deities, Jingū provides a raison d’être for their existence and locates their usefulness precisely within their ability to provide needed services and guidance to a representative of the imperial line. In the process, Jingū becomes a deity herself through a combination of negotiation, incorporation into an already existent deity and miraculous occurrences. Thus, the trope of divine marriage serves three main purposes in these texts: to emphasize the danger and power of the sea and the resultant importance of sea deities; to stress the role of maritime cults within the Japanese archipelago; and to present Jingū as a vital part of the maritime tradition.

Secret Doings and Divination: Jingū in the Sumiyoshi taisha jindaiki The Sumiyoshi taisha jindaiki (hereafter, Jindaiki) is held to be an eighth-century text, making this a relatively early jisha engi, but some scholars have postulated that it was actually written as late as the tenth century. As the Jindaiki is not otherwise mentioned until 1230, when it appears in an entry of Meigetsuki, the diary of courtier Fujiwara no Teika, the date of the original text, held at Sumiyoshi Grand Shine and considered an important cultural treasure, is difficult to determine. However, it is clear that the Jindaiki borrows heavily from eighth-century chronicles, particularly the language and plot of the Nihon shoki.2 Such borrowing is evident in the lengthy Jingū narrative featured in the Jindaiki, but here, the deity Sumiyoshi plays a decidedly more prominent role. Like the Nihon shoki, the Jindaiki provides alternate versions of many events. For example, both texts provide two versions of the possession scene in which the gods advise Chūai to conquer the Korean peninsula instead of focusing on the unruly

Sea Deities in the Legends of Empress Jingū


Kumaso in Kyushu. In the second version in both texts, Sumiyoshi is among the deities possessing the empress. Chūai refuses to believe the assembled deities in their instructions on conquest, and the deities respond—and display their might—by cursing him and promising that the son Jingū carries will acquire the foreign land instead. After this, Chūai dies suddenly, and it is clear that his death results from his lack of obedience. Thus far, the Jindaiki is almost identical to the Nihon shoki in plot and uses similar wording. However, Chūai’s death signals an important point of divergence. The Jindaiki states that: “That night, the emperor fell ill and passed away. Then, the empress and the Great God had secret doings. (In other words, they exchanged the secret doings of husband and wife)” (Jindaiki A: 238, Jindaiki B: 21).3 These “secret doings,” as the text attempts to clarify, are a clandestine affair between Empress Jingū and the Great God (Sumiyoshi) soon after the death of the emperor, her husband. The story moves smoothly on, detailing the second possession trance in which Jingū seeks to learn which deities cursed her husband, what can be done to appease them, and how exactly to acquire the Korean peninsula. There is no elaboration on Sumiyoshi’s relationship with Jingū beyond this short line. The phrase “secret doings” is certainly suggestive, but did their sexual union actually make them husband and wife? Mishina Shōei saw the trope of divine marriage in this brief union between Jingū and Sumiyoshi. He suggests that, when the gods announce that Jingū is pregnant with a male child who will acquire the Korean kingdoms instead of Emperor Chūai, they are in fact announcing the moment of conception, which occurs during the trance. Indeed, Mishina considers Jingū’s pregnancy as “the result of spirit possession” (Mishina 1972: 70). Mishina further suggests that, since Sumiyoshi was among the possessing gods and that he is later identified as Jingū’s consort by such texts as the Jindaiki, the relationship between them is implied in the Kojiki and Nihon shoki as well (Mishina 1972: 73). Mishina’s interpretation is rather startling, suggesting that Sumiyoshi rather than Chūai is the father of Ōjin and, by extension, the rest of the imperial line. However, even if their sexual relationship is not implied in the court chronicles, the Jindaiki makes the connection between Jingū and Sumiyoshi explicit. Furthermore, its placement right after the spirit possession does seem to indicate that the bond between them was established during Jingū’s trance. To further complicate the matter, while Sumiyoshi attends Jingū’s second possession trance, he does not reappear in any significant way until after the successful conquest. Various sea deities aid Jingū by causing great winds and huge waves to bring her fleet as far as the middle of the peninsula, but none of them are named (Jindaiki B: 29). In a way, Sumiyoshi’s absence preserves Jingū’s triumph in conquest; though she had help from various kami, her new husband was either not among them, or did not overshadow her accomplishment. Sumiyoshi reappears next after Jingū has returned to Japan and given birth to the future Emperor Ōjin, news of which has traveled to his stepbrothers, who plan to rebel and take the throne. It is the great god Sumiyoshi who informs Jingū that Prince Oshikuma waits for her at Suminoe (present day Osaka), yet when Jingū and Sumiyoshi try to sail to Naniwa, they cannot pass. As in the court chronicles, various other gods


The Sea and the Sacred in Japan

instruct her that their “rough spirits” cannot pass and they must be enshrined according to their wishes. The empress dutifully commands the building of a shrine for Amaterasu at Hirota, for Wakahi no mikoto at Ikuta, and for Kotoshiro nushi at Nagata (Jindaiki B, 35). When Sumiyoshi requests a shrine at Nagaoka in Ōtsu, the empress goes a step further. After locating an ideal place, Jingū offers to serve in person as the shrine priestess. Sumiyoshi declines, saying that this must not be. Instead, he offers his continuous protection to the emperor, the realm, the provincial clans, and the people (Jindaiki B, 36). However, Jingū’s desire is not so easily dismissed. Though she acquiesces to forgoing the role of shrine priestess, the empress declares that “I will reside with the great god” and orders a shrine built. This place then became known as Suminoe, and Sumiyoshi does not object, only requesting new offerings. Finally, the empress’s fleet is able to cross to Naniwa (Jindaiki B, 37). In this episode, Jingū marks herself as a deity: she, like the gods, specifies her place of worship. Furthermore, Sumiyoshi, by mandating further offerings, makes it clear that he considers her a deity by implying that previous offerings to him alone would now be insufficient. Her fleet’s successful crossing after this exchange shows that the deity approves not only of her adherence to his requests, but also of her declaration. The Jindaiki narrative then returns to the Jingū legend as presented in the official chronicles, resulting in Prince Oshikuma’s defeat and the empress’ triumphal return to the capital. Little other deviation in the story remains. Yet the two main episodes discussing the relationship between Jingū and Sumiyoshi are quite telling. First, their initial union occurs immediately after the death of the emperor. Once her husband is out of the picture, Jingū and Sumiyoshi have a sort of secret marriage. It is decidedly advantageous for Jingū to have a powerful sea god as her new “husband.” For Sumiyoshi—the Sumiyoshi cult in particular—the timing of their “secret doings” betokens an almost proprietary claim on the empress and thus the power of the imperial throne. And yet, when Jingū offers herself as shrine priestess to Sumiyoshi, he does not accept her services, but rather recalls her to her duties as pregnant mother of the future emperor. Thus, it is Sumiyoshi who protects and maintains the integrity of the imperial line, promising to safeguard the emperor, the whole realm, local areas and their houses as well as ordinary people. This is a comprehensive list, and may reflect his devotion to the empress, but undoubtedly also to the Yamato court and the emperor system. Therefore, the story gives Sumiyoshi a key role in the preservation of the imperial line, its gods, and its control over the islands of Japan. While Sumiyoshi’s decision denies Jingū her desire to serve as priestess instead of empress, Jingū does not entirely accept the god’s will. Although she relinquishes her request to fill that office, she announces that she will reside with the god anyway and has a shrine built for that purpose. Perhaps this move is a shrewd calculation, allowing her to remain connected to the shrine complex while retaining her title as empress (and later, Grand Empress). Or, perhaps her actions demonstrate her affinity for maritime communities and their gods, particularly Sumiyoshi. More aptly, as the Jindaiki is the work of Sumiyoshi Grand Shrine, her professed choice certainly justifies why Jingū is enshrined alongside the three Sumiyoshi deities at this shrine and many others.4

Sea Deities in the Legends of Empress Jingū


Looking at the bigger picture, we can postulate why the Sumiyoshi cult may have been able to succeed with its appropriation of the empress’ figure. While this is certainly not a well-known version of the Jingū legend, it is a relatively early one, as shown by the degree to which it borrows from the Nihon shoki. In the eighth century, Sumiyoshi shrine priests played an important role in contemporary maritime trade; the Tsumori clan, which provided priests for the shrine, also helmed the ships that went to the continent for trade (Ueda 1988: 9). Kuratsuka Akiko even suggests that the inland sea route to the Korean peninsula came under the direct control of the imperial family through the Tsumori clan, who established a monopoly on the trade through new navigation techniques coming from the continent, and the fall of the competing Iwai clan after their failed 527 rebellion (Kuratsuka 1986: 85–90). Displaying the effi cacy of the Sumiyoshi cult in supervising safe sea passage, and emphasizing how giving offerings and building shrines were integral to safe crossing, clearly had political and economic implications. Indeed, any vessel bound for the continent stopped at what is now Sumiyoshi Grand Shrine in Settsu before setting out in order to request a safe journey and on return, giving thanks for the deity’s protection (Klein 2013: 407). In the Jindaiki, and indeed in the earlier chronicles as well, Jingū essentially negotiates a contract with the gods for safe passage, in a clear exchange of goods and services. Such negotiation plays a crucial role in Jingū and Sumiyoshi’s coupling, serving not only to establish their union but also to deify the empress. While there is no real dialogue surrounding their “secret doings” early on, the terms of the shrine completion and offerings are verbally negotiated, and while Sumiyoshi makes most of the demands, Jingū is not entirely powerless, and she achieves both the sea crossing she desires as well as quasi-divine status. By becoming a subsidiary deity of Sumiyoshi shrines, she is arguably all the more firmly wedded to this sea deity. Already in this text, the earliest of the three engi I discuss here, dialogue plays a key role in the process of bringing the empress into sexual partnership with a deity. This is worth keeping in mind, for dialogue also forms the nucleus of the divine union between Jingū and Azumi no Isora.

A Peripheral Deity Comes to the Fore: Azumi no Isora, the Empress, and Hachiman As the motif of divine union between Jingū and a sea god is relatively uncommon, I move forward several centuries for the next text, the Rokugō kaizan Ninmon daibosatsu hongi (hereafter, Rokugō hongi). By the Muromachi period (1336–1573), the Jingū legend had appeared in several chronologies of the imperial line as well as jisha engi of the Hachiman cult. The identification of Emperor Ōjin as an incarnation of Hachiman seems to emerge as early as the eighth century—it appears in the Jindaiki, possibly the earliest extant reference (Jindaiki B, 28)—and allowed for Jingū’s story to become an important part of the Hachiman hagiography. In the Rokugō hongi, the Jingū narrative contains a courtship conversation between Jingū, her son as Hachiman, and the sea deity Azumi no Isora. Azumi no Isora seems to emerge as a deity in the Muromachi period. The name Isora, as well as his connection to the sea, has earlier origins, appearing in the late


The Sea and the Sacred in Japan

Heian period (794–1183) Kagura uta, a collection of songs used in kagura (sacred dance), where Isora fishes for bream with young diver women (Kagura uta: 56–57). In addition to jisha engi of the Hachiman cult, he appears in the travel diary Kyūshūdō no ki and the war tale Taiheiki as Atobe no Isora (Akima 1993: 106–107). According to the Shinto scholar Mayumi Tsunetada, Isora is synonymous with the three Watatsumi deities—Sokotsu Watatsumi, Nakatsu Watatsumi, and Uwatsu Watatsumi—originally depicted in the Kojiki and the Nihon shoki. These tutelary gods (ujigami) of the Azumi clan morphed into the singular Isora in the late medieval period. Mayumi suggests that the reason for this shift may lie in the struggles between the Azumi and other clans, which lost them power in the capital and caused the clan to reinvent its origins by recasting their three tutelary gods as a single, dynamic figure who had a role in the Jingū narrative (Mayumi 2003: 157–158). As a singular male sea deity of the Azumi clan, Isora becomes particularly crucial in the Rokugō hongi. The Rokugō hongi came out of the Rokugō cultic center, situated in the volcanic Kunisaki Peninsula in northern Kyushu. A center of mountain asceticism, it is located to the east of Usa, where the Hachiman cult was originally centered (Grapard 1986: 22–23). While the Hachiman cult was certainly present throughout Japan by the Kamakura Period (1185–1333), worship of Hachiman also increased after the Mongol Invasions of 1274 and 1281, as Hachiman was often credited for creating the typhoons which repulsed the Mongol fleet and inspiring the valor of the Japanese warriors (Conlan 2001: 271–272). In addition, Hachiman as a deity has a long history of syncretism, being among the earliest kami to be identified as a bodhisattva. In the Rokugō hongi, Hachiman is actually called Nimmon bodhisattva in his later incarnations. However, his earliest appearance occurs in the Jingū narrative, which takes a somewhat different form from the story in the Jindaiki. The Rokugō hongi begins with a short divine history of Yamato. Then, the text states that under the reign of Emperor Chūai, an oracle revealed a land of abundance to the emperor, who began his journey there but passed away while en route. Then, Jingū takes center stage by declaring her will to carry on the campaign for the Korean peninsula with divine help. She declares: “Sankan [the three Korean kingdoms] is a rich land bequeathed to the late emperor by the divinities, but it is an enemy to us. Woman though I be, I shall rally the divinities of Heaven and Earth and subjugate the land.” Her minister, Takeuchi no sukune, replies with caution. “Since that land is far away and since half the year has already passed, a time when the seas are difficult to fathom, we must decide without delay on the time and place by divination, and then embark” (Rokugō hongi: 306; Grapard 1986: 27–28). Takeuchi’s response, while affirming the empress’s resolve, alludes to the volatility of the sea and the need for divine assistance. Takeuchi therein reveals the importance of sea deities as the only forces that could pacify the volatile sea. Accordingly, an imperial residence was built at Toyoura, where deities of both Heaven and Earth assembled and declared their support for the mission and indicated where preparations should begin. After the Bureau of Worship divines a day and direction for their council of war, the empress prepares by donning armor, radiating her beauty, and departing accompanied by courtiers, ladies, sentries and an army that “teemed about her like swirling clouds.” This grand entrance to the new residence culminates in a meeting with the myriad

Sea Deities in the Legends of Empress Jingū


deities, who “were received in audience by the empress” (Rokugō hongi: 307; Grapard 1986: 28). This is a very different relationship with the deities than we see earlier in the chronicles and the Jindaiki, where the empress is at the mercy of the deities’ various demands. As such, it sets the stage for a more equal exchange with the deities while simultaneously treating the radiant Jingū as a semi-divine being. It is not surprising that a sea deity takes the lead in this meeting, and that deity is Sumiyoshi, “skilled in strategy” (Rokugō hongi: 307; Grapard 1986: 28). Jingū assigns Sumiyoshi the role of strategist for the expedition, which makes him a crucial advisor, though not her lover. Sumiyoshi’s plan involves sending a divination specialist to the Dragon King’s undersea palace in order to borrow the two tide-controlling jewels that will ensure the subjugation of the foreign land without bloodshed. Sumiyoshi also decides that their guide to navigating the rough seas will be the wise deity Azumi no Isora. The empress approves this plan and sends a request to Isora, but he does not come (Rokugō hongi: 307; Grapard 1986: 29). When Isora fails to answer Jingū’s summons, the council of deities provide suggestions for luring him out. One deity declares that Isora has left the human realm and cannot be easily found. Another offers the explanation that Isora is in sorrow, sleeping on a bed in the sea where barnacles cover his face. Ashamed of his unsightly appearance, Isora will not venture forth. Yet another deity suggests that Isora enjoys music and may be lured to Toyoura through a decorative display of dragon and phoenix barges, a dancing platform, and attractive dancing girls. Jingū approves this suggestion and orders preparations to begin (Rokugō hongi: 307; Grapard 1986: 29). This exchange resembles a planning meeting rather than an august audience with deities, but it tells us much about Isora: he is solitary, sad and ugly, but also wise and fond of music. Though the empress does not comment or make suggestions herself, her approval sets the preparations for Isora’s welcome in motion. However, an even more important conversation follows Isora’s eventual arrival. Moved by the spectacle put on for his benefit, Isora not only appears but joins in the dancing in spite of his barnacled face. It is then that the request for his aid is finally delivered, and the following conversation ensues: Isora: A desire is growing without me as I look upon your countenance and admire your graceful deportment. If you fulfill my desire, I will borrow and present to you the two pearls that control the tides. Jingū: What is your desire? Isora: I have conceived thoughts of love for you and harbor a desire that you grant me your affection. Jingū: Your desire would be a simple matter to fulfill, but in my womb I shelter an imperial prince. I dread to perform what is both an encumbrance and a pollution. At that moment the imperial prince within her womb spoke forth, declaring: “The conquest of the enemy land is for the sake of the late emperor, and subjugating that land will bring honor to my reign. Grant him his desire, for it causes me no discomfort. This is not a personal affair; it is for the good of my reign” (Rokugō hongi: 307–308; Grapard 1986: 30).


The Sea and the Sacred in Japan

Here, between Isora and Jingū, we have precisely the courtship conversation that we lack in the Jindaiki. It is Isora who initiates, in spite of his initial reluctance to attend. Jingū remarks that it would be “a simple matter” to accept his proposition, but for her pregnancy with an imperial heir and the ritual pollution of the act. The intervention of the deity Hachiman, as the future Emperor Ōjin, seals the deal by granting Jingū permission because it will benefit his reign and add to his territory. Ōjin/Hachiman takes the decision away from Jingū and insists on the higher purpose—the good of the realm—in this union. In so doing, he emphasizes the ultimate authority of the imperial house, but also that Isora, as navigator and sea deity, is essential to the accomplishment of Jingū’s mission. The necessity of Isora’s aid overrides the sanctity of the imperial womb, and Jingū’s second marriage is therefore sanctioned. Thus, we see the mutually beneficial business arrangement of this union: in return for Isora’s help, Jingū agrees to be his consort. In essence, the text suggests that imperial house cannot proceed without the assistance of a sea deity. The importance of Azumi no Isora as navigator is not limited to the Rokugō hongi, but also occurs in the Hachiman gudōkun (hereafter, Gudōkun), from which the Rokugō hongi seems to have borrowed heavily. The Kō version of the Gudōkun, in which the main Jingū narrative can be found, was composed around 1310–1318, at Iwashimizu Hachimangū in Yawata, Kyoto. As in the Rokugō hongi, Sumiyoshi serves as Jingū’s commander-in-chief and suggests that Isora be summoned; Isora comes late, but agrees to serve as navigator. But nowhere does the text suggest that Isora and Jingū have any more intimate relationship. Rather, the emphasis is on Jingū’s bold demands for divine support and the subsequent actions of the gods she enlists. For instance, in the Gudōkun, while Jingū is in the throes of grief at her husband’s death, Amaterasu possesses her and warns that the Korean kingdoms are coming to conquer Japan, manifesting several omens to prove her counsel. Sumiyoshi also arrives to convince Jingū to attack the Korean peninsula, and though he appears in shining guise and then moves to depart, the empress holds him off with polite but steely words: Sumiyoshi said, “Farewell; I take my leave,” and intended to rise to heaven. The Empress spoke, “How can you abandon us? Rather, lend us your aid!” When the empress courteously spoke thus, Sumiyoshi too thought it difficult to forsake [them], and finally decided to stay (Gudōkun (kō): 173. Author’s translation).

Here, the empress cajoles Sumiyoshi into staying and helping her prepare the fleet. Though not officially installed as her advisor, Sumiyoshi assumes the role of strategist nonetheless, building the fleet and suggesting both a visit to the Dragon King and requesting the help of Isora, as the deity does in the Rokugō hongi. Sumiyoshi’s position as commanding general is therefore essentially unchanged in these medieval texts, but does differ from his portrayal in the Jindaiki. The deity’s direct involvement in the military aspect of Jingū’s conquest in medieval engi reflects a renewed focus on Sumiyoshi as a war deity from the twelfth century onward, as documented in multiple texts citing his appearance and aid during the Genpei War (Klein 2013: 409–414).

Sea Deities in the Legends of Empress Jingū


In the case of Azumi no Isora, his actions in the Gudōkun are much the same as in the Rokugō hongi with the exception of his dalliance with Jingū. As in the Rokugō hongi, Isora does not come when summoned and must be coaxed by his love of entertainment. In the Gudōkun, Sumiyoshi organizes a performance of kagura by several sea gods: Suwa, Atsuta, Mishima and Kōra Daimyōjin play various instruments, and many other deities, like Hōman bodhisattva, dance as the eight maidens. As Isora hears their music from beneath the sea, he says: “Since this mikagura is for me to see, how could I not go? Intending to go, I said I would come within three days, and now I fear I come late. However, how can I not go? Even to play one entertaining dance, I will go.” So saying, he put on white robes and travel garb. He declared, “I go to answer the imperial order. Is there someone in the sea who will take me to the empress?” (Gudōkun (kō): 174. Author’s translation).

There is indeed a willing transport: a fast turtle (haya-game) sent by the Dragon King, who clearly knows already of the empress’s pending request. As in the Rokugō hongi, Isora arrives after performative enticement, but here, he both laments his tardiness and refers to the empress’s entreaty as an imperial order. In the Gudōkun, Isora also joins the kagura, unable to help himself and forgetting his barnacled face. As requested, he serves as helmsman for the sea journey, but there is no mention of engaging the empress in sexual relations (Gudōkun (kō): 173–174). It is worth considering why two medieval texts take divergent approaches to the same story. We know that the Gudōkun was written only a few decades after the Mongol Invasions, when the idea of a foreign aggressor crossing the sea was a real event. In that context, turning the conquest of the Korean peninsula into a preemptive strike made complete sense and no doubt struck a chord with the audience. Yet Yahata, where Iwashimizu Hachimangū is located, is in inland Kansai, whereas the Kunisaki peninsula is in Kyushu, far closer to where the Mongol fleet actually landed and did battle (Conlan 2001: 261–267). However, we do not know precisely when the Rokugō text was written. Allan Grapard has noted that, despite evident Edo period additions, its similarities to other late medieval texts such as the Gudōkun suggest that the text was written in the Muromachi period (Grapard 1986: 21). If the Rokugō hongi was written in the late Muromachi or even the Sengoku period, its temporal distance from the Mongol Invasions far outstrips that of the Gudōkun. Nevertheless, both texts share a deep concern for the possibilities and perils of sea travel. The advice of Sumiyoshi, the need for a navigator like Azumi no Isora, the request for tide-controlling jewels from the Dragon King—these elements all point to how dangerous the sea was, both as an avenue for transportation and, in the case of these jewels, as a weapon. The eventual use of the jewels allows Jingū to arrive in what the texts describe as the center of the kingdom of Silla, and in the Gudōkun, the use of the tide-receding jewel followed by the tide-granting jewel is what annihilates the foreign forces (Gudōkun: 175–178). Indeed, in most versions of the Jingū narrative, the deities mandate the overseas conquest, provide aid and various tools for its accomplishment, and allow for the fleet’s safe return to Japan.


The Sea and the Sacred in Japan

However, the difference between Isora as navigator only in the Gudōkun and Isora as both navigator and sexual partner in the Rokugō hongi is significant, and tells us much about how peripheral elements may come to the fore in a legend like this. In the Gudōkun, Jingū receives Isora’s aid in securing the tide jewels and navigating the volatile seas without any sexual compensation. The shrine-temple complex which authored the Gudōkun, Iwashimizu Hachimangū, is near Kyoto and was deeply connected to the imperial family. Particularly due to such connections, Iwashimizu would have had no desire to connect Jingū sexually with anyone other than the emperor to whom she was consort. In contrast, in the Rokugō hongi, Azumi no Isora successfully initiates a sexual relationship with the empress, and the Azumi cult who worshipped him thus claimed a connection to the reigning sovereign of Japan. This is a significant assertion for peripheral deity and clan, although the Azumi were certainly powerful; long an important force in northern Kyushu and within the Sumiyoshi cult, the Azumi even claimed Sumiyoshi as their ancestor, as stated in the Nihon shoki (Aston 1972: 27). Furthermore, the priest of Sumiyoshi Shrine was often an Azumi (Tyler 2009: 143). Yet Rokugō’s Kunisaki, though an important cultic center, is also relatively peripheral, both in relation to Hachiman cult in Kyushu as well as medieval Japan more broadly. Isora’s sexual link with the empress in the Rokugō hongi amplified the importance of this locality. Beyond Rokugō itself, the sexual relationship between the sea deity and the seacrossing empress in the Rokugō hongi also emphasizes the mutually dependent relationship of maritime cults and the imperial polity. Just as Jingū requires an alliance with Isora in order to cross the sea and acquire the two tide-controlling jewels, the imperial house, and later the shogunate, required the expertise of maritime communities in order to secure trade with and defend Japan from the continent. Hachiman’s approval of the match between Jingū and Isora further solidifies the connection in the Rokugō hongi. Not only does such a partnership elevate the status of the sea deity, but it also shows Jingū as a clear representative and leader of the imperial family, in a narrative where she deliberates with the gods on an almost equal footing and secures the help of Isora through marital ties.

Women’s Trouble and a Troubled Union: Jingū in the Awashima Cult Now, I turn to Jingū’s role in a shrine complex and related cult that have little to do with Isora or Hachiman. Furthermore, I move from narratives of divine intercourse to a murkier connection between Jingū and important sea deities. Although the Awashima cult postulates a relationship between the empress and Sumiyoshi, the story centers on breakage rather than union: ailments from pregnancy, failure to conceive, and divorce. Jingū’s role, too, is hard to discern, as she is conflated with Awashima-sama, who is connected with Sumiyoshi in various ways. Although the fourteenth-century Kada Awashima jinja engi (hereafter, Awashima engi) was written in the Muromachi period, like the Rokugō hongi, the text highlights women’s concerns such as marriage and childbirth rather than the conquest story we see in the Sumiyoshi (Jindaiki) and Hachiman (Rokugō hongi) cults.

Sea Deities in the Legends of Empress Jingū


The Kada Awashima Shrine in Wakayama is the birthplace of the Awashima cult, which features a number of religious sites, including Sensōji in Tokyo. A Kada Shrine appears in the Engishiki, suggesting that the religious site has existed since the tenth century (Engishiki: 418). Though originally a cultic site for fishing and seafaring, in 1474 a Buddhist temple was constructed on site, making Kada into a combinatory cultic center devoted to the worship of Awashima Myōjin (Rambelli 2007: 226–229). Yet this complex deity has several divine facets, as discussed in the Awashima engi. The text begins by noting that the deity listed in the local registers was Ama no gun Awashima ōkami, suggesting the continued importance of fishing and seafaring in local life. Then, the text states that: “The truth of this is that Sukunabikona no mikoto and Ōnamuchi-no-mikoto are worshipped as the same god, and so too is Empress Jingū integrated and worshipped” (Awashima engi: 1021). Here, we clearly have a composite deity united under the name of Awashima, but the particular deities that comprise this divinity are rather diverse. The god Sukunabikona, for instance, is often identified with Sumiyoshi, a composite deity himself. Ōnamuchi is the kami Ōkuninushi, and though Ōkuninushi is primarily affiliated with Izumo, a far distance from Wakayama and Jingū’s conquest route, Izumo does border the Sea of Japan. Empress Jingū appears last in the list and was probably the last to be incorporated; the language of the phrase above seems to indicate that Jingū merged with the divinity after Sukunabikona and Ōkuninushi. However, she is certainly worshipped as a subsidiary deity here, and as such, her story forms an important component of the Kada Awashima shrine origin story. The Jingū narrative first appears in the Awashima engi in terms of how the area got its name, Kada. According to one explanation, Jingū gave birth in Kata/Kada ( ) on Tsukushi in Kyushu, and when she later landed on Awashima, she renamed it Kada (Awashima engi: 1022). Regarding the Jingū legend itself, the engi begins the story by noting that Jingū, together with Emperor Chūai, put down a rebellion in Tsukushi. This is a topic the Nihon shoki does discuss (Nihon shoki: 406–409; Aston 1972: 219– 221),5 but is often left out of later versions of the legend. Then the Awashima engi alludes to how the empress conquers the Korean kingdoms while pregnant, returns to give birth at the aforementioned Kada in Tsukushi—thus corroborating that naming story—and quashes the rebellion of Prince Oshikuma, providing the bare outline of the story without further elaboration (Awashima engi: 1023). The text then describes how Jingū entrusted her infant son to her minister Takeuchi and attempted to cross to Naniwa, but was prevented from traversing the sea by sudden waves and winds, which rocked her boat dangerously. The empress then took rushes, threw them in the water and prayed for the help of the gods, after which her boat was able to row to the island of Tomogashima, also called Tomagashima in honor of the rushes she used. Jingū thanked the two gods who helped her, Sukunabikona and Ōnamuchi, by building shrines and filling them with treasures from the Korean peninsula. In return, she was included in the Awashima composite divinity (Awashima engi: 1023). This crossing of Naniwa recalls themes we have seen in the two previous texts. The sudden waves and winds emphasize the treacherous nature of the sea, as Takeuchi indicates in the Rokugō hongi. After her successful landing, Jingū enshrines the helpful


The Sea and the Sacred in Japan

sea gods according to their wishes, also described in the Jindaiki at the same moment of the story. Like the Jindaiki, Jingū’s proper enshrinement of the deities leads to her inclusion among them, with a businesslike exchange of goods and services. Nevertheless, here we have no discernible sexual relationship between Jingū and the deity she becomes part of, as we do in the Jindaiki. A divine union appears unnecessary for Jingū to become a deity. However, the Awashima engi does provide a clear link between Jingū and Sukunabikona (Sumiyoshi) that concerns her pregnancy, if not a sexual relationship. After describing how Jingū is a protector kami of both military fortune (buun) and of healthy pregnancy and childbirth for women (antai heisan), the text elaborates on the well-known Awashima tradition of hina nagashi, the ritual disposal of dolls. Here, Jingū specifically invokes the aid of Sukunabikona: When Sukunabikona’s august form appeared very small before the empress, in order to worship him, she made a small replica of his form and placed it in a shrine. This was later on thought to be the beginning of hina asobi, and [people] use Awashima hina and kokome-hina as protective amulets (Awashima engi: 1024).

This quote points to the origin of hina nagashi, but also to Sukunabikona’s aid in keeping the body whole and healthy, especially during pregnancy. Directly after this passage, the text discusses how Jingū wore an obi belt during pregnancy to hold up her womb, which then became standard practice (Awashima engi: 1024). Clearly, the Awashima engi credits Jingū with the origination of a number of important women’s customs as well as rituals of the shrine itself. Jingū’s importance, therefore, cannot be understated, but what about the gods who help her and their relationship to Jingū? So far, we see no indication that Jingū is in any way intimately connected to Sukunabikona. But if we look beyond the Awashima engi to later Edo traditions of the Awashima cult, we encounter Awashima-sama as a female deity and the wife of Sumiyoshi. In one version, Sumiyoshi abandons Awashima due to her illness and she floated along the sea until reaching Kada, where she lands and starts to make hina dolls. In another, Awashima is identified with Harisainyo, wife of the wrathful god Gozu Tennō. In addition, she is considered the wife of Sumiyoshi, who divorces her because of her woman’s illness (Rambelli 2007: 229). Both legends identify a female deity married to Sumiyoshi, rejected due to women’s health problems, who makes hina dolls. Given Sukunabikona’s connection to healing, it seems contradictory that Sumiyoshi would cast out his ill wife and, in another guise, remove her illness. Where does Awashima-sama come from, and what are her connections to Jingū? Some themes certainly resonate between the two deified women; separated from their husbands, by death or abandonment; pregnant or ill with a woman’s condition, which may very well be related to pregnancy; a sea journey; hina nagashi, a woman’s craft and healing practice. Thus we have two goddess figures with women’s health issues associated with this particular shrine, and their connection to women’s reproductive health is no accident, as the Kada Awashima Shrine and the Awashima cult became known for healing women’s illnesses and granting requests for conception and safe childbirth in the Edo Period (1600–1868). The religious practices and festivals for

Sea Deities in the Legends of Empress Jingū


which the cult is best known—hari kuyō, memorial rites for broken and discarded needles, and hina nagashi, the ritual disposal of dolls—are centered upon women’s arts and tools, suggesting that the proper ritual treatment of these material items was connected to women’s healing (Rambelli 2007: 229–231; Kretschmer 2000: 390–391). The incorporation of Jingū’s legend into the origin story of the Kada Awashima Shrine and its practices suggests a strong attraction to the particular motifs of her legend as well as Jingū’s pre-existing links to the other deities which comprised Awashima Myōjin’s divinity. The fact that Jingū also had a divine union with Sumiyoshi, according to the Jindaiki, makes it easier still to see Awashima and Jingū as the same figure. Nonetheless, the nebulous quality of this particular interaction between Jingū and a deity suggests a very different relationship than the previous “marriages” between Jingū and Sumiyoshi or Isora. There is no discussion of the parameters of their relationship; from the Awashima engi, we can barely tell that a relationship exists at all beyond the interaction between deity and supplicant, arguably present in all versions of Jingū’s story. In this case, Jingū’s inclusion as part of Awashima-sama provides stimulus for discussing the difficulties of marriage and childbirth rather than divine marriage itself. However, the Awashima engi also implies that Jingū suffered during her pregnancy, an interpretation we do not find in earlier texts. With a growing emphasis on healing women’s illnesses via ritual purification of women’s tools, the Awashima cult had need of a prominent pregnant figure as the origin of these practices, and Jingū certainly fit the bill. It is worth noting that until the Meireki Era (1650s), the religious specialists at Awashima Shrine were women, with clear matrilineal succession from mother to daughter (Rambelli 2007: 231). The use of Awashima-sama’s marriage in legends from the later Edo period may reflect further development of the healing story, or the shift toward male religious specialists by introducing a motif of abandonment by husband that does not quite match the Jingū story. Nevertheless, the emphasis stays on the women: Jingū as both warrior and pregnant mother, and Awashima as abandoned and unwell, but active in the healing process. The sea, too, remains a threatening force; a treacherous mode of transport, requiring thanksgiving, enshrinement and other ritual acts when successfully arriving ashore.

Conclusion The Jindaiki (Sumiyoshi), Rokugō hongi (Hachiman) and Awashima engi (Awashima) represent three different cults and offer three different ways to consider Jingū as coupled with a sea deity. In the Jindaiki, Jingū has “secret doings” with Sumiyoshi, but demands to be part of his shrine network and therefore becomes incorporated into the Sumiyoshi divinity. In the Rokugō hongi, Jingū asks for aid the peripheral yet navigationsavvy Azumi no Isora and receives it in exchange for a sexual relationship. In the Awashima engi, Jingū is not exactly the companion of any deity, but clearly considered part of the Awashima divinity, and later adaptations of the legend point to a broken union between this female entity and Sumiyoshi. Thus, we have different deities involved in the Jingū legend as consorts of the empress, as well as differing levels of connection between Jingū and these deities.


The Sea and the Sacred in Japan

We could consider these texts as illustrative of their times. The Jindaiki was written not long after the Nihon shoki and borrows from it liberally, adding the connection between Sumiyoshi and Jingū as a way to harness the increasing power of the imperial institution for the Sumiyoshi cult. The Rokugō hongi, written in late medieval Japan, reflects new developments in the relationship between the center and periphery as well as empress and deity. The Awashima engi brings familial considerations into focus, highlighting the reality of Jingū’s pregnancy as representing a range of women’s health issues at a time when giving birth to healthy children was increasingly ritualized (Hardacre 1997: 22–28). Even so, the locality and nature of these diverse cults is perhaps of greater importance in considering their adoption of the Jingū legend: creating ties between Jingū and a specific sea deity brought prestige to the cult in question, but in the case of Awashima, motifs of pregnancy and healing were more prominent than any particular form of coupledom, which remains vague as best. In this fashion, we can see far more parallels between the Jindaiki and the Rokugō hongi, even though the Awashima engi is temporally closer to the latter. In the Jindaiki and Rokugō hongi narratives, Jingū is unequivocally partnered with a sea god, Sumiyoshi and Isora respectively. Marriage with Jingū as a facet or at least inspiration for Awashima-sama comes later and seems to serve an almost opposite role, showing how a marriage can be dissolved when a woman falls ill and fails to provide an heir, which in turn reveals the darker side of the increasingly important household system and family unit, the ie: women who were not mothers had little place (Wakita 2006: 48). Beyond the relationship between Jingū and the deities, we see that Jingū becomes a deity herself in each of these narratives, whether enshrined alongside Sumiyoshi in the Jindaiki, part of the Hachiman triad in the Rokugō hongi, and amalgamated into the complex Awashima deity. Yet, as a deity, she eludes easy categorization. As an imperial ancestor, she is certainly a tutelary god (ujigami) of the highest clan in the land. Clearly she fits into the category of hitogami, a kami upgraded from the human state, and these texts partially illuminate the process by which an individual human achieves divine status. In this light, she is not just incorporated into an already existing divinity, but acquires that status through her efforts on behalf of these deities, as well as through negotiation and her own ingenuity. Perhaps Jingū is also a sea deity. There is no question that she is associated with many sea deities, from Sumiyoshi and Azumi no Isora to the Munakata deities and the Dragon King. But does she actually become one herself? Rather, I suggest that with her connections to the imperial family, already sited in an inland capital, Jingū serves as a link between the sea deities and the imperial system, alternately emphasizing the importance of maritime traditions and knowledge, and sometimes preserving the dominance of the land and agricultural concerns. This function, as link and legitimator, is undoubtedly a major reason behind the continued reinvention of Jingū’s legend.


Frogs Looking Beyond a Pond Shinra Myōjin in the “East Asian Mediterranean” Network Sujung Kim

We inhabit a small portion of the earth . . . living round the sea like ants and frogs around a pond. Plato, Phaedo, 109b

From Well to Sea Previous studies on the circulation of Buddhist ideas and practices have mostly focused on exchanges through overland routes, circumscribed by land-centric vision. When it comes to the study of Japanese Buddhism, the same view has been dominant in the field, just as the frog in Plato’s allegory. One of the greatest challenges to altering our epistemic perspective from the land to the sea has been previous scholarship’s bias of seeing the sea as a barrier. However, as Fernand Braudel has already demonstrated, if we look at the sea as a contact zone, nodal points along various maritime routes and coastlines begin to emerge as new intercultural spheres, allowing us to uncover neglected histories of the networks connected by the sea (Braudel 1972–1973). More relevant to our discussion, the Japanese historian Amino Yoshihiko is one of the pioneers who indicated significant ways to shift our vision from the perspective of the land to that of the sea (Amino 1991). Amino problematizes the scholarly notion that Japan was cut off by the sea from the Asian mainland and the rest of the world, and was thus able to create a “unique Japanese culture.” Conversely, he argues that it was the sea that functioned as a conduit that linked people, urging us to change our perspective from a static to a dynamic view of medieval Japanese religion. Such a sea-based perspective opens up new ways to understand other, lesser-known aspects of Japanese religions. This approach helps us to depart from the linear narrative that traces religious transmissions from the continent to the Japanese archipelago. Furthermore, in this fluid and organic view, lakes and rivers can be linked to the sea as well, which allows us to see how these bodies of water are interconnected. 79


The Sea and the Sacred in Japan

The “East Asian Mediterranean” framework that I utilize in this chapter provides a critical framework for a more nuanced understanding of trans-cultural relations in which different players and factors participated in the East Asian arena. According to Braudel, the term “Mediterranean” refers to a larger geographic region that is connected by sea, thus emphasizing the connecting rather than separating function of large bodies of water. While the East Asian Mediterranean can refer to actual geographical areas, which include the Yellow Sea, Sea of Japan (East Sea), East China Sea, as well as the coastal areas connected by all these seas (Schottenhammer 2005:2; 2006:6), the East Asian Mediterranean network model is a conceptual framework to envision the networks of cultural exchanges in East Asia. I take this concept not as an attempt to create another geo-political zone or to claim that the European Mediterranean and the world of maritime East Asia shared anything in common. Rather, I use it as a way to see the maritime connections among the major players of the East Asian seas. In this way the East Asian Mediterranean network challenges us to go beyond our modern concept of national boundaries, but also enables us to arrive at a new understanding, namely, that the world of premodern Japanese religions was a far more dynamic, connected space than is often assumed. Among all the transcultural religious phenomena shared in the East Asian seas, this chapter presents the case of Shinra Myōjin, literally “the deity of Silla,” the paramount protector of Onjōji, the headquarters of the Tendai Jimon school. This deity gained wide popularity and prominent status in Japanese Buddhism during the medieval period (c. tenth to sixteenth centuries). This chapter focuses on the historical, geographical, and mythological background of Shinra Myōjin, the embodiment of a cultural vector in the perilous seas between China, Korea, and Japan. By examining the network of Silla immigrants and that of Silla shrines and temples created along the East Asian Mediterranean, I argue that these networks were responsible for the emergence of Shinra Myōjin.

The Network of Silla Immigrants: Connecting Japanese Lake to Chinese Coast Shinra Myōjin is a non-canonical deity whose origins remain unknown. The deity does not figure in any Korean literary works, but only appears in Japanese sources, mostly Tendai Buddhist literature, starting from the late Heian period (794–1185). In spite of its seemingly peripheral nature, Shinra Myōjin played a central role in the formation and the ongoing legitimization process of the Tendai Jimon school during the medieval period. In my explanation of its historical and social background, I focus on two types of networks that were responsible for the rise of Shinra Myōjin worship: the network of Korean immigrants, and the network of Silla shrines and temples throughout the East Asian Mediterranean. From the late fourth century to the late seventh century, a large influx of immigrant groups from the Korean peninsula settled in various areas of Japan.1 Ōmi Province had been known as one of the biggest immigrant strongholds, where Lake Biwa and Mt. Hiei—the headquarters of Tendai Buddhism—are located (Ōhashi and Ogasawara

Shinra Myōjin in the “East Asian Mediterranean” Network


2005: ix). Historical records and countless archeological findings are evidence that a massive number of Korean immigrants settled in Ōmi. The examples of the Sillanamed shrines and temples around Lake Biwa also suggest a strong immigrant culture in Ōmi (Dewa 2004: 178–194). The court’s decision to build a new imperial palace in Ōmi province was closely related to the strong presence of Korean immigrants in the region. After Emperor Tenji (r. 661–672) ascended to the throne, he established a residence in the port city of Ōtsu. Several theories have been suggested to explain why Tenji chose that location. According to research based on archeological surveys of the original site of Sūfukuji temple, the precursor of Onjōji, immigrants were the primary force behind the decision to construct the imperial residence there (Mizuno 1969b: 77–92). The evidence of a Korean-style fortress around the Ōtsu palace further supports the claim that the area was heavily populated with Korean immigrants and that their fortress-building technology, in particular, helped in the construction of the defense system for a new capital in Ōmi. There are other vestiges of immigrant culture along Lake Biwa in Ōmi. Ōtsu, where Onjōji is located, has been an important port since ancient times. As a major crossroads located in the vicinity of the Yamato region, it drew immigrants who brought along advanced continental culture and technologies as they formed villages along the lake. In the late Heian period, Ōtsu was not only an important trading post linking manors (Jp. shōen) in central and eastern Japan with the capital area, but also the administrative and mercantile nexus for the neighboring temple complexes of Enryakuji and Onjōji. Merchants, traders, and artisans lived side by side with monks and administrators, who found it more convenient to perform their duties from their residences in this port city (Adolphson 2000: 88–89). A study of the network of Silla shrines and temples allows us to see how it led to the emergence of Shinra Myōjin during the medieval period. Since the fifth century, shrines and temples whose name contains “Silla” began to emerge in Japan (Dewa 2004: 7). According to Dewa Hiroaki’s field research, there are numerous Silla shrines and temples throughout Japan, and they can be classified into two types: (1) Silla immigrant clan shrines, and (2) those shrines associated with Onjōji’s Shinra Myōjin shrine (Dewa 2004: 4). The former indicates that the name “Silla” stems from its connection with the Silla immigrants, which constituted an older layer of the network, whereas the latter suggests that a more organized form of the cult around Shinra Myōjin helped create another vibrant layer of the Shinra shrine network. Among the numerous Shinra shrines and temples, those located around Lake Biwa deserve our special attention. For instance, the coastal area of Fukui Prefecture, the region located to the north of Lake Biwa, has several shrines and toponyms that contain the Chinese characters for Silla . Due to its geographical proximity to the Korean peninsula, the area developed as a hub for international trade. Tsuruga in Echizen Province, for instance, was a major seaport that connected Silla and Parhae (Jp. Bokkai, 698–926 CE ) with Japan, and thrived from the tenth to the thirteenth centuries. As an initial maritime contact point where continental people and ideas arrived, Echizen region played a crucial role in the Silla immigrants’ network.


The Sea and the Sacred in Japan

Ennin’s Trip to China and the Political Climate of the East Asian Mediterranean In this section, I turn to the community of Silla immigrants on the other side of the East Asian Mediterranean, namely in the Shandong peninsula in China. Ennin (794– 864), the Japanese Tendai master, recorded his firsthand experiences during his trip to Tang China from 838 to 847 in his travel diary entitled Nittō guhō junrei gyōki (Record of a Pilgrimage to Tang China in Search for the Dharma). According to the diary, Silla immigrants were present in large numbers along the eastern coast of China, whose communities were mostly created after the Silla–Tang alliance defeated the Korean kingdoms of Koguryŏ and Paekche and unified the peninsula in 668.2 As attested in Ennin’s record, these immigrants were involved in the international trade that triangularly connected China, Korea and Japan.3 The eighth century was the most intense in the history of international relations between Silla and Japan. Due to diplomatic disputes and the increasing tension after Silla’s unification, the exchange of official envoys between the two countries was discontinued in 779, whereas the Japanese envoys to Tang China continued until 839. Although there was no official diplomatic channel between Japan and Korea, occasionally the two had to collaborate.4 The cessation of diplomatic relations between Silla and Japan led some Silla merchants to settle in China for the pursuit of political autonomy and economic opportunities. The worsening of official diplomatic relations, however, ironically promoted trade in the private sector and worked in favor of Silla merchants in China who engaged in an individualized international trade business, instead of the previously practiced tributary trade system.5 In this period of diplomatic rupture, Japanese Buddhist monks were not constrained by the lack of official relations. Buddhist monks were relatively free to travel, and Buddhist ritual implements were also circulated. Buddhist objects such as copper bowls and lacquered wooden dishes from Silla were particularly appreciated in Japan, as we can see, among others, from a text composed by the Korean Buddhist monk Eun (768–869), entitled Anshōji garan engi shizaichō (867, currently preserved at Tōji) (Lee, 1997: 173). However, following massive Silla piracy attacks in Kyūshū in 869, anti-Silla sentiment quickly grew among merchant groups in Japan, and Silla merchants began to be unwelcome in the country. Interestingly, however, in order to avoid unnecessary hostility in their business, some of those Silla merchants whose base was in China stressed their Chinese origin and continued to conduct trade with the Japanese (Park, Namsu 2011: 270). It was during this unstable international conjuncture around the East Asian seas in the ninth century that Ennin made his trip to Tang China. His stay in China had several twists and turns, but he successfully completed his mission with the help of Silla immigrants. In fact, Ennin played the role of a mediator who connected the Silla community in Dengzhou on the coast of the Shandong peninsula with the immigrants from the Korean peninsula around Lake Biwa. In order to explain the circumstances behind this connection, I now turn to explaining Ennin’s trip and his encounter with the god of Mt. Chi (Jp. Sekizan) on his way back to Japan; one could argue that Sekizan Myōjin, as this deity came to be known in Japan, is key to understanding later Tendai Jimon’s cult of Shinra Myōjin.

Shinra Myōjin in the “East Asian Mediterranean” Network


The Monk, the Merchant, and the Maritime Deity The connection between Ennin and Sekizan Myōjin goes back to Ennin’s stay at a Silla temple near Mt. Chi on the Shandong peninsula between 839 and 840. Although the name Sekizan Myōjin itself does not appear in Ennin’s diary or in his official biography, the Jikaku daishi den (939),6 the latter mentions that Ennin invoked a deity at the Lotus Flower Monastery of Mt. Chi (Ch. Chishan Fahuayin, Kr. Chŏksan Pŏbhwa-wŏn), a temple established by the Silla merchant Chang Pogo (? –841?).7 According to the text, on the very first night that Ennin stayed at this temple, he had a dream in which a deity appeared to him in the guise of an old man looking like a merchant (which reminds one of Chang Pogo). In the dream, Ennin bought a scale from the merchant—a magical object that would give him all kinds of knowledge that he had not yet acquired (Jikaku daishi den: 42–43). Afterwards, Ennin vowed that upon his return to Japan he would establish a temple to venerate the deity of Mt. Chi, whose name was later rendered as Sekizan Myōjin. Ennin’s association with Sekizan Myōjin is partly a product of transcultural interactions among Silla merchants, Japanese Buddhist pilgrims, and Silla immigrants during the time of the Sillan diaspora. As one of the few textual sources to describe the Silla community in China around the ninth century, Ennin’s diary provides several crucial pieces of information on the background of Sekizan Myōjin and Silla immigrants on the Shandong peninsula. For example, Ennin’s diary informs us that along the eastern coastline of China, Silla immigrants built several sizable immigrant communities and exercised their own autonomy due to the Tang government’s liberal policies at the time regarding foreign residents. Due to the strong presence of Silla immigrants on the Shandong peninsula, many facilities in the area also used “Silla” in their names.8 Ennin’s worship of Sekizan Myōjin may be closely related to the personal relationship with the merchant Chang Pogo, which he developed during his stay at the aforementioned Silla temple on Mt. Chi. With his maritime knowledge and navigation skills, Chang was involved in international commercial trade linking Chinese, Korean, and Japanese markets around the Yellow Sea.9 Known as one of the most successful merchants in East Asia, Chang had achieved a near monopoly on trade in the Yellow Sea by the early ninth century, the time of Ennin’s travel to China.10 Prior to Chang, commercial trade between Silla and Japan had not yet been officially recognized. Piracy was rampant among these countries, due in part to the lack of maritime rules and state powerlessness to control the pirates. Amongst this disorder, it was Chang who organized individual merchants from China and Silla and started a triangular international trade network—connecting ports in Shandong in China, Ch’ŏnghaejin in Korea, and Dazaifu in Japan. Chang’s rise also prompted the Japanese court to organize its first commercial legislation in Dazaifu in 831.11 However, after Chang’s sudden death in 846, that legislation was repealed and the trade between Silla and Japan was reduced again to exchange among private parties (Tanaka 2007: 141–142). Ch’ŏnghaejin, the Silla trade hub of the East Asian Sea, ceased to exist in 851 (Samguk sagi: 184–185). According to his diary, Ennin had heard of Chang even before his arrival in China. Since the head official of Chikuzen province (Jp. Chikuzen daishu) in northern Kyūshū


The Sea and the Sacred in Japan

was an acquaintance of Chang, he wrote a letter of introduction to Chang for Ennin, but Ennin lost the letter and ultimately failed to present it to Chang in person.12 For Ennin, the assistance of Chang and the Silla community on the Shandong peninsula was indispensable to the success of his mission in China.13 Most Japanese studentmonks who, like Ennin, traveled to China with envoys to Tang China (Jp. kentōshi) during the eighth and ninth centuries had to rely on commercial ships owned by Silla or Chinese merchants.14 Ennin also utilized one of these Silla ships and received constant help from the Silla people throughout his stay in China.15 For example, once Ennin arrived in China, he faced a serious legal problem: he had failed to receive official permission from the Tang government, which made him consider going back to Japan. It was Chang Yŏng (dates unknown), one of the merchants working closely with Chang Pogo, who helped him to remedy this situation. With Chang Yŏng’s assistance, Ennin received his travel permission from the Chinese authorities in 840, his second year of staying at the Lotus Flower Monastery of Mt. Chi. Only after that could Ennin officially stay in China as a student-monk, and thus was able to carry out his entire pilgrimage.16 During his stay at the Silla temple, Ennin also revised his pilgrimage plans based on the advice that he received from residents there. Initially, as a Tendai monk, Ennin had intended to travel to Mt. Tiantai. But, after Sŏngrim, a Silla monk, recommended that he go to Mt. Wutai instead, Ennin decided to follow his advice (Mori 1964: 41–42). Ennin also reports that during his trip to Mt. Wutai a number of people from Silla helped him along the way. Ennin’s relationship with Chang’s affiliates and Silla immigrants continued until he completed his trip back to Japan. Upon his departure, Ennin was allowed to embark from the Port of Mt. Chi (Ch. Chishan pu) at the very eastern tip of the peninsula, which was under the political control of Chang. In his diary, Ennin records that he was able to leave China with the help of Silla people and set sail to Japan on a Silla trade boat. His close relationship with the Silla people is epitomized in his letter to Chang Pogo, in which he expressed his gratitude toward the merchant before leaving Chŏksan Pŏbhwa-wŏn in 840: I, Ennin, have stayed in the mountain cloister, passing the year with much good luck. I have received the warm kindness of the monks, which has greatly consoled my worries as a traveler. This is all the Guard Officer’s kind doing. Your protection has been extensive. How can I, insignificant man that I am, repay you . . . Our return home depends solely on your great assistance, and we shall be overwhelmed with gratitude to you.17

Ennin clearly appreciated the help he received from the Silla community and, in particular, Chang Pogo. After his return to Japan, Ennin purportedly endeavored to build a shrine for the god of Mt. Chi, although the construction did not happen during Ennin’s lifetime. According to the Sekizan Myōjin engi (948), Ennin instructed his disciples to build a shrine for the deity. Following this directive, Ennin’s disciples obtained land on the eastern slope of Mt. Hiei, called Nishi Sakamoto, and built a shrine dedicated to Sekizan Myōjin there (Sekizan Myōjin engi: 624).18 This was on the opposite side of Sannō shrine, the tutelary deity of the entire Tendai tradition (Kageyama 1973: 243). In fact, inviting a deity with an obvious foreign background to become a local god,

Shinra Myōjin in the “East Asian Mediterranean” Network


or kami, was not perceived as a contradictory practice; it was thought to increase the power of the native gods by means of creating a kind of resonance between the two. In 888, the construction of Sekizan zen’in was completed and the deity came to be venerated as one of the main protector gods of Tendai Buddhism in Japan.19

Doubling Identity: Sekizan Myōjin and Shinra Myōjin Until now, I have explained Ennin’s interaction with Chang Pogo and how the emergence of the Sekizan Myōjin cult was initiated by Ennin’s disciples on Mt. Hiei. However, after the split between the Tendai Sanmon school and the Jimon school in the ninth century, the story of Sekizan Myōjin takes a different turn in the history of Tendai Buddhism. As I explain in detail below, the worship of Shinra Myōjin was a strategic appropriation of Sekizan Myōjin. As the similar nature of the origin story of the two deities and the intense rivalry between the two Tendai sibling lineages suggest, Sekizan Myōjin could be, in fact, none other than Shinra Myōjin. In the Japanese religious pantheon, encountering duplicates of a Buddhist deity under different names is far from unusual. Sekizan Mōjin and Shinra Myōjin may thus have only been treated as if they were two individual deities representing each side’s ideological interests. In all likelihood, Sekizan Myōjin would not have been known if his “double,” Shinra Myōjin, had not existed. Only with Shinra Myōjin’s growing importance did Sekizan Myōjin emerge as an individual deity in Tendai. During the centuries-long internecine dispute opposing the lineage of Enchin to that of Ennin, Enchin’s followers were more successful than Ennin’s in lobbying the court, which eventually allowed Shinra Myōjin to occupy a more prominent status. The official recognition of Sekizan Myōjin by the court preceded that of Shinra Myōjin, although Shinra Myōjin achieved a higher position within the court ranking system for gods (shinkai). According to the Sōgō bunin shōshutsu, Shinra Myōjin was awarded an official rank—the Senior Fourth Rank, Upper Grade (shōshiijō)—from the court in 971 (Sōgō bunin shōshutsu: 127).20 In response to this, Ennin’s followers petitioned for the promotion of Sekizan Myōjin. As a result, Sekizan Myōjin was raised from his previous status, the Junior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade (jūgoige), to the Junior Fourth Rank, Lower Grade (jūshiige) in 993. This year is not coincidental, as it marks a major fight between the Sanmon and Jimon factions in which Jimon monks destroyed the statue of Sekizan Myōjin at Sekizan zen’in (Groner 2002: 233–236). In terms of each deity’s individuality, the visual representations of both Sekizan Myōjin and Shinra Myōjin are clearly distinct. While the visual practice of representing Shinra Myōjin as an elderly man in the attire of a Tang official became standard in the Jimon tradition, that of Sekizan Myōjin varied. One typical visual representation of Sekizan Myōjin is that of a man in a red robe, with headgear similar to that of the Ten Kings (Jūō), and a bow. In another case, he is dressed in Tang official attire and holds a wooden wand (gohei), as seen in the Hie Sannō Mandala, and only this depiction is similar to the image of Shinra Myōjin. In yet other cases, Sekizan Myōjin is described as a general fully equipped in armor. This said, both deities are commonly portrayed as an old man, which follows the description in their origin story.


The Sea and the Sacred in Japan

The intense rivalry between the followers of Ennin and Enchin caused the production of similar mythological narratives and visual representations from the tenth century onward. Consequently, for Ennin’s followers, the god that Ennin invoked was Sekizan Myōjin, whereas for Enchin’s followers it was Shinra Myōjin who had protected their master en route to Japan and led him to the future site of Onjōji. Enchin’s double appointment—one with the Sanmon as Tendai abbot (Jp. zasu) and the other as the founder of the Jimon school—might possibly have added one more layer of mythological (con)fusion.21 Given the historical context and the intense competition between the two lineages, I think the two deities may well be identical, if only functionally.22 Each may be fundamentally defined as “a deity of Silla,” yet once this deity received worship from different groups of the same ethnic origin, it came to be recognized under two different names: Shinra Myōjin and Sekizan Myōjin. It was Enchin’s followers who appropriated and further popularized the cult of this Silla deity in the Jimon network under the alias of Shinra Myōjin. Adopting a powerful foreign deity who supposedly assisted the founder was a crucial and highly significant step for Onjōji monks toward the creation of their new, independent Tendai center; the deity also functioned as a cohesive force for the members of the Jimon lineage. It was within this context that Enchin’s followers adopted Shinra Myōjin, because the deity was thought to have helped Onjōji become more engaged with the strong Silla immigrant culture in the Ōmi area, while distantly echoing the other Silla immigrant communities in China. Throughout the medieval period, the spiritual authority of Sekizan Myōjin was never able to surpass that of the Sannō gods in the Sanmon school. But within the Jimon tradition Shinra Myōjin eventually became the deity representing the entirety of the tradition’s identity.

Conclusion This chapter has examined two different and yet related networks of Silla immigrants in the East Asian Mediterranean, one in Japan’s Ōmi province, the other in China’s Shandong province, to contextualize Shinra Myōjin’s emergence in the Tendai Jimon tradition. Framing Onjōji’s position in the East Asian maritime network provided a crucial piece of the puzzle to understand how Shinra Myōjin came into being. I also have shown that from the perspective of the sea, seemingly unconnected waters are in fact closely interlinked. Following this sea-based terrain, I argue how different parts on the East Asian Mediterranean were in fact organically connected and, in particular, that Lake Biwa, as part of the East Asian Mediterranean, was almost an inland sea, connecting other nodal points along the lake as well as beyond the Japanese seas, while effectively circulating religious practices and ideas. In this intimately connected maritime environment, various types of networks were created and sustained by immigrants, merchants, and Buddhist monks. These navigators were not marginal figures, but active transformers and important agents of transculturation, who facilitated exchanges and shaped new types of networks. To

Shinra Myōjin in the “East Asian Mediterranean” Network


borrow Bruno Latour’s term, these immigrants ultimately played the role of “mediators” who created cultural fluidity and hybridity (Latour 2005: 39). Since the “creation” of Shinra Myōjin, the Jimon tradition developed its institutional power in conjunction with that of the deity itself, particularly through continued sectarian rivalry with the Sanmon tradition. Shinra Myōjin’s cult was a key element in shaping medieval Tendai identity. The promotion of Shinra Myōjin cultic practices at Onjōji was central to the dispute between the two Tendai rivals, as it helped to promote claims to Jimon school’s spiritual superiority and to legitimate its institutional autonomy. Since the Jimon school was deeply concerned with retaining its own identity in order to differentiate itself from the Sanmon school, Shinra Myōjin was strategically chosen and appropriated for this purpose. In short, I think the emergence of Shinra Myōjin’s cult can be more fully understood when viewed within the context of the East Asian Mediterranean Buddhist network. Analyzing this transcultural network allows us to explore the diversity and density of a cultic network that spread through a large number of nodal points located in China, Korea, and Japan. This maritime network in the East Asian Mediterranean further helps us to understand the circulation of people, ideas, and gods—of which Shinra Myōjin is a prime, but far from the only, example. The epistemological framework provided by the concept of an East Asian Mediterranean has the potential to transform the ways we view spaces, study religions, and think about history in these spaces and beyond.



Hachiman Worship Among Japanese Pirates (wakō) of the Medieval Period A Preliminary Survey Bernhard Scheid1

During the Japanese medieval period, Korea and China were in constant fear of seaborne warriors based in Japan who would attack and loot their coastal regions time and again. These people were called “Japanese bandits/intruders” (wokou in Chinese or waegu in Korean). The same term is used in its Japanese pronunciation, wakō, by modern historians to denominate this specific form of piracy. Although the wakō phenomenon as a whole has received considerable attention in recent scholarship, the religious culture of the wakō has been addressed only by a few studies in Japanese. There is, however, frequent mention of a particular wakō cult concerning the god Hachiman. It is said that Japanese pirates adorned their ships with banners of Hachiman, which in turn became known as “Hachiman ships.” Pirates themselves were called bahan in late-medieval Japan, a term allegedly derived from a Chinese pronunciation of Hachiman (e.g., see Na 2009, p. 97). Hachiman is the deified form of an ancient ruler called Homuda no Wake, better known as Emperor Ōjin. After his cult was transferred from Kyūshū to central Japan in the Nara and early-Heian periods, Hachiman was further considered a bodhisattva and the protector of Japan (Scheid 2014). Ōjin was the son of a famous female figure in the early chronicles, Empress Jingū (Jingū Kōgō). She is known as the leader of a successful military campaign against Korea, which she undertook with divine support.2 Thus, there are indeed reasons why the wakō may have had a predilection for Hachiman. But is it really plausible that the display of Hachiman banners led to a Chinese wakō-Hachiman identification, which was in turn taken over in Japan as well? In this chapter I reexamine the relations between Hachiman and the wakō, and in particular the bahan-Hachiman connection, by taking a closer look at relevant sources. In addition, I discuss Hachiman shrines in Kyushu and wakō lore related to Hachiman and the mythological figure of Jingū Kōgō. Before delving into these questions, however, it is necessary briefly to outline the nature of wakō piracy and its historical development. 89


The Sea and the Sacred in Japan

The Wakō Phenomenon Although piracy occurred everywhere around the globe in connection with maritime trade, the term wakō refers to a specific phase of piracy along the East Asian coasts, which turned piracy into an exclusive Japanese business, at least from a continental perspective. The compound wakō (lit. “dwarf intruder” or “Japanese intruder”) was a clearly derogatory term invented and used by Korean and Chinese victims of piracy.3 Medieval Japanese did not use it, but today it is also well established in Japanese historiography. In prewar Japanese studies, the wakō were praised as pioneers of modern Japanese colonialism (Tanaka 2012: 21) and even today, they are sometimes imbued with romantic heroism and patriotic pride, while in Korea and China the term still raises negative stereotypes associated with Japanese military aggression (Na 2009: 95). Recent historians, however, point out that wakō pirates were not all Japanese. On the contrary, expatriate merchants from China seem to have dominated the wakō scene, especially in the sixteenth century. Still, there is some justification to keep using the term “Japanese pirates,” since wakō operated mainly from islands that belonged to the Japanese cultural sphere and were often protected by regional Japanese lords or even by the central Japanese authorities. Thus, from the thirteenth to the early seventeenth centuries (i.e., the “wakō period”), piracy was not equally distributed among all East Asian countries, but affected Korea and China most severely. In other words, the wakō phenomenon reflects imbalances in the international relations between China, Korea, and Japan, especially in international trade. China and Korea maintained a system of tributary trade under state monopoly; the free exchange of goods was regarded with suspicion, as it could lead to uncontrolled economic power outside the ruling elites and thus to political instability. This political thinking became especially strong in relation to maritime trade during the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644), which implemented the so-called “maritime prohibitions” (Chin. haijin) in 1371. These prohibitions—which may have developed in tandem with existing threats of piracy— forbade all non-tributary trade by ship with other countries and therefore declared, in theory at least, every form of private trade on sea a pirate trade. While authorities in medieval Japan officially agreed to these continental restrictions, private sea trade was promoted by various interest groups: aristocratic families, especially the Fujiwara, tried to maintain or gain exceptional trade privileges (Kawazoe 1990: 399); traders from Song China who had immigrated to Kyushu (in particular Hakata),4 used their ties to family members on the continent for illegal trade; religious institutions sent monks, generally exempt from traveling restrictions, as business representatives to China; and, last but not least, seafaring people of Kyushu and surrounding islands looted continental coasts in times of famine. Following the first raids in the 1220s, Korea continued to send emissaries to Japan complaining about the wakō and demanding that they be punished.5 Japanese authorities, however, lacked the power to suppress piracy and undertook punitive actions only when they were seeking friendly relations with the continent. Thus, partly due to political weakness, the conditions for traders were more open in Japan than on the continent. Maritime trade was a legitimate business along the coasts of Japan but turned into a criminal act of piracy in China and Korea. “When trade was allowed,

Hachiman Worship Among Medieval Japanese Pirates


pirates became traders; when trade was prohibited, traders turned pirates,” as a famous remark by a Chinese official from the sixteenth century put it.6 This, it seems, is the most important structural reason why piracy affecting the continent became endemic during the Japanese medieval period. Parallel to the decline of the central state in medieval Japan, piracy grew in scale. By the end of the medieval period, the wakō had turned into a sea power completely independent from land-based authorities. In his recent study on Japanese piracy, Peter Shapinsky therefore follows Japanese historian Amino Yoshihiko and others in using the term “lords of the sea” rather than “pirates” or “wakō” in order to refer to this sea-based realm.7 This situation only came to an end when the Tokugawa eventually adopted the restrictive and “terracentric” trade policy of China and Korea in the seventeenth century.

Wakō Attacks on Korea and China The vital location of wakō activities up to the fifteenth century was Tsushima, a twinisland in the Korean Strait actually situated closer to the continent (about 50 km) than to Kyūshū (about 100 km). Although difficult to cultivate due to its mountainous topography, Tsushima received attention as a trading hub already in the earliest historical sources.8 Without the possibility of trade, however, Tsushima people were endangered by famine and thus reacted violently against the above-mentioned “maritime prohibitions.” Korean counter measures against piracy in Tsushima culminated in the so-called Ōei Invasion (Ōei no gaikō,9 1419–1420), when the Joseon dynasty raised a punitive campaign of 17,000 Korean troops against Tsushima. In the following year, Korea and Tsushima reached an agreement known as the munin (Jap. bun’in, access permit) system (Robinson 1992: 107; 1996: 24). In order to prevent famine on Tsushima, Korea donated rice to the islanders, while Tsushima agreed to refrain from violence (Seyock 2005: 103). Even more importantly, Tsushima took over the role of toll keeper for the Korean ports of Busan, Naeipo, and Yeompo, ensuring that the number of trading vessels sent to these ports did not exceed a fixed number. Japanese merchants were allowed to set up “Japan houses” (wakan, Kor. waegwan) in these ports, which served as local trading hubs; in time, wakan grew into Japanese enclaves of several thousand inhabitants. As Kenneth Robinson has pointed out, the status of Tsushima in this context was never definitively Japanese. Depending on the point of view, the island could be seen as part of Joseon Korea, as an independent country, or as a part of Japan (Robinson 2006: 42–43). Besides Tsushima, the island of Iki (between Tsushima and Kyushu) and the region of Matsura in Hizen Province (now Matsuura, Nagasaki Prefecture) are also mentioned as pirate bases from an early stage. The region was under the control of the Matsura clan, who later became feudal lords (daimyō). They either engaged in piracy themselves or cooperated with pirates within their sphere of influence, which included not only Iki but also Hirado and the Gotō archipelago (Robinson 2012: 24; on later Matsura-pirate relations, see Clulow 2012). The centers of wakō activity in these regions were at the same time harbors and trading hubs that connected Japan with the continent. In the


The Sea and the Sacred in Japan

sixteenth century, Chinese sources added Satsuma and Higo in Southern and Western Kyushu as well as Nagato (Western Honshu) to the most active breeding places of Japanese piracy.10 Finally, wakō strongholds included small islands in the Inland Sea. The most powerful pirate bases were situated at a natural passage between Honshu and Shikoku, now known as Shimanami kaidō. The seafaring Murakami clan was particularly successful in dominating this chain of small islands in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. They traded sea products such as fish and salt, offered piloting services to other trading ships and erected toll barriers in the Inland Sea, attacking any ship that would not pay a toll for the passage. By the end of the medieval period, the Murakami emerged as one of the leading Japanese sea lords active in illicit international trade and piracy (Shapinsky 2014). When Europeans reached Japan in the sixteenth century, they “first called the country the Island of Robbers (ilhas dos ladrones), because at that time many pirates usually came from Japan with large crews in their fleets to rob and infest the coast of China” as Joao Rodrigues (1561/62–1633) reported in his history of Japan (Cooper 2001: 45–46; Shapinsky 2014: 4–5). At that time, trading posts similar to the wakan in Korea were erected in China (Ningpo) and even in South East Asian and South Asian harbors, the most prominent being situated in the Siamese port city and royal capital of Ayutthaya (in today’s Cambodia) (Clulow 2012). Piracy in this period was provoked by Ming prohibitions on maritime trade, enforced with renewed vigor during the reign of Emperor Jiajing (1521–1567). This turned many Chinese traders into smugglers or pirates, who shifted their headquarters to islands off the Chinese coast that were beyond state control. There they joined forces with Japanese and European traders/ pirates. Expatriate Chinese merchants such as Xu Hai (d. 1556) and Wang Zhi (d. 1560) controlled the shipping networks connecting China, Japan and Southeast Asia. Treated as criminals by Chinese authorities, they forged alliances with Japanese regional warlords such as the Ōtomo, the Ōuchi, and others. In the 1550s, Wang Zhi even established his headquarters on the islands of Gotō and Hirado in Kyushu. From there, he organized huge pirate campaigns on the continent, which reached their peak in the mid-1550s, when several coastal provinces in southern China were plundered.11 In Chinese historiography these events are known as the “great Japanese raids of the Jiajing era” (Jiajing da wokou). Thus, Wang Zhi’s international bands of traders, smugglers, and pirates were still known as wakō (Chin. wokou), although Chinese pirates outnumbered Japanese ones.12 The influence of Chinese wakō could only be reduced when after diplomatic and military measures against piracy, Ming China eventually lifted anti-trade regulations in 1567. Piracy by Japanese sea lords officially came to an end with Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s (1537–1598) campaign in Kyushu (1587), which was followed by his “Prohibition of piracy” (Kaizoku kinshirei, 1588). In most cases, however, he did not destroy the sea lord clans but turned them into his allies. Former wakō, mostly from the Murakami clan, played an important role in his conquest of Kyushu and also participated in his Korean invasions (1592–1598) (Shapinsky 2014: 244).13 In fact, “Japanese piracy” went on until the early seventeenth century,14 when the Tokugawa institutionalized their policy of seclusion (sakoku).

Hachiman Worship Among Medieval Japanese Pirates


Bahan and “Hachiman ships” As already mentioned, secondary sources draw a direct link between Hachiman and the wakō on the basis of the term bahan in the sense of “pirates” or “piracy,” which was derived from “Hachiman” in Chinese pronunciation (bafan in modern Pinyin). This bahan-Hachiman equation enjoyed great popularity in the prewar period and is implicitly sustained even by recent dictionaries that render bahan with the characters for “eight banners” (i.e., “Hachiman” in conventional reading). Scholars after World War II , however, began to propose new etymological arguments. Naganuma Kenkai (1883– 1980), for instance, regarded bahan as a word of Vietnamese origin, whereas Uemura Seiji (1901–1987) maintained that it derived from the Chinese word fafan ( ), referring to illegal trade (Ōta 2002: 495). More recently, Tanaka Takeo (1923–2009) offered a fundamentally skeptical stance in regard to the bahan-Hachiman equation. On the other hand, Ōta Kōki found circumstantial evidence to substantiate the connection between bahan and Hachiman. In the following, I will try to evaluate the most important sources in relation to this question. The earliest mention of the term bahan in Japanese sources seems to be an entry in the first extant edition of the dictionary Setsuyōshū issued around 1474, according to which bahan is a pirate ship. The word is rendered in two kanji combinations, namely, (lit. “guard ship”) and (“rebellion plan”).15 The first term seems to indicate that bahan referred to a ship, while the second could be indirectly related to piracy. Almost one hundred years later, bahan is discussed by Zheng Shungong, a Ming envoy who was sent to Japan during the “Great Wakō Raids” in the mid-sixteenth century. His Riben yijiang (Mirror of Japan, 1565) listed a variety of characters for the term bahan including , a variant writing of Hachiman . This could be taken as early evidence of a common Hachiman-bahan equation. Apart from that, however, Zheng’s list contains writings that convey a negative image of bahan, as for instance “tattered sails” ( ) or “illegal trade” ( ) (Tanaka 2012: 185; Elisonas 1991: 255). At the time of Hideyoshi’s “Prohibition of piracy” (1588), bahan begins to surface more frequently in Japanese sources. The prohibition itself is sometimes referred to as Bahan-sen kinshirei (with the characters for Hachiman) (Nihonshi kōjiten, p.  1762), but uses kaizoku or zokusen when referring to pirates, not bahan (Miki 1996). Therefore, Bahan-sen kinshirei was probably not the original designation. By contrast, there are a few letters and orders by Hideyoshi and his advisers, which mention bahan or bahan-sen: ●

Hideyoshi’s general Katō Kiyomasa (1561–1611) refers to bahan (in kana) in a report related to the Kaizoku kinshirei (cited in Miki 1996: 213). In an edict from Tenshō 17 (1589)/10/5, directed to the Matsura daimyo by Hideyoshi we find the phrase bahan ni makarikosu (engage in piracy, go for piracy). Bahan is rendered with the characters , which would make this the earliest Japanese example of a bahan-Hachiman equation.16 Ten years later (1599/4), at the time when Hideyoshi’s demise was made public, his regents also employed the same phrase bahan ni makarikosu in a letter to the Shimazu. This time bahan was written in hiragana.17 The term bafan is also mentioned in the Historia de Japam (written 1583–1597) by Luis Frois (Elisonas 1991: 255).


The Sea and the Sacred in Japan

The Japanese–Portuguese dictionary Nippo jisho of 1603 is generally referred to as the most important source regarding the term bahan. Here we find the item bafā, which is rendered as “marauding outside Japan in China or elsewhere,” as well as bafan-jin, “pirate” and bafan-bune, “pirate ship.”18 In other words, bahan was probably a synonym for large-scale piracy (“outside Japan”), at that time. In the early Edo-period, bahan was used, for instance, in an order of 1621 directed to merchants of the Dutch East India Company. At a time when the Tokugawa Bakufu began to impose their restrictions on international trade, this order forbade traders to “bahan” in Japanese waters. The implication was that Dutch and English ships were no longer allowed to attack and loot Spanish ships in Japanese territorial waters, as they had routinely done before. Although the Dutch were tolerated as traders in Japan, they were well aware of the fact that they were often regarded as mere bahan, which endangered their access to the early Tokugawa court (Clulow 2014: 165–170). From this evidence it becomes clear that bahan was indeed a common synonym for kaizoku (pirate) around the 1600s. It was written in most cases by phonetic characters or by characters conveying a derogatory meaning. The lack of standard characters suggests that bahan was adopted from spoken pirate jargon. In the author’s opinion, the two instances, when bahan was written with the characters for Hachiman, do not support the fact that the term was actually derived from this deity’s name. From the mid-Edo period onward, however, rendering bahan with the characters for the god Hachiman became more or less standard. The earliest sources containing an explicit explanation as to why bahan means “Hachiman” are the Nankai chiranki (Disturbances in the South Seas Circuit, 1663) and its famous revised version, the Nankai tsūki (History of the South Seas Circuit, 1719) by Kasai Shigesuke, a naval historian active in Kyushu. Tanaka Takeo regards the Nankai tsūki as the locus classicus for the link between pirate ships and Hachiman (Tanaka 2012: 185–186).19 The relevant passages of Shigesuke’s naval history read as follows: In the Tenbun and Kōji eras (1532–1558), pirate ships (zokusen) from our country all raised flags of Hachiman-gū, set off to sea, looted the harbors of the Western barbarians (saiban) in the Western countries, and robbed their goods. Therefore, these ships were called Hachiman ships (bahansen) (quoted in Ōta 2002: 490–491). There was nobody on the ocean who was not afraid of meeting Japanese ships. Japanese ships all used “Hachiman-gū” as their ship mark. Therefore, it is from this time that Japanese ships were called Hachiman ships (bahanshū) (quoted in Ōta 2002: 491).

Thus, the Nankai tsūki conveys the impression that the pirates of the Tenbun and Kōji eras were all Japanese: This is, of course, at odds with modern research on Wang Zhi and other Chinese wakō who were active precisely at the time of the “Great Wakō Raids” mentioned here. Yet the same stereotype can be found, for instance, in several Chinese visual depictions of the wakō.20 Shigesuke, therefore, adopted the continental stereotype of the Japanese pirate but reversed the negative values attributed to it. As regards the fact that the wakō “raised flags of Hachiman-gū,” the above-mentioned

Hachiman Worship Among Medieval Japanese Pirates


Riben yijiang from 1665 may have served as source material for Kasai Shigesuke, since it contains a description of wakō ships and their banners of Hachiman: I asked one of the barbarians [i.e., the Japanese] why Tenshō Daijin, Kasuga Daimyōjin, and Hachiman Daibosatsu ( [sic] ), written together, were often used at places of the law, why they would be worshiped on top of ships, and why pirates, when going to battle, would always use them. The answer was: “They are former kings” (quoted in Ōta 2002: 473).

This passage reveals that the wakō indeed flagged their ships with the names of Japanese deities. In contrast to the Nankai tsūki, however, Hachiman is not mentioned alone but as one figure in the then popular sanja takusen triad (see below). Also, all kinds of ships in Japan seem to have used inscriptions of these three deities, not just pirates. In other words, the passage does not substantiate the claim that there was a distinct Hachiman cult among the wakō. Without such a cult, the bahan-Hachiman equation makes of course no sense. The question remains as to why Shigesuke should have invented such a relation if it did not already exist. One possibility could be that Shigesuke used Hachiman to erase the negative image of the wakō. Although he identified pirates as “robbers” (zoku), he used the expression “Western barbarians” (seiban) for Korean and Chinese victims of piracy implying the low status of both raiders and raided in the former age of piracy; in addition, he clearly emphasized the martial virtues of the wakō with national pride. As Shapinsky has argued, the Nankai tsūki conveys an image of piracy different from earlier Japanese sources that sought to outlaw it (Shapinsky 2014: 260–261). “Shigesuke reinvented mercenary seafaring lords as loyal warrior vassals; promoted myths of cultural and martial superiority; and celebrated attacks on China and Korea as the proud heritage of a Japanese pirate navy. His interpretations proved popular and durable” (Shapinsky, forthcoming). Seen from this angle, the bahan-Hachiman equation may have functioned as an additional argument in order to turn the wakō into patriotic heroes. This leads to the conclusion, that Shigesuke simplified the pirate attacks of the 1550s in that he styled the pirates as being all Japanese and reduced their religious symbols to Hachiman. In doing so, he created a powerful link between Hachiman and the word bahan, which he explained as a foreign pronunciation of Hachiman. His explanation was so convincing that bahan came to be written with the characters for Hachiman, even in modern dictionaries. However, in pre-Edo sources, this transcription was just one of many ways to write the term. Therefore, an exclusive Hachiman cult among the wakō cannot be detected from the word bahan alone.

Banners and Oaths As we have seen, Zheng Shungong observed that the wakō would adorn their ships with flags bearing the names of the three deities Amaterasu, Kasuga and Hachiman, which Zheng explained as former kings of Japan. In fact, this triad is well known in medieval and early modern sources. Among other things, these three deities were seen


The Sea and the Sacred in Japan

as symbols of the political elite, Amaterasu (or Ise) representing the imperial dynasty, Kasuga representing the Fujiwara clan and by extension the court aristocracy, and Hachiman representing the Minamoto and by extension the military class. If combined in a triad, each deity was further associated with a particular oracle or pledge to protect Japan and its people. The set of gods, which appeared in the early fifteenth century at the latest, was referred to as sanja takusen (lit. “oracles of the three shrines”).21 But Amaterasu, Kasuga, and Hachiman could be also combined differently and perform more specific symbolic functions. In the Kanmon gyoki, another primary source from the fifteenth century,22 we learn about the use of so-called “brocade banners” (nishiki no (mi)hata), which decorated warships used by the Ashikaga Shoguns. They were called by this name because symbols of the sun and the moon were drawn with threads of gold and silver on red background (Ōta 2002: 469–470). The sun and the moon were said to represent Amaterasu and Hachiman, the divine ancestors of the emperor and the Ashikaga (who were related to Hachiman by blood links to the Minamoto who regarded Hachiman as their ancestor). Both the decorated banners of shogunal warships and the sanja takusen can be regarded as sources of inspiration for Japanese wakō and help to explain why pirates may have appealed to the most powerful deities of the realm. Nevertheless, actual examples of the sanja set on pirate flags seem to be no longer extant, while combinations of other deities have survived. The Ōyamatsumi Shrine in Iyo (now Ehime prefecture, Shikoku), which was also known as Mishima Shrine at that time, treasures a banner with the inscription: “Ise Daijingū [i.e., Amaterasu Ōmikami], Hachiman Daibosatsu, Mishima Daimyōjin,” “Hachiman” being placed in the prominent central position (Tanaka 2012: 186; Ōta 2002: 486). Nowadays it is known as the “banner of the Mishima navy,” but “navy” (suigun) is in this case a euphemism for a wakō fleet, more concretely the fleet of the Noshima Murakami who regarded the Ōyamatsumi Shrine and its deity, then called Mishima Daimyōjin, as their tutelary god. The banner design suggests that the Noshima Murakami clan used a variant of the above-mentioned sanja ensemble, in which they replaced Kasuga by their own tutelary deity. Further examples of this kind are collected in Ōta Kōki’s monograph on the wakō. For example, he describes a flag now stored at the Matsuura Historical Museum on Hirado Island, with inscriptions of Hachiman Daibosatsu, Kasuga Daimyōjin, and Shijiki Daibosatsu. Again, two of the sanja deities are paired with a local deity related to Shijiki Jinja, a local shrine on the southern tip of Hirado (see below). In this case too, Hachiman’s name is written in large letters and is placed prominently in the middle of the banner, while smaller inscriptions of the other two deities flank it to left and the right (Ōta 2002: 484). Thus, we find several combinations of two out of the three sanja deities with one local deity. Hachiman seems to be of special importance, since he often obtains the central position in such triads, but even Ōta, who tries to back up the bahan-Hachiman equation, could find only one example of a flag bearing the inscription of Hachiman only (Ōta 2002: 485). Interestingly, kami combinations resembling these naval banner designs can also be found in written oaths from the late wakō period. By convention, such oaths were

Hachiman Worship Among Medieval Japanese Pirates


placed at the end of written contracts (kishōmon) to underline the sincerity of the contractors. One example from 1582, placed at the end of a contract between the Mōri and the Noshima Murakami, reads: “If we are dishonest in even the slightest degree about any of the above, it will be clearly witnessed by Hachiman Daibosatsu, Itsukushima Daimyōjin of this province, and Mishima Daimyōjin of your province” (Shapinsky 2014: 238). In this oath, Mishima is of course a reference to the previously mentioned shrine in Iyo, the most prominent cultic site in the vicinity of the Murakami base on Noshima. Itsukushima, on the other hand, refers to the Itsukushima (or Miyajima) Shrine in the province of Aki (modern Hiroshima), which the Mōri regarded as their home territory. Hachiman probably acts as a tutelary deity of a higher, nationwide order. Another oath between the Noshima Murakami and the Mōri from 1570, signed by Noshima Takeyoshi, reads: If I have belied the above, I will suffer the holy wrath and punishment of Bonten and Taishakuten, Shitennō, all the gods of the sixty-some provinces of Japan, major and minor, especially Mishima Daimyōjin, Hachiman Daibosatsu, Tenmandaijizai Tenjin, and all associated and related deities (Shapinsky 2014: 117).

In this document, “universal” Indic deities with no specific geographic association occupy the role of higher protectors, while Mishima, Hachiman and Tenman Tenjin are singled out as local protectors. It seems plausible that the local deities again relate to specific parties involved in the contract. From the above examples we can conclude that Hachiman appears indeed as the most powerful deity among the sanja triad. However, this seems to be in accordance with a general preference for Hachiman among the warriors of the sengoku period. Toyotomi Hideyoshi, for instance, imagined his post-mortem existence as an incarnation of Hachiman, an example followed by several daimyō of the early Edo period (Scheid 2012). On the other hand, we should note that local tutelary deities never lost their appeal.While they naturally occupied a lesser position in correspondence to their rank, they were particularly important as protectors in oaths and at sea. Therefore, we could say that the religion of the wakō was probably as fragmented and diversified as in the rest of Japan, which is again different from the argument in the bahan-Hachiman equation.23 Let us now look at specific cult sites dedicated to Hachiman and see if and how they were involved in pirate activities.

Hachiman as a Woman? The Role of Empress Jingū in Wakō Lore Since Kyushu was the original region of Hachiman worship, it is no great surprise to find many shrines of Hachiman on wakō islands around Kyushu such as Tsushima, Iki, and Hirado. However, there are two interesting characteristics among the most ancient and prestigious Hachiman shrines of these regions:


The Sea and the Sacred in Japan

1. Many of them were originally dedicated to other deities (some of which were reinstalled after the Meiji Restoration of 1868); and

2. they exhibit a strong interest in Jingū Kōgō, the powerful warrior empress among the three main Hachiman deities.

On Tsushima, the important Kaishin Jinja (lit. “shrine of the sea kami”), the “first shrine” (ichi no miya) in premodern times, used to be associated with the ancient sea deity Watatsumi but was related to Hachiman already in late Heian sources (Nakano et  al., eds. 2002: 194). The founding legend of the shrine recounts that worship at this site dates back to the time of Empress Jingū, who enshrined eight banners there on her way back from Korea. These are the eight banners that explain the name Hachiman which is at the same time the reason why the shrine was also known as the “original shrine of Hachiman” (Hachiman Hongū).24 This is of course a local tradition, which is not substantiated by other Hachiman chronicles. A corresponding “new” Hachiman shrine (Hachiman Shingū) can be found in the southern part of Tsushima. Medieval sources regarded this shrine as the origin (genbyō) of Iwashimizu Hachiman-gū in Kyoto (ibid.). Hachiman lore is probably even stronger on Iki, where shrines of Hachiman can be found in every little hamlet. In addition, the so-called Seven Shrines of Iki, which form a kind of pilgrimage route, are headed by the Shōmo-gū (Shrine of the Holy Mother) dedicated to Empress Jingū, while another three are dedicated to Hachiman. Again the founding legend of the Shōmo Shrine relates to Jingū’s conquest of Korea. On Hirado, Shijiki Shrine on the southern tip of the island, also mentioned on one extant wakō banner (see above), is the oldest and most prestigious shrine. It is dedicated to a mythical figure called Tokiwake, who accompanied Jingū in her military campaign as a general and remained in Hirado after her return from Korea, according to shrine legend.25 From these examples it becomes clear that Jingū rather than her son Ōjin is the focus of Hachiman worship on former wakō islands. This focus on Jingū becomes even more pronounced in two legends dating from times when the wakō were active. The Zenrin kokuhōki, a Muromachi history of Zen Buddhism, tells the story of the eminent Japanese Zen master Enni Ben’en (1202–1280). On his way back from China in 1235, Enni encountered a storm while sailing along the Korean coast. Two of the three ships in his party sank. Suddenly a woman appeared on Enni’s ship. Thinking this strange, he asked her where she had come from. “I am Hachiman Daibosatsu and am only here to protect you,” she answered, and with these words, she disappeared. Thereafter, no harm occurred to his ship (Verschuer 2002: 415, entry for 1235). Another legend dates from the Ōei Invasion of 1419, when Korea (Joseon) was launching the above-mentioned punitive campaign against Tsushima in an attempt to eradicate the wakō based there. At that time the regional governor of Kyushu (Kyūshū Tandai) reported that the enemies were successfully driven back, while in reality Tsushima was conquered by the Koreans. In order to appease authorities in Kyōto, the Kyushu governor fabricated a story of a dramatic victory in a sea battle, which we know from a contemporary court diary of Prince Fushimi no miya Sadafusa (see above, note 22). The climax of this report reads as follows:

Hachiman Worship Among Medieval Japanese Pirates


We do not know where they came from, but four great ships appeared, hung with marvelous military banners [nishiki no mihata; see above]. One of the commanders was said to be a woman. Her power was immeasurable. She boarded the Mongol [sic] boats and forced three hundred soldiers into the sea.26

The story actually conflates scenes taken from Empress Jingū’s legend with the successful defense against the attacks by the Mongols in the thirteenth century. The powerful female leader fighting Korea is of course an allusion to Jingū herself. The episode in which she personally drowned her enemies may be related to another scene of Jingū’s narrative, in which a pair of dragons appear among the Korean ships and devour or drown Korean soldiers. Thus, the Kyushu governor obviously alluded to Jingū, not to Ōjin in order to evoke the image of victory in a sea battle. Similarly, the female figure that appeared to Enni and identified herself as Hachiman can also be seen as a reference to Jingū. The imaginary of a female Hachiman seems at odds with the classical iconography, which tends to privilege Emperor Ōjin, Jingū’s son, or a male figure in Buddhist garb— the Great Boddhisattva Hachiman—as the main icon within the conventional set of divine figures (Ōjin, Jingū and Himegami) related to Hachiman cults (Guth Kanda 1985). Yet, when dangers on the way to Korea were apparent, the Jingū aspect came to the fore. Therefore, if Japanese pirates indeed favored Hachiman in the wakō period, it seems likely that they worshiped a female Hachiman.

Concluding Remarks In this chapter, I have tried to reexamine the idea that Hachiman was the protector god of medieval wakō pirates. This is often explained by the fact that the term bahan, which was used as a common synonym for piracy, derived ultimately from Hachiman. As far as I can tell, there is no convincing evidence for this explanation in medieval sources. Rather, the bahan-Hachiman equation seems to derive from early Edo period texts such as the Nankai tsūki, which identified bahan with Hachiman in order to mitigate the negative image of the wakō. Of course, this does not imply that Hachiman worship did not exist among Japanese pirates. An important Chinese source, the Riben yijiang, reveals that the wakō used the sanja triad consisting of Amaterasu, Kasuga, and Hachiman on the banners of their ships; symbols of these three deities, however, were not peculiar to the wakō, but were popular in many parts of Japan. When looking at banners and oaths extant from the late wakō period (i.e., the sixteenth century), we encounter variations of the sanja motif in combination with different local sea deities. Although Hachiman seems the most popular among the sanja deities used on ships, land-based warriors of that period may have privileged Hachiman in a similar way. Finally, a cursory review of several shrine names and legends seems to indicate a regional emphasis on Hachiman on islands near Kyushu, which were important pirate strongholds since the thirteenth century. It would seem that Hachiman cults emerged in the aftermath of the Mongol attacks of 1274 and 1281, which affected these islands


The Sea and the Sacred in Japan

in particularly severe ways. If so, Hachiman worship may be the result of heightened military tension in these regions. This is further supported by the fact that these shrines place specific emphasis on Empress Jingū, the martial female figure among the usual set of Hachiman deities. Some medieval legends even suggest that the figure of Hachiman was regarded as a woman, when it functioned as a sea protector, whereas in other representations such as the conventional sanja triad, Hachiman is definitively male. The main attraction of Jingū/Hachiman in the eyes of Japanese pirates was therefore the legendary conquest of Korea attributed to Jingū. The “proto-colonialist” gist of this myth may have provided an excuse for the wakō in that they were following historical precedence when attacking Korea. Nevertheless, this does not hold true for China and may have been of less importance in regions such as the Inland Sea. Rather than regarding all wakō as devotees of Hachiman, I therefore assume that there were strong regional diversifications in the Jingū/Hachiman cults of seafaring people, which need further examination.


Shugendō and the Sea Gaynor Sekimori

Given the topographical makeup of Japan, where mountains are seldom far from the sea and have always been visible to those navigating the coastline of the archipelago, it is hardly surprising that Shugendō, a set of beliefs and practices associated with mountains, is also intimately connected with the sea. Little consolidated attempt has been made to study the “Shugendō of the sea” (umi no Shugendō), and the three main sources that set out to do so under this title present no methodological overview that points to a differentiation between a “mountain” and “sea” Shugendō that the nomenclature seems to imply. This chapter is an attempt to see whether it is actually possible to do so. To discuss Shugendō in terms of the mountain or the sea presupposes that “Shugendō” exists as a clearly identifiable entity. As the discussion on the scholarship concerning umi no Shugendō in the next section will demonstrate, however, it is actually very difficult to articulate a discrete entity called “Shugendō,” with its own selfidentifiable institutions, practices and texts, among most of the examples on offer. It must be borne in mind that “Shugendō” as a specific school or sect is not some monolithic entity that has existed in an unbroken line from earliest times. Perhaps, it is better thought of as fragments finally coalescing around one particular activity: the “mountain entry” (nyūbu) practice, carried out by groups of assorted practitioners (shugen, yamabushi, gyōja, etc.), who were generally low-ranking affiliates of large temple complexes like Kōfukuji1 and the Kumano shrine-temples or associates of smaller regional temples. Shugendō temples in an institutional sense were a later development, which means we must be cautious when identifying a particular temple as a Shugendō center. Nachi in Kumano, for example, had a Shugendō presence (one among many) at one time, but this fact alone does not merit it being called a Shugendō temple. This is not the place to review in detail the scholarship about the term “Shugendō,” but it will be less misleading if we do not reify Shugendō in our discussion here.2 Scholars who use the expressions umi no shugen or umi no shugendō do so fairly loosely, and ascribe a broad range of elements within them. I am cautious therefore about using either expression indiscriminately and suggest it would be better if we think first of the relationship between mountain temples and the sea, and only then seek to establish a correlation with “Shugendō.”



The Sea and the Sacred in Japan

An Analysis of the Scholarship The use of the expression umi no shugen, the Shugen[dō] of the sea, has been associated primarily with Gorai Shigeru (1908–1993), though it can also be found in works by other authors dating from the 1970s, for example Miyake Hitoshi, Takeda Akira, Kikuchi Takeru and Ariyasu Mika (Miyake 1979, 2012; Takeda 1979; Kikuchi 1989; Ariyasu 2006, 2015). Gorai essentially understands Shugendō as a form of folk religion, and this has colored his approach to the question of its relation with the sea.3 He touches on the subject of umi no shugen in a number of works (Gorai 1980, 1981, 1989, 1991), but his approach is not analytical. His criterion seems to be that if it is found in Shugendō then it is Shugendō, since for him Shugendō is what was there from the beginning, underlying later accretions from Buddhism, Daoism, and other traditions (Suzuki 2014: 47. Blair 2015: 271). He made a short but useful summary of those elements he considered were associated with the “Shugendō of the sea” (Gorai 1981: 3–26), which Paul Swanson summarized in his translation (1989: 122): Lore on the Shugendō of the sea (umi no shugen denshō): lore on “perimeter paths” (heji denshō), such the heji of Shikoku, Kumano, Noto and various islands; sacred fires (ryūtōsugi [dragon-fire cedars], tōmyōdake [peaks with votive lights], cliffs where fires were lit, mikuro caves, rocks for lighting goma, Mihonosaki, Hinomisaki); rocks and caves which were practice sites of Fudaraku traditions (Fudaraku tokai, umi no Kannon, umi no Yakushi, Tokoyo, nirai kanai, mimiraku, ryūgū, dragon woman); buddha-images made of driftwood logs (shining objects on the sea and the appearance of gods and powers), Oarai isosaki, visitations from the morning star, yorikuru kami, Yoshino hōkōbutsu, Inaba Yakushi [Byōdōji, Kyoto], Hasedera Kannon [Kamakura], Sensōji Kannon). [Items omitted in the translation added here in italics].

It is not clear from this list why the various elements should be considered as exclusively belonging to a sea Shugendō, which surely they must be in order to define a discrete identity. Almost all can be shown to belong to coastal practices and traditions related to sea religion in general. The previous year, Gorai had written a short section on the “Shugendō of the sea” (Gorai 1980: 238–247), where he expounded on sacred fires from the sea, connecting the beacons lit on hills/mountains that act as landmarks for seafarers with the “dragon lights” (ryūtō) that rise from the sea and lodge in mountain shrines and temples (which he implies belong to Shugendō). Traditions about sacred fires like “dragon lights” and sacred trees in which deities alight, and the beacons for seafarers associated with them, can however be found widely at sacred sites in coastal regions with no particular institutional connection with Shugendō. The Anbasama cult along the Pacific coast from Chiba prefecture north to Miyagi is a case in point. These events Gorai interprets as “offerings of sacred fire to the kami and buddhas of sacred mountains from the dragon king and others in the dragon palace,” and he links them with beings coming to the land from the sea, such as Sukanabikona and the kami of Daisen, both associated with the Miho Cape, and sees them as being related to a

Shugendō and the Sea


realm across the sea, variously envisioned as the place where the spirits of the dead gather, Kannon’s Fudaraku (Potalaka) Pure Land, the land of future Buddha Miroku (the treasure boat [takarabune] arriving from there), and the undersea palace of the dragon king (ryūgū). It is in this context that he perhaps comes closest to a definition of a “Shugendō of the sea.” To the extent heji pilgrimage . . . is a “walking religion . . ., Shugendō is not something confined only to the mountains but is also of the sea. This [latter] I call “Shugendō of the sea” (umi no Shugendō) and I am endeavouring to clarify its religious ideas, its objects of veneration, its forms of practice and its practice sites. In contrast to the belief in the other world of the mountain in “mountain Shugen,” “sea Shugen” looks to the other world on the ocean, imagined as the realm of Tokoyo across the sea, to Hōrai and to Fudaraku. This gave rise to to veneration of sea deities, dragon kings (dragon lights), Kannon and stars. (Gorai 1989: 25)

These phenomena related to the realm across the sea where the spirits of the dead gather are however traditions absorbed into Shugendō, not its exclusive possession. For Gorai, Shugendō was a “walking religion,” and he pointed out that yamabushi not only climbed mountains but also made retreat on coastal hills and mountains, in caves, and on promontories overlooking the sea. The coastline practice circuits (heji ) that linked these sites were, he said, typically associated with the Shugendō of the sea. Here Gorai posits a binary of “sea Shugendō” and “mountain Shugendō” based primarily on their physical location, going on to use the related Kumano sites as an example: Hongū is “mountain Shugen” and Nachi and Shingū are “sea Shugen” (Gorai 1989: 109). A second scholar who has discussed Shugendō of the sea in detail is Miyake Hitoshi, who, like Gorai, sees Shugendō as a form of folk religion. Despite his formidable scholarship in Shugendō thought, practices, and institutional history, he too does not necessarily contextualize what he identifies as a Shugendō presence. He spoke of various physical features associated with a Shugendō of the sea (Miyake 1979) and used the expression again in a paper written in 2007 where he suggested that the Inland Sea was an example of “umi no Shugendō” (Miyake 2012). He noted that many islands here were Shugendō centers, implying that they were examples of a Shugendō of the sea, and took up three for special study: Shiwaku Honjima, Ōmishima, and Itsukushima (Misen). The first example he gives is Shōgakuin Kannonji, a temple belonging to the Daigoji branch of the Shingon sect located on Shiwaku Honjima, known locally as a Shugendō temple. The Daigoji branch lineage reinforces this, pointing to a Tōzan affiliation in the past, and the temple continues to retain strong connections with Shōbō (832–909), revered as the founder of the Tōzan Shugendō lineage associated with the Daigoji. Its main icon (honzon) is Kannon (a secret statue, or hibutsu), a deity associated with the sea though not specifically with Shugendō. Shugendō activities at Kannonji include the performance of saitō goma (fire ritual) at the summer festival (July 15), while a cliff site called Kuguri Fudō suggests the practice of tainai kuguri.4 However, there is nothing here that is uniquely a sea-related practice or any element that is not found in Tendai, Shingon or Shugendō temples inland. Miyake also mentions a Goryū Shugen temple


The Sea and the Sacred in Japan

called Kichijōin, on the nearby island of Kasajima, which dates from the beginning of the eighteenth century. Until the Meiji period its priest was also the kannushi of the village shrine and at New Year he visited the local households to perform Kōjin rites and gokitō at the stove and the kamidana (Miyake 2012: 40–43). Miyake calls Goryū Shugen the “Kumano Shugen of the sea” (Miyake 2011), but neither in the description of Kichijōin nor in his discussion of Goryū Shugen is there any information about practices and nothing to distinguish any elements that permit it being identified as such, other than that the head temple is located on an “island” near Kurashiki. Further research is necessary to clarify whether any practices associated with Goryū Shugen are related specifically to the sea and cannot be found inland. Miyake’s second example poses similar problems. He suggests that Ōyamatsumi Shrine on Ōmishima had been a Shugendō shrine-temple complex served by 24 bō (subtemples) from around the end of the Heian period. At the end of the sixteenth century there were four married shugenja serving the kami. There seems to have been a mountain-entry practice at one time, from an entry point at a waterfall famous for mizugōri (purification by ablutions) following a line of what appears to be remnants of a series of gyōba (practice sites) to the shrine. A temple called Takiyamadera was established at the waterfall in 1676 and used by shugenja for retreats (Miyake 2012: 44–47). A mountain-entry trail of the type described here is found generally on Shugendō mountains, leading from a place of purification to the peak, and does not point to any distinctive sea elements. This pattern is found at Yoshino and Haguro among others. The third example is Misen on Miyajima, which was supervised in the Edo period by Daisen’in, the temple (bettōji) in control of Itsukushima Shrine. A Shugendō presence is noted in a 1241 inventory, where a yamabushi-toko (lodging) is mentioned. This was described in a 1702 writing as being situated beside the Gedō, which housed Jūichimen Kannon, the original buddha (honjibutsu) of Itsukushima Myōjin, which the yamabushi presumably served. In the Edo period popular deities from famous Shugendō mountains like Kumano Gongen, Hakusan Daigongen, and Yudonosan Daigongen were enshrined at Misen, and new halls, including a Gumonjidō, were also built there at this time. Place-names in the area associated with water and caves suggest gyōba: the waterfall at Takinomiya, Akai (well for ritual water), Mandara ishi, Iwaya Fudō, Nozoki no iwaya, Gotai no Kannon, Iwaya Yakushi, etc. Further, Shugendō coloration seems apparent in Edo period shrine rituals, the most important of which was the island circuit, the Shimamawari gyōji, by boat. One of the boat songs (funauta) spoke of Shugendō mountains (Fuji Sengen, Kumano, Ōmine, Haguro, Hakusan, Tsukubasan, Hikosan, etc.), and the final chant was called “yamabushi.” On New Year’s Eve, priests (misoka yamabushi) blew the conch shell trumpet (horagai) in procession to the shrine (Miyake 2012: 47–50). However, the Itsukushima shrine-temple complex cannot itself be called a Shugendō institution, and further detailed study is necessary to clarify any institutional relationship of Misen to Shugendō and of any yamabushi group there to Daisen’in, the administrative temple of the complex. In general, Miyake sketches the history of the main Shugendō temples in his three sites of interest. His examples testify to a Shugendō presence in the Inland Sea, but he does not give a great deal of information that allows us to distinguish particular

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characteristics of a Shugendō of the sea. Rather, mountain practices like at other sites seem to have been found at all three places, with only the Itsukushima Shimawari gyōji hinting at a sea-related practice mimicking veneration of sacred sites (haisho) in the mountains, such as at Hagurosan, or the Funa zenjō on Lake Chūzenji in Nikkō. Proximity to the sea seems ultimately to be the only criterion. However, one item of interest that we will deal with below is the ubiquitous presence of Kannon at a large number of coastal sites. Kikuchi Takeshi (1989) relies heavily on the ideas set forth by Gorai in the passage from “Shugendō Lore” quoted above, listing a number of coastal hills/mountains in the Noto peninsula and other places that exhibit features described by Gorai, particularly beacons, lights, shining objects on the sea, and the appearance of gods and buddhas from the sea. He emphasizes the influence of Isurugu Shugen (based at Sekidōsan) in the existence of Kokūzōdō (halls venerating the bodhisattva Ākāśagarbha) in temples in the area, such as at Yamabushiyama, and points to the existence of the related Gumonjidō (hall for the practice of the morning star meditation, dedicated to Ākāśagarbha) on Misen (Itsukushima) and at the Shugendō mountain Izusan in Atami, both of which were located close to the sea. Kikuchi demonstrates that elements associated with sea religion were absorbed into Shugendō but fails to explain why they should be considered a discrete part of a unique Shugendō of the sea. A recent publication by Ariyasu Mika also refers to “umi no Shugendō” in relation to the Awashima cult at Kada Shrine, associated with the healing of female illnesses, in terms of the existence of Kadaji (or Kadadera), its administrative temple (bettōji). Kadaji was a Tendai-affiliated Shugendō temple located opposite Tomogashima, from where practitioners of the Katsuragi mountain circuit embarked for the island. I will discuss Katsuragi further below. Though Gorai in particular has offered many clues concerning sea religion, they are less convincing when we try to define a sea Shugendō. While his indications are highly suggestive for further research of specific items of interest related to the sea, it must be understood though that not all are confined to a “Shugendō of the sea.” However, there is considerable overlap, as Gorai himself implies in “Shugendo Lore.” For example, halls burning an eternal flame (jōkadō) were not confined to Shugendō (e.g., in the Inner Precinct of the Shugendō shrine-temple complex of Hagurosan), but had long been a feature of Tendai Buddhism (e.g., the Konponchūdō hall at Enryakuji on Mt Hiei, Yamadera or Risshakuji in Yamagata prefecture, and Chūsonji at Hiraizumi in Iwate prefecture). Rocks to be circled and caves for ascetic withdrawal (komori) were also a common feature of mountain sites. Rather than posing a binary opposition between mountain and sea Shugendō, which demands we set up polar opposites between the two to distinguish them, it is far more useful to consider the relationship between the land and the sea in terms of what passes between them. To further the discussion about Shugendō and the sea, and whether it is indeed possible to posit a “Shugendō of the sea,” I would like to employ the concept of marine cultural landscape, which not only provides a matrix for describing Shugendō in terms both of land and sea, but also offers many ideas for the study of Japanese beliefs and practices related to the sea and associated waterways, particularly in terms of liminal zones and agents.


The Sea and the Sacred in Japan

The Marine Cultural Landscape The term “marine cultural landscape” was introduced and developed by the Danish marine archaeologist Christer Westerdahl (1992) out of a need to find a term to unite “remnants of maritime culture on land as well as underwater.” It emphasizes maritime culture, and has since primarily been used as an archaeological concept combining the physical aspects of sea and land, incorporating sailing routes, ports, and human activity above and below water (see also Westerdahl 2011a). The idea of a cultural landscape is helpful when considering the relationship between the natural and human-built environments;5 this concept was presented by Carl Sauer as early as 1925, when he wrote: “the cultural landscape is fashioned from a natural landscape by a culture group. Culture is the agent, the natural area is the medium, the cultural landscape is the result” (Sauer 1925: 6). A useful definition has been provided by Jensen, Mather, and Grey (2011: 2): Cultural landscapes capture the living past that surrounds us and give us a better understanding of the links between the natural history and human history of a place. They illustrate how we have shaped the world, and how the world’s natural environments have shaped us. [. . .] At their most basic, cultural landscapes are specific places where combinations of human activity and natural forces have left a discernable mark on the world. Cultural landscapes are reservoirs of human experience that preserve undeniable examples of human triumph and loss. Retaining the intangible as well as the tangible parts of human culture, cultural landscapes can do what the natural sciences alone cannot. They convey the human meaning of places.

More succinctly, “landscape exists at the intersection of culture and space” (Ford 2011: 1). For Westerdahl, “the concept maritime culture seems to be most profitably applied as a comprehensive name for all those modes of thinking, customs, artefacts and patterns of acting directly connected with a life at the sea and dependent on the sea and its resources in a wide meaning” (Westerdahl 2003: 19). Marine archaeologists and maritime cultural resource managers have welcomed this holistic approach, since it focuses both on the physical environment and human activity over time. It provides the archaeologist with a means of interpreting an artefact within context by employing evidence from a variety of disciplines, like history, geography, anthropology and ethnology. This concept might have remained within the physical world of marine archaeology had not Westerdahl moved his interest towards the beliefs of maritime peoples, in an attempt to understand the cognitive significance of artefacts through a multidisciplinary approach. Here he acknowledges the influence of the Swedish archaeologist Mats Malmer, who advocated “the need for archaeology to follow up the notion of making the spiritual life of ancient times the foremost and only task of archaeology,” and ideas about the ritual landscape of maritime culture in the work of the Norwegians Svale Solheim and Per Hovda and the Dane Henning Henningsen (Westerdahl 2006).6

Shugendō and the Sea


Westerdahl importantly notes that “certain things taken from land will bring fortune at sea. Some are words or names, some are names of human-like beings. Others taken from the sea will obviously bring luck inland. Precisely because they are taboo, forbidden, in one element or the other they get magical power there.” The boat too can be placed in the category of that which crosses boundaries. He usefully employs the terms “liminal agent” to refer to “whatever crosses the border between two cognitive elements” (such as land and sea) and “liminal state or zone” to “connote the (cognitive) situation or physical area of land where both elements are implied and the transition (cognitively) is felt to take place” (Westerdahl 2011b: 292). Passage endows power, and thus, because an agent has passed over one dimension, it can by implication pass over others, such as between the living and the dead. Such agents can be people like shamans, who are outsiders and liminal also in the social sense, or can be what is normally taboo in the other element, like ships or whales on land or land animals at sea. Westerdahl also identifies social groups as liminal agents, citing the Finns as sorcerers at sea, specifically because they were identified as an inland people (Westerdahl 2011b). If we substitute here “sea” for “mountain,” the yamabushi clearly become liminal agents crossing from the other realm of the mountain into the everyday world. The area where land and sea meet is a “liminal” zone. Westerdahl notes that while the Latin understanding of limen is “threshold,” a terrestrial connotation, the Greek term means harbor or haven, and so directly signifies the land–sea meeting point. However, for Westerdahl, a liminal state or zone implies more than a point of intersection. It is ambiguous: at sea it can be aboard ship, on land it can be part of the shore. Its borders are full of magic, places where wisdom may be attained and where supernatural meetings take place. It is telling that the Shingon patriarch Kūkai (774– 835) practiced the Kokūzō gumonjihō (a mnemonic ritual focused on bodhisattva Akaśagarbha) partly on Mt. Tairyū and partly in a cave at Cape Muroto on Shikoku. On land, the liminal zone includes sighting points, passages of capes and high promontories that are meeting places marked by temples, graves, and so on.7

Shugendo and the Ritual Landscape I would like to apply the idea of “liminal zone” and “liminal agent” to suggest a matrix for looking at Shugendō in terms of a complementary and continuous relationship between land and sea, as part of a wider ritual landscape negotiated by agents with a symbolic adherence to both land and sea. I will modify Westerdahl’s concept of “liminal zone” beyond the physical beach to include the site of ritual interaction between land and sea as well as other binary pairs, such as sickness and health, and life and death. I will further extend its definition to refer to the locus where change is negotiated. By doing so we can interrogate the relationship between sea and land, and by extension mountain, in three ways: (1) passage along the liminal zone; (2) passage through the liminal zone from sea to land; and (3) passage through the liminal zone from land to sea. What is apparent in this analysis is the significant overlap of elements that are associated both with Shugendō and non-Shugendō traditions. Japanese religious


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beliefs and practices that had a common base, such as the “lore” offered by Gorai, were shared among priests, practitioners, and the general populace. We must look on the land–sea relationship in Shugendō as the development of a continuous liminal zone negotiated by a variety of liminal agents, a shared phenomenon that however ends up giving particular agency to the mountain. The core of the issue is whether we can actually talk about a “Shugendō of the sea” as a distinctive Shugendō development. Let us now look more in detail at the three kinds of relationship between sea and land that I am positing.

(1) Passage along the Liminal Zone of the Seaboard (heji) The Ryōjin hishō (Songs to Make the Dust Dance, 1179; Kim, trans., 1994) and the Konjaku monogatari (Tales from Times Now Past, c. 1180) refer to ascetics following coastal paths (heji) joining sacred sites in the Noto Peninsula and in Shikoku, thus offering evidence that coastal circuits were used by religious practitioners, though not specifically or exclusively Shugendō practitioners. Heji (also henchi, hechi) refers either to a path giving access to a sacred site or to the actual practice of conducting ascetic training at that site. Songs (imayō) in the Ryōjin hishō suggest that ascetics followed such coastal paths. One of them, written by an ascetic of Bitchū province called Asei, who “favoured Shugen, travelled to various mountains, crossed the sea, and engaged in demanding ascesis” and “had visited the miraculous sites of Hakusan and Tateyama”(Ryōjin hishō, RH 300; Songs to Make the Dust Dance, Kim, trans., 1994, pp.  105–106). Konjaku monogatari (vol. 17: 18) refers to ascetics “circling the Suzu Cape [in the Noto Peninsula] by going around it and leaving all behind” at the start of a pilgrimage along the Koshi Road. This is the northernmost cape of the Noto Peninsula and its location suggests that heji practice (shugyō) was the central purpose for taking this route, which was not the normal direct access. The same two sources also mention the Shikoku heji and associations between ascetics and heji practice there. One such poem (RH 301; Songs to Make the Dust Dance, p. 106) reads: We perform our ascetic training Wearing our robes of patience over our shoulders, Bearing our portable altars (oi) on our backs, Our clothes are drenched before we realize it with water blown from the sea As we continually tread the Shikoku heji.

A tale in the Konjaku monogatarishū (vol. 31: 14) refers to a group of three Buddhist priests who journeyed along the Shikoku heji following the shoreline of the provinces of Iyo, Sanuki, Awa, and Tosa and wished to return to the coastal path when they

Shugendō and the Sea


wandered off it by mistake and became lost in the deep mountains. Though these do not refer to shugen practitioners as such, they offer evidence for coastal circuits that were used by ascetics. Gorai suggests that two types of practice might be associated with heji. The first is a walking practice following the shore or on hills overlooking the sea, where steep cliffs, promontories, and sutra mounds would serve as gyōba. The second involves ritual seclusion in caves facing the sea.8 He categorizes heji practices such as those of Shikoku as “sea religion,” though he does not define Shugendo in this context.

(2) Passage through the Liminal Zone (a) Nyūbu Practices Besides passage along the liminal zone of the seashore, heji provide passage through the liminal zone to sacred sites. A good example from the Kumano area are the routes leading from Nachi to Hongū (designated as “middle heji” or nakaheji), from Tanabe to Hongū, from Hongū to Kōyasan, and from Nachi to Shingū (“small heji” or koheji), and along the coast from Tanabe. Further, the trail extending from Hongū (itself originally a river island, so part of a liminal waterway zone) to Tamaki, then on to Sanjōgatake via the Ōmine mountains, could also be considered a passage through an extended liminal zone to the most sacred of the Shugendō mountains, particularly as today’s route from Yoshino to Kumano is considered a reversal of the original one (from the sea to the mountain). Mountain-entry (nyūbu) rituals are central to Shugendō practice; they can refer either to entry to the practice site, as in Haguro Shugendō, when shugenja follow a predetermined course in formal procession along a route of sacred sites (haisho) from the Koganedō hall below the mountain to Kōtakuji temple (the Inner Precinct); or to a continuous linear course, like the modern Okugake from Yoshino to Kumano. Generally they do not involve the sea, but one that does is the Katsuragi pilgrimage.9 Documentation for this practice is scarce and many of the sites were lost when Katsuragi Shugendō declined after the 1870s. The course was revived in the early 1960s to approximate the traditional form (though many of the original sites were not rediscovered), based principally on the 1850 Katsurei zakki. It is unique among mountain entry rituals in that its haisho (“caves”) are centered on sutra “mounds” (kyōzuka), ostensibly containing each of the twenty-eight chapters of the Lotus Sutra buried in an urn. It begins at the Tomogashima group of islands in the southern part of the Kii peninsula and ends at Mt. Nijō, in the vicinity of the modern city of Katsuragi. The Katsurei zakki says that Tomogashima is reached from previously mentioned Kadadera (or Kadaji) on the mainland. There were traditionally five sacred sites on Tomogashima between the landing point at Nonaura and the cave at Torajima (a peninsula on the eastern tip of the island) where the first chapter of the Lotus Sutra is buried: the Kannen cave, the sutra cave, the aka (sacred water) well and two ponds, Jinjaike and Tsurugiike (on another small island, Kamijima).10 The main gyōba at Toragahara, further along the coast from the cave, involves scaling cliffs (though the Katsurei zakki does not mention this). Having finished this practice, the practitioners


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return to Kada and continue on to the next site at Shinpukuji (which, incidentally, enshrines Jūichimen Kannon as its main image).

(b) Journeys of Founders from Sea to Mountain Another kind of passage through the liminal zone is that of a “mountain opener.” Origin narratives (engi) associated with “mountain openers” such as Ragyō, discoverer of Nachi, Yorimichi, the founder of Daisen, and Nōjo Taishi, founder of Hagurosan, feature a sea journey and a sea deity or messenger who guides the figure to a holy place inland that is essentially a sacred realm, usually a mountain. For example, the engi of Daisen (late Kamakura) says that the founder was a hunter who had pursued a golden wolf (the transformed body of border-crossing female shaman Toran-ni) that rose out of the sea in the Bay of Miho. He found Jizō inside a cave in the mountain and venerated him as Daisen Chimyō Gongen. Ragyō, said to have been a priest from “India,” drifted across the sea to Nachi Bay, and when he was purifying himself there, Senju Kannon appeared and guided him to the Nachi waterfall, in the pool below of which he found a statue of Kannon. What is now Seigantōji was founded to house it (the statue is Nyoirin Kannon). Furthermore, many local legends associated with the mythological founder of Shugendō En no Gyōja crossing the sea to found them derive from the tradition of his exile on Ōshima and his nightly visits to practice on the summit of Fuji. For example, Yōrōji, a former Shugendō temple in Tateyama (Chiba) and administrative center (bettōji) of Sunosaki Shrine, reports that at the time of En no Gyōja’s exile, there was a great snake on the mountain behind the shrine that demanded human sacrifice. One day, En no Gyoja saw a five-colored cloud rising above the mountain and he paddled off in a dug-out boat with a straw mat around him. He dug a hole in the grounds of Yōrōji and vowed to vanquish the snake, upon which the mountain exploded (Inoue Takao 1998: 22). In the context of a wonder-worker from the sea, I would like to examine the founder legend of Haguro Shugendō in some detail, as it offers an interesting perspective of the dynamism of engi narratives and may also cast light, in a way not usually accessible, on the mechanism joining the sea and the mountain. Haguro has no extant documentation predating the middle of the sixteenth century, though some of the later literature draws on medieval traditions. The Shintōshū makes a brief reference to Nōjo Taishi as Haguro’s founder, but the first full treatment is found in the Hagurosan engi (1644).11 Here he is called Sanfuri no Ōdoto, of grotesque appearance, who left the capital and travelled north. He was guided to Mt. Haguro by a large one-winged crow to a place called Akoya, where he found a miraculous statue of Kannon, and built a temple nearby to enshrine the statue, later providing wakibutsu, Gundari Myōō and Myōken Bosatsu, carved from a mysterious floating piece of wood that had come ashore at Sakata. A number of works dating from the eighteenth century onward present an embellishment related directly to our topic, linking Hagurosan and its founder with the fishing village of Yura, almost directly to the west, and in particular to a cave associated with eight dancing maidens (yaotome).12 One of the earliest allusions is in the Sanzan gashū (1710), a topography with illustrative waka poems, which says that it was a sacred place venerated “from afar” (yōhai) during the Akinomine nyūbu (Sanzan

Shugendō and the Sea


gashū: 19). This suggests that the connection between the founder and the sea was already well in place by the early eighteenth century, and fully established in the 1725 Hagurosan mikoshoku no yurai. It describes how Sanfuri no Ōdoto (Nōjo Taishi) travelled north by ship to the bay of Yura. There he saw eight young girls holding “things from the sea” (umi no mono) standing in a cave in the cliffside. Ōdoto was told that this was a chamber of the palace of Shinatorishima-hime (Tamayori-hime)13 and the bay was the source of the “sea blessing” (umi no sachi) of the great kami of the region, whose mountain was to the east. Nōjo Taishi was told to go there, and the story proceeds much as in the previously-mentioned account. The Hagurosan mikoshoku no yurai account goes on to say that in the past, before the Akinomine ritual was reduced to fifteen days,14 the bay at Yura was the first haisho for the nyūbu but now it was venerated from a yōhaisho between “Ichinomiya” and “the second lodging”.15 The appropriation of what was probably a local coastal tradition associated with legends of the dragon palace was perhaps related to the growing domination of Hagurosan over the area, in particular its virtual absorption of another Shugendō mountain, Arakurasan, directly behind Yura. A temple called Kanchōji venerating Arakura Daigongen, with thirty-three subtemples, was reportedly located here until the turmoil in the closing years of the sixteenth century and the loss of its patrons forced its demise. It is said that one of its shugenja fled to Hagurosan, taking the temple’s records with him, and this was how the Yura engi was brought there (Shōnai shiryōshū 3).16 It is very likely that by the middle years of the seventeenth century, the fishermen of the region were looking to Hagurosan as an alternative to Arakurasan; the Sanzan gashū made this linkage clear in a passage affirming that “Haguro Gongen emitted an auspicious light (zuikō) from this place (the cave) and sent it to the summit [of Hagurosan]” (Sanzan gashū: 19). Moreover, the Haguro sanzan kojitsu shūranki of 1789 makes Ryūjin the honji (original body) of the Haguro deity (p. 488). Stories are still told about a passage joining the cave and a chamber beneath the Main Shrine (or sometimes with the Mitarashi pond), and about smoke coming out of the cave when there was a fire at the shrine. Because Hagurosan was the entrance from the Shōnai region for pilgrimage to Gassan, the highest mountain of the area and associated with both land and sea beliefs, it would have been natural to encourage stories about such a linkage. During the Edo period there was a Haguro-affiliated shugenja in Yura who acted as administrator (bettō) of the Hakusan shrine-temple on the small island where the cave was located and supervisor of the cave. Following the religious changes in the Meiji period, this became simply Hakusan Shrine. Various fraternities existed in Yura which made pilgrimage to the three mountains under strict ascetic conditions, and there is still one whose members visit Hagurosan on the night of August 31 for the Hakkōsai festival where the shrine Akinomine participants perform their saitō goma, to pray for good catches and safety at sea. There is another possible element in the appropriation of the sea lore of Yura. In emphasizing the role of the eight maidens associated with the Dragon Palace in the Hagurosan mikoshoku no yurai, Chiken’in, in charge of licensing miko female ritualists, under whose name the license was issued, may have been seeking a rationale for absorbing women into the Haguro institution as licensed miko. The Haguro


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shrine-temple complex of Jakkōji had two accredited miko attached to the Main Shrine, who received a stipend and whose duties included the performance of kagura and yudate. The Shūkaishū clearly refers to them as mai-otome (dance specialists), who performed monthly services on specific days of the month at the Oriidō, a shrine below the mountain, together with the four “kagura otoko” (Shūkaishū: 24). According to a document of 1746–1747 (Haguro-ha matsuji narabi ni Shugen inseki daisū torishirabechō: 221–224), eighty-two of the eighty-six Haguro licensed miko were in the Nanbu (Morioka) district. This was a time when accreditation of miko and other practitioners, such as the blind zatō (male) and goze (female), became widespread, as a result of government policy on one hand and the growing power of rival accrediting institutions such as the Yoshida and Tsuchimikado houses as well as the three main Shugendō groups on the other. Jakkōji had complained in 1717 about Yoshida incursion on its rights of appointment and Haguro supervisory temples in Nanbu accused Tendai-affiliated Honzan-ha in 1746 of trying to take control of its personnel. Was, then, the sea connection emphasized by way of the yaotome related in some way to the struggle for control of dannaba with Honzan-ha and other authorities?17 Further examples of the movement of liminal objects from sea to land include “dragon lights”, sacred objects, and deities.

(c) Dragon Lights (ryūtō) A widespread phenomenon not limited to Shugendo temples, legends about the incidence of lights or fires moving from the sea to the land, are widely reported in coastal regions. Westerdahl finds the same phenomenon in the Baltic Sea, noting that “the fire is the medium that makes the wet thing dry, and transforms it, from sea to land” (Westerdahl 2011b: 297). The lights are believed to be offerings of sacred fire to the mountain deities from those in the dragon realm beneath the sea. This suggests connections with the sacred fire (jōka) burned in mountain temples, though further research is necessary to link a particular flame with a dragon light. Large numbers of coastal temples, including Shugendō ones, are known to be centers of a sea cult because they are landmarks: Ishimineyama in Miyagi, originally in the Haguro lineage, Aominesan in Mie, Ōsugiden (Anbasama) in Ibaraki, and Takatsukayama in Chiba, to name only a very few. Dragon lights are often depicted as coming to rest in trees (matsu, sugi, etc.) in such places to act as beacons for shipping. Kikuchi Takeshi gives the example of a Shugendō temple in Aomori called Enakuji, which is the center of a seafarers’ cult. It is situated on a low coastal mountain and in its precincts stands a large tree, known as the dragon light cedar (ryūtōsugi), which is said to emit fire on dark nights to ensure safety at sea (Kikuchi 1989: 45). Dragon lights are not unique to Shugendō but were absorbed by it as part of the marine cultural landscape within which it found itself. A central function of a shugenja was to provide for the needs of the community he lived in, and these were practical as well as ritual. Thus, it is no surprise to find dragon lights featuring as a practical offering of the dragon realm to the land, but they were also evidence of the esteem of that realm. Placing focus on them as offerings to the mountain deity may well be a Shugendō contribution, as it absorbed the sea cults into its own liminal zone.

Shugendō and the Sea


(d) Sacred Objects and Deities The origin narratives (engi) of many shrines and temples speak of their deity having drifted ashore as a piece of wood, an object, or a statue. The possession of such an object does not however constitute a Shugendō of the sea, but rather a shared tradition. Driftwood is particularly numinous. The Nihon shoki relates a story from the time of Emperor Kinmei (early sixth century) about a brightly shining log of camphorwood floating on the sea accompanied by miraculous voices that was made into two Buddha images. Many temples in Japan owe their origins to pieces of driftwood carved into statues of Kannon, such as, for example, Hasedera in Nara prefecture. The famous story of the Kannon of Sensōji in Tokyo, found in a fisherman’s net, also has many variations. A similar legend is associated with Iwakuraji on Noto peninsula, a temple with strong Shugendō connections in the past. A fisherman saw a shining piece of wood floating in the sea, and taking it up he found a figure of Senju Kannon inside. He took it home, and that night Kannon appeared to him in a dream and asked to be taken up Mt. Iwakura, a mountain prominent from the sea. The statue became so heavy that at one point the fisherman had to stop, and it was there that the temple was founded—that Kannon later became a protector deity for fishermen and seafarers. Here too we see the fisherman acting as a liminal agent, moving a sacred object from sea to land. At nearby Takatsumeyama, another mountain clearly visible from the sea, there is a Kannondō temple which houses a Kannon statue said to have been found in a fishermen’s net and taken to the summit by the daughter of the village headman. There is a large cedar on the summit. Until the Meiji period, there was a temple here called Daifukuji, whose administrative office (bettōji) was a Shugen facility called Kitanobō; it is now a shrine which is still popular for sea safety and fishing prosperity (Kikuchi 1989: 41–42). Other mysterious objects drifting to shore include mirrors and combs. A divine mirror floated up off the seabed near Atami emitting a wondrous sound and light and flew to the summit of the Higane peak at Izusan, where it was found by a local ascetic and enshrined there. Izusan, an important Shugendō center until the early Meiji period, venerated Hashiriyu Gongen, two of whose three original forms (honji) are Senju Kannon and Nyorin Kannon. It is tempting to speculate here too that the mirror was considered a manifestation of Kannon. Though not Shugendō, an interesting comparison can be made with the cult of Azuma Gongen, a sea deity identified with Ototachibana-hime, the wife of mythological hero Yamatotakeru who threw herself into the rough sea to appease the anger of a sea deity. Stories about her possessions (hairpin, comb, sleeve, mirror) being washed ashore abound along the coast from Kasumagaura in Chiba down to the eastern side of Izu peninsula. Azuma shrines are generally built on hills, with their superintending temples (bettoji) close by until the Meiji period. Physical attributes include trees that act as beacons for ships, and burial mounds. They tend to possess items associated with Ototachibana-hime that have been washed ashore, their shintai were often retrieved from the sea, and where the honjibutsu can be identified, it is a form of Kannon.18 The frequency of Kannon as the main icon (honzon) of coastal temples, not just Shugendō ones, is well attested. As a deity from the sea or immigrant deity (imaki no kami), Kannon is the honji, not only of many sea deities but also of mountains with


The Sea and the Sacred in Japan

springs on their summits, like Hagurosan and Hakusan. It is in fact possible to trace a linear connection with Kannon, the honjibutsu of Haguro Daigongen, through the above-mentioned passage from the Sanzan gashū that Haguro Gongen sent a light from the cave at Yura to the summit of Hagurosan: Kannon as a liminal agent which has emerged from the sea realm as a dragon light and traced a path to the summit of the mountain, to be enshrined in the temple there. The complementarity of mountain and sea is far-reaching. What makes this interplay of identity possible is the many-layered nature of the sacred cultural zone of the sea. The sea contains every possibility: it is the source of wealth, healing, immortality, hope, and rebirth. The land across the sea known as tokoyo was at the same time the palace of the Dragon King, often described as a Pure Land, Mt Penglai (Hōrai) of the Daoist immortals, and Mt. Potalaka, the realm of Kannon. It is not surprising that such ideas were conflated, in a Buddhist context, in the person of Kannon, and that Kannon became the liminal agent par excellence, crossing between dimensions and uniting the living and the dead.

(3) Passage from Land to Sea The passage to Potalaka (Fudaraku tokai) of Nachi in Kumano is often considered a Shugendō custom. Nachi, one of three shrine-temple complexes at Kumano, was the center of a Kannon cult, and it became the site of a practice known as the Fudaraku passage (Fudaraku tokai), where priest-ascetics entombed themselves inside boats called utsubobune that would carry them to Fudaraku, the Pure Land of Kannon. The Kumano coast became a liminal zone connecting the realms of the living and the dead, the boat itself acting as psychopomp. But is this an example of sea Shugendō? The Nachi shrine-temple complex did have a Shugendō presence, but its shugenja were only one part of the institutional structure. This is conveyed well in the Nachi sankei mandara, in an illustration of a ship setting off on the passage, where three groups are represented: Buddhist priests, shrine priests, and yamabushi. Administration of the Kumano Shrines resembled rather a temple complex like Kōfukuji, with a hierarchy that placed yamabushi below temple priests, than the single mountain temples associated with Shugendō that grew up around Japan from the medieval period. This means that a plethora of beliefs and practices could be subsumed within the Kumano complex without being specifically identified with Shugendō, because there was no need. Given the fact that the Fudaraku passage was carried out at other sites as well that were not necessarily connected with Shugendō (Moerman 2007: 271), it should be considered an instance of Kannon belief that accreted to Kumano for its geographic and literary associations with the world of the dead, rather than as a manifestation of a unique form of sea Shugendō.

Conclusion Just as yamabushi in villages provided the rituals and services required by their local community, those living in coastal areas made prayer rituals for sea safety and good

Shugendō and the Sea


catches, assisted village festivals, purified boats before their departure, and installed the spirit of the boat (funadama).19 Future study will involve a closer study of the activities of yamabushi who lived in fishing villages. Detailed studies of Shugendō mountain temples in coastal areas are also a necessity, though these are so often hampered by a dearth of documentation. One study that might prove useful would be of Kinkazan, an island north of Sendai that has a (now occluded) Shugendō history. Would it reveal any distinctive elements that we could ascribe to a sea Shugendō? Nevertheless, this preliminary study pushes me to doubt whether we can talk about a distinct sea Shugendō discrete from Shugendō as practiced on mountains. In employing and extending the concept of the maritime cultural landscape, I have attempted to create a matrix which can look on Shugendō as a continuum, not a contrast, between land and sea, though the mountain still seems to be dominant in the equation.



Buddhas from Across the Sea The Transmission of Buddhism in Ancient and Medieval Temple Narratives (engi) Abe Yasurō

Translated by Or Porath

One of the most famous legends in premodern Japan was not a tale that served the purpose of creating “Japan” as a mythological state, but rather a story about an ama (a female abalone diver) finding a magical jewel (tama-tori monogatari) in the sea. It became very popular as a theme in the performing arts from the medieval to the early modern periods as it was repeatedly told and performed in theater and dance. Among this tale’s countless retellings, adaptations and variations, the most well-known ones are the Noh play Ama, the ballad-drama (bukyoku) Taishokan, and also Chikamatsu Monzaemon’s Taishokan (Takano 1932; see also Muroki 1970, Hara 2013). The story was originally part of the engi (origin narratives) of Nara’s Kōfukuji, the ancestral temple or ujidera of the Fujiwara regents, one of the main governmentsponsored temples (kanji) that formed the pillar of state Buddhism. Needless to say, the ama story did not appear in any official engi text, but rather, it was an unofficial legend (geden) that suddenly appeared in the medieval period as a popular tale. The bukyoku version tells the origin of the jewel inserted between the eyebrows of the main icon at the primary hall (Kondō) of Kōfukuji, an image of Śākyamuni Buddha. This was a divine jewel, called muge hōju (lit. “unobstructed jewel,” a magical object with infinite powers), also known as “flawless pearl” (menkō fuhai no tama). The story tells the struggles between dragons and humans over the jewel and its vicissitudes. According to this, the daughter of the prime minister Fujiwara no Fuhito (the youngest sister of Empress Kōmyō, also called Lady Kōhaku), who became the consort of the Tang Emperor, wanted to enshrine a precious jewel between the brows of the main icon of Kōfukuji, built by her father in order to commemorate his ancestor, taishokan Kamatari. This jewel, known as “flawless pearl” (menkō fuhai no tama), was one of the three most prized sacred treasures (sanshu jippō) of the Tang Dynasty. When the Chinese imperial messenger crossed the sea toward Japan carrying the jewel, a dragon snatched it and took it to the Dragon Palace (Ryūgū), where it was revered as an important treasure and placed at the top of a thirteen-storied pagoda made of crystal. 119


The Sea and the Sacred in Japan

In order to retrieve the jewel, prime minister Fuhito (in the bukyoku version this role is consistently played by Fuhito’s father, the taishokan Kamatari) disguises himself and goes to Shidoura in Sanuki province (present-day Kagawa prefecture). There, he marries an ama and begets the child Fusasaki. The ama is willing to risk her life to bring back the jewel from the Dragon Palace on the condition that her son will become the next prime minister. Fuhito agrees, and the ama dives into the sea and dies. Fuhito finds her corpse and laments her dying in vain, but then notices the jewel under her breast, which the baby is still suckling. She had deceived the dragon by slitting open her breast and hiding the jewel within. Later on, it turns out she is in fact the Dragon Girl who attained enlightenment in the Lotus Sutra. The jewel was then installed between the eyebrows of the main image at Kōfukuji, and later Fusasaki, now prime minister, mourned his beloved mother by performing the hakke hakkō, the ritual recitation of the eight scrolls of the Lotus Sutra, and building a temple in Shido (Taishokan, in Kōwakamai vol. 1). The story also served as an explanation for the founding of Shidoji temple in Sanuki, a site of worship on the Shikoku pilgrimage as a miraculous place associated with Kannon (Tomohisa 1967; Kokuritsu Nōgakudō, ed., 1991). There were also e-monogatari (a genre of illustrated tales from the Muromachi period), told in the form of etoki (performance of picture explication), and versions told through illustrations (engi-e) by fundraising preachers (Umezu 1968). These stories formed in connection with the so-called “medieval Nihongi” (Chūsei Nihongi), a vast and heterogeneous body of medieval religious lore loosely based on events recorded in the Nihon shoki; this material was clearly different from the state mythology of the latter and closely related to the performing arts (Itō 1972; Abe 1985). A dramatized version of this engi, the bukyoku drama Taishokan, was produced in large numbers in the form of emaki (illustrated scrolls) and ehon (illustrated books) (Koida, ed., 2010) and was richly developed as a theme for painted folding screens (byōbu-e) (Izumi 1988; Ōta 2003; Trede 2004). It also became the model for the e-monogatari genre of otogizōshi (Muromachi prose). Just by glancing at the tale of the ama retrieving the jewel, we can understand how appropriate it is to consider it as representative of Japanese legends and specifically religious lore. In this myth, very popular in the medieval period, we can see the most peculiar aspect (if not even the prototype) of Japanese legends about the transmission of Buddhism, namely, the motif of a magical treasure that came to Japan from a foreign land across the sea (Abe 1994). The theme of Buddhism coming from across the sea, clearly related to religious history, deeply permeates all these stories, which constitute a corpus on the transmission of Buddhism. On the surface, these stories are origin narratives about treasures—in our case, a particularly rare and precious sacred jewel bestowed by the Tang emperor to be placed inside a Buddhist image. These treasures were equivalent to relics (shari), which, as the bodily remains of the Tathāgata—the veritable buddha-body (busshin)— were considered the highest among the Three Jewels, since they corresponded to the Buddha himself. These objects, brought to Japan from faraway lands across the sea, were envisioned as miraculous, sacred, and precious. One such treasure could even activate the divine power of the main icon at Kōfukuji. The transmission of the jewel, with its complex plot and various vicissitudes—on the route to Japan, the jewel is snatched away to the other world of the Dragon Palace

Buddhas from Across the Sea


(the abode of different, non-human, beings, or irui), only to be retrieved thanks to the self-sacrifice of a woman (in retribution for which, her son will become the future great minister (daijin)—was the typical plot of stories about the transmission of Buddhism to Japan. One could argue that such stories can already be classified as belonging to the universal category of myth.

The Transmission of Buddhism in Ancient Japan as Told in Engi Narratives The “myth” about the transmission of Buddhism to Japan exists in a completely separate form from the account of its official transmission, which is said to have happened between countries (from Paekche to Japan) or between kings (from King Seongmyeong to Emperor Kinmei); however, the myth is recorded in the same historical text, the Nihon shoki, along with the official account (Nihon shoki [C], 367). In the entry for the fourteenth year of Emperor Kinmei (553), a miraculous log emitting light drifted ashore at Chinu, Izumi province (present-day Osaka prefecture). An image of Kannon was carved from the log and enshrined at Hisodera in Yoshino. Since light also emanated from the icon, this camphor image was named “Yoshino’s Shining Image.” This is possibly the origin narrative (engi) of Hisodera in Yoshino and its main icon. It is interesting to note that Ikebe no Atai, who reported this event to the ruler, belonged to an ancient and powerful clan of the Izumi province; his descendants became Buddhist devotees, and one of them was the Tendai monk Kakuchō (Akamatsu 1965); this family still exists today. This origin narrative about a Buddhist image made of miraculous driftwood (this was perhaps Japan’s first wooden image)—a legend about miraculous images in which buddhas manifest themselves as numinous trees—from the Nihon shoki was later mentioned in Fusō ryakki and other medieval Buddhist chronicles, and is related to an important story, the engi tale of Hasedera Kannon in Yamato. The Nihon shoki also reports a similar origin narrative about the creation of a Buddhist image from another miraculous tree, a fragrant sandalwood (sendan kōboku), which washed up ashore from the sea off Tosa (entry for the third year of Empress Suiko’s reign [595], in Nihon shoki [C], p. 420); this image was also enshrined at Hisodera. Interestingly, this latter tale about carving a Buddhist image from driftwood during Empress Suiko’s reign has a lot in common with the engi of Hisodera, and was eventually developed into a distinctive tale about Shōtoku Taishi’s achievements in promoting the prosperity of Buddhism. The first scroll of Shōtoku Taishi denryaku, in the entry on the third year of Suiko’s reign, tells the story in the following way (p.  12). Shōtoku Taishi, upon receiving a report from Tosa, ascertains that the miraculous tree which gives off an unusual fragrance is in fact a sacred sandalwood tree and informs the emperor of the merits that can be accrued by using it to make a buddha image; he then builds Hisodera at Yoshino. This story is part of a larger cycle of origin narratives about Shōtoku Taishi founding temples, such as Shitennōji in Osaka and Rokkakudō in Kyoto. In these ancient legends about the transmission of Buddhism, there is a clearly recognizable pattern: a tree drifts ashore from the sea, such as a sacred wood (misogi) or a “fragrant sandalwood” (sendan kōboku); these materials are used for the creation of a


The Sea and the Sacred in Japan

Buddhist statue which then becomes the main image (honzon) at some temple. This pattern finally converges in the Zenkōji engi, which can be considered the systematization (i.e., the medieval authoritative version) of temple origin narratives as legends about the transmission of Buddhism to Japan; in this case, “Buddhism” is often represented as a particular icon. (The twelfth-century Fusō ryakki (pp. 28–29) summarizes the early text of this story.) The basic story is about the main icon of Zenkōji temple in Nagano, called the “triad of the living Tathāgata of one light” (ikkō snzon shōjin nyorai), which was supposedly carried across the Three Countries (first India, then Paekche in Korea, before reaching Japan) until King Seongmyeong of Paekche sent it off by boat across the sea in the thirteenth year of Emperor Kinmei’s reign. In the story, this is the “official transmission” before the accepted official transmission as reported in the Nihon shoki (year 14 of Kinmei), and the statue is presented as the first image of Amida in Japan. In this story, the motif of the transmission of a miraculous image by sea is further developed and elaborated in various situations: the statue itself was made in gold by the divine craftsman Viśvakarman as a copy of the Buddha Amida manifesting himself from the Pure Land; as a living buddha it shows vital signs and is endowed with agency. Among all origin narratives, those about Shōtoku Taishi held a unique status and came to be canonized in ways second only to the official national histories. Compilations of historical documents such as the Nihon shoki and legends about the transmission of Buddhism included in hagiographies such as Shōtoku Taishi denryaku, possess a historical significance beyond that of mere memories of the arrival of Buddhism. Moreover, texts like the Zenkōji engi functioned as complex religious media (combining Buddhist icons, origin narratives, illustrated stories, hagiographies, performing arts, and rituals) and exerted great influence throughout medieval Japan (especially in the eastern regions, and as closely related to Shōtoku Taishi legends) (Abe 2013: 28–56). Therefore, it is important to note that the theme of the arrival of Buddhism was also subsumed and developed within these texts. We can identify this phenomenon also at the formative stage of provincial origin narratives in the middle ages. Two such texts from Owari province (present-day Aichi prefecture), both dating to the Kamakura period (i.e., the thirteenth century), are good examples. The engi of Jimokuji Kannon, composed under the influence of the Zenkōji engi, is about the image of Kannon that was originally placed on the side (wakiji) of the Zenkōji main icon; it was supposedly found in the sea by an ama who then carried it ashore. The engi of Kasadera (Ryūfukuji) Kannon shares motifs such as sacred driftwood or misogi, the occurrence of a miracle related to that wood, and the creation of an image by an itinerant ascetic (Abe 2015a, Nagoya-shi Hakubutsukan, ed. 1998). One can find many similar examples and local variations all over Japan of legends of this kind, in which a buddha image appears coming from the sea.

Engi Legends about Icon Transmission in Nara’s Main Temples The previously mentioned medieval legend of the “flawless pearl” in the main image of the Chū-kondō at Kōfukuji (the story about the ama retrieving the jewel) can be traced further back to older legends about the transmission of Buddhism to Japan centered

Buddhas from Across the Sea


on the main temples in Nara (often called the “seven great temples” or shichidaiji) (Takano 1932). The most ancient of those legends can be found in the Shoku Nihongi’s entry on the Fourth Year, Third Month of Emperor Monmu’s rule (Shoku Nihongi, pp.  5–6). The Gangōji monk Dōshō (he was born in an ancient maritime clan, the Fune, which controlled seafaring) went to Tang China, where he studied under Xuanzang. When he returned to Japan, his teacher gave him, along with a set of scriptures, a pot that produced a magical medicine that could cure many diseases. During his travel at sea, Dōshō encountered raging winds. Realizing that the Dragon King coveted this magical treasure, he dropped the pot into the sea and was able to return home safely. Dōshō placed the scriptures at Gangōji and engaged in the diffusion of Buddhism. There are many legends of this type around the main temples in Nara, with the following common features: a Japanese monk returning from China (or a foreign monk coming to Japan) carries a treasure; the Dragon King wants it and the object is thrown off the boat and sinks to the bottom of the sea. Dōshō’s master, Xuanzang, appears in a legend in the sixth scroll of Konjaku monogatarishū (in the China section; [B], 16: 290–295). In this episode Xuanzang, on his way back from his journey in search of the Dharma in India, has to give his magic pot, which has the power to produce all kinds of food, to the Dragon God of the River Hindus. In addition, a medieval legend about the Tang monk Jianzhen (Jp. Ganjin, 688–763), the founder of Tōshōdaiji, says that when he crossed the sea toward Japan carrying a Buddha relic (busshari), the Dragon King went after this treasure. The raging wind was about to capsize his boat, so Ganjin threw the relic in the sea. However, when he was lamenting the loss of this treasure, a tortoise (a transformation of the Dragon God) rose to the surface carrying the relic on its back and offered it to Ganjin (Kenkyū gojunreiki, p. 145). This legend is still told today; it is explained as the origin of the Shaka nenbutsu assembly at Tōshōdaiji, in which the main icon is the “relic that Ganjin brought to Japan” (Ganjin shōrai shari). This relic is stored in what is known as the “golden tortoise relic pagoda” (kinki shari tō), with its distinctive shape: a Dragon King that transformed into a tortoise, with its shell supporting a relic pagoda. It functioned as both a symbol of the transmission of Buddhism (especially, in this case, the monastic precepts), as well as an explanation for the origin of its devotional ritual. Among Nara temple engi that recount the transmission of Buddhism, there is another important legend that originated and developed at Gangōji, Dōshō’s temple. The Daigoji manuscript version of Shoji engi shū contains, among many old engi texts from the Heian period, also a Gangōji engi (Shoji engishū (Daigoji-bon), p.  75). This story is remarkable because it provides a different account of the transmission of Buddhism from the one included in the Nihon shoki. It is followed by another Gangōji engi about Miroku (Skt. Maitreya), the main icon of the Kondō. The story of this image begins with a vow made by King Chōgan in East India, followed by a miraculous appearance of a supernatural child (kenin dōji) who built the statue. When the great minister of the country of Ko (Ch. Hu, corresponding to a vague region including Persia and Central Asia) transported the image by sea, the Dragon God grew covetous of it and tried to sink the boat carrying it. However, thanks to negotiations between the


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great minister and the Dragon God, the statue crossed the sea safely. On that occasion, the minister gave to the Dragon God the “jewel between the eyebrows” of that statue, and until today the icon in Japan is still missing the light-emitting white tuft between the eyebrows. This legend about the transmission of an icon was included in the Konjaku monogatari shū (Japanese section, eleventh chapter), together with engi of many important temples, and is easier to read than other versions. In the Konjaku monogatari shū version, it is the chief minister (saishō) of Silla who transmitted an image of Miroku by sea and negotiated with the Dragon King (Konjaku monogatari shū [B], 30). From it, we know that until the twelfth century there were legends about the transmission of Buddhism from across the sea centered on the main icon of the Kondō in Gangōji, formerly an important temple in Nara, established upon a vow by Empress Genmei and previously known as Asuka’s Gangōji (Hōkōji). These legends report that the “jewel between the eyebrows” of the main icon was lost and thus there was no light emanating from it. However, in the thirteenth century this legend came to be about the main icon of the Chū-Kondō of Kōfukuji, located north of Gangōji on the opposite side of Sarusawa pond; it also became a story about the retrieval (no longer about the loss) of the “jewel between the eyebrows” in that statue, which an ama was able to take back from the dragon king. In the fourteenth century, this story appeared again in etoki form as the engi of Shidoji temple in Sanuki (the Sanshū Shido dōjō engi) (Abe 1986), as well as a text used by Nara Ritsu monks for preaching, the “Wa ga chō shinju no koto” (“On our country’s divine jewel”) included in Taikyō teiyōshō (Tsukishima 2008). As a story used for preaching to commoners, it is completely different from the official Kōfukuji engi, which served instead as an explanation of the origin of the Lotus Assembly (Hokke-e) that was carried out for the ama at the Chū-Kondō. In the Sanshū Shido dōjō engi, by contrast, it functions as the origin story of the eight lectures on the Lotus Sutra (Hokke hakkō) that commemorate the death of the ama—Dragon Girl—in the story. In other words, the legend shifted from being an origin tale for an ancient imperial temple, to serving as an engi for the ancestral temple of the Fujiwara clan, to finally being used as material for popular sermons. Engi narratives in Nara about main icons that came from across the sea were not limited to the seven great temples, but also existed at miraculous places related to Kannon. One of these is the story about the Jūichimen Kannon (Ko-Gannon) enshrined at the Nigatsudō hall of Tōdaiji (included in the Tōdaiji engi and the Nigatsudō engi painted scrolls). When the monk Jitchū was about to begin the Shunie ritual, he was praying in Naniwa Harbor hoping to be able to welcome the living body of Kannon as she descended from Mt. Potalaka (Fudaraku-sen). A gilt bronze image of a Kannon appeared, riding on the seawater on an akaoshiki (a vessel for offerings) as it made its way to the shore. This image of Kannon approaching from the sea was painted in the Kamakura period’s Tōdaiji engi-e (preserved at Tōdaiji, transmitted from Mikenji) (Nara Kokuritsu Hakubutsukan, ed., 1975, p. 186); its iconography, beginning with the image of Hasedera Kannon (Nōman’in, Hasedera, Kamakura period), belongs to a shared model of Jūichimen Kannon typical of medieval Nara, deriving among others, from the legend of the Jūichimen Kannon at Nigatsudō.

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Furthermore, we should note that this engi about the main icon of Nigatsudō continues to live on in the ritual of Shunie, which has Ko-Gannon as one of its main images and is still performed to this day. In the latter part of this ritual, which lasts for fourteen days, in correspondence with the pronouncement (kaibyaku) about KoGannon, the icon is translated from the rear chamber (ushirodo) to the worship hall (raidō), where it receives offerings (kuyō), after which it is moved to the inner chamber (naijin) at night and worshipped frontally. This is regarded as the ritual reenactment of the engi about the miraculous apparition (kantoku) of the image to Jitchū at Naniwa. This ritual, also known as the “festival of Ko-Gannon” (Ko-Gannon no matsuri), is particularly important within Shunie. It also displays strong characteristics of kamibuddha amalgamation (shinbutsu shūgō) in the form of the summoning and transferring of kami (respectively, kanjō and senza) that are normally seen in kami worship (Satō 2002, chapter “Ko-Gannon no matsuri”).

Engi Illustrated Scrolls that Recreate the Beginning of Medieval Buddhism The textual production of medieval Buddhism was not limited to origin narratives of a specific temple or a specific ceremony. It was also a massive attempt to represent the beginning of a new kind of Buddhism through myth, which involved honoring great masters and commemorating the formation of new Buddhist schools. This endeavor was carried out through the creation of painted scrolls (emaki). In this context, the constant theme of the transmission of Buddhism to Japan is always accompanied by another one, namely, that of various treasures being brought from across the sea. These two themes took new forms (materials) and meanings, and were expressed in stories about miracles. The precious objects in these stories do not only consist of relics of the Buddha, buddha images, or sacred jewels, which strictly speaking pertain to the first of the Three Jewels of Buddhism (i.e., the Buddha); they are expanded to encompass the two other Jewels, namely the Dharma (sutras) and the Sangha (monks’ ritual implements such as the small gong). In the case of new transmissions of Buddhist teachings or the creation of new sects, the narrative motif of a precious object from overseas, ending up at some point on the bottom of the ocean, and finally brought to a Buddhist patriarch in Japan reappears, and is represented in emaki painted scrolls (illustrated tales), the most outstanding media of the time. The prototype for this can be identified in two emaki created, respectively, in the early and late medieval period. The first is the Kegon engi emaki, authored by Myōe in the thirteenth century (Umezu 1968, chapter “Shido engi-e ni tsuite”); the other, dating to the sixteenth century, is the Yuzū dainenbutsu kamegane engi, an emaki commemorating the fourteenth-century priest Hōmyō who revived the Yuzū nenbutsu school (Matsuura 2000). Myōe Kōben reorganized the Kōzanji temple in Kyoto as a new place of learning and practice that sought to combine Kegon and Mikkyō teachings for the revival of Buddhism. Myōe identified his religious ideal with two eminent Korean monks, Wonhyo (Jp. Gangyō) and Uisang (Jp. Gishō), who transmitted the Avatam . saka sūtra


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(J. Kegonkyō) to Silla in ancient times. He created a new religious text by transposing the hagiographies of those two monks (drawn from the Song gaoseng zhuan, Jp. Sō kōsōden) into illustrated tales, namely, the set of two scrolls, the Gangyō-e (Illustrated story of Wonhyo) and Gishō-e (Illustrated story of Uisang). Both scrolls open with the beginning of the trip to Tang China that the two individual monks decided to undertake in order to study Buddhism. They find shelter for the night in a large hole on a grave mound (tsukaana) and are visited in a dream by an ogre, but their respective interpretation of the dream is very different, and that determines their future lives. Whereas Wonhyo awakens to the truth that everything depends on the mind and decides to go back, Uisang follows a different path: he concludes that he should study the mind further and proceeds with his travel. The narrative versions of the two monks’ hagiographies in Myōe’s emaki are filled with mythological motifs revolving around the transmission of Buddhism across the sea. Simply put, Gangyō-e is a story about a scripture brought from the Dragon Palace at the bottom of the sea, whereas Gishō-e describes a woman who transformed herself into a dragon god (Zenmyō) in order to protect Uisang and, with him, Buddhism as well. In other words, they tell the story of the transmission of Buddhism to Silla through the mediation of the sea world, represented by the Dragon Palace where the dragon god resides, in a superb visual rendering. The most important part of Gangyō-e is a dramatic episode about the transmission of the Vajrasamādhi-sūtra (J. Kōngōsanmai-kyō) from the Dragon Palace. (Wonhyo is the author of a famous commentary on this scripture.) The consort of the king of Silla falls ill, and a divination is performed to determine the cause. It turns out that she is the daughter of the Dragon King and can only be cured by a certain sutra that can only be found in the Dragon Palace. The King then dispatches a minister (daijin) to the Dragon Palace in the depths of the sea, and the Dragon King gives him the Vajrasamādhi-sūtra. In order to avoid disaster at sea, the minister cuts open his own shin, places the sutra inside, and returns safely to the royal palace. The journey to the Dragon Palace and the description of the Palace is the finest part of this emaki. On the other hand, the protagonist of Gishō-e is a beautiful woman called Zenmyō; she first falls in love with Uisang during his study period in Tang China, but then she becomes a virtuous lady who venerates Buddhism. When she sees off Uisang leaving China to return to his country, Zenmyō makes a vow to protect the monk and throws herself in the sea. Immediately she transforms into a great dragon and escorts Uisang’s ship to Silla. The illustrated story, which includes a lengthy sequence of miracles centering on Zenmyō’s transformation into a dragon, is the artistic apogee of medieval emaki. In the text, Myōe himself wrote an extensive commentary to this episode in dialog form, in which he showed its religious significance; doubtlessly, this story had a special importance for Myōe. The latter part of this emaki no longer exists, but it included a version of the origin narrative of the Pusoksa (Jp. Fusekiji) temple in South Korea: Zenmyō, now Uisang’s tutelary deity, turns into a giant rock and chases away the scoundrels in the temple. Interestingly, Myōe enshrined Zenmyō as the guardian deity of Kōzanji and made a kami icon (shinzō) in her shape. In the background to the magnificent narrative and iconographic creation (in terms of artistic quality of emaki)—the scene where Zenmyō throws herself into the sea (a cloud is emitted from her fingertips and suddenly a great dragon appears) and her

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transformation into a dragon—one can detect traces of the narrative motifs we have discussed above, from that of a woman diving into the sea to retrieve a jewel from the Dragon Palace to the ama’s self-sacrifice in the Shidoji engi (Abe 1998: 317–342). Thanks to the conceptual ability of a great religious man such as Myōe, Kegon engi emaki is a stunning revitalization of older and deep-rooted Buddhist myths for a new medieval audience. Its setting, based on Korea and China, gestures towards a more universal Buddhist narrative that transcended the horizon of Kōzanji and the Kegon tradition. It is a good reflection of the originality of Myōe’s vision, especially when we consider that as a young monk he intended to embark on a journey to India, only to be prevented by an oracle of Kasuga Daimyōjin (Abe 2016). The creation of a new mythological narrative on the transmission and dissemination of Buddhism, which transcended time and space, in the form of engi illustrated scrolls, was carried out throughout the middle ages. In the twelfth century, the Tendai priest Ryōnin established the Yuzū nenbutsu group in the Ōhara bessho (a site for ascetic practices near Kyoto); his activities were continued in the medieval period by the itinerant nenbutsu hijiri. The illustrated scroll Yūzū nenbutsu engi emaki (Art Institute of Chicago and Cleveland Museum of Art, dated 1314) describes the origin and diffusion of this movement. The scroll was frequently reproduced and widely disseminated throughout the fourteenth century. A member of this tradition, Hōmyō from Kawachi province (present-day Osaka prefecture), who was influential in establishing the Yūzū nenbutsu “sect,” became the protagonist of a newly created myth about the origin of this movement, a myth which finds its best expression in a sixteenth-century emaki entitled Yuzū dainenbutsu kamegane engi. (In addition to the Saikōji manuscript dated 1540 and the late Muromachi Dainenbutsuji manuscript, there are many copies of this scroll from the early-modern period) (Abe 2015b). This story opens with an episode in which the retired emperor Toba had a mirror with his own image on it recast as a small gong, which he then bestowed upon the monk Ryōnin. Here, the mirror/gong, a symbol of the fusion between the state and Buddhism (ōbō buppō), also signifies the beginning of the Yūzū nenbutsu movement. This object also becomes a narrative device to describe the transmission and diffusion of the tradition. Later, after the deity Hachiman appeared to him in a revelatory dream, a shrine official of Iwashimizu Hachimangū gave to the holy man Hōmyō a number of divine objects (including that specific gong) until then placed in the shrine’s main hall (honden). Hōmyō carries the gong in his hands and has a dream about the precursor of nenbutsu hijiri Kyōshin, who instructs him to perform a great nenbutsu ritual on his behalf. In order to do that, Hōmyō had to travel by sea, and dropped the gong in the ocean to pacify a sudden storm. However, on his way back at sea after the great nenbutsu service, a tortoise emerged from the ocean depths carrying the gong on its back and returned it to Hōmyō. The story ends with Hōmyō stating that the gong is the tortoise mirror (kamegane) for the final stage of Dharma (matsudai), a precious treasure of nenbutsu directly associated with Amida. Finally, the guardian god of nenbutsu is Iwashimizu Hachiman (its original ground—honji—is the Buddha Amida himself), who is in charge of the sacred mirror; its numinous power was eventually successful in guiding Hōmyō’s actions.


The Sea and the Sacred in Japan

In the Yuzū dainenbutsu kamegane engi, the mythological motif of the tortoise (i.e., the dragon god, that either takes away or returns the gong, a nenbutsu precious implement), has a pretext: an episode in the Ikkō Shōnin denki (1328), the biography of Ikkō Shunsei (1239–1287), a hijiri who practiced itinerant nenbutsu at the same time as the Jishū sect founder Ippen. The author of this work is Dōa, a priest of Rengeji temple (Ōmi province), founded by Ikkō. According to the Ikkō Shōnin denki, when Ikkō was practicing odori nenbutsu (dancing nenbutsu) at Usa Hachimangū shrine in Buzen (present-day Ōita prefecture), the great bodhisattva Hachiman gave him a gong (waniguchi). On his way to Shikoku, the Dragon King requested it, and since the sea was getting rough, Ikkō threw it in the ocean. During his peregrination in Shikoku, Ikkō went to Suzaki in Sanuki province. There, a “blue-robed child” (shōe dōji) appeared in the sea and announced that, thanks to the merit accumulated by the holy man’s nenbutsu, he had rid himself of his suffering and, to repay the favor, intended to return the gong. Then, a tortoise appeared holding the gong in its mouth and gave it back to Ikkō. The object, a jinki (sacred treasure of the kami), is said to be the kame no hagane (“tooth of the tortoise gong”), which can still be found today at Rengeji; it is also the same gong given to Ikkō by the god Hachiman. Through the intervention of the Dragon King, the gong first ended up in the ocean and was later returned; it thus became a magical treasure, a symbol of the sacred power of the hijiri’s nenbutsu. The Dainenbutsuji temple in Hirano, Osaka, also holds a similar gong-mirror (kamegane), which is considered a temple treasure. In fact, temple treasures associated with the sacred power of nenbutsu hijiri were important tools for proselytization. The public display (kaichō) of such objects, together with public readings of their origin stories, served promotional and fundraising purposes (Abe 2015b). As we have seen, already in the ancient period Tōshōdaiji monks taught the connection between Ganjin and a Golden Tortoise Relic Pagoda. This and other Dharma Treasures function as seeds of temple legends and as relics showing the intervention of the Dragon God (in the visible form of a tortoise), which in turns validates the achievements of the temple founders. In addition, the founders’ sacred treasures carry a distinctive aura because the Dragon God covets them. Once they sink in the ocean, even only for a short time, they belong to the Dragon God and pass through the strange world of the Dragon Palace. They are considered treasures precisely because they come, or were brought back, from a supernatural world; as such, they acquire the status of supreme symbols of the founders’ Buddhist achievements. Furthermore, the legends about Japanese Buddhist temples and their founders were continually passed down and re-elaborated and formed a vast corpus of myths about the transmission of Buddhism to Japan. At the same time, we should also pay attention to the fact that these miraculous objects gain their power as treasures through the power of narrative—the voluntary telling of miraculous stories (engi tales) about the loss and retrieval of the treasure.

Conclusion Miraculous legends were born at main temples, and formed the nucleus of what one might call the mythologization of the transmission of Buddhism we find in the engi

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origin narratives. These tales repeat and explain the transmission of objects that are at the basis of both the religious world of temples and the meaning of what has been transmitted to us from the past. These objects range from the main icons of temples to relics, from sutras to ritual implements, and include magical items that synthesize the Three Jewels of Buddhism; tales and objects are both symbols of the transmission of Buddhism. In stories, the treasures are always carried across the sea along the path of transmission of Buddhism, and the strange world of the Dragon Palace becomes a mediator between Japan and the foreign countries, between the past and the present. The important figure of the Dragon King (or Dragon God) invariably covets the treasure because it seeks the merits of the Buddha Dharma. Its intervention develops into an emotional narrative of wonder and adventure. Once the treasures are taken and owned by the Dragon King, they become equal to the divine treasures (jinki) of kingship in the human world; even more importantly, they turn into the basis of a sacred kingship, which is intimately connected to Buddhism. At that time, this dual meaning of the sacred objects (as treasures both of Buddhism and worldly authority) expressed the interdependence of Buddhism and the state. The Three Sacred Regalia (sanshu jingi, i.e., sword, jewel, mirror) of the Japanese emperor are major themes in medieval Japanese myths (above all, those related to socalled Chūsei Nihongi), especially the sword (hōken or tsurugi) (Abe 1985). One story, entitled “Tsurugi no maki,” is particularly significant in our present discussion. According to this, after the god Susanoo killed the snake Yamata no orochi and took away a precious sword from it, the snake transformed into the Dragon God and repeatedly tried to take the sword back. In the end, it achieved its goal after being reincarnated as Emperor Antoku and, together with the Taira family, drowned together with the sword in Dan no ura. This story formed in the medieval period as part of the cycle of legends of the Tale of the Heike, but it is important in our present discussion as a legend that developed concurrently with myths about the transmission of Buddhism. The underwater Dragon God (or Dragon King) of the myths is another form of kingship that coexisted with the kingship on land and was part of the medieval worldview. Among the ancient kingship myths, there is one called Watatsumi yūkō, where the king of the sea palace Watatsumi accepts the god Hikohohodemi as a guest, gives him his daughter to marry and together produce an offspring, who becomes the ancestor of the Japanese emperors. This myth was revived in the medieval period in works such as Hikohohodemi no mikoto emaki and Kamiyo monogatari (on the latter, see Kobayashi 2016); in them, the sea king appears as the Dragon King who rules the Dragon Palace, and gives Hikohohodemi two jewels to control the sea tide. The Dragon Palace and its dynasty of dragon kings was envisioned as a sort of shadow kingship, which holds great authority over its equivalent on the surface; the Dragon King itself was an ambivalent being who supported the Japanese emperor and his authority, but it could also threaten its very existence.



Lands and People Drifting Ashore Distorted Conceptions of Japan’s Place in the World According to Medieval and Early Modern Japanese Myths Itō Satoshi

Translated by Emily B. Simpson

Introduction Japanese culture took form after receiving considerable influence from continental culture, of which China was the center. Since the medieval period, a trend towards rejecting this cultural debt emerged in the shape of a discourse on the essential supremacy of Japan over other countries, as exemplified by the idea of Japan as a divine land (shinkoku). However, it is interesting to note that proof of Japan’s preeminence was often provided by “smuggling in” foreign elements into native discourses. Here, I discuss this subject through medieval and early modern myths and other narratives about people and lands that drifted ashore in Japan. I consider the medieval myth that either Japan, or a specific region of the country, was a part of either Vulture Peak or Mt. Sumeru that floated away; stories that famed Chinese beauty Yang Guifei came to Japan, as one development in the theory that Japan was Penglai, the home of the Daoist immortals; and that Wu Taibo, legendary founder of the state of Wu in China, or one of his descendants, came ashore in Japan and became the founder of the imperial house. I would like to suggest that these discourses are representative of a phase in which Japanese consciousness of their own country’s importance and yet subordinate position vis-à-vis the Chinese cultural sphere became complicated, which distorted the Japanese gaze toward China.

Vast Lands that Drifted Ashore: Izumo and Japan A medieval body of myths, known as “medieval Nihon shoki” (Chūsei Nihongi), grafted additional elements and innovations on to ancient myths, so that they would correspond to medieval Japanese conceptions of the world, humankind, and religion.1 Buddhist elements were the most important components among these additions. The fact that 131


The Sea and the Sacred in Japan

Buddhism emerged in India, passed through China and finally reached Japan fifteen hundred years after the Buddha attained nirvana gave rise to the notion that Japan was a remote region in the world, and that its people were both spatially and temporally removed from Buddhist salvation. Thus, Japan was conceptualized as one of the remote islands scattered in the ocean like millet grain (zokusan hendo), referring to the Buddhist geographical model in which small island countries, scattered like millet grains, exist outside the four continents of the world.2 This self-understanding of remoteness joined with ideas of both inferiority and antagonism towards Chinese civilization, present in Japan since ancient times, and had a great influence on the formation of medieval Japanese myths. There are several examples of medieval myths in which a particular sacred place moved to Japan from another country. For example, there are mountains which came flying out of the sky, such as Kinpusen (Mount Yoshino) and Mount Hiei.3 The first instance of this trope can be located in a myth about Izumo Peninsula, the site of Izumo Grand Shrine. According to the Nara Period Izumo no kuni fudoki, a kami named Yatsuka-mizu-omi-tsu-no-mikoto accidentally made the Izumo region too small, and so pulled parts of Silla in the Korean peninsula, Oki island and Noto peninsula by rope, and gave shape to Izumo Peninsula as we know it today (Fudoki [B]: 99–103). This “land-pulling myth” (kuni-hiki shinwa) became an innovation within the new myths created in the medieval period. For example, on the same Izumo Peninsula, the Gakuenji temple, closely connected to Izumo Grand Shrine in the past, records the following episode in a sixteenth-century chronicle: Our temple was originally the northwestern corner of Vulture Peak in western India, which broke off and floated over the sea all the way to here, where the god Susano-o set it firmly in place. For this reason, its mountain-name (sangō [honorific appellation of important temples]) is Furōzan (“floating-wave-mountain”). Then, the Great Shrine [of Izumo] was built at its feet and a kami altar at its peak, as the place where all kami would gather. Thus the area became a sacred place where Buddhas and kami appear.4

Today, the main deity of Izumo Grand Shrine is Ōnamuchi (Ōkuninushi), but in the medieval period it was generally assumed to be Susano-o, who was thought to have brought the land together. Besides Gakuenji, documents from several temples and shrines in the Izumo area, including Izumo Grand Shrine, feature similar myths (Izumo Yayoi no Mori Hakubutsukan, ed., 2013: 4–7). The fact that the land where Izumo is located was considered to have originally been part of India, in particular the Vulture Peak where the Buddha Śākyamuni gave his sermons, became the basis of the idea that Izumo was a sacred and special place where the kami from all over Japan gathered together.5 While the previous case was limited to the Izumo region, there are similar myths about the entire territory of Japan. As is well known, Japan’s creation story underwent considerable changes in medieval mythology. The original story of Izanagi and Izanami giving birth to the country was modified under the influence of honji suijaku theory6

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and Esoteric Buddhism into the following account. Before the creation of Japan, the Buddha Mahāvairocana’s seal (Dainichi no inmon) lay at the bottom of the sea, and from above this seal the Great Deity Amaterasu (Tenshō Daijin), who was actually an incarnation of Dainichi,7 dipped her spear. The drops that trickled from it solidified and created the land of Japan. Seeing this, King Māra of the Sixth Heaven,8 thinking that this country would become a likely place for the Buddhist dharma to spread, descended and tried to destroy it. In response, the Great Deity pledged to not allow the Three Jewels [of Buddhism] near her, and sent Māra away. As a result, Japan was unharmed, but in order to preserve this vow, Buddhism was made taboo at Ise Shrine (Itō 2011: 118–159). The seal of Dainichi (Dainichi no inmon) refers the Sanskrit letter vam . , the seed 9 syllable of Dainichi, which appears in this story due to its supposed resemblance to the shape of Japan (Honshu, Kyushu and Shikoku).10 This myth reversed the existing view of Japan as an outlying land and sought to prove, in terms of an origin theory, that Japan was from the beginning a sacred land. Acknowledging this as an Esoteric Buddhist interpretation of Japan as the land of the kami (shinkoku), we can hereby label this the mythology of Great Japan as the original land of Dainichi (Dainichi no hongoku = Dai Nippon koku ) (Itō 2011: 91–117). This mythology appears in several variations, but among them there is one which describes the whole of Japan as a part of India that drifted off. For example, the Jinteki mondō, a fourteenth-century instructional text, offers the following account: Japan was originally the northeastern corner of Vulture Peak, a mountain called Mitsudara ( ). Its shape was like the syllable vam . , or the shape of the single 11 pronged vajra. It was veritably a land suitable for Esoteric Buddhism. Long ago, in ancient times, the earth shook greatly, mountains collapsed and buried the sea, and the sea in turn tilted and flooded the mountains. Trees were submerged, stones floated; humans and animals lost their dwellings, and the light of the sun and the moon became unpredictable. Such things continued for seven days and seven nights. Then, Mount Mitsudara broke off and fell into the sea. At that time, the two gods Izanagi and Izanami, manifestations of the Dual Mahāvairocana (Ryōbu Dainichi), wished to make Mount Mitsudara into our country. With their divine power, they pushed and caused it to move, and rowed the mountain here (Jinteki mondō: 203).

In addition, the Jingimon (Gateway to the Gods), an apocryphon attributed to Nichiren, explains that “a part of Mount Sumeru called Mount Vajra (Kongōsen) tore off, and for seven days a rain of fire fell and baked and hardened this land, which is now Japan” (Jingimon: 2027). These myths of Great Japan as the original land of Dainichi emerged against the background of Buddhism’s flourishing state during the medieval period, in which a sense of Japan as a Buddhist country was combined with the idea that Japan was a sacred land (shinkoku). However, the notion that Japan was one of the islands scattered in the ocean like millet grain (zokusan hendo), and thus the awareness of Japan’s remoteness in the Buddhist world, were not swept away. Rather, their continued


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influence resulted in the aforementioned variations of Japan’s origin myths, in which the country’s sacredness was proven by the assertion that it was once a part of India. Thus, we could say that the relationship between buddhas and kami according to honji suijaku thought was applied to the relationship between India and Japan (Itō 2016: 74–76).

Variations on Japan as Penglai: Stories About Xu Fu and Yang Guifei Coming to Japan In the records on the first Qin emperor (Shi Huangdi) in the Chinese Book of History (Shiji) and in a text on the ancient fengchan ascension ritual, a man from the country of Qi named Xu Shi (also known as Xu Fu), was ordered by the emperor to seek the elixir of eternal youth and life. Xu Fu crossed the eastern sea with several thousand young boys and girls in search of the land of the immortals (Mount Penglai, Jp. Hōraisan). Whether or not Xu Fu completed the voyage, and where it was that he went (if he did leave China), has been the subject of great interest for centuries. Among the several theories that have been proposed, one posits that Japan itself was the land of Mount Penglai that Xu Fu sought (Yamamoto, 1975). It is mentioned, for instance, in the Yichu liu tie (Jp. Giso rokujō) (Six Fasciles by Monk Yichu), completed in 958 CE . The entry on Japan in the section on the Eastern Barbarians explains that Japan is the land where Xu Fu arrived, and that Mt. Fuji is actually Mt. Penglai (Yichu liu tie, 459). In addition, a poem of twenty-four lines, seven characters each, entitled Riben dao ge (Jp. Nippontō ka , “Song of Japanese Swords”) and attributed to either Ouyang Xiu or Sima Guang ,12 continues this theme. The poem states that when Xu Fu and his attendants came to Japan, he brought in his retinue many artisans, so that ever since Japan has been highly skilled in craftsmanship. Furthermore, Xu Fu also brought numerous books, so the poet suggests that many writings lost to China, following Shi Huangdi’s burning of Chinese classics and mass killing of Confucian scholars (funsho kōju ),13 were preserved in Japan (Ouyang xiu shi wenji xiao jian, weiji vol. 4: 1369–1370). These theories, which equate Japan with Penglai (and with the land on which Xu Fu came ashore), appealed to the pride of the Japanese, who continued to hold a cultural inferiority complex towards China. In a short time, mirroring the legend itself, claims to be the place where Xu Fu landed arose in every part of Japan. Kumano was one of the first places where such claims appeared; a small shrine was built to worship Xu Fu in the mid-Kamakura Period. This was recorded in a poem by Zen monk Wuxue Zuyuan (Jp. Mugaku Soen, 1226–1286), who came to Japan in 1279 (Bukkō kokushi goroku: 223a). Xu Fu’s visit was also included in accounts of Japanese history. The Jinnō shōtōki (Chronicle of the Legitimate Lineage of the Divine Sovereigns), written in the fourteenth century by Kitabatake Chikafusa (1293–1354), includes the following in the entry for Year 45 of Emperor Kōrei’s reign (the third century BCE , according to traditional dating): The First Qin Emperor sought the medicine of long life and immortality. In return,

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Japan requested the writings of the Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors, and the Qin emperor sent all of them. Thirty-five years later, the burning of Chinese classics and mass killing of Confucian scholars occurred in China, and many books were lost. However, in Japan, all of the sacred texts of Confucius remain (Jinnō shōtōki: 71).

Along with Kumano, Atsuta Shrine was also envisioned as Penglai in the Kamakura Period. Atsuta worships Ame-no-murakumono-tsurugi,14 the sword and symbol of the emperor’s status, and has had a strong connection to Japanese kingship since ancient times. Although Atsuta Shrine is currently located in the urban area of Nagoya City, this land was once a plateau projecting into the sea, so it was actually a sea shrine. The theory that Atsuta Shrine was Penglai can be seen in engi documents of the Kamakura Period. For example, the Atsuta-gū hishaku kenmon (Notes on Secret Teachings on Atsuta Shrine), states that the shrine lies on Penglai Island, built atop a large golden turtle (Atsuta-gū hishaku kenmon, p.  358). However, this story does not touch on Xu Fu’s coming to Japan. Later documents which allude to Xu Fu are also rare. Instead, it is Yang Guifei (719–756), the beautiful consort of Tang emperor Xuanzong, whose name begins to appear.15 The earliest instance occurs in the Tendai encyclopedia Keiran shūyōshū, compiled in the fourteenth century. In the sixth volume of this book, where the origin of Japan’s identification as Penglai is explained, Yang Guifei is the Atsuta kami, and her grave is also at Atsuta Shrine (Keiran shūyōshū: 518). The link between Yang Guifei and Penglai appears in Bai Juyi’s famous poem, Changhenge (The Song of Everlasting Sorrow). In essence, Emperor Xuanzong, grieving for Yang Guifei’s death and seeking the whereabouts of her soul, has a fangshi (Daoist ritual specialist) search the world for her. As a result, they learn that Yang Guifei has been reborn as a celestial being named Taizhen, and resides in Penglai. The fangshi reaches Penglai and conveys Xuanzong’s message to her.16 This story was very well known to the Japanese, who have long loved Bai Juyi’s poetry, but the medieval imagination created stories of Yang Guifei as having come to reside in Japan.17 Yang Guifei’s grave is mentioned in multiple medieval records, and seems to have existed at least until the early Edo Period. However, Edo Period intellectuals did not accept this “medieval delusion” and dismissed it.18 Earlier documents offer no clear explanation as to why the kami of Atsuta would transform into Yang Guifei, but we may consider it a similar invention to the Xu Fu story, supporting the notion that Japan was Penglai. Yet, several documents from the Sengoku Period (1467–1600) onward provide a very different reason, namely, Emperor Xuanzong intended to conquer Japan, and in order to discourage this, the Atsuta kami transformed into a beautiful woman—Yang Guifei—and stole Xuanzong’s heart; finally, after her task was accomplished, she returned to Japan.19 These ideas must be situated within the development of a new form of shinkoku thought, which began with the Mongol Invasions of the late Kamakura Period (1185– 1333). The Mongol Invasions awakened memories of the myth of Empress Jingū’s conquest of the Korean peninsula’s three kingdoms, as recorded in the Kojiki and Nihon shoki, but the revival of this myth was in fact a substantial expansion.20 The retelling of Jingū’s story in such texts as the Hachiman gudōkun (Lessons on Hachiman


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for Ignorant Children), features dozens of foreign invasions, but with the assistance of various kami, Japan always emerged the winner (NST, Jisha engi: 1975: 170). Empress Jingū’s legend and the Mongol Invasions were numbered among them, but most of the so-called invasions of Japan in this text were little more than the product of imagination. However, the manipulation of these fantasies, under certain conditions, became the driving force of Japan’s own acts of aggression. Thus, at the end of the sixteenth century, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, with a plan to conquer Ming China, invaded the Korean peninsula in what is known as the Jinshin War (1593–1578). At that time, many of the generals arriving at the Korean peninsula considered their own actions as a revival of Jingū’s legend, as we can see from contemporary records of their statements (Kitajima, 1995: 56–61). Similarly, the legend of Yang Guifei’s coming to Japan, within the historical consciousness of that time, became an episode that provided proof that Japan was the country of the gods.

The Legends of Wu Taibo Crossing to Japan As Japan sought to transplant continental culture into their own, Japanese intellectuals were constantly troubled by the difficult question of whether the people and environment of Japan had the disposition and requirements to accept such an influx of new cultural elements. Confronting this issue, many Buddhists in the ancient and early medieval periods sought the answer in honji suijaku theory, which posited that buddhas and bodhisattvas manifested themselves as kami, in order to meet the inferior Japanese character at its own level (Satō 1998: 326–328). Others, mostly from within Esoteric Buddhism and the Tendai sect as well as the Buddhist lineages of Shinto, asserted the opposite, namely, that Japan was in fact a special land highly suitable for the diffusion of the Buddhist Dharma. This contention, linked to shinkoku thought, became stronger in the late medieval period. The emergence of Shinto lineages independent of Buddhism, such as Yoshida Shinto, was a product of this trend. However, from the beginning of the Edo Period, Confucianism grew in prominence, and a fresh predicament arose: the compatibility of Confucianism with Japanese culture. Confucian scholars criticized Buddhism and emphasized that Buddhism did not fit Japan’s local culture and customs, but this point was equally applicable to Confucianism. In order to overcome this conundrum, scholars focused once again on myths. Originally, Confucianists did not acknowledge the independent existence of mythology, but displayed a propensity to understand myth as historical fact made into legend. Similarly, Edo Period Confucian scholars saw historical actualities behind the myths of the country’s birth and the descent of the gods as recorded in such works as the Nihon shoki.21 Within this context, authors began to suggest that the Japanese were the descendants of Wu Taibo (Jp. Go Taihaku), the uncle of King Wen of Zhou (See Murao 1940, 1955; Miyazaki 1961; Hara 2009).22 Taibo, knowing that his father wanted his youngest brother Jili to follow him on the throne, fled to a remote area in the south. It is said that in response to the messenger sent by Jili in order to welcome him home, Taibo tattooed his face, making it impossible

Lands and People Drifting Ashore


for him to return.23 Later, Taibo is held to have become the founder of the State of Wu, but it is the earlier legend which forms the theory linking Taibo to Japan. According to the third-century Chinese historical chronicles Weizhi, the people of Wa (the ancient Japanese) held the custom of tattooing their bodies, and thus later authors purported these people to be the descendants of Taibo.24 Several historical texts repeated the narrative from the Weizhi, but there is no indication that anyone in Japan drew particular attention to it until the Heian and Kamakura periods. It seems that the first to show interest in Taibo’s legend was the Zen monk Chūgan Engetsu (1300–1375).25 Chūgan authored a text on Japanese history, where he argued that the Japanese were descendants of Taibo. This appears to have incited the wrath of the court, and the text was burned and is now lost to us.26 Kitabatake Chikafusa mentions this theory in his Jinnō shōtōki, only to reject it firmly (Jinnō shōtōki, pp. 79–80). At the beginning of the Edo Period, it was Hayashi Razan (1583–1657), the forefather of Japanese early modern Confucianism, who took up the discussion of Wu Taibo’s coming to Japan. In Jinmu tennō ron (Essay on Emperor Jinmu), Razan drew on Chūgan’s anecdote and conjectured that when Taibo’s descendents arrived in Kyushu, the locals saw them as gods, and perhaps the myth of kami descending on Mount Takachiho was derived from this event (Jinmu tennō ron, p.  280). Kumazawa Banzan (1619–1691) attempted to develop this further in his Miwa monogatari (The Tale of Miwa), where he wrote: Taibo, aboard his boat, drifted past many lands, and blown by the wind, drifted ashore on Kyushu, on the inlet of Hyūga. As he was a sage, he quickly learned the local language. At that time, the country of Japan had little interaction with other countries nearby; it was full of mountains, marshes and rivers. Evil spirits, along with a large snake and other creatures, greatly troubled the people, and their laments were without end. Taibo, pitying this state, killed the large snake that demanded human sacrifices, and even the evil spirits fled in fear of him. The people were in awe of his valor and loved his virtue. They made him the king of their country and revered him as a god. Afterward, his progeny continued to be lords of the country, generation after generation (Miwa monogatari, pp. 52–53).

Both Razan and Banzan stressed that the myths regarding the descent of the gods were based on the (assumed) historical fact of Wu Taibo (or his descendants) drifting ashore in Kyushu. By having the Japanese share common ancestors with the Chinese, they aimed to prove that Japan was naturally suitable for Confucianism to take root, and furthermore, that the Japanese were not mere eastern barbarians, but were almost identical to the Chinese.27

Conclusion The discourse on Japan’s superiority and uniqueness appeared in various forms in the medieval and early modern periods, and as discussed above, served to both express


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and develop a distorted comprehension of Japan’s relation to Chinese culture. In the medieval period, intellectuals posited India as a third cultural center, and by amalgamating it with Japan, sought to relativize the importance of Chinese culture. In addition, the Confucians of the early Edo Period proposed a new way of understanding myths as an attempt to provide proof of Japan’s compatibility with Confucianism through its origin stories. However, the tendency towards emphasizing Japan’s uniqueness, which steadily grew in the latter half of the Edo Period, could no longer accept previous formulations. What replaced them was a reconstruction of the Japanese world well before the impact of Chinese cultural influence in Japan, that is, before the arrival of the Chinese writing system. As is well known, Motoori Norinaga (1730–1801) was the one who pushed reconstruction to the limit in his Kojikiden (Commentaries on the Kojiki). There were also those who could not tolerate the lack of characters, and invented the jindai moji (letters of the age of the gods) as the alleged primordial Japanese script.28 This obsession with “uniqueness” continues to cast a spell over Japan even in the modern period. However, on the other hand, Japan’s “debt” toward the newly arrived Western civilization gave rise to a new form of distortion.


Buddhist Japan and the Global Ocean D. Max Moerman

Images of sailing ships circumnavigating a global ocean are common, indeed ubiquitous, on European maps from the Age of Exploration. Suggesting both the origin and the application of cartographic knowledge, such details are more than mere ornament. They represent what J. B. Harley has called “the ideology of cartographic decoration” or what Christian Jacob has described as the “visual dynamics of symbolic conquest” (see Harley 2001: 52–81; Jacob 2006). They articulate the economic, political, and religious interests the pursuit of which the map makes possible. Throughout the late sixteenth century, such sailing ships, bearing Jesuit missionaries, carried these images of a spherical earth and a global ocean to Japan. Japanese paintings of the arrival of the European ships celebrate the global aspect of this cargo cult, with the spectacle of treasure ships loaded with precious luxury goods and exotic European priests landing on the shores of the archipelago. Once in Japan, the Jesuit missionaries established a painting academy where Japanese artists were trained to translate the imagery of the European orbis terrarum from engravings and printed books into monumental paintings on folding screens. Although clearly based on foreign sources, the Japanese paintings do not represent a simple transference of cultural knowledge. The European maps were adapted and transformed, as were their various details and devices: diagrams of polar regions and celestial orbits, emblems of maritime navigation such as the compass rose, and images of sailing ships crossing the seas and circumnavigating the globe. In this chapter, I will argue that the ubiquitous and often marginal detail of ships on maps can reveal much about the religious beliefs that underlie any view of the world. My point is a simple one: that such cartographic decorations reveal that Jacob’s “visual dynamics of symbolic conquest” was neither singular nor settled. Rather, they indicate that the flows of knowledge were anything but unidirectional and that the worldviews brought to Japan’s shores by European sailing ships produced unexpected and unexplored currents and counter-currents of exchange that confound any positivist assumptions about religious history or the universal trajectory of modernity.

European Jesuits and the Global Ocean In the fourth month of 1553, a Kyoto aristocrat known as Fuji Nyūdō wrote: 139


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Recently one hears about people who have arrived in Satsuma having sailed across the ocean . . . These Southern Barbarians say that the world is round and that they have traversed the seas and crossed the oceans by ship from the west to the east and that if one were to travel across the seas from east to west one would eventually return to one’s point of origin. Although this seems doubtful, the Barbarians refer sceptics to a picture of the world (sekai no zu) that represents their view (Yoshida, ed., 1999: 13, 16).

The European world map, in Fuji’s words, the “picture of the world that represents their view,” served as both the means and proof of a circumnavigable global ocean. Yet Japanese Buddhists already had a “picture of the world that represents their view.” It was a world not spherical but flat, or more precisely, located on the flat side of a cylinder. At the center of the circular flat surface of this cylinder is Mount Sumeru, which rises to the heavenly realms. Surrounding Mount Sumeru, in the outermost of the seven seas that lie between eight radiating mountain ranges, are four great continents in the four cardinal directions. Only the southern continent, known as Jambudvīpa in Sanskrit and Nansenbushū or Enbudai in Japanese, comprises the world of humans. The debate over such radically different worldviews—the Christian orbis terrarum and the Buddhist Jambudvīpa—would continue in Japan for three hundred years. It was an intellectual debate waged through the medium of visual culture, by which I mean not only the culture of images but the culture of vision itself: the theory and practice of vision and of the relationship between vision and knowledge. This was not a struggle between East and West, or between the premodern and the modern, or between religion and science. Such simple dichotomies are more than false: they obscure what was common to all participants, namely, practices of image making and claims to represent the invisible. Geographic and astronomical knowledge was integral to the Jesuit strategy of conversion. One year before Fuji Nyūdō’s description of the circumnavigable global ocean and the European picture of the world, Francis Xavier, co-founder of the Society of Jesus and leader of the Jesuit mission in Asia, clarified the role this picture of the world held for the Jesuit mission. Xavier wrote that missionaries to Japan should know something of the globe, because the Japanese very much like to know about the movement of the heavens, the eclipse of the sun, the waxing and waning of the moon, as well as the origin of rain, snow, hail, thunder, lightning, comets and other natural phenomena. The explanation of these things is very useful in winning over the people (Letter from Goa to Rome, April 9, 1552. In Schurhammer and Wicki, eds., 1996, 2:373).

In another letter of the same year, Xavier wrote that the Japanese he encountered did not know that the earth was round, neither did they know the path of the sun through the sky. They would ask about these things and others such as comets, thundercracks, rain, snow, and other similar things, until they would state that

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they were quite content and satisfied. They regarded us as learned men, which helped us greatly in convincing them to believe our word (Letter from Cochin, January 29, 1552. In Schurhammer and Wicki, eds., 1996, 2:265. See also Goodman 2000: 89).

The Jesuit Luis Frois’s 1597 History of Japan includes numerous scenes in which the Jesuits confront Buddhist monastics and military leaders and gain respect and converts due to their knowledge of the cosmos. Frois describes a meeting in 1561 in Kyoto with a group of Nichiren monks as follows: At that time the most eminent astronomer in Japan, the courtier [Kamo no] Akimasa, was present. Akimasa asked the padres about solar and lunar eclipses and about the movement of the heavenly bodies. He held the padres’ knowledge in high esteem and thereafter everyone in the capital did so as well. Akimasa received baptism as did his wife, children, and servants and he took the name Manuel Akimasa (Frois 1976, 1: 193).

According to Frois’s account of an encounter the following year between Luis de Almeida and another group Buddhist monks, The abbot of Nanrinji listened to our teachings and then summoned two learned monks. One was named Kawanabe, abbot of Ōsenji and the other was from Kōkokuji in Kagoshima. The abbot of Ōsenji was a very learned Japanese mathematician. He asked numerous questions about solar and lunar eclipses, about low and high tides, and about the relationship between air and space. We replied to his questions in writing and also provided him with several diagrams for verification. He believed us at once and was completely satisfied with our explanations. Based on the teachings of Śākyamuni, the Japanese believe that heaven rises above a mountain known as Shumisen, shaped like an hourglass. He explained that the sun was like a child’s top with a string wrapped around it and that it makes one revolution a day around the summit of the central mountain. The world gets warmer in the summer when the sun draws nearer and colder in the winter when it is more distant. He asked me what I thought of this explanation and I replied that the sun does not drift away from the heavens and that our astronomical scholarship was based on reason. The monks were then completely satisfied (Frois 1976, 1: 219).

In a meeting of 1579 between the ruler Oda Nobunaga (1534–1582) and Italian missionary Organtino Gnecchi-Soldo (1530–1609), the warlord examined a terrestrial globe and questioned the missionary about cartographic materials and the route he had traveled from Europe to Japan (Frois 1976, 3: 202–203). In 1581 Nobunaga again used a world map to question Alessandro Valignano (1539–1606), the Jesuit Visitor of Missions for Asia, about his routes of travel (Valignano 1954: 150–151). By 1596 a world map and terrestrial globe were on display in the Jesuit church in Kyoto (Sakuma 1980). And in 1605 the Japanese Christian convert, Fukansai Habian


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(aka Fabian Fukan, 1565–1621), argued, in his critique of Buddhism, that “Men from Christian countries leave our ports in their ‘black ships’ and travel east toward the sun, day in and day out, and eventually arrive back at the port of departure. Is this not proof that the earth is round?” (quoted in Baskin and Bowring, eds., 2016: 124). Japanese Buddhists were introduced to European cosmology and European Jesuits were introduced to Buddhist cosmology simultaneously. João Rodrigues (c. 1562– 1633), the Portuguese Jesuit appointed to write a history of the mission, describes Buddhist cosmology in great detail in his História da Igreja do Japaõ. In six separate chapters, Rodrigues introduces his European readers to “Chinese and Japanese astrology”; “Heaven and the degrees to which they divide it”; “The degrees and signs into which they divide the sky, and the equinox”; “The eclipses of the sun and moon”; “The stars and their constellations, the number of stars, and the order in which they distribute them in their celestial sphere”; and “Earth and water, their shape, and the degrees of elevation in which they are said to be” (Rodrigues 1955, 2: 69–111; Cooper, ed., 2001: 357–384). To counter the Buddhist view, the Jesuits prioritized the reproduction and circulation of their “picture of the world” in both texts and images. This is particularly clear in the painted screens decorated with European world maps first produced in the Jesuit painting schools and also in the principal textbook of Jesuit education, the Compendium Catholicae Veritas, compiled by Pedro Gómez (1533– 1600) in 1593 and translated into Japanese in 1595. The Compendium begins with a section entitled De Sphaera, which introduces the theory of a spherical earth.1 The explicit goal of the text, as stated in its very first lines, is to explain the power and authority of the Christian God through the workings of heaven and earth. Paraphrasing Romans 1:20, Gómez writes: “As the Apostle says, these visible things, namely, the machine of the world and the perpetual and immutable order of the heavens, clearly demonstrates the invisible attributes of God.”2 By 1605 the Jesuit church in Kyoto had on display a copy of Complete Map of the Myriad Countries (Kon’yo bankoku zenzu) produced in China in 1602 by the Jesuit Matteo Ricci (1552–1610). This highly detailed Ptolemaic projection of a spherical earth was annotated throughout in Chinese, and included illustrations and explanations of the global earth. In his preface to the map, Ricci describes the shape and diameter of the earth; the northern and southern hemispheres; the Tropics of Capricorn and Cancer; the lines of latitude and longitude; and the five continents of Europe, Africa, Asia, the Americas, and the antipodal continent then known as Magellanica. Ricci’s preface explains that “the land and sea are round in shape, and together form a globe, which is situated in the celestial sphere like the yoke of an egg suspended in the white” (translation from Akin 2009: 217). Based on this “picture of the world,” Ricci concludes that “the Buddhist claim that the Middle Kingdom is in Jambudvīpa is false, as are their calculations of the altitude of Mount Sumeru” (Akin 2009: 219–220). Whereas copies of Ricci’s large six-panel wall map enjoyed only a limited circulation in Japan, the small and simplified editions of Ricci’s maps, appearing in Chinese and later Japanese printed books, had a far greater influence. A simplified copy of the second edition of Ricci’s map of 1600, entitled “Complete Geographic Map of the Mountains and Seas” (Shanhai yudi quantu), appears in Wang Qi’s Collected Illustrations

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of the Three Realms (Sancai tuhui) of 1609 (Sancai tuhui: 3:1b–2a). Wang Qi’s quotes the entirety of Ricci’s preface including the statement “the Buddhists’ talk of Jambudvīpa in the south and their calculations of the altitude of Mount Sumeru are false” (Sancai tuhui, 3:4a). The editions of Ricci’s maps published in Chinese compendia soon appeared in Japanese publications as well, such as Terajima Ryōan’s Japanese and Chinese Collected Illustrations of the Three Realms (Wakan sansai zue) of 1712. Terajima repeats Ricci’s explanation that “the land and sea are round in shape, and together form a globe, which is situated in the celestial sphere like the yoke of an egg suspended in the white.” Terajima does not quote Ricci’s rejection of Jambudvīpa and Mount Sumeru, but states much the same message in his own words: “The Buddhists claim that there are 30,000 worlds. This is the foolish talk of those who have not carefully investigated matters” (Wakan sansai zue [A] 55:3b). Although Ricci’s texts were banned in Japan, his map of the world, his description of the universe, and his critique of Buddhist cosmology reached an untold number of Japanese in what was perhaps the most widely read encyclopedia of the age.3 Ricci’s map also enjoyed a long afterlife as one of the sources for the earliest Japanese world maps to appear in print, the Map of Myriad Countries (Bankoku sōzu), published in Nagasaki in 1645. The directionality of the inscriptions indicates that the map was to be read vertically rather than horizontally, re-oriented to accommodate the format of the traditional display alcove (tokonoma) of Japanese domestic architecture. The popularity of these prints is suggested by the proliferation of variants. In addition to three undated editions, five others were published in 1651, 1652, 1671, 1688, and 1708 (Unno 1991). The corners of these block-printed maps are decorated with images of European, Japanese, and Chinese sailing ships that situate Japan among the world powers navigating the global ocean (Fig. 12.1).4 The four ships that appear on the Bankoku sōzu of 1645 and 1652 and the undated seventeenth-century Bankoku sōzu published by Eya Shōbei are Japanese, Chinese, Portuguese, and Dutch. The 1688 Bankoku sōkai no zu by Ishikawa Ryūsen includes only the Japanese and Chinese vessels, and the 1708 Sekai bankoku chikyū zu by Inagaki Kōrō has only the Chinese and Dutch ships. Ryūsen’s Bankoku sōkai no zu is also the only seventeenth-century example to list the distances between Japan and various foreign countries.

Japanese Buddhists and the Flat Earth Japan, however, already had world maps; they were simply maps of a different world. The earliest Japanese world map, a map of Jambudvīpa surrounded by the curling waves of Mount Sumeru’s outermost ocean, dates from the mid-fourteenth century (Fig. 12.2). It is an Indocentric world with China and Japan in the east and Persia in the west. A square lake is located at the center of Jambudvīpa, from which, according to ancient Indian cosmology, four rivers gush from the mouths of animals, each made of a different precious substance, encircle it and flow to the four corners of the continent. In content, the map is informed by a single scriptural source: every topographic element


Figure 12.1 Map of the Myriad Countries (Bankoku sōzu or Shōhō zu, 1645). Courtesy of the University of British Columbia.

Buddhist Japan and the Global Ocean


Figure 12.2 Jūkai, Map of the Five Regions of India (Go-Tenjiku zu, 1364). Courtesy of Hōryūji Temple. and every character of text within the continent is drawn exclusively from the Great Tang Record of the Western Regions, the Chinese monk Xuanzang’s seventh-century account of his pilgrimage through India and Central Asia. This fourteenth-century Japanese Buddhist world map was copied, preserved, and venerated in Buddhist temples for more than five hundred years, long after the arrival of the European picture of the world and well into the nineteenth century. But it was also a map that developed, in the era of Edo print culture, beyond the confines of classical Indian cosmology, and beyond the seas surrounding Jambudvīpa. In 1710, the Kegon monk Hōtan produced the first woodblock-printed edition of the Japanese Buddhist world map. The appearance of this Buddhist view of the world in the marketplace of print culture entailed radically different contexts of production,


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reproduction, and reception. In an age of mechanical reproduction and commercial circulation, the picture of a Buddhist world reached forms of representation and classes of consumers never before imagined. Hōtan’s map remained in print for over a century and was also issued in various simplified and reduced scale editions. The printed map retains much of the manuscript tradition transcribed since the fourteenth century, but expands the Buddhist world by appropriating elements from the Jesuit world maps of Matteo Ricci and the geographical knowledge produced by Japanese maritime trade. It preserves the square lake, animal heads, and radiating rivers at the center of Jambudvīpa, but also includes the continents of Europe and the Americas derived from Ricci’s maps. Entitled, Handy Map of the Myriad Countries of Jambudvīpa (Nansenbushū bankoku shōka no zu), the map brings together, in title and content, the Buddhist world continent of Jambudvīpa (Nansenbushū) with the myriad countries (bankoku) of Ricci’s cartography. Although indebted in many ways to Ricci’s work, or rather the Chinese and Japanese maps based on those of Ricci, the Japanese Buddhist map subverts the Jesuit picture of the world. Europe, based on popular seventeenth-century Japanese editions of Ricci’s bankokuzu, is but a cluster of small islands in the oceans at the very margins of the map. Within this European archipelago are the islands of Holland (Oranda or Kōmō ), France ( , a mistake for Furansa ), England ( ), Iceland ( ), Norway ( ), Scotland ( ), Burgundy (Gorkundia , possibly a mistake for Burgundia), Brittany (Hiritaniya ), Denmark ( ), Moskovia ( ), Poland ( or ), Hungary ( ), Turkey ( or ), Albania ( ), Italy ( ), and Germany ( from Spanish Germania). (For the identification of some European place names and their possible sources, see Akioka 1988: 171–181.) Northeast of Europe is the Land of Long Hairs and Dwarves and further west still, Siberia ( ). The representation of the Americas, based on a seventeenth-century Chinese map similarly indebted to Ricci, includes South America as a minor archipelago, half the size of Japan, in the southeastern seas, and North America, unknown and unnamed, pushed beyond the map’s northeastern boundaries. Throughout the seventeenth century, Europe and its imperial outposts played an increasingly significant role in Japanese diplomacy and trade as well as in Japanese intellectual and popular culture. And yet neither the Old World nor the New World enjoys any prominence on this map. At the very moment when a unitary historicist narrative would presume a turn toward Western models, Hōtan’s Buddhist cartography offers instead a provincializing of Europe and the Americas.

The Cartography of Buddhist Vision The title, more literally rendered as a Map of the Myriad Countries of Jambudvīpa [Held] like a Fruit in the Hand, suggests a possible reason for Hōtan’s Indo-centrism (Fig. 12.3). The title denotes not only a Buddhist vision of the world but also the very quality of Buddhist vision itself. The term “fruit in the hand” (shōka) signals Hōtan’s deployment

Buddhist Japan and the Global Ocean


Figure 12.3 Handy Map of the Myriad Countries of Jambudvīpa (1710), by Hōtan. Courtesy, David Rumsey Map Collection, David Rumsey Map Center, Stanford Libraries.

of a traditional Buddhist vocabulary for the equation of visual perception and the possession of knowledge. Employing a term that goes back at least as far as Kumārajīva’s fifth-century translation of the Vimalakīrti-nirdeśa-sūtra, Hōtan explains: “the wisdom eye (egan) of the sage is far more powerful than the human eye and sees the boundless ten-thousand-fold world just like a fruit held in the hand.”5 Hōtan continues: There are innumerable realms, as countless as the leaves of mustard grass, beneath the four heavens. Our realm of Jambudvīpa is like a single grain within a great storehouse of millet. The ordinary person can see no more of the world than someone inside a cave peering through a tiny hole. Human vision is as limited as that of the horned owl that can catch a flea at night but cannot see a hill at mid-day. The vision of an ordinary person is as far from the vision of the wisdom eye as that of a blind person is from the sighted: he can say nothing of the worlds as numerous as atoms. He is like a frog in a well discussing the vast oceans.

As his Buddhist discussion of “the vast oceans” reveals, Hōtan’s polemic is as much about epistemology as it is about representation. His argument, that the view of the


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world from the perspective of Buddhist wisdom is qualitatively different from that of human vision, relies on the classical Buddhist equation of vision and knowledge. (On this metaphor, see McMahan 2002.) Hōtan’s “wisdom eye” refers to the power of vision to discern the true nature of all things (Skt. prajñā, one of the five modes of vision within the Buddhist classification of discriminative knowledge. To this Buddhist technical vocabulary Hōtan adds allusions to pre-Buddhist Chinese thought, citing allegories from the Zhuangzi to illustrate the limitations of conventional perception.6 It is thus clear from both his title and preface that Hōtan is promoting a particular Buddhist view of the world, as well as a particular Buddhist view of vision. Hōtan claims not only that his map unifies all geographic knowledge but also that it allows this knowledge to be held in the hands and apprehended with the eyes: grasped both conceptually and physically through the act of vision. More than the visual display of quantitative information, the map offers a new way of seeing at once total, unencumbered, and commanding. As Hōtan explains, I have integrated all of the mote-like countries of Jambudvīpa and reduced the scale so that it can be held in one’s hands. I have thus entitled this publication a Handy Map of the Myriad Countries [lit. “map of the myriad countries that can be held in the hand like a fruit”]. With this map one can take in the entire world in a single glance; one can visit distant places without ever traveling beyond one’s garden gate; one can point out the various countries of the world just as easily as pointing out the stars in the night sky.7

The religious value of this picture of the world is as significant to Hōtan as it is to Francis Xavier or Mateo Ricci, and for much the same reasons. “If Buddhist scholars,” Hōtan concludes, do not examine this map when they consult the sutras, their investigations will be incomplete. Confucian scholars have debated geography and discussed distances for generations. [If Buddhist scholars do not also pursue cartographic studies] our knowledge will be as insufficient as that of a frog in a well. We must seek as much understanding of distant lands as we do regarding our own, and even more so of Mount Sumeru at the center of the universe and the vast trichiliocosm itself, just as Sudhana sought the Flower Realm and the vast world of Indra’s Net.

After noting the religious necessity of his picture of the world, Hōtan ends his preface with a gesture toward larger cosmic vision of the Buddhist tradition. He invokes the example of the pilgrim Sudhana, whose journey toward enlightenment is the subject of the Gandavyūha, the final section of the Avatamsaka or Kegon sutra, the central scripture of Hōtan’s school. Sudhana’s quest for insight was achieved only at the end of his pilgrimage with a visionary experience, an optical spectacle that laid before his eyes the entire structure of the Buddhist universe. In the words of the sutra, Sudhana, “stripped of delusion . . . became clairvoyant without distortion” and, “with the unobstructed eye of liberation, saw all objects without hindrance” (Cleary, trans., 1989: 366).

Buddhist Japan and the Global Ocean


The Afterlives of the Buddhist World Map Hōtan’s unobstructed vision of “the vast oceans,” first issued in 1710, not only remained in print for over a hundred years; it also engendered numerous simplified small-format editions throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In these later pocket-size versions of Hōtan’s Buddhist world map, the learned kanbun preface printed in the lower corners of Hōtan’s map is replaced with inscriptions in cursive (kuzushi) noting the distances between Japan and foreign ports of maritime trade. In some of these later popular versions the oceanic journeys that informed such lists of navigational distances are represented by images of sailing ships. In one undated edition, entitled Map of the Myriad Countries Like a Fruit Held in the Hand (Bankoku shōka no zu), a Chinese junk is shown sailing in the sea between the west of Jambudvīpa and the Western Land of Women (Saijokoku). In another undated example, entitled Map of all the Countries in Jambudvīpa (Nan’enbudai shokoku shūran no zu) published in Tokyo by Mikuniya Ryūsuke, a western-style sailing ship appears in the waters of the European archipelago and five other ships are depicted in the lower left panel of the print. Three ships of three masts each are identified as the vessels of Beijing, Nanjing, and Siam, respectively. Beneath them are two larger four-mast ships labeled as ships of the Dutch. The sailing ships from foreign lands that appeared on European-style world maps, as evidence of a circumnavigable global ocean, are now included on Buddhist maps of a flat earth. Yet perhaps the most unusual example of the Japanese Buddhist world map dates from the early nineteenth century. It is a painted version of Hōtan’s printed map surrounded by sailing ships (Fig. 12.4). It closely follows Hōtan’s printed map in overall scale and topographic detail. Every landform and waterway, every mountain, lake, and desert, every toponym and cartouche that appears on the Asian regions of Hōtan’s map is faithfully copied and filled with color and texture. The square lake spiraling rivers flowing from the mouths of the four mythical beasts is still depicted at the center of the continent. Yet the Americas have been entirely erased. All that is left to even suggest the presence of South America is a tiny island below Japan labeled “Land of Giants,” the toponym that had earlier identified Patagonia on the continent’s southern tip. Moreover, the cluster of islands representing Europe, and transcribed with such precision by Hōtan, is entirely absent. In their place is a large Dutch sailing ship in an otherwise empty sea. It is as if the ship in European waters from the printed map of Mikuniya Ryūsuke has been retained but the landforms of Europe that surrounded it have been removed. Here, perhaps, the metaphor (from the Greek, metaphorai, meaning “mode of transportation”) has replaced its referent. The painted map does retain some European countries—Holland, Spain, Portugal, England, Russia—but relocates them to islands off the northern coast of the Buddhist world continent. These new European isles, however, conform to neither the shapes nor the orthography of Hōtan’s map. Other foreign ships, from Korea, Beijing, Nanjing, Fujien, and Canton, are also depicted in the seas surrounding the Buddhist continent. And a seventh vessel, an air ship (labeled “flying boat” hikōsen)—complete with hot air balloon, billowing sails, rudder, keel, and paddle wheel—floats in the sky above Jambudvīpa. Japan was familiar with images and accounts of European travel by hot air balloon. News of the first successful dirigible flight, in Paris in 1783, reached Japan


The Sea and the Sacred in Japan

Figure 12.4 Map of Jambudvīpa (early nineteenth century), anonymous author. Courtesy of Kobe City Museum.

within months and a fascination with the possibility of air travel and flying machines appeared in Japanese popular literature and imagery beginning in the 1780s. Shiba Kōkan, an artist who promoted and popularized all things European, depicted airships on ceramic plates, and in the illustrated encyclopedia of European exotica, Komō zatsuwa.

Concluding Remarks Although in many ways similar to Kōkan’s illustration, the Buddhist map’s more immediate source for the balloon, and for many of the other details, is yet another printed map lifted from a different popular encyclopedia: the “Map of the Myriad Countries of the World” (Sekai bankoku no zu), printed in the Complete Compendium of Urban Knowledge (Tokai setsuyō hyakkatsū). The first of many popular single-volume encyclopedias (setsuyōshū) of the nineteenth century, the Compendium was published in Osaka in 1801, and reprinted three times: in 1811, 1819, and 1836. The encyclopedia’s map is itself a work of considerable cartographic hybridity. The Americas, as in our Buddhist map, are nowhere to be found, and Asia, Africa, and Europe are combined to

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form a single world continent. All of the elements of the painted Buddhist world map that do not derive from Hōtan are found here: not only the airship, but also the six other foreign vessels down to every nautical detail. The visual conjunction, in this nineteenth-century world map, of the modern technology of European travel and panoramic observation with the flat earth and sacred landscape of Buddhist India may strike us as one of cognitive dissonance. The map, however, does not present this pairing of worldviews as in any way irreconcilable. The birds-eye view that the hot air balloon affords is subsumed within the synoptic vision of the Buddhist map. The very mechanism that might otherwise challenge the classical Buddhist vision of a flat earth is here incorporated into its proof. The tide has turned. The presence of a European airship on a nineteenth-century Japanese Buddhist world map, a map that has marginalized Europe and erased the Americas, requires us to radically re-think the flows of knowledge between Japan and the West. It challenges a model of historical change in which religious modes of thought and representation are cast aside with the advance of scholarly and scientific accuracy. Indeed, it forces us to recognize the continuing role of the Buddhist imagination in the Japanese picture of the world (Figs. 12.5, 12.6).

Figure 12.5 “Map of the Myriad Countries of the World.” Courtesy of C.V. Starr East Asian Library, Columbia University.


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Figure 12.6 “Flying ship,” from “Map of the Myriad Countries of the World” (detail). Courtesy of C.V. Starr East Asian Library, Columbia University.


The World Was Born from the Sea Reading the Origin of Heaven and Earth in the Ruijū jingi hongen Kanazawa Hideyuki

Translation by Christoph Reichenbächer

Prologue The Ruijū jingi hongen (Classified sources on the origin of the kami) is the work of Watarai Ieyuki (1256?–1351?), a priest from the Outer Shrine of the Ise Jingū. As indicated by the title, this text collects and classifies various sources in order to provide a theoretical foundation for kami teachings (mainly Toyouke ōmikami, the deity worshipped at the Outer Shrine in Ise) and their cults. The preface states that the work was completed in 1320 (Gen’ō 2) at the end of the Kamakura period. The book consists of twelve chapters organized as follows: (1) origin of heaven and earth; (2) formation of heavenly deities; (3) creation of Japan; (4) the heavenly realm; (5) origin of Ise’s Inner Shrine; (6) origin of Ise’s Outer Shrine; (7) shrine symbols; (8) minor shrines of the Inner Shrine; (9) minor shrines of the Outer Shrine; (10) Prohibitions; (11) the divine mirror; (12) the profound meaning of Ise Shinto. Among these, only the last chapter expands in dialogic style on the teachings of Ise Shinto; the other eleven chapters are essentially composed of quotations from earlier texts. In this chapter, I will examine the first chapter on the formation of heaven and earth, and discuss the changes in the image of the sea that occurred in the medieval reinterpretation of the ancient myths and their significance.

The Sea in the Ancient Myths Japan’s oldest histories, the Kojiki (712) and the Nihon shoki (720), open with mythological accounts. These written myths became the bases of multiple discourses about Japan’s self-image, history, and religion, not only in ancient times but also in the Middle Ages, the early-modern period, and even in modern times. Of course, the sea also appears in these ancient myths. As is well known, the gods who gave birth to Japan, Izanagi and Izanami, were searching in the sea with a 155


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halberd; drops of water from the tip of this halberd became the first islands of Japan. The corresponding parts of the Kojiki and the Nihon shoki on the subject are as follows: Kojiki At this time the heavenly deities, all with one command, said to the two deities Izanagi-no-mikoto and Izanami-no-mikoto: “Complete and solidify this drifting land!” Giving them the Heavenly Jeweled Spear, they entrusted the mission to them. Thereupon, the two deities stood on the Heavenly Floating Bridge and, lowering the jeweled spear, stirred with it. They stirred the brine with a churning sound; and when they lifted up [the spear] again, the brine dripping down from the tip of the spear piled up and became an island. This was the island Onogoro (Philippi, trans. 1969: 49; Kojiki [B]: 31). Nihon shoki Izanagi no Mikoto and Izanami no Mikoto stood on the floating bridge of Heaven, and held counsel together, saying: “Is there not a country beneath?” Thereupon they thrust down the jewel-spear of Heaven, and groping about therewith found the ocean. The brine which dripped from the point of the spear coagulated and became an island which received the name of Ono-goro-jima1 (Aston, trans. 1956: 10; Nihon shoki [B] 1:22).

If we only consider these passages, they look like myths about the creation of the world. However, both Kojiki and Nihon shoki contain prior accounts of the cosmic beginning. Kojiki At the time of the beginning of heaven and earth, there came into existence in Takama-no-hara a deity named Ame-no-mi-naka-nushi-no-kami; next, Taka-mimusubi-no-kami; next, Kami-no-musubi-no-kami. [. . .] Next, when the land was young, resembling floating oil and drift like a jellyfish, there sprouted forth something like reed-shoots (ashikabi). From these came into existence the deity Umashi-ashi-kabi-piko-di-no-kami; next, Ame-no-toko-tachi-no-kami (Philippi, trans. 1969: 47; Kojiki [B] 29). Nihon shoki Of old, Heaven and Earth were not yet separated, and the Yin and Yang not yet divided. They formed a chaotic mass like an egg which was of obscurely defined limits and contained germs. The purer and clearer part was thinly drawn out, and formed Heaven, while the heavier and grosser element settled down and became Earth. The finer element easily became a united body, but the consolidation of the heavy and gross element was accomplished with difficulty. Heaven was therefore formed first, and Earth was established subsequently. Thereafter Divine Beings were produced between them.

The World Was Born from the Sea


Hence it is said that when the world’s creation began, the soil of which lands were composed floated about in a manner which might be compared to the floating of a fish sporting on the surface of water. At this time a certain thing was produced between Heaven and Earth. It was in form like a reed-shoot. Now this transformed into a God, and was called Kunitoko-tachi no Mikoto (Aston, trans., 1956: 1; Nihon shoki [B] 1: 16).

In the Kojiki, the world has existed since the beginning with heaven and earth in it already distinct and separate, and as is clear from the fact that heaven is called Takamano-hara, its nature has already been determined as a full-fledged realm. In contrast, earth is asymmetrically described as an unfinished world, floating erratically like a jellyfish. The kami were born in heaven, Takama-no-hara. In contrast, the Nihon shoki tells a different story. It begins from the chaos that exists before the world, and it continues with heaven and earth being formed through separation according to the logic of Yin and Yang. The gods are born in the intermediate space between heaven and earth, which respectively embody the symmetrical principles of Yang and Yin. Although there are differences in the actual content being narrated, these accounts at the beginning of both texts determine and set the course for the myths that follow them. In the Kojiki, the heavenly gods are in a superior position and carry out the completion of the earth world. This corresponds to the myth in which Izanagi and Izanami, upon orders from the heavenly gods, proceed to solidify the floating earth realm and create Japan. In contrast, in the Nihon shoki, Izanagi and Izanami are also called, respectively, Yang and Yin gods, and exist as embodiments of these two principles. These Yang and Yin gods “counseled together (tomo ni sōdan shite),” and gave shape to the earth world autonomously according to their own volition (Kōnoshi 1999). If we consider the world view of Kojiki and Nihon shoki in this way, the sea appears after the formation of heaven and earth, and merely plays a secondary role. However, new myths appeared in the middle ages as variations of these ancient myths in the discourses of Ryōbu Shinto and Ise Shinto in which the entire universe, including heaven and earth, developed from the sea. Toward the end of the Kamakura period, these narratives were compiled into the Ruijū jingi hongen, especially in the chapter on the formation of the world.

The Place of the Chapter on the Origin of the World in the Ruijū jingi hongen The chapter on the formation of the world has a unique characteristic within the Ruijū jingi hongen, namely, more than half of it consists of citations from Chinese authors (kanke). The structure of the chapter and the texts quoted in it are as follows.2

1. Chinese authors (kanke):

Gujin diwang niandai li (Jp. Kokon teiō nendaireki (Taikyoku zusetsu ), Laozi Dao de jing (Rōshi Dōtokukyō

), Taiji tushuo *),


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Zhou yi (Shūeki *, also known as Yijing [Ekikyō] ), Liezi (Resshi ), Hanshu (Kanjo *), Huangji jingshishu (Kōgyoku keiseisho ), Chunqiu zuozhuan (Shunjū saden *), Shangshu (Shōsho *), Wuxing dayi (Gogyō taigi ), Sanwu liji (Sango rekki , alternative name of Pangu kaitian pidi [Banko kaiten hekichi] ), Yiwei qianzao du (Ekii kensakudo ), Huainanzi (Enanji ), Hongfan wuxing zhuan (Kōhan gogyō den ,) Chunqiuwei yuanmingbao (Shunjūi genmeihō ), Zhuangzi (Sōji *). 2. Japanese authors (honchō): court officials (kanke): Jinnō jitsuroku , Sendai kuji hongi , Nihon shoki , Jinnō keizu , Tenchi reiki furoku shrine authors (shake): Toyouke kōtaijin gochinza hongi , Hōki gorei keimonzu Buddhist authors (shakke): Yamato Katsuragi hōzanki , Tenchi reikaku hisho , Jō agonkyō (Sk. Dīrgha Āgama) , Hizō hōyaku , Engo shinyō (Ch. Yuanwu xinyao) , Engakukyō ryakusho (Ch. Yuanjue jing lueshu) At the beginning I wrote that the Ruijū jingi hongen comprises citations from various sources, but in practice these are mostly works written in Japan (honchō). Only the first chapter on the formation of the world quotes, in its first half, many Chinese texts of different types. A critical evaluation of this Chinese texts portion is indispensable to our understanding of the chapter, but in past scholarship, this section has not received positive consideration. For example, Ōsumi Kazuo, the author of a critical edition of this book, wrote: When we examine the individual citations in this chapter, we cannot but admit that Ieyuki as a Shinto theorist lacked the knowledge to support the tenacity and energy necessary for a theoretical explanation of the origin of the world. The individual citations from the Zhuo yi (Yi jing), the Dao de jing, and so forth are merely inserted in portions of the author’s own theory on the subject, isolated from their original context, and are misunderstood and misread. [. . .] As a result, Ieyuki’s thought might seem to be a combination and systematization of theories on the origin of the world, but in fact its sources lack a clear focus, and the chapter ends up being as a series of disparate citations (Ōsumi 1977: 353–354).

However, when we consider the peculiar place of Chinese sources (kanke) in the Ruijū jingi hongen, can we really reduce them to a mere “series of disparate citations”? Even if separation from their original context had indeed caused “misunderstandings and misreadings,” what was Ieyuki trying to tell us through such rereadings? It is therefore important to understand what we can call Ieyuki’s “classificatory thought (ruijū shisō).” Takahashi Miyuki sees in the citations of Chinese sources on the origin of the world “an interest in a ‘way’ (dō) as something universal transcending individual and relative entities such as Shinto, Confucianism, and Buddhism” (Takahashi 2010: 249). Yet, she

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provides no concrete analysis as to the purpose of the citations Ieyuki used and what they tell us when considered as a whole. The study of the impact of Chinese sources, especially Daoist texts (such as Dao de jing by Laozi and its commentaries Heshang gong zhu , and Laozi shu yi ), on the doctrinal development of Ise Shinto, has traditionally focused on a time before Ieyuki, on the Ise nisho daijingū jinmyō hisho (1285) by Watarai Yukitada and the Five Books of Ise Shinto (Shinto Gobusho , likely composed with Yukitada’s involvement. As regards the Ruijū jingi hongen, research has privileged the final chapter on Shinto doctrine (Shintō gengi hen ). Since there are few clear discussions of the first chapter on the origin of the world, including analyses of the sources cited therein,3 in the following, I will propose an interpretation of that entire chapter.

The Myths of the World being Generated from the Sea A key to understanding the philosophical thought behind the origin chapter in the Ruijū jingi hongen is the role played in it by myths about the world originating from the sea. This is most evident in the citation from the Yamato Katsuragi hōzanki, one of the Buddhist texts (shakke) from Japan (honchō). That work, attributed to Gyōki, is an early Ryōbu Shinto text, and its influence can also be found in the three later texts of Shintō gobusho, namely, Ise nisho kōtaijin gochinza denki , Toyouke kōtaijin gochinza hongi, and Amaterashimasu Ise nisho kōtaijingū gochinza shidaiki (Itō 2011: 165). The Yamato Katsuragi hōzanki contains the following passage: According to what we have heard, when Heaven and Earth were formed, the water essence (suiki ) turned into Heaven and Earth. Winds blew from the ten directions and clashed with each other and contained this large body of water. Above it, a god appeared with a thousand heads and two thousand hands and feet. The name of this god is Eternally Abiding Divine King of Mercy (Jōjū jihi jinnō ), and also Reed net (Imō ). In the navel of this anthropomorphic god grew a lotus flower with a thousand golden leaves, which symbolizes Buddha’s teachings. Its bright glow was like that of ten thousand suns shining together. In that lotus there was another anthropomorphic god sitting in meditation; he also emanated an immeasurable glow. His name was King Bonten (Sk. Brahmā devarāja). From the heart of Bonten, eight children were born; they generated the people of the world. King Bonten was also called heavenly god (Tenjin) and the ancestor of the Heavenly Emperor. It is also said that water is the origin of the Dao (dō); its outflow became the mother and father of the myriad things. That is why water nourishes everything. It is important to know that, in olden times at the beginning of the world, after water turned into Heaven and Earth, there was a spirit entity (reibutsu) that appeared spontaneously in the high plains of the heavenly sea (Takama-no-unabara); it was shaped like a reed’s sprout (ashikabi), and its name is unknown. Then, from that


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spirit entity a god appeared. It was called Tenjin, King Bonten, and Shiki dai Bontennō (Sk. Shikhīn Mahā-Brahmā-devarāja) (Yamato Katsuragi hōzanki [A]: 103).4

As we can see, this text tells the myth that at the beginning of the world there was a great body of water in which a reed net was formed; from its navel grew a lotus where in turns King Brahmā was born.5 This tale itself is based on the Da zhi du lun (Jp. Daichidoron, Sk. Mahā-prajñā-pāramitā-śāstra), but the Yamato Katsuragi hōzanki identifies Brahmā with the ancestor god of the heavenly emperor. Furthermore, in the latter half, there is a myth which overlaps with a myth in the Kojiki, but there as well, water is emphasized as the origin of the entire world. It is also worth noticing that Takama-no-hara, the heavenly realm in the Kojiki, is called here as Takama-nounabara, the High Plains of the Heavenly Sea. We know that the new myths brought up by the Yamato Katsuragi hōzanki were also included in the discourse of Ise Shinto from the following citation from the Toyouke kōtaijin gochinza hongi that appears in the shrine texts section of our chapter: When heaven and earth began to move, there was one thing in the midst of the great sea. That shape floating in the water was like a reed sprout. A god with a human form appeared in it. His name was Ame no minakanushi no kami. That is why this land was called the Land Surrounded by Fields of Bountiful Reed (Toyo-ashihara-no-nakatsu-kuni); based on that, the kami [of Ise’s Outer Shrine] was called Great August God of Bountiful Food (Toyouke kōtaijin) (Ruijū jingi hongen, p. 102).

Here, the god born from the reed sprout floating in the great sea is Ame no minakanushi, who is also considered to be Toyouke kōdaijin. In other words, the god born in the primordial ocean was connected with Toyouke, the main deity worshipped at Ise’s Outer Shrine. Yamamoto Hiroko has already offered us an important suggestion regarding the meaning of the myth of the origin of the world from the sea in the two previous citations included in the Ruijū jingi hongen (Yamamoto 1998: 39–42). Yamamoto identifies a link between Toyouke and water—the deity is considered the embodiment of water’s virtues (suitokushin). Since Amaterasu, the sun goddess worshipped at the Inner Shrine, was identified with the virtues of fire, Yamamoto argues that during the formation process of Ise Shinto, authors sought to elevate Toyouke—who most likely was originally a food deity—as equal to Amaterasu by connecting it with the virtues of water instead. The discourse on the origin of the world from the sea (water) found in the Yamato Katsuragi hōzanki and the Gochinza hongi functioned as a mythological support for such claim. This is indeed a valuable suggestion. However, the role of sea myths in the origin chapter is not limited to these few citations, but follows a logic pervading the entire text. Below, I will further develop my analysis from this perspective.

The World Was Born from the Sea


Analysis of the Section on Japanese Sources (honchō) First, let us consider the citations from the Nihon shoki in the Court Officials (kanke) section among the Japanese sources (honchō). At the beginning, we find the passage, already quoted above (p. 157), ending with: Hence it is said that when the world’s creation began, the soil of which lands were composed floated about in a manner which might be compared to the floating of a fish sporting on the surface of water. (Ruijū jingi hongen, p. 100)

As is well known, the Age of the Gods (jindai) section of the Nihon shoki includes a number of alternative versions of the primary text, each indicated as “one document” (issho). There are six of them related to the above-mentioned, and among those, the Ruijū jingi hongen includes the following two, respectively, version nr. 2 and nr. 5: “In olden times, when the Land was young and the earth was young, they drifted floating like fat that floats on water” (Ruijū jingi hongen, p.  100), and “the situation when the world had not yet been formed, was like fluffy snow floating on the sea with nothing around” (Ruijū jingi hongen, p.100). Most likely, only these two versions are included because they describe the original condition of the world in relation to the sea. Both are mere metaphorical descriptions, but their specificity becomes clear when we compare them, for example, to the sixth version, which says: “when Heaven and Earth initially separated, there was one thing. It was born in the air and looked like a reed sprout” (Nihon shoki [B] 1: 20). One can safely surmise that the intention behind the choice of the passages to quote lay in the desire to emphasize the role of water, and especially the sea. The Court Officials (kanke) section also quotes the origin myth from the Sendai kuji hongi. Because this book was originally composed mostly of passages from the Nihon shoki (the nature of this work as a collection of sources was established by Kamata 1960), its content is almost identical to the main text of Nihon shoki. Nevertheless, the cosmogony account ends with: “It was like a fish swimming in the water. Then, heaven was formed first and the earth consolidated later” (Ruijū, p. 99). The Ruijū jingi hongen also quotes a passage from the Tenchi reiki furoku, which is exactly the same as that from the Yamato Katsuragi hōzanki discussed above, namely, the myth of the god Brahmā being born on a lotus that formed from the navel of the god Vis.n.u, in turn born out of the primordial ocean (Ruijū, p. 101). Next, if we turn our attention to the section on Buddhist authors (shakke), we encounter two significant citations. The first is from the Jō Agon kyō: “water became heaven and earth” (Ruijū, p. 105), and the second from Kūkai’s Hizō hōyaku: “the great sky extended widely, encompassing in its ether (daiki) all material entities; the ocean was deep and clear, and self-contained in its water. As we can know from this, one entity was the mother of unlimited others” (Ruijū, p. 105). Both citations clearly focus on water as the origin of the entire world. Interestingly, the Jō Agon kyō in its currently existing form says: “water turned into the earth” (T 1, 1: 37c03-c04).6 Whether Ieyuki’s citation of the same passage (“water became heaven and earth”) was a copyist’s mistake


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or a wilful alteration, the change in wording followed a consistent semantic pattern of emphasizing the role of water.

Analysis of the Section on “Chinese Authors (kanke)” At this point, it becomes easier to understand the section on Chinese authors (kanke) in the first half of the chapter on the origin of the world. Was it really composed at random by putting together a “series of disparate citations,” as Ōsumi Kazuo wrote? First, let us review the overall structure of the kanke section. At the beginning, it lists citations from various texts (including some of their commentaries). As is clear from the first passage quoted therein, from the now lost Kokin teiō nendaireki, this section gathers passages dealing with the beginning of the world (portion A, pp.  82–93): “A long time ago, heaven and earth had not yet a form; that is called tayi (great changes). There, the primordial spirit (kongen no ki) appeared; that is called tashu (great beginning” (p. 82). Next, we find definitions of kami based on the Zhou yi (Yi jing), the Dao de jing, and some of their commentaries (portion B, pp.  93–98). This portion includes the wellknown passage from the Yi jing, Chixi shangzhuan : “We call ‘god’ the unfathomable operations of the changes of Yin and Yang” (p. 95). Finally, the ideal human condition between heaven and earth, pure and unembellished, is explained together with that of the kami from the Zhou Yi and above all the Zhuangzi: “In order to be pure and simple, one has to protect the operation of the inner spirit. As long as one does not cease protecting it, one becomes one with the gods” (Zhuangzi, chapter “Keyi” , p. 98) (portion C, pp. 98–99). From these three portions of the text (A, B, and C), we can see that the Chinese sources are used to explain the condition of heaven and earth, the nature of the gods, and what Way humans ought to respect. In this context, I would now like to discuss the Taiji tushuo by Song author Zhou Dunyi toward the beginning of portion A: The supreme Ultimate (taiji) is at the same time the non-ultimate (wuji). The supreme ultimate sets in motion and gives birth to Yang. When movement is completely achieved, it becomes stasis. Stasis gives birth to Yin. Stasis in turn becomes movement. Movement and stasis are each other’s cause. When Yin and Yang separate, heaven and earth are formed. Yang changes and, merging with Yin, gives birth to water, fire, wood, metal, and earth. These five spirits pervade everything according to the cosmic order, and the four seasons alternate (p. 82).

We should pay special attention to the order of the five agents (gogyō, Ch. wuxing: water, fire, wood, metal, and earth) in the passage above. It is based on the Shangshu, “Hongfan” chapter , but as pointed out by Tsuchida Kenjirō (1999: 15), this ordering emphasizes the role of water as the source of all beings. (The standard order of the five agents is wood, fire, earth, metal, and water.) We can also detect the same intention in the following passage from the Zhou Yi, chapter “Chixi shangzhuan” quoted in the Kanke section:

The World Was Born from the Sea


The Chixi shangzhuan says: “The Supreme Ultimate (taiji) comes into being, and from it heaven and earth are born.” Kong Yingda’s commentary states: “Supreme Ultimate refers to what was there before heaven and earth separated. The primordial essences mixed and merged with another, becoming one.” After that essence, which was one, divided into two, the Yang essence went up and became heaven, and the Yin essence went down and became earth. What is above is light and pure. What is below is heavy and murky; its condition was like quiet, stagnant water (youru shishui, Jp. tomemizu aru ga gotoku ). In this way, the positions of heaven and earth were established. We call this duality (ryōgi) (p. 84).

In the above passage, the quotation from the Chīxī shangzhuan is accompanied by commentaries. The one by Kong Yingda (574–648) is found in the Zhou yi sheng yi (Jp. Shūeki seigi ); the next passage that begins with “After that essence, which was one, divided into two” comes from the Xinduan fenmen zuantu bowenlu (a now lost book), which also includes the previous sentence. In other words, the entire citation is a derivative quotation from the Bowenlu. In other parts of the Kanke section there are many citations from the Zhou yi that are actually drawn from the Zhou yi sheng yi and other commentaries. Why then did Ieyuki use the Bowenlu in this specific case? The answer can be found in the line “Its condition was like quiet, stagnant water”; this expression means that at the beginning of world the earth was covered in water. The three following passages at the end of portion A are decisive: Huainanzi, Tianwenxun : The essence of heaven and earth became Yin and Yang; the essence of Yin and Yang gathered together and became the four seasons; the essence of the four seasons scattered and became the myriad things. The essence of cold, with accumulated Yin in it, returned to its origin and became water; the powerful essence, with accumulated Yang in it, returned to its origin and became fire (p. 91). Wuxing dayi , Chapter four “Lun xiang sheng” Heaven gave birth to the One in the northern water. Earth gave birth to the Two in the southern fire. Humanity gave birth to the Three in the eastern woods. Time gave birth to the Four in the western metal. The five agents gave birth to the Five in the central soil (p. 92). Chunqiuwei yuanmingbao (lost book): Water means “level.” Yin changed and acquired humidity, it flowed around and permeated everything. That is why, when we express water with the character , we write two “persons” intersecting each other, and the graph “one” in the middle. “One” is the beginning of numbers, and two “persons” symbolize man and woman (Yin and Yang). When Yin and Yang unite, a One is born. Water is the beginning of the five agents. It is the liquid in which the primordial essence-spirit is condensed (p. 93).

Thus, the A portion of the Kanke section, explaining the origin of heaven and earth, ends by lining up citations about the role of water in it. In particular, the original


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passage “The essence of cold, with accumulated Yin in it, returned to its origin and became water” in the Huainanzi, lacks the two characters rendered here as “returned to its origin” (hansha ) (the same is true for the following sentence “the powerful essence, with accumulated Yang in it, returned to its origin and became fire”). In fact, the Ruijū jingi hongen quotes this passage from the Wuxing dayi, which does include those two characters. In the original text, water arises as a result of an accumulation of Yin, but in Ieyuki’s citation, water becomes the source of Yin. It is clear that the significance of this choice of citations is related to the myth of the world originating from the water of the primordial ocean we saw in the section on Japanese sources discussed above. This correspondence between the section on Chinese sources (kanke) and that on Japanese sources (honchō) can also be further identified in part C. Towards the end of the portion on Buddhist texts in the section on Japanese sources, we find a citation from the Engo shin’yō (Ch. Yuanwu xin yao), a Song period collection of Buddhist sermons by the Linji (Rinzai) monk Yuanwu Keqin (1063–1135): The condition of the world when heaven and earth still had no shape, and sentient beings and buddhas were not yet separated, was like that of a calm body of water (tannen gyōjaku ); this is the origin of the myriad things (p. 105).

This passage is followed by another from the preface to the Engakukyō in the Engakukyō ryakusho (Ch. Yuanjue jing lueshu), a commentary on the Engakukyō by the Tang period’s Buddhist monk Zongmi (780–841): Yuan (the beginning of the myriad things), heng (the unfolding of the myriad things), li (the flowering of the myriad things), zhen (the achievement of the myriad things) are the virtues of the qian hexagram in the Yi jing; they originate from the one essence yiqi . Chang (abiding), le (happiness), wo (true self), jing (purity) are the virtues of Buddha; they originate from the one mind (the enlightened mind). When the one essence concentrates, the bodymind becomes flexible. By practicing the one mind, one attains enlightenment (p. 105).

If we consider these two passages together, we can interpret the return to “the origin of the myriad things” in the former as the attainment of enlightenment and as the original condition of the body-mind—one of the central teachings of Ise Shinto. Significantly, in the latter, the original condition of the myriad things is expressed as “a calm body of water,” a term that originally refers to the quiet and stillness of deep and clear water; we can see in this the image of the primordial water. In fact, in the Yuanwu foguo chanshi yulu , a record of sermons by the same Yuanwu Keqin, we find the following passage representing the world, including all beings, as an infinite sea: All living entities are not born and will not perish. If one can understand this fact well, all buddhas will always be present in front of one’s eyes. Not only that. All

The World Was Born from the Sea


sentient beings, inanimate things and the endlessly wide and fragrant sea will appear as extending over past, present, and future, quiet and unchanging like deep and clear water (tannen gyōjaku ) (T 47, 1997: 731c29-a03).

In the Tenchi reikaku hisho, from the “Buddhist authors” (shakke) in the section on Japanese sources, we find the same expression: A long time ago, when heaven and earth had not yet separated, and the myriad things had yet no shape—this state was quiet like deep and clear water (tannen gyōjaku), and not even one thing existed (p. 104).

In order to embody purity and honesty—the virtues extolled by Ise Shinto—and thereby become one with the kami, one had to return to the primordial sea, which is the source of all things. This is the image consistently conveyed by all these sources.

Conclusion As we have seen, by interpreting the section on Japanese sources (honchō) and the one on Chinese authors (kanke) in relation to each other, it is possible to acquire a general understanding of the chapter on the formation of heaven and earth in the Ruijū jingi hongen. The chapter emphasizes the fact that virtues such as purity and honesty, which relate to the virtues of water embodied by the Outer Shrine’s deity Toyouke, are based on a full-fledged worldview in which the primordial sea is the origin of everything. We are dealing here with a method for describing images that are central to the argument developed, in which the selection and order of the citations, as well as their anaphoric relations, constitute the bases for the classification of the sources employed. This method appears to be unique to Watarai Ieyuki’s Ruijū jingi hongen, and has no precedent in Watarai Yukitada’s Ise nisho taijungū shinmei hisho or in the Taigenshin ichi hisho (author unknown, late Kamakura period), which were the source compilations of citations of texts quoted in Ise Shinto works (Takahashi 2010: 41). Ruijū jingi hongen utilizes texts from the three countries (sangoku)—Japan, China, and India (the latter represented by Buddhist texts in the Japan section) and their diverse philosophical systems. By reading those citations as we have done here, that is, as converging in a single image of the cosmogony, we see that the Ieyuki was attempting to overcome the individual differences of the original sources toward the discovery of a sort of universal principle.7 Later, the aristocratic intellectual Ichijō Kanera (or Kaneyoshi) (1402–1481) wrote the Nihon shoki sanso (composed around 1457, revised around 1473), an epoch-making commentary to the Nihon shoki. It also identified a common principle underlying Nihon shoki myths, Song China theories about the spirit-essence (qi, Jp. ki), and Buddhist Tathāgatagarbha thought.8 Kanera’s understanding of mythology, along with Ise Shinto ideas about purity and honesty, were largely influential in Yoshida Shinto, and were further developed by early-modern Suika Shinto. In this chapter, I attempted to show that at the origin of this intellectual genealogy there is the myth that the world originated from the sea.



Orikuchi Shinobu and the Sea as Religious Topos Marebito and Musubi no kami Saitō Hideki

Translated by Emily B. Simpson

Introduction Marebito ( or ) is a well-known term created by Orikuchi Shinobu (1887–1953) and constitutes the pillar of his scholarship (Nishimura 1998: 13–30). He described them thus: “From beyond the sea they visited the ancient villages from time to time; those spirit entities (reibutsu) brought good fortune to the lives of the villagers and then returned from whence they came” (Orikuchi 1995, 1: 13). This image of the marebito was the result of Orikuchi’s effort to interpret the legends of visiting gods such as Mayunganashi in the Shitsu seasonal festival on Ishigaki and the Akamata and Kuromata of the agricultural festival Pūrī on Aragusuku-shima and Iriomote-shima, garnered from research trips to Okinawa in 1921 and 1923. It was also derived from his rereading of the myths in the eighth-century texts Kojiki, Nihon shoki and Fudoki. By looking once more at Orikuchi Shinobu’s study of ancient Japan—the marebito visiting from across the sea, the storytellers of seafaring families, the figure of Azumi no Isora (the god who emerged from the bottom of the sea and originated kagura, sacred dance), and the idea of Tokoyo (the other world far across the sea)—we come to see that for Orikuchi, the sea was an essential religious topos. One also notices that he considered “the land beyond the sea” a different world (ikai) where the spirits of the dead would gather. This is also where Musubi no kami, a god linked to the origin of spirits (reikon), appears. This idea of kami, which has drawn much attention in recent years (Andō 2014: 362–368), was developed after World War II by Orikuchi as part of argument about “the transformation of Shinto into a religion,” alongside the terms “supreme deity” (shijōshin) and “primordial being” (kisonsha), both referring to a divine being who transcends humankind. From marebito to Musumi no kami, this quest for the gods was, for Orikuchi, connected with the sea as the other world, one that transcends our own. This point of view requires further investigation, particularly as it differs significantly from fellow 167


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folklorist Yanagita Kunio (1875–1962), who instead conceived of the ocean as a mere “maritime path” connecting various lands together. In this chapter, I reconsider Orikuchi’s writings on marebito, the gods of performing arts who derive from them, and Musubi no kami, the gods of creation who give birth to and control spirits (reikon). Here, by taking the sea as a religious topos, I seek new possibilities for understanding Orikuchi’s scholarship.

The Origin of the Theory of Marebito The essential framework of Orikuchi Shinobu’s theory of marebito first appeared in Kodai kenkyū, published in 1929, within the section on National Literature in the chapter “Kokugaku no hassei (daisankō).”1 The original title was “Tokoyo oyobi marebito,” and it was published in January 1929 in the journal Minzoku (Volume 4, Issue 2). This essay was at the center of a famous episode between Orikuchi and Yanagita. Orikuchi initially submitted the work for consideration for the first issue of Minzoku in 1925 (Taishō 10), but it was rejected because, apparently, Yanagita, then supervising editor, said “We cannot publish something like this!” Later, when the editorship shifted from Yanagita to Oka Masao (1898–1982), “Tokoyo oyobi Marebito” was finally published in the journal (Iguchi 1979: 27). Although Orikuchi respected Yanagita throughout his life as his “teacher” and was careful always to appear respectful, the sharp antagonism between the two was and remains well known. The main point of contention between them, to put it simply, was that Yanagita held ancestor worship as the central form of belief typical of the Japanese, whereas Orikuchi stressed the importance of belief in marebito, which existed outside blood and regional ties.2 Let us consider once again what exactly Orikuchi’s marebito were: I suggest that marebito was a word that in ancient times referred to kami, who were thought to come visiting from Tokoyo at fixed intervals. Fortunately, rituals welcoming these gods became folk stories, and it was be an unexpected joy if one could explain these stories as the origin of the customs surrounding treatment of honored guests. In short, the marebito I envision were, in their original form, kami. The term primarily refers to spirit entities (reibutsu) from beyond the sea who came from time to time and visited the ancient villages, bringing good fortune to the lives of those villagers before returning from whence they came” (“Kokugaku no hassei (daisankō),” in Orikuchi 1995, 1: 13, author’s emphasis).

As Orikuchi explains, marebito were kami that came from “beyond the sea;” that is, the land of Tokoyo. These marebito were “spirits” who brought “good fortune” to “the lives of villagers.” In addition, according to Orikuchi’s theory of the origin of literature, the marebito brought forth “narrative poetry, which expresses thought in the first person” and “autobiographies of the kami”—in other words, the prototypes of literature. Orikuchi also held them to be the origin of the myths collected in the Kojiki and Nihon shoki (“Kokugaku no hassei,” first and fourth drafts).

Orikuchi Shinobu and the Sea as Religious Topos


In this way, the kami from “beyond the sea” were envisioned as gods who brought good fortune to human villages in which humans lived and transmitted the origin myths of the human world. The “land beyond the sea” in which these marebito-kami reside was therefore not an absolute and transcendent other world separated from the human realm. Rather, the gods of this other world were constructed as forces that revitalized the community. As such, however, Orikuchi’s marebito were not ancestor spirits rooted in blood ties, which, according to Yanagita, linked society together in this world. In contrast to ancestor spirits, who had deep regional and clan relationships, marebito were gods fully isolated from this world. Thus, we can see these marebito as endowed with a dual nature, as spirits both connected to and separated from our world.

Interpreting Japanese Myths: Towards the Land of the Mother and Tokoyo What sort of other world did Orikuchi envision as the world “beyond the sea,” otherwise known as Tokoyo, where the marebito reside? In the myths of the Kojiki and the Nihon shoki, Tokoyo appears a mere few times. For instance, when the god Sukunabikona helped Ōkuninushi to create the land (a reference to the origin myth of the Izumo region in western Japan), he departed and “crossed the sea to the realm of Tokoyo” (Kojiki, 1: 75). Similarly, Mikenu, the older brother of Kamu-yamato-iware-biko (Emperor Jinmu, the first emperor of Japan), “strode upon the peaks of waves and crossed to the realm of Tokoyo,” thus disappearing from the world (Kojiki [C] 1: 107). When Emperor Suinin sought “the fruit of the ever fragrant tree,” a magic fruit of longevity and youth usually identified as the tachibana citrus, his envoy Tajimamori “was sent to the land of Tokoyo” (Kojiki [C] 2: 153). In all of these cases, Tokoyo is clearly another world “beyond the sea.” However, as Tokoyo may also be related to Chinese Daoism, it is now widely accepted that the word has a more recent origin than the afterlife realms of Yomi and Ne no Katasu Kuni, or the divine palace of the sea god Watatsumi (Saigō 1972: 167). The connection between Tokoyo and Haha ga kuni (the ancestral land of the mother) appears in the Kojiki, when Susanoo yearns for “my mother’s country, Ne no Katasukuni, where I will withdraw” (Kojiki [C] 1: 44). On this point, Orikuchi says the following: Haha ga kuni was born out of the despair of one people (minzoku) regarding their original land; the target of a fantasized feeling of reminiscence. Caught by the word “mother,” it became Ne no Katasu Kuni and then the palace of Watatsumi, but it was as a land hard to reach, not thought of like the ordinary (zoku) world in which we live. Thus, we must see the meaning of this haha ga kuni as having only reached the first stage of development, the only form that storytellers relate in their tales. The name of the land that Inahi no mikoto, and concurrently Mikenu no mikoto, crossed to astride the tops of waves, was called Tokoyo” (“Haha ga kuni e Tokoyo e,” In Orikuchi 1995, 2: 17).


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However, in an even earlier reading, Tokoyo meant ‘everlasting night’ ( ), seemingly imagined as a land where fearsome gods lived in darkness. We can find traces of this realm in substitutions, such as in the myth of Amaterasu, where she hides in the rock cave and plunges the world in darkness, and also in the description of Tamagahara, the realm of the heavenly gods. Many previous authors have accepted [Motoori] Norinaga’s3 theory that the term Tokoyo derives from the long warble of birds in that land, which sounds like “tokoyo” and refers to a perennial night. However, in addition to the state of interminable night without a moment of light, [Norinaga] also adopts the reading of [Emperor] Yūryaku’s ‘great sickness’ (taizen)4 as “Tokotsu kuni” [. . .] We can see that in olden times, people imagined a fearful land of eternal darkness. Thus, following [Norinaga]’s interpretation, one could say that our ancestors were afraid of the realm ruled by the great god of the underworld (yomotsu ōkami), which they called Tokoyo (“eternal night”) and for which they also used the terms yomi (“seeing night”) and ne (“root”). The land of Tokoyo of Mikenu no mikoto was also understood as the god Watatsumi’s palace, but one could also think of it as the realm of the dead (“Haha ga kuni e Tokoyo e,” In Orikuchi 1995, 2: 21).

According to Orikuchi, Tokoyo was the other world, completely different from “the ordinary world in which we live.” It was “a land hard to reach,” “a land where fearsome gods lived in darkness,” “another name for the land of the dead,” and “the island of the dead.” This seems to acknowledge the existence of earlier layers of beliefs regarding the other world. Certainly there are myths that take place in the other world, such as Ne no Katasu Kuni in the myth of Ōnamuchi, the land of Yomi in the myth of Izanagi and Izanami, and the palace of the Watatsumi in the myth of Hoori and Toyotama-bime. However, there is no myth in which Tokoyo itself is the stage for the gods’ actions. Rather, it becomes a distinct and separate other world, one we cannot directly see or know from our world. Moreover, Orikuchi also stated that “it appears that people of both Izumo and Yamato thought there was a connection between the sea and the realm of darkness” (Kodai kenkyū, in Orikuchi 1995, 2: 39). In other words, Orikuchi thought that the land “beyond the sea” was not an idealized world that provided wealth and knowledge to ours, but a dark realm directly related to the land of the dead. We must once again recall that the foundation of Orikuchi’s theories regarding Tokoyo lay in Motoori Norinaga’s work. In that context, Orikuchi said of Norinaga’s interpretation that “if we consider the part where [Tokoyo] is equated with the land of the dead, [Norinaga’s] judgement was definitely wavering.” Here, I would like to draw attention to the fact that Orikuchi did not accept Norinaga’s standard interpretation of Tokoyo as the land of the dead as an established explanation, but rather focused on the flaws in his interpretation. Let us now examine Norinaga’s interpretation. Tokoyo is not the name of a specific country, but rather refers more broadly to a place somewhere out there, far distant from this land of the emperor, difficult to go and return from” (Kojikiden, 10: 8).

Orikuchi Shinobu and the Sea as Religious Topos


In addition, it is also said that when people die, they go to the land of Tokoyo. This term refers to a place extremely far away, without transport, where one cannot go to and return. [. . .] In the Man’yōshū fasc. 4, it says: “Toyoko is the land I go to,” and in fasc. 9, “Toward the border of the far country (Tōtsukuni ) and Yomi ( ).” Also, in the Nihon shoki entry on Emperor Ōnagatani [Yūryaku]5 and his imperial envoy: “without words, he rapidly arrived and stayed at Tokotsukuni ( ).” All these refer to the meaning above. Thus, one must read not according to the character meaning, but by the Japanese kun reading, which says that he passed away and left for the land of Tokoyo” (Kojikiden, 10: 8–9).

Norinaga also interpreted “the land of Tokoyo” as the other world, quite far from “the land of the emperor” that one could not easily go to nor return from. Then, he explains that the expression “going to the land of Tokoyo” meaning the place where people go after death, derives from the idea of a distant other world from which it was impossible to both go and come back. We can take from this that Norinaga, too, considered Tokoyo as another world completely separate from our own. Nevertheless, as Orikuchi Shinobu named his own scholarship “New National Learning” (shin-kokugaku), it is clear that he considered himself as inheriting the knowledge of the Edo Period kokugaku scholars Motoori Norinaga, Hirata Atsutane (1776–1843) and even Suzuki Shigetane (1812–1863). This development has also been connected to the formation of modern scholarship (Katsurajima 2008: 115–122). However, this does not mean that the commentary-based scholarship of these scholars—including Norinaga, the pioneer of modern empirical studies—fit the framework of early modern scholarship in any way. For instance, we could say that the concept of “musubi no kami” , to be discussed below, was a unique early modern “myth” that Norinaga, Atsutane and Shigetane created anew from their textual commentaries on the Kojiki and Nihon shoki (see Saitō 2012 and 2014). Musubi no kami are described in the Kojiki as gods who appeared after the creation of heaven and earth, along with Ame no minaka nushi: “When the heaven and earth first came into being, the name of the god who emerged in the High Heavenly Plains (Takamagahara) was Ame no minaka nushi. Then, Takami musubi. Then, Kami musubi” (Kojiki [C] 1: 26). Norinaga, however, read the text of the Kojiki differently, suggesting that Takami musubi and Kami musubi appeared in the “empty space” (kokū) before the creation of heaven and earth, envisioning them as transcendent creator gods. What exists in this world, beginning with heaven and earth, all beings and events are produced by the creative force (musubi) of these two gods, Musubi no ōkami . . . then, even though there are many gods, these two are especially worth honoring. All the more so, because of the august virtue of their creative force, these gods must be held in awe and worshipped above all else that exists (Kojikiden, 9: 129–130).

This interpretation in the Kojikiden—that Takami musubi and Kamu musubi created heaven, earth, and all the things in them—is no literary or empirical commentary, and has thus been considered critically as “Norinaga’s theology” (Higashi 1999). However,


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if we take the point of view that Norinaga, using the method of commentary, read the text of the myth afresh and created a new mythology befitting his own historical period, we can identify a genealogical link between his interpretation and the Chūsei nihongi, which has drawn significant attention in recent years.6 In this genealogy, Norinaga’s mythology evolves or even leaps into Atsutane’s and Shigetane’s own visions of the myths. Now, Orikuchi Shinobu’s interpretation of Tokoyo as well as the nature of the marebito-gods related to it—variously criticized from the standpoint of modern empirical literary studies as arbitrary, as having little basis in historical documents, or as being the intuition of a poet—can also be seen from a new perspective. Namely, Orikuchi also, through commentary and interpretation of the text of a myth, constructed a new and uniquely modern “mythology.” For example, just as he conceptualized his study of “Haha no kuni e, Tokoyo e” at first as “a list of topics of artistic creation [sōsaku no daimoku]” (“Kaidō no suna,” in Orikuchi 1995: Volume 33), Orikuchi’s scholarship cannot be reduced to the modern institutional framework opposing creative writing and research (Ikeda 1978: 20). This was Orikuchi as both a scholar and creator of mythology (see Saitō 2013, Chapter 6). Orikuchi’s Tokoyo is described by images of “a land of fearsome gods who dwell in darkness,” “another name for the realm of the dead,” and “the island of death.” Should we not see this as a new myth that Orikuchi, through his re-readings of the Kojiki and Nihon shoki, created in the early years of the modern era? I would like to explore the possibility of this interpretation. Why did Orikuchi, living in the modern era, narrate the myths of the underworld by utilizing such a dark and death-filled imagery? Why did he link the sea with the yūmeikai, the invisible realm of darkness and death? To answer these questions, we must confront the problem of modern Shinto.

Tokoyo and the History of Modern Shinto At the beginning of his essay “Kodai seikatsu no kenkyū” (Study of Life in Ancient Times), subtitled “Tokoyo no Kuni,” Orikuchi developed the following argument: The meaning of Shinto changed greatly from the Meiji period. In order for Shinto to transcend the freedom of religion established in the Meiji constitution, there has been a tendency to intentionally increase its ethical content. Since both the starting point and the process of Shinto is religion, and even today it has not lost completely lost its religious hue, I think it appropriate to consider Shinto as the unifying principle of an ancient lifestyle founded on religion. This mode of belief, as conventional practice, later evolved into the norms which regulated morality, the arts, and life more generally” (“Kodai seikatsu no kenkyū,” in Orikuchi 1995, 2: 27–28).

When this argument was presented in 1925, “Shinto”—after the failure of early Meiji efforts to transform Shinto into the national religion and the establishment of a modern constitutional monarchy in Japan, with the promulgation of the Constitution in Meiji 22

Orikuchi Shinobu and the Sea as Religious Topos


(1889) and the creation of a parliamentary body, the Diet—was distinguished from “religions that citizens are free to adopt” and was increasingly envisioned as something different from “religion.” Instead, the government emphasized the character of Shinto as a set of morals and ethics which would unify its subjects, and it was at this time that shrine festivals and shrine visits were reconceived as a system to supplement the ideology that “Shinto shrines are non-religious,” disseminated by the Ministry of the Interior’s Bureau of Shrine Affairs (Akazawa 1985: Chapter  2). As a critic of this ideology, Orikuchi’s “Kodai seikatsu no kenkyū” can be understood as a scholarly attempt to recapture the religious nature of Shinto (Saitō 2016: 92–112). However, several of Orikuchi’s works were presented in journals and the organizational magazines of Shinto priests, scholars and families which formed the backbone of “modern Shinto” from the Meiji era through Taishō and early Showa, such as Shintōgaku zasshi, Jinja kyōkai zasshi, Mikuni, Mikuni jihō. For example, Orikuchi’s “Shintō ni arawareta minzoku ronri,” later incorporated into Kodai kenkyū, made its first appearance in the fifth issue of Shintōgaku zasshi in 1928. This particular issue contains essays by eminent Shinto scholars and priests of the time, such as Ueda Kazutoshi (1867–1937), Katō Genchi (1873–1965), Tanaka Yoshitō (1872–1946) and Imaizumi Sadasuke (1863–1944). We should recall that these were the scholars and Shinto priests responsible for the intellectual and practical aspects of contemporary State Shinto.7 From this alone, one might reposition Orikuchi’s Kodai kenkyū within the intellectual current of modern Shinto and State Shinto, and to relocate Orikuchi himself within the history of modern Shinto. Yet, it would then become far too simple to castigate Orikuchi as one of the architects of State Shinto. For instance, “Kodai seikatsu no kenkyū” was published in 1925 in Kaizō (Volume 7–4). Kaizō was “a general magazine which expanded its circulation by radicalizing its content following the growth of leftist social movements” around the time when the first Japanese Communist Party was established (Kurokawa 2014: 47). This was the journal that published Vladimir Lenin’s The State and Revolution as “Lenin’s Theory of the State” in 1922 (Taishō 11) in Issues 1, 2 and 4. It is important to recognize that Orikuchi published his work in this journal as well. In other words, Orikuchi’s understanding of Shinto differed in certain key aspects from that of State Shinto supporters. In “Shintō ni arawareta minzoku ronri,” published in Shintōgaku zasshi, Orikuchi stated the following about Shinto: I do not think the word Shinto came to be used as a way of promoting the glory of Shinto at all. Rather, it seems that Buddhist priests called it ‘way’ (dō), as a marker of a heretical system—the way of heavenly beings, or Devas—as opposed to the [Buddhist] law. That is the origin of this word [. . .] Therefore, to me, the word Shinto itself, which fawns under the shadow of groups holding sway all over the country—Buddhist Shinto, Yin-Yang Master Shinto, Shōmonji Shinto, Shinto Ritual Dance—since the beginning, its etymology fatally carries a despicable aspect of which I am ashamed (“Shintō ni arawareta minzoku ronri,” in Orikuchi 1993, 3: 144–145).


The Sea and the Sacred in Japan

The Shinto that Orikuchi saw was not something filled with “glory” at the center of the nation in the Meiji, Taishō and Shōwa eras. Instead, he found “a despicable aspect” of it. Here, we can read a scathing criticism of the superficial claims of morality and ethics characterizing modern Shinto. As the words of a professor at Kokugakuin University, which is also the center of Shinto Studies, these statements are fairly radical. In this light, we should see that Orikuchi’s standpoint regarding Shinto went in concert with his image of Tokoyo as a land of darkness and the realm of the dead. To him, the sea was connected to the gloomy invisible realm of the dead. However, Orikuchi’s mythological image of “the land of the dead” or “the island of death” certainly did not fully correspond to the modern conception of death. This is because Orikuchi’s view was that Tokoyo was the other world, where souls (tamashii), which existed beyond the human lifespan, gathered. Through this idea, Orikuchi attempted to recapture the religious nature of Shinto, but we must understand that his concept of “religion” functioned on a different plane from the modern idea of religion.8 In the quote above regarding the groups of premodern ritual specialists whom he associated with the word Shinto, Orikuchi hints at the connection between Shinto and the performing arts. This brings us back to his concept of the marebito whom he linked, through the mediation of the sea, to the development of performance.

Hokaibito, Sei no O, and Azumi no Isora The words, or oracles, of the marebito gods from beyond the sea, not only encouraged the creation of myths, but were also at the origin of the performing arts. On this topic, Orikuchi wrote: They translated the oracles of the kami into human words, transformed them into human actions, becoming something like itinerant interpreters of the kami’s words. As the suggestions of the gods took concrete form, and began to be performed as comical imitations, as in Sarugaku; the kami is the shite, and the sei-no-o the waki,9 and in this way characters in opposition to one another appear (“Kokubungaku no hassei” (second draft), in Orikuchi 1993, 1: 84). Hokaibito turned the ritual of reciting yogoto10 and blessing (hokai) a room or hall into a profession, differentiating their content and transforming them into entertainment. From the etymology we can infer with some surety that the oldest of itinerant entertainers were performers called kadozuke (“Kokubungaku no hassei” (second draft), in Orikuchi 1993, 1: 100).

With the appearance of people in charge of teaching/translating for humans, the oracles from the marebito gave forth, the art of “comical imitations like in Sarugaku” also emerged as a way to actualize the “obscure suggestions of the gods”: the kami played the role of the shite, the sei-no-o that of the waki. On the one hand, the ritual blessings (hokai) of new buildings by yogoto (augural formulas) became their

Orikuchi Shinobu and the Sea as Religious Topos


occupation as they traveled and performed all over the country. Later, they became itinerant performers, the kadozuke. Orikuchi’s Shinto was thus linked to the world of these artists and performers. The allusion to the sei-no-o taking as waki opposite the kami as shite, is of particular interest regarding the topos of the sea. The sei-no-o in kagura can be written various ways,11 and the mikagura performed in the imperial court also includes such a figure (sei no o no tai) (Orikuchi 1993, 1: 305). Orikuchi sees in these two roles the relation between “visiting” kami and earth spirits, who oppose them but ultimately surrender. Yet this is by no means a simple dualistic juxtaposition: the power to reverse and ultimately dissolve the relation between kami and spirits lies solely in the sea. In this respect, Azumi no Isora, who emerges from the bottom of the sea, is particularly important. I have already stated that the spirit evoked in Achime no waza12 is Azumi no Isora. As a kami from the sea around Shikanoshima [near present-day Fukuoka], an area we can consider as the origin of Japanese sea people (ama), he became the god of seafarers [. . .] This kami Azumi is deeply connected with the origin of kagura, and moreover is a kami who has legends in his praise. When Empress Jingū13 sought to conquer the three Korean kingdoms and summoned the kami to gather, only Azumi no Isora, ashamed of his unsightly face and figure, did not come. As he lived at the bottom of the sea, algae and seashells had grown upon him. Yet, it is said that, knowing him fond of kagura, the other gods had the ritual prepared and the music set forth, when Isora, who had been invited, appeared floating up from the surface of the sea and finally served in the Korean conquest. If we consider that the recitation of blessings by strange visiting gods who attend the banquet forms the main part of a festival evening, we can imagine that sei-no-o and Isora became intertwined with the chief [kagura] dancer (“Kokubungaku no hassei,” in Orikuchi 1993, 4: 251–252). For example, in a matsuri on Shika no Shima in Chikuzen, which has a strong connection with Usa Hachimangū, there is a ritual in which figurines [hitogata] are placed on boats, carried out into the open sea, and dropped from the boats so that they reach the bottom of the sea. As these are omukae hitogata (welcoming dolls) made in order to have the spirits of the sea participate in the festival, the kami of the bottom of the sea were originally envisioned as these spirits. In this case, the omukae ningyō replace the spirits. However, if we think further, what we call the spirits at the bottom of the sea were, in fact, once powerful kami from the other world (“Gūjin shinkō no minzokuka narabi ni densetsuka seru michi,” in Orikuchi 1993, 3: 306–307).

The unattractive face of Azumi no Isora, as the spirit lying submerged in the sea, had an oppositional relationship with the gods (namely, the emperor), but through kagura, Isora is transformed into a “powerful kami from the other world,” but also into “multiple visiting gods who attend banquet gardens.” The power of the other world that is the sea causes a reversal in the relationship between kami and spirits (seirei). Therefore, the


The Sea and the Sacred in Japan

resulting kagura, together with the development of the tradition of mikagura at the court, also morphed into the folk kagura that spread into the provinces. Among the carriers of such regional kagura were the “Shinto Ritual Dancers” (shinjimai-dayū), the shōmonji preachers, and regional onmyōdō specialists, whose activities Orikuchi also included in his vision.14 Thus, Orikuchi’s understanding of Shinto ventured into domains far different from State Shinto, which considered Shinto as pivotal to the glory of the nation. To Orikuchi, the sea as a religious topos contained a close connection to performing arts.

From Musubi no Kami to the “Primordial Being” (kisonsha) In addition to the marebito, Musubi no kami were integral to Orikuchi Shinobu’s concept of kami. Orikuchi understood Musubi no kami as the soul (reikon) in divine form, gods whose ability lay in investing human beings with their souls. Moreover, he created the myth that these souls—musubi ( ), which carry creative force and give power to humans—gathered outside of the territory of the country “in a land far beyond the sea,” and it came to visit at specific times. This “myth” was Orikuchi’s rereading of the story of the god Sukunabikona in the Kojiki and Nihon shoki. At the time when Ōkuninushi no mikoto stood upon the cape of Miho in Izumo, many kami had left, and among them was Sukunabikona, a god like a dwarf. It is said that they worked together and created the central land on the reed plain [Japan] before the descent of the heavenly gods. According to various records, the god Sukunabikona [then] jumped upon the millet and flew away, returning to the land of Tokoyo. It is also said that as Ōkunushi no mikoto lamented this [parting], a light shone across the plain of the sea [. . .] This is simply the original legend reduced to certain fragments, but in fact the powerful spirit that came from Tokoyo adhered to Ōkuninushi and gave him the power to govern the land of the reed plains. This, when considered in terms of the soul, became the legends of peaceful and violent spirits (nigimitama, aramitama), and when considered in terms of the kami, became the story of Sukunabikona” (“Kodaijin no shisō no kiso,” in Orikuchi 1993, 3: 392–392).

Sukunabikona, who comes to visit from “the land far across the sea,” aids Ōnamuchi [Ōkunushi], and then returns to Tokoyo, carries the image of the marebito gods. At the same time, he is also “the powerful spirit that came from Tokoyo, adhered to Ōkuninushi and gave him the power to govern the land of the reed plains.” Sukunabikona is therefore the transformation of a powerful spirit. In the Kojiki and Nihon shoki, Sukanabikona is described as the child of either Kamu musubi (Kojiki) or Takami musubi (Nihon shoki); he is the veritable offspring of a Musubi no kami. From this, we can see overlap between Musubi no kami, who controls life and the creation of all things, and an outside god who visits from across the sea. The eternal existence of a spirit transcending life and death is engraved in the idea of “across the sea.”

Orikuchi Shinobu and the Sea as Religious Topos


During the time when Japanese Shinto was being purified, Takamagahara was held up as the place where kami gather, but originally, it was thought of as a land outside of Japan, far across the sea. People thought that the spirits that gathered there would come at specific times and, when they adhered to someone, humans would increase in number (“Kodaijin no shisō no kiso,” in Orikuchi 1993, 3: 390–391).

To Orikuchi, who attached great importance to the existence of spirits (reikon), Musubi no kami were indispensable divinities. In particular, from the description that these spirits gathered in a land across the sea and “came at specific times,” it is clear that their image overlapped with that of the marebito. Moreover, after World War II , Orikuchi Shinobu, developed for the Musubi no kami a theology of a monotheistic god who created heaven and earth. This is the world of “Orikuchi’s Theology” that has captured scholarly attention in recent years (Nakamura 1995). This appears in the records of his famous lecture “Shintō shūkyōka no igi” (in Orikuchi 1993, vol. 20). This lecture was given in August of 1946 at the Kanto Regional Training Center for Shinto priests and sponsored by the Jinja honchō (Association of Shinto Shrines). There is a spirit (tama) that is the root of all living things. This spirit, when placed in its ideal form, has material substance that also acquires life and grows larger, and so does the spirit (reikon) grow in size and develop. This spirit (tama), working through this means, is called musubu. Musubu makes the spirit closely connected to material things. When the spirit (reikon) is placed inside things, [musubu] operates as if it, too, grows. In other words, Musubi no kami were the main gods who used such methods. Through the power of these gods, life came into action, and all things came to be. Therefore these gods separated and then transcended heaven and earth when they appeared. Gods who created gods, then differentiated into gods who created humans. Yet, while Takami Musubi no kami and Kamu musubi no kami brought about our existence in this world, thinking of them as ancestral gods is not their primary import (“Shintō shūkyōka no igi,” in Orikuchi 1993, 20: 302).

In the postwar period, Orikuchi Shinobu perceived Musubi no kami as an entity that “separated and then transcended heaven and earth when they appeared,” and saw them as distinct from the “ancestral gods” who were connected to human beings through blood ties. Clearly, this “theology” is in line with the rereading of these two kami as creator gods, seen earlier in Motoori Norinaga’s interpretation of the Kojiki, at least in appearance. As Norinaga stated in the Kojikiden, “starting with heaven and earth, these two Musubi no kami gave life to all of the many things and events in creation.” In addition, Orikuchi’s notion of Musubi no kami is also related to the interpretation of the kokugaku scholar Suzuki Shigetane, writing at the end of the Edo period. The term furifuyu refers to the fact that free, unattached spirits fly in the sky, but when they descend into the human body, these spirits settle and then multiply. For this reason, furi (“descent”) indicates the time when the spirit descends from the


The Sea and the Sacred in Japan

gods, and fuyu (“power”) refers to the operation of the spirit (seishin) getting settled inside the body and growing accordingly. Furi (here, “shaking”) points to when the echo of the spirit settling inside the body reaches outside; its power grows and becomes kami-like. At that moment, the mind becomes brilliantly intelligent, the body becomes healthy and strong, and attains a very long life; this is the result of divine activity. Therefore, the spirit pacification ritual (chinkonsai) consists of receiving the spirit from the gods, making them grow and then keeping them fixed in one place. Mind and body come together, and through this, the mind attains divinity” (Engishiki norito kōgi, by Suzuki Shigetane, 2: 599).

We might call Orikuchi’s personal theory of the chinkon an “adaptation” of Shigetane’s ideas (See Tsushiro 1990 and Maeda 2002) because he also recognizes that the ritual is a divine activity (kamiwaza) in which spirits (reikon) from outside adhere to living humans, grow inside their bodies, and finally attain a state of divinity (shinmei). This is also related to Orikuchi’s explanation of the logic by which the imperial spirit (tennōrei) attached itself to the new emperor in his “Daijōsai no hongi”15 and to his interpretation of the Hanamatsuri (Flower Festival) in Oku-mikawa (see Saitō 2016b for details).16 Furthermore, Suzuki Shigetane espoused the following theology: The establishment of the world and the emergence of kami, humans and all living things, cannot possibly occur without this spirit pacification (chinkon). This is because the august spirits of Ame no minaka nushi grows and split into two separate gods, Takami musubi and Kamu musubi, and through their generative power (musubi), gave shape, in the empty sky, to heaven, earth and myriad things. This is the blessing of the august spirit of the god Ame no naka nushi (Engishiki norito kōgi, 2: 612–620).

The power of spirit pacification (chinkon) itself built the world and created gods, humans and all things. In other words, Shigetane suggests that the generative spirit (musubi) of the primordial god Ame no minaka nushi grows and divides into two separate gods, Takami musubi and Kamu musubi, which then give birth to heaven, earth, and the myriad things “in the empty sky.” Thus, Shigetane reinterpreted Norinaga and Atsutane’s theology of Musubi no ōmikami as the gods who created heaven and earth through the movement of spirits (reikon) in the spirit pacification process (chinkon). And yet, a theology of a supreme kami who supervised the creation of heaven and earth seems completely at odds with the general understanding of Shinto as both pantheistic and polytheistic. However, this vision of creation is clearly based on earlier, “traditional” theological concepts, such as the idea of a divinity that transcends the lineage of the kami and has existed since before the creation of the universe (kizen), as developed by Watarai Ieyuki (1256–1351) of medieval Ise Shinto in Ruijū jingi hongen, and the quest for a divinity that predates heaven and earth (Kyomu daigen sonshin) espoused by Yoshida Kanetomo (1435–1511) in Shinsho monjin. The theology of the “kami who created the world” can even be seen in the Jinnō shōtōki of Kitabatake

Orikuchi Shinobu and the Sea as Religious Topos


Chikafusa, who studied Ise Shinto and interpreted the heavenly gods (amatsu kami) in the Nihon shoki as a monotheistic, creator divinity (see Ogawa 2014, Chapter  3; in English, Rambelli 2009). To this genealogy of Shinto, dating back to the medieval period, Orikuchi added a new entity called kisonsha ( , already existent beings), which appears in the essay “Dōtoku no hassei” published in 1949. However, Orikuchi’s argument here is extremely difficult to follow. While acknowledging the existence of a supreme deity (shijōshin) and as primordial being (kisonsha) before the first kami in the Kojiki and Nihon shoki (Ame no minaka nushi, Takami musubi, Kamu musubi), Orikuchi’s trajectory of these beings is refracted, and he ends up suggesting that knowledge about them was “lost” or “not fully handed down.” The primordial being—kisonsha—although being in the position of creator, did not necessarily create the heavens nor the earth. Rather, it is often spoken about as if it appeared after heaven and earth came to be [. . .] Be that as it may, the fact that the creator god did not appear in the act of creation means that it was not thought of as the god who created the universe, as we might expect [. . .] The primordial being is the original essence of the kami we call heavenly gods (amatsu kami). We think of this god as having the power of bestowing the spirit (reikon fuyu)—the fundamental condition of generating life, as befits the ancient term musubi—but I think there remains the question of whether this god was originally understood as the creator kami. Neither musubi no kami nor creator god; instead, it was merely considered a primordial being, kisonsha [. . .] Therefore, the nature of the first god (hajime no kami) as supreme deity (shijōshin), if not even a creator god, was never fully handed down. Perhaps, it watched human beings from up in heaven, and meted out punishment to the evil. Nevertheless, this has not been mentioned with regard to Ame no minaka nushi, Takami musubi, and Kamu musubi. We should consider that this aspect [of creation] to be lost to us (Dōtoku no hassei, in Orikuchi 1993, 17: 400–401).

This distorted quest for the “primordial being” is also related to the so-called “Humanity Declaration” (ningen sengen) of Emperor Hirohito (Shōwa) on January 1, 1946, declaring that he was not a living god. Since then, Orikuchi attempted to develop “Shinto,” thus severed from its connection to emperor and imperial court, beyond the framework of “folk religion” and develop it into a “religion of humanity.” Some authors postulate that Orikuchi “introduced the concept of kisonsha, an unusual term, to denote something beyond the Christian creator god” (Nakamura 1995: 70). Instead, recent scholarship has suggested a strong connection between Orikuchi’s concept of “primordial being” and “supreme deity” and the notions of “supreme being” and “primitive monotheism” put forth by Raffaele Pettazzoni (1883– 1959), the Italian historian of religions (Andō 2014: 363). It is interesting to note that Pettazzoni developed his ideas regarding supreme beings and deities based in part on his study of Japanese religion, especially the god Ame no minaka nushi in the Kojiki, while in his early twenties (Egawa 2015). In addition, the concepts of primitive monotheism and primordial beings resonate with Romanian scholar of religions


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Mircea Eliade (1907–1986) equating the sky gods [of various religions] with the deus otiosus, a supreme deity shared by Greek, Latin and Sanskrit roots (Eliade 1986).17 Orikuchi Shinobu continued to describe the sea as the other world, distinctly separate from our human realm. At the same time, the sea also opened up the possibility to envision Shinto as a universal religion, which he called a “religion of humanity.” The sea as religious topos thus becomes an index that enables us to discover new possibilities within Orikuchi Shinobu’s work.


Sea Theologies Elements for a Conceptualization of Maritime Religiosity in Japani1 Fabio Rambelli

A blind-spot in Japanese religious studies is the lack of attention dedicated to the conceptual (and theological) elements at the basis of maritime religiosity. As a consequence, we know very little of the intellectual history of sea cults, not to mention the theology of the sea and the sea deities abiding in its abyss. This chapter focuses on three different elements of sea-related cults and imagery: the role of the sea in the Nakatomi no harae purification ritual; the status of treasure ships (takarabune); and the nature of boat spirits (funadama). These three elements are normally treated separately and are not explored in their theological and philosophical implications, but this chapter argues that, when combined, they offer a unique perspective on Japanese maritime religiosity as it was practiced and imagined by different agents and groups: fishing communities (as in the case of funadama); ritual specialists and intellectuals (in the commentaries on the Nakatomi no harae); and larger communities (as in images of takarabune associated with widespread cults of the seven gods of good fortune or shichifukujin). This chapter suggests that these three elements, each in its own right, function as semiotic shifters—representations and agents of change, transformation, and movement, all features of maritime religiosity.

The Sea in the Nakatomi Great Purification Prayer (Nakatomi no ōharae norito) One of the most important Shinto ceremonies is the great purification, which takes place at the end of June and the end of December. Its formula, called the Great Purification Prayer of the Nakatomi (Nakatomi no ōharae norito), from the name of the priestly clan originally in charge of it at court, is one of the oldest known documents related to kami cults, probably dating back to the late seventh century.2 The formula opens with a reference to the descent to earth of the heavenly deities and the fact that the first emperor, of divine descent, is entrusted with ruling Japan and 181


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pacifying it. Then, it lists the sins perpetrated by the growing populace, and the need to restore order and purity by sweeping away the pollution caused by these sins. The Nakatomi officiant will call upon both heavenly and earthly deities, and the purification process begins. Impurities on land are brought down from the mountains to the valleys by winds which take them to a female deity called Seori-tsu-hime, who carries them along rivers all the way to the sea, where they are passed on to another female deity called Haya-aki-tsu-hime, who swallows them. Then, a god called Kefukinushi produces a wind that blows the polluting stuff farther into the ocean—actually, in the underworld—where it is finally eliminated by two female deities Haya-sasurahime and Mochi-sasura-hime. Significantly, the norito also employs the image of “large ships” taking off toward the open sea to represent the process of taking the impurities away from the land. As we can see, the ancient Japanese envisioned pollution (kegare) and purification (harae) as a continuous, linear process: impurity emerges everywhere on land and accumulates, and needs to be removed twice a year; defilements on land are eliminated by sending them out to the open sea where they are disposed of. As a side note, it is interesting that this is exactly the cause of ocean pollution we are facing on a large scale today. The text does not say how pollution originates in the first place and, crucially, how the deities involved in the purification process dispose of it; later commentators will propose explanations for these two issues. In the Edo period authors will also problematize the fact that most of these kami are female. In fact, many commentaries were written over the centuries about the Nakatomi no harae formula. Overall, we can divide them into four main discursive fields: Buddhism, Yoshida-Watarai Shinto, Confucianism (mostly Suika Shinto), and Nativism (Kokugaku). There are also a few commentaries written by free thinkers without explicit ideological affiliations. In what follows, I will show how a number of authors from each of these discursive fields, from the late twelfth to the late nineteenth centuries, interpreted the status and role of the sea in the ōharae purification process, thus providing elements for the reconstruction of a more or less explicit theology of the sea. The first known commentary to the Nakatomi no harae formula is the Nakatomi no harae kunge, composed around the end of the twelfth century by Buddhist monks expert in Esoteric Buddhism.3 This text is in fact a major intellectual tour de force, as it attempts to appropriate the ōharae by subsuming it within the cosmology and soteriology of Esoteric Buddhism. Thus, the gods appearing in the original text are reconfigured as manifestations of Buddhist divinities; more crucially, the entire purification ritual is interpreted as the enlightenment process. For instance, Seori-tsuhime is an avatar of the king of the afterlife Enma (Sk. Yāma); Haya-aki-tsu-hime is an avatar of the afterlife god Godō Daijin;4 Haya-sasura-hime is also equated to King Enma. The process at sea takes place between the rough waves, understood as the Dragon Palace (Ryūgū), and the Root Country (Ne no kuni or Soko no kuni), in turn envisioned as Avīci at the bottom of the Buddhist hells. It is important to note that the fundamental interpretive stance of the Nakatomi no harae kunge is its transposition of the outside world—the physical landscape (mountains, rivers, valleys, the sea) where defilements (tsumi and kegare) occur, and

Sea Theologies


gods residing in specific places—into an internal, mental space (real actions into mental representations and delusions, their consequences into abstract karma). The actual sea off the coast of Japan is predictably envisioned as the site of the remote Dragon Palace, and the bottom of the sea is interpreted as Avīci hell. In this way, by transposing an actual landscape into the invisible dimensions of the Buddhist cosmology, the entire process becomes abstract and de-territorialized. The Nakatomi no harae kunge was very influential, because it became the basis for Buddhist interpretations of the ōharae formula until the Edo period, and some of its ideas were also adopted by authors from different intellectual traditions. On the other hand, subsequent Buddhist authors did not propose significantly different interpretations, as commentaries that continue the Kunge’s lineage simply fine-tuned the framework it set up;5 theological discussions on the role of the sea in purification took place outside of Buddhism. Among works in the textual lineage of the Kunge, the Nakatomi no harae chūshō, composed in the early thirteenth century, pushes further predictable metaphoric interpretations: the sea in the ōharae is glossed as the “ocean of samsara” (shōji daikai) or as karmic sins (zaigō); the ship is the Buddhist ritual of penance (zange); and the infernal imagery is emphasized (Seori-tsu-hime is equated with King Enma, Kefuki-nushi with Taizan Fukun; the sea bottom, already identified with Ne no kuni is understood here as the eight great hells). The only novelty in the text is the introduction of a process of karmic adjustment: Haya-aki-tsu-hime, already equated with the afterlife god, Godō Daijin, here removes all evil, and Hayasasura-hime is envisioned here as her double, as a god controlling life and karmic circumstances who also eliminates all inauspicious things (OKCT 1: 116–117). In other words, we see in this text a stronger association of the harae purification with death and the afterlife (Magistrates of Hell King Enma and Taizan Fukun, and the god Godō Daijin), but this is a significant change in the original meaning and purpose of the purification ceremony. In any case, the image of the sea in this text is even less important than in the Kunge. Two centuries later, the Sho-harae-shū (mid-fifteenth century) introduces an Esoteric Buddhist interpretation of the origin and development of the universe centered on water: the wisdom-water, represented by the Sanskrit syllable vam . , exists between heaven and earth at the center of the cosmos; it turns into spirit/energy (ki) and then into wind, earth, mountains, plants, and further on establishes the cycle of life generation. Water is seen here as a sort of primordial matter, similarly to texts written at Ise by authors of the Watarai family,6 but the argument is based on abstract Esoteric Buddhist ideas about the five syllables and their cosmic ramifications;7 the overall emphasis is still on the earth and the air/sky, with a theology of the sea conspicuously absent (OKCT 1: 134). The internalization of the landscape, especially the sea, and its transformation into mental operations (as initially suggested by the Kunge) also appears in Morikore kaijoshū, a text copied by Sonoda (Arakida) Morikore in the early sixteenth century, which contains older material, and elements from Watarai, Yoshida, and Ryōbu Shinto. The sea is completely reduced here to a metaphor for the mind: water (and its waves) is the divine intention/mind. Waves are not separate from the water that produces them, in the same way as thoughts are not distinct from the mind; the problem, thus, lies not


The Sea and the Sacred in Japan

in defilements per se, but in our understanding of their real status—possibly, a reference to Buddhist ideas about original enlightenment (hongaku). Still, the imagery of the sea in the Ōharae is reduced to mental operations (OKCT 1: 203). The Nakatomi no harae ge (1523) by Kiyohara Nobukata (1475–1550), the third son of founder of Yoshida Shinto Yoshida Kanetomo (1435–1511), while still part of the Buddhist cosmological framework (the sea as the deluded world of samsara, harae as liberation that pacifies the unsettled mind, purification kami as manifestations of Buddhist divinities), introduces some important original contributions. It posits ōharae as one instance of a purification process that exists spontaneously in nature (jinen no harae), based on the operations of wind and the wind god; this process also affects humans through breath. Nobukata argues that Haya-sasura-hime and Mochisasura-hime both refer to Susanoo, described as an evil god expelled from heaven and, subsequently, also from Japan to the Root Land (Ne no kuni), thus at the bottom of the sea. Susanoo is a yang god but since he is in Ne no kuni, he is called “lady” (hime). With these new arguments—and especially his idea of an incessant natural process of defilement and purification, in which the sea plays a central role—Kiyohara opened the way for the subsequent Confucian and Nativist interpretations of ōharae (OKCT 1: 380–381, 396–403), as we shall discuss below. Edo-period Confucian and Nativist texts contain almost no obvious Buddhist elements. They also display a growing awareness of the actual purification ritual (in particular, the vessels it used to carry the pollution away) and, interestingly, an interest in the actual landscape in which harae takes place. Nakatomi no harae zuihoshō by Deguchi (Watarai) Nobuyoshi (1615–1690) already contains several novelties (OKCT 1: 274–280). The boat mentioned in the norito is no longer seen as a metaphor for Buddhist repentance (zange) as the starting point for enlightenment as purification; here, the boats are essentially the ritual vessels that carry the pollution away. He also emphasizes the fact that those ritual implements (harae-tsu-mono) are sent to Ne no kuni and therefore will not linger in this world causing further pollution. Ne no kuni, however, is given a more nuanced interpretation: it is no longer interpreted as a purely evil place such as Avīci hell. While Nobuyoshi describes it as the place of extreme yin, he does so with the assumption that extreme yin is also the beginning of yang. He refers to Ichijō Kaneyoshi (Kanera) who, in his Nihon shoki sanso, had defined Ne no kuni as the place from which life springs. Finally, Nobuyoshi identifies the place where pollution is taken down to Ne no kuni as a site off the coast in Hyūga province (presentday Miyazaki prefecture in Kyushu), although the basis for this claim is not clear.8 The explanation of harae in terms of yin yang operations was also pursued by other Shinto authors, such as Yoshikawa Koretari (1616–1695), who envisioned a process going from the mountains (yang) to the sea (yin)—without however explaining how the sea would then connect back to the mountains (Nakatomi no harae gokōdan kikigaki (1669) in OKCT 1: 482–484). Shintō hidenshō by Kyoto priest and scholar Tamaki Masahide (1671–1736) (a follower of Suika Shinto and the systematizer of Kikke Shinto)—or perhaps someone in his entourage—also discusses harae as a process of return to the natural origins (zōke no hongen) in the sea envisioned as “original water” (hongen no mizu ) and extreme yin. While Tamaki also failed to close the circle between the bottom of sea (extreme yin) as the ultimate deposit of

Sea Theologies


pollution and the purity of earth it continuously threatens, he strengthened the reality of the natural environment in which the harae ritual takes place. He wrote that the physical form (kami-body) of the gods responsible for purification comprises natural elements: the sun (zōka no tenjitsu) in the case of Seori-tsu-hime, sea (water) for Kefuki-nushi, and earth/metal for Haya-sasura-hime (OKCT 2: 54–57). Matsuoka Yūen (1701–1783) tried to close the cycle of pollution and purification. After re-framing harae in terms of Suika Shinto’s distinctive theory in which all processes in the universe derive from interactions between wind, water, and metal, he writes that harae is in fact the purification of the mind based on the correct understanding of the operations of the elements in order to retrieve the original spirit/ energy (genki). In the purification ceremony everything is returned to the origin of creation (the primordial god Ame no minaka nushi, which he understood as the original form of Kefuki-nushi); thus, everything (pollution and impurity) becomes the same (dōtai) as virtue/power (toku) of the universe (Nakatomi no harae keihiroku of 1736, by Matsuoka Yūen, in OKCT 2, esp. pp. 44–46). Kokugaku scholars provided detailed arguments to explain the circular movement of pollution and purification. As in other aspects of early modern Shinto thought, Motoori Norinaga brought an important contribution toward re-thinking the structure and meaning of the harae ceremony. In his Ōbarae no kotoba goshaku, Norinaga wrote that “the defilements that are floated away in the purification ceremony are the pollution (kegare) that originates in the Realm of Darkness (Yomi no kuni) because of the evil caused by the god Magatsuhi; harae consists in returning those evil things to that Realm.” We see clearly spelled out here an incessant circular movement: evil emanates from the elusive god Magatsuhi in Yomi no kuni and reaches the human world as pollution (kegare) which results in sins/crimes (zaie); harae is thus performed in order to return it to its original place. The sea plays an important and ambiguous role as the portal to Ne no kuni (Yomi no kuni), to which currents (shio) carry pollution (OKCT 2: 197). Ban Nobutomo in Nakatomi no harae kotoba yōkai (1823) closely follows Norinaga by developing the idea of a sea vortex (uzu) as a portal to Yomi no kuni, through which impurities are carried to the bottom of the ocean (OKCT 2: 293–298).9 Suzuki Shigetane (1812–1863), one of the leading disciples of Hirata Atsutane, discusses in his Ōharae norito kōgi (1844) the location of the sea currents involved in harae, by suggesting as possible sites the islands off Munakata Shrine, Hokkaido, Hachijōjima, and a place between Kyushu and Honshu (OKCT 2: 479–481; the vortex is discussed on p.  483). Unlike other authors, Shigetane argues that Yomi no kuni is not located at the bottom of the sea, but rather inside the earth (OKCT 2: 489). Shigetane’s commentary is interesting because he brings additional realism to the treatment of harae by discussing possible actual locations of the vortex bringing pollution to the Dark Realm. Still, he stresses that physical objects are not carried away (as Deguchi Nobuyoshi had previously argued), but rather their spiritual content (reiyō ) and divine spirit (shinki ) (OKCT 2: 484). In this way, the physical landscape becomes more real, but the stuff involved in the ritual becomes increasingly de-materialized. Finally, another disciple of Atsutane, Oka Kumaomi (1783–1851), a Shinto scholar from the Tsuwano domain, adds yet another layer of meaning to the purification ceremony by connecting the origin and disposal of evil with the process of human procreation in a


The Sea and the Sacred in Japan

text entitled Ōharae kotoba shio no yaoe, which—as is clear from the title—focuses explicitly on the sea vortex (shio no yaoe) which disposes of this world’s impurities and is located off Hachijōjima.10 Kumaomi also includes an image of the vortex (see Fig. 15.1).11 Kumaomi begins with astronomy, and writes that the earth rotates around the sun, with a side always exposed to it; on the other side of the earth, never exposed to sunlight, there is Ne no kuni (Yomi no kuni), which is in turn close to the moon. He

Figure 15.1 The sea vortex taking the impurities to Ne no kuni. From Ōharae kotoba shio no yaoe, in OKCT 2: 809.

Sea Theologies


then explains that the relative position of the sun, the earth, and the moon produces the tides. The ebbs and flows of the sea generate wind; wind in turn makes humans and all living beings move. Next, he writes that the god of fertility and production, Ubusunagami (also known as Musubi no kami), combines the four elements (fire, water, earth, and wind) and infuses them with his spirit (mitama) before he places them in the woman’s womb to generate human beings. In particular, the spirit of Musubi no kami is carried by the wind on a day of high tide and puts it inside the womb, so that a new being will be born in this world. However, in the process of transportation of the spirit of Musubi no kami, involving wind and the tide, also carries with it impurity, which explains the presence of both good and bad things in this world. At death, the spirit of the kami separates from the human body and is carried to Ne no kuni and from there further to Tsukiyomi (the moon) (OKCT 2: 808–814). The circle is now closed: pollution is the result of natural processes (involving the elements, and especially the sea and its tides), also associated with life; it comes to this world from Ne no kuni, envisioned here, in line with Hirata Atsutane’s cosmology, as the abode of the creating god Musubi no kami and the ruler of the world Ōkuninushi—as well as that of the kami Magatsuhi who causes evil things to occur in our world.12 As we can see from this brief and fragmentary overview, several texts composed over many centuries looked at the sea as an important space for the ōharae purification ceremony (and for the origin of pollution). These texts were written by authors who had no direct interest in the sea, and for many of them, the sea was just a metaphor for something else that they considered more important (the mind for Buddhists, yin for Confucians, the access site to Ne no kuni for Shinto Nativist authors). However, we also saw an increasing focus in the Edo period on the natural landscape per se, not simply as a metaphor for something abstract. The sea came to be envisioned as the privileged portal to another world, the primary place of mediation between this world and the invisible realm of the kami. This centrality of the sea is surprising, when compared to modern Japanese understanding of the mountains as the main sites of sacredness. This new role of the sea may have been related at least in part to Japan’s closure to the external world (sakoku) and the prohibition against sea travel abroad, which ended up enhancing on a symbolic level the alterity of the deep sea. In any case, Orikuchi Shinobu’s theorizations about deities visiting from across the sea (marebito) and the sacred nature of the sea were rooted in a long tradition dating back at least to the Edo period.13

Treasure Ships (takarabune) A very popular tradition associated with the sea is the “treasure ship” (takarabune), that is, the idea that a divine ship loaded with wealth would come on the first day of the new year and bring fortune and prosperity. Takarabune are very often associated with the cult of the seven gods of good fortune (shichifukujin), a motley crew of divine figures from India, China, and Japan, in charge of wealth, success, and prosperity. In this section, we will trace the origins and outline the conceptual structure behind this tradition.


The Sea and the Sacred in Japan

Sources dating back to the Heian period report on new purification rituals, different from the ōharae discussed thus far but possibly related to it, at least in terms of structure and symbolism. In these rituals, pollution was transferred to specific objects, such as paper human effigies (hitogata) or dolls (hina ningyō) and floated away in rivers or directly to the sea.14 The Buddhist ceremony called rokuji karin-pō (“six-syllable riverbank ritual”) was first performed at the pond of the Shinsen’en garden outside the Imperial Palace compound in the mid-twelfth century by Buddhist monks and Onmyōji specialists; it was a combination of ōharae with Onmyōdō purifications/ anti-cursing rituals and Esoteric Buddhist elements (see Sakurai 1996: 125–146). The idea behind it was to place the impurities at the palace into little boats, specifically made for the ritual, neutralized by spells and charms, and floated away from the pond to the Kamo River and further down to the sea. At Kada (in present-day Wakayama prefecture), special dolls (hina) were also floated out to sea; they were considered “substitute bodies” (migawari) that would collect impurities and misfortune in place of their owners. At the end of the year, at the beginning of spring, they would be sent out to sea and replaced by new ones.15 We do not know much about the origin of these rituals, but they carry an echo of ōharae on the one hand, and also perhaps of ancient scapegoating ceremonies, in which a human scapegoat was replaced by effigies. One can also see a reference to the creator gods Izanagi and Izanami floating out to sea their defective firstborn child, Hiruko (who would later come back as Ebisu, the god of wealth). A tenuous connection between ships and purification was already present in the ōharae norito, but with these rituals it became more closely established. A new development regarding the role of ships as vessels for purification emerges in the late Muromachi period in Kyoto, when court aristocrats and the Shogun began to place under their pillow before sleeping a print with a large ship and the character baku written on its sail. The baku is a mythological animal supposed to eat and take away nightmares. Apparently, the goal of this practice was to eliminate the risk of bad dreams that were believed to be the bearers of unfortunate events in real life (Matsueda 1995: 19). In case of a nightmare, the image would be floated away on a river, as in regular purification rituals (Inoue 1936: 5–6). Early Meiji scientist and polymath Minakata Kumagusu wrote a brief history of this ship talisman (1928), but despite his encyclopedic knowledge, he was not able to ascertain the origin of the dream-eating baku. An Edo-period text, the Kinsei jibutsu kō, states that ship talismans originated in China, where at the end of the year evil spirits causing poverty were placed on boats and floated away, in the same way as medieval and early modern Japanese used to float away the gods of poverty (binbōgami) (in Matsueda 1995: 25). At some point, however, the function of these ship talismans shifted, from protection (dream control) to active promotion of good fortune in all of its forms. Between the end of the Muromachi and the early Edo period, people of all social classes in Kyoto and Edo would place prints of fortune ships (in some places initially called mifune, but later commonly known everywhere as takarabune) under their pillow—no longer to prevent bad dreams, but actively to encourage auspicious dreams about wealth and fortune. They would do this in winter, either on the second night of the new year in Edo (where this tradition was called hatsuyume, “first dream [of the year]”), or on the night of setsubun (second night of the second month in the traditional calendar, which

Sea Theologies


corresponded to the day before the beginning of spring) in Kyoto. These ships now had the character takara written on their sail; they would carry rice straw bales, precious items such as gems, auspicious images (pine, bamboo and plum [shōchikubai]) and, later—especially in Edo—the seven gods of fortune (shichifukujin). Often, the print included the following verse, which functioned as a sort of magic spell: Nagaki yo no tō no neburi no mina mezame (












Wake up! Everyone, from your long slumber in the long night!16 Nami nori fune no oto no yoki ka na (








How nice the sound of the ship sailing the waves!

Interestingly, this verse is circular (kaibun or kaimon) and can also be read in reverse from the end, with the central word, mezame (wake up!) as a pivot. These spells point to the happy arrival of a ship carrying a bountiful load, to the auspicious arrival of the new year and the spring after a long winter (the long slumber), but also to Buddhist ideas about deliverance from suffering (awakening and enlightenment, the long night as a reference to delusion and suffering). An Edo-period text, Wakun shiori, suggests a connection between the takarabune practice at hatsuyume and the beliefs in a deity controlling the nighttime and protecting people from the dangers of the dark called Shuyajin (also written ). This god is originally mentioned in Kegonkyō (fasc. 68) as the Indian god Basanbaentei (Sk. Vasanta-vayanti). This could be one of the missing links connecting purification by boats, dream-protection customs, and treasure ships.17 Printed images with ship talismans were sold by female itinerant specialists known as takarauri (treasure sellers) or takarabune-me (“treasure ships women”), who would go around neighborhoods calling out loud “Otakara! Otakara!” (“The treasure! The treasure!”) and offering to dispel evil influence (yakubarai) for payment (Inoue 1936: 6).18 This shift in the meaning and function of dream ships implies a major semiotic change, despite the permanence of some aspects of the signifier (the ship, auspicious symbols, the maritime context, the time of the year in which these devices were used). These ships changed from misfortune-averting tools that carried negativity out to sea, to fortune-promoting devices that would bring positive elements from beyond the sea. Ships are no longer vehicles for exile and scapegoating, but instruments for the production of wealth; and the sea is no longer only the site where pollution is disposed of, but a place that makes the communication between gods and humans possible. Human agency no longer consists only in warding off danger, but in a more positive attempt to actively secure fortune. The ritual association of ships (now called takarabune) with wealth and fortune seems to be later than their purification-related imagery, based on a different set of ideas rooted in actual developments in society, namely, wealth being generated from


The Sea and the Sacred in Japan

international trade carried by ships (on the imaginary level, this translated as wealth coming from distant lands across the sea). Inoue Kazuo, in his seminal study, suggests that it was merchants who started the practice of placing printed images of takarabune (to invite good fortune) under pillows (Inoue 1936: 31). An important precedent for this understanding could have been the legendary travels of the Chinese admiral Zheng He (1371–1433), who, at the helm of his enormous and unprecedented fleet, traveled the known world to Southeast Asia, India, and Arabia, all the way to East Africa, bringing back to China unheard-of treasures of all kinds. Tellingly, his ships were known as “treasure ships” (baochuan, Jp. hōsen or takarabune).19 Zheng He’s travels had a wide resonance in the Chinese cultural sphere; in terms of religiosity, he contributed to the promotion of the cult of the sea goddess Mazu (also known as Tianfei) and, in some communities of the Chinese diaspora in Southeast Asia, Zheng He himself is worshiped as a god.20 Closer to home in Japan, increasingly profitable sea trade, including with remote, exotic regions, in the Muromachi period might also have contributed to the development of the takarabune imagery. For example, even before Zheng He’s travels, the famed Tenryūji-bune trade ships engaged in international trade after 1342 in order to fund the construction of Tenryūji temple in Kyoto, sponsored by the Shogun Ashikaga Takauji, and reportedly generated profits (donated to the temple) of 5,000 kanmon coins (roughly equivalent to 5,000 koku of rice) for each ship—not counting the profit accrued to the Hakata merchant who commanded them. Even in the Edo period, when international trade was severely curtailed, ships from abroad (China, Ryukyu, Korea, and Holland) brought in valuable items and generated lucrative business. It is thus possible to explain the shift from nightmare-chasing baku ships to wealthinviting takarabune ships as due, at least in part, to the growing proto-capitalist economy of the Muromachi and Edo periods and all the contradictions it involved, particularly the sudden acquisition of immense wealth through international trade (and the equally sudden loss of wealth caused by shipwreck or other problems) by ship, the economic mechanisms of which were essentially unknown to most people. This resulted in phenomena that one could consider analogous to more recent cargo cults, as described below. Of course, the practice of wishing good fortune through takarabune was not always accepted unquestioningly; some early modern sources make fun of the greedy and superstitious nature of this belief.21 However, we can also identify another factor that converged with proto-capitalist developments toward the development of takarabune beliefs, namely, the cult of the god Ebisu. Ebisu is an elusive deity; not part of the ancient set of myths codified in Kojiki and Nihon shoki, its origins are obscure. Its name is cognate with the term emishi or ebisu (“eastern barbarians”) used in premodern sources to refer to the nonsubjugated peoples in the north (which may have included the ancestors of the Ainu). Naganuma Kenkai, in his seminal work on the god (1915–1916), argued that Ebisu was first worshiped at Itsukushima Shrine (near present-day Hiroshima on the Inland Sea) as Ara-ebisu in 593. It might have been a deity originally worshiped by the Emishi people from eastern Japan who were taken prisoner during the conquest campaign by the Yamato state and deported there, but there is no clear historical proof for this. It does appear, however, that the Emishi groups moved to western Japan at different

Sea Theologies


stages of the early Japanese state, and the god might somehow be related to these migrations. In any case, Ebisu’s lore consistently stresses that the god comes to Japan from a distant and unspecified elsewhere to brings riches. At some point in the middle ages, Nishinomiya Shrine in present-day Kobe, center of the activities of itinerant puppeteers known as kugutsu or kugutsu mawashi, became the main site of Ebisu worship. The origin narrative of the shrine tells of a fisherman who one day found the statue of a god in his fishing net and threw it back into the sea, but caught it again at a different location; he then had a revelatory dream in which the god Hiruko (the defective fist child of the divine couple Izanagi and Izanami, who was abandoned drifting at sea) appeared and told him to build a shrine for him. That shrine later became Nishinomiya Shrine (Yoshii 1961: 2).22 In this story, we find the re-purposing of an ancient and obscure mythological figure, Hiruko, who literally returns from his exile at sea and becomes the protector deity of fishing and, subsequently, trade, wealth, and fortune. In many fishing communities, the god Ebisu was identified, more or less explicitly, with the fish they caught (whales, dolphins, salmon, etc.); in other communities, Ebisu was more generally associated with objects that would drift ashore from the sea—tree logs, various items, even corpses (see Namihira 1987; Sakurada 1987). In this sense, at least, Ebisu become a semiotic condensation of the possibilities and ambivalence of the sea—a repository of untold riches and, at the same time, a disposal site for pollution and a very dangerous place. It is significant to note that Ebisu was considered by many whaling communities in premodern Japan as the god who would come from across the sea and offer itself in sacrifice for the community;23 catching a whale would indeed bring prosperity to the villages. In time, Ebisu became the central figure of a number of fortune gods (fukushin, such as Daikokuten, Inari, Kisshōten, and Ugajin), which at some point around the early Edo period, became consolidated into a set of seven, commonly known as shichifukujin (the seven gods of good fortune); this group of seven gods came to be associated with takarabune images. As in the case of the takarabune imagery itself, the gods of fortune, and the shichifukujin in particular, are the result of complex trajectories in local, popular religiosities which cannot be explored in detail here. We will limit ourselves to pointing out that, in the Muromachi and later in the Edo periods, we see the origin and development of a number of deities, cults, and sites dedicated to everyday activities and concerns—what ethnologist Miyata Noboru called, particularly regarding the Edo period, in which this phenomenon assumes enormous dimensions, hayarigami or “trendy gods” (Miyata 1972). Fortune gods were part of this more general tendency. The shichifukujin include Ebisu; Bishamonten (Sk. Vaiśravan·a), one of the four heavenly generals of Buddhism protecting the four directions, normally associated with warding off evil; Benzaiten (Sk. Sravastī), an ancient Indian water goddess that in Japan acquired associations with music and the arts, and also wealth; Daikokuten (Sk. Mahākāla), the male counterpart of the Indian goddess of time Kālī—in medieval Japan he came to be considered a god in charge of human fortunes and a manifestation of ancient Japanese god Ōkuninushi; Hotei (Ch. Budai), a Chinese folk deity associated with happiness and contentment, apparently based on an existing Chan monk but also identified as an avatar of the future Buddha Maitreya; and Fukurokuju (Ch. Fulushou) and Jurōjin (Ch. Shou lao sheng), two gods of Chinese Daoist origin, associated with


The Sea and the Sacred in Japan

star cults and thus divination, propitiation, and fortune (see Miyata, ed., 1998). As we can see, this set includes gods and divine figures from India, China, and Japan, and thus serves as a representative sample of the composite nature of medieval and early modern Japanese religiosity. (See Fig. 15.2.) With these seven deities on board, takarabune became an even more complex macro-semiotic formation, loaded with multiple signs of wealth, fortune, and success: the boat itself, with its connotations of travel to distant lands (including a divine elsewhere) and wealth-generating trade; the sail, with inscribed auspicious characters such as takara (treasure) or magical animals such as the centipede;24 the cargo including magical jewels (such as the wish-fulfilling jewel or nyoi hōju), rice, fish, and expensive items such as gems. In other words, the imagery of takarabune suggested that at critical calendrical times in winter—either around the end of the year and thus the winter solstice, or at the beginning of spring—a special ship would arrive from a distant, divine realm, carrying not only the gods of good fortune, but also a large load of economically significant items. In other words, the takarabune is the vessel of the gods carrying a cargo of riches to the people. Particularly in the Edo period, wealth given by the gods to commoners was often associated with an expectation of social and political reform (yonaoshi, lit. “healing or rectifying society”), which at times developed into open rebellion. Some of these associations between divine wealth and a better, more equitable society may also have been present in takarabune imagery.

Figure 15.2 Takarabune with shichifukujin; the writing on the top right portion is the magic spell. From Jūban Inari Shrine (Tokyo). Property of Fabio Rambelli.

Sea Theologies


If considered from this perspective, it is possible to see in takarabune elements of what have been called “cargo cults.” The term “cargo cults” refers to a set of cultural phenomena that took place in Melanesia, beginning around the 1940s. According to standard accounts, local people came to believe that westerners (envisioned as gods or semi-divine figures) would bring wealth to the natives in the form of goods carried by cargo containers (Lindstrom 1993). The term became standard in anthropological literature from the 1950s. Recent studies, however, have questioned the importance (if not even the presence) of religious components, often emphasized by colonial officers and anthropologists, in favor of broader cultural, political, and ideological elements based on local social determinations such as forms of awareness of cultural diversity, economic practices relating to a sudden shift to a capitalist mode of production, and issues of cultural identity (see, among others, Kaplan 1995; Jebens, ed., 2004). In particular, received accounts of cargo cults are based on western colonial interpretations of native cultural developments that were both internal (struggles among different groups) and external (the role played by the colonizers). Recent studies have shown that “cults” (religious components) were only one of many elements in these movements that were often couched in religious terms (millennial eschatology) social and revolutionary ideas relating to wealth accumulation, cultural identity, and colonialism. Setting aside current debates within the field of anthropology, the concept of cargo cult, largely bracketed from its original context, can be heuristically applied to the case of early-modern Japanese takarabune, as it points to elements of millennialism and eschatology, associated not with specific social movements but with broad social acceptance of ideas about the possibility of changing the world (yonaoshi) through redistribution of wealth by humanized gods (in Melanesian cargo cults, the protagonists are divinized humans) coming from afar (foreign lands) and carrying wealth (in forms of imported goods, basic foodstuff, and magical instruments). This kind of wealth distribution/redistribution, based on a misunderstanding of (proto- or quasi-) capitalist economics, suggests that the nature of a capitalist economy was an issue for many people in Japan at the time, and that they were trying to find ways to counter its effects also on the symbolic and imaginary realms.25 The sudden overflow of expensive, imported good challenged traditional values and the social order based on them, but at the same time required attempts at integration. For instance, we can find in takarabune imagery folk ideas about value production and wealth accumulation as divine intervention and at the same time as something that comes from the outside and the elsewhere. This aspect combined with millenarian messianism gesturing toward a better society (yonaoshi), as suggested by Miyata Noboru, who also pointed to affinities with Edo-period beliefs in the imminent arrival in this world of the future Buddha Maitreya on a boat (Miroku no fune), associated with the Kashima shrine east of present-day Tokyo (Miyata 2007: 6–12, 98–102). Takarabune suggest the indigenous idea that it is possible to appropriate wealth from dominant, foreign lands through divine intervention, and that such appropriation of foreign wealth would create a new society, more just, prosperous and happy, in which present contradictions (which are, paradoxically, mostly generated by easier access to foreign goods themselves) will be eliminated. Inoue Kazuo indicated that


The Sea and the Sacred in Japan

takarabune normally have no one in command; he explains this as a remnant of older ideas about purification boats floated out to sea, but one wonders if this is not rather a hint suggesting a realized utopia (a society with no supreme authority and in which wealth is shared among all)—a heterotopia which, as Michel Foucault argued, is often imagined as a ship (Foucault 1967). The set of multicultural gods also suggests a certain degree of international awareness, including the idea that foreign wealth may be dangerous to an impoverished Japan. Indeed, an anticolonial stance becomes evident in the early Meiji period, when exponents of the anti-westernization movements such as Sada Kaiseki (1818–1882) mobilized the imagery of takarabune to warn people about the dangers of an overflow of imported goods (such as hyperinflation, loss of traditional production and sensibilities, and over-dependence on foreign countries) (see Rambelli 2011).

Boat Spirits (funadama) Thus far, we have described a growing agency attributed to boats and ships in late medieval and early modern Japan, whose symbolic role changed from vessels onto which humans loaded pollution so that it could be carried away, to autonomous divine craft bringing in gods and good fortune. This growing agency also parallels the increased importance attributed, between the Edo and the early Meiji periods, to peculiar spirits believed to reside in boats known as funadama ( or , or the honorific funadama-sama). Funadama refers to a set of material objects, envisioned as a unified goshintai (physical presence of a kami), placed in boats and ships. This set is considered to be the boat’s “spirit” (tamashii or ). Accordingly, the funadama needs to be propitiated or teased so that the boat will be safe and able to secure a good catch of fish (or, the in case of commercial ships, profit). In rarer cases, funadama also refers to a deity enshrined at some Shinto shrine, where fishermen and seafarers pray for protection and fortune; most funadama shrines, including the most important one at Sumiyoshi Shrine in Osaka, are not independent institutions but secondary halls at larger shrines. Typically, the physical presence (goshintai) of a boat spirit (funadama) is a box containing two human figurines in paper or wood representing a man and a woman, twelve coins, a lock of a woman’s hair, two dice, some grains of rice and other cereal, and some makeup items (a comb, a mirror, tweezers, etc.). (It is important to note here, however, that in certain regions of Japan, funadama are without goshintai; in those cases, boats carry some special magical sign for protection that look like “+” or “x.”)26 The diversity of the components of this set is puzzling; the human couple is considered a symbol of family stability and continuity, as well as fertility and production; the coins and the grains are symbols of wealth; and the woman’s hair and the makeup items are envisioned as references to the supposed female gender of the funadama. The two dice, with their elaborate rules of placement of the numbered sides, suggest an attempt at controlling fate and fortune (chance had a large role in traditional fishing practices), as well as some type of protective magic: one at the top refers to heaven, six at the bottom to earth (thus, the entire cosmos); the alignment of the sides of the two dice with the

Sea Theologies


Figure 15.3 An example of the go-shintai of funadama deity. Photo courtesy of Umi no Michi Munakata-kan, used with permission from Munakata City Education Council (Munakata-shi Kyōiku iinkai). numbers four (shiawase, a pun on “aligning the sides with the number four” and “happiness”) and three (miawase, waiting for the right time) (see also Miyamoto 1987: 28–29). (See Fig. 15.3.) While this seems to be the most typical form of funadama goshintai, there are regional variants which are sometimes significantly different. In the Munakata area, the physical shape of the funadama is constituted by a set of three wooden pieces, each representing one of the three Munakata goddesses (see Fig. 15.4). This box is locked on the back side of a plank under the mast. It is installed by the shipbuilder himself at an activation ritual (known as goshōne wo ireru, “inserting the spirit”), analogous to the ritual performed for the activation of an icon or the family ancestor’s altar (butsudan), which also involves chanting certain formulas. This ceremony takes place during the construction of the boat, analogously to similar rituals that used to be performed during the construction of buildings.27 The funadama is removed from the boat before fumigation (to kill insects) and then reinstalled; it can also be removed and replaced when a bad catch continues or when impurities (corpses, cows, women) are brought on board. After installation and activation of the funadama, a special ritual is performed for it every year, either toward the beginning of the year or near the beginning of the fishing cycle (depending on the region, the second day of the new year, the eleventh day of the first lunar month, or on March 3rd). Ritual offerings include fish from the catch or a portion of rice cooked on board; in case of large fish being caught, a portion of its innards are offered, in an interesting parallel with the heart of a bear offered by hunters to the mountain god.


The Sea and the Sacred in Japan

Figure 15.4 Munakata funadama. Photo courtesy of Umi no Michi Munakata-kan, used with permission from Munakata City Education Council (Munakata-shi Kyōiku iinkai). This parallel was highlighted by Makita Shigeru (1966: 236). Kamino Yoshiharu, among others, has pointed out a number of relations between funadama, mountain gods (yama no kami or sanshin), and tree spirits (kodama) (Kamino 2000: 172–210), and the multiple connections between maritime religiosity and mountain cults is an aspect that requires more systematic research. From the accounts of ethnologists reporting conversations with fishermen, funadama are endowed with autonomous agency. They issue omens and premonitions, mostly in the form of the sounds coming from the boat (called isamu or shigeru, depending on the area). Funadama also loathe impurity and actions associated with bad luck, and thus fishermen have imposed taboos to propitiate the boat spirits: the most important of these is the prohibition against allowing women on board. In some regions, knives and metal objects in general are also prohibited. When sleeping on board, boatmen are prohibited from placing their head near the spot where the funadama is located, because they are afraid of being attacked; instead, they place their feet there in what may appear as an act of defiance (some fishermen reportedly explained that the funadama is “female, so it’s ok to place one’s feet on it”) (in Makita 1966: 212). Funadama are generally considered to be female spirits (see also Utsumi 2015: 339–342), and many modern ethnologists have discussed at length this attribution of

Sea Theologies


gender without reaching an agreed explanation. Most historical sources agree that funadama are female; this would explain the presence in the goshintai of makeup items and perhaps, also the lock of a woman’s hair (a common symbol of femininity), as well as the idea that funadama would attack the fishermen if they place their head too close to the goshintai. In addition, the term funadama-sama was a code word for the vagina in senryū, the Edo-period genre of humorous poetry. However, Kamino Yoshiharu has pointed out that another important tradition related to funadama, namely, the custom of bringing a woman (the wife or the daughter of the shipmaster) on board and have her display her genitals toward the goshintai when the boat is not catching enough fish—something that is done in order to stimulate the funadama suggests that the attribution of gender may not be as clear-cut as commonly thought (Kamino 2000: 149–150). According to Kamino, the fact that the goshintai includes two figurines representing a couple also undermines the general understanding of funadama as females. Kamino is certainly right in questioning general assumptions and simplifications about funadama by highlighting the diversity of the phenomenon and its regional aspects. The lack of orthodoxy—or, rather, orthopraxy in this case makes it especially hard to generalize.28 However, evidence, both historical and ethnographic, indicates a widespread understanding of boat spirits as female deities. In this respect, we should probably read the variegated composition of their goshintai not as an indication of their gender, but rather as pointers to what people expected of them: prosperity, fortune, wealth, and protection. Let us now take a look at the history of funadama and their beliefs. The term appears for the first time in Shoku Nihongi, in an entry dated 763 (Tenpyō Hōji 7, eighth month), which reports a ship of Japanese envoys to the kingdom of Bokkai that was able to return safely despite a storm at sea thanks to the crew’s prayers to the funadama.29 Later, the list of kami shrines (jinmyōchō) attached to the Engishiki (fasc. 9) court regulations (completed in 927), mentions a subsidiary shrine (sessha) of Sumiyoshi Shrine in Osaka dedicated to the Funadama deity. The Sumiyoshi Taisha jindaiki (tenth century) describes the funadama as a collective entity of four gods from Kii Province (present-day Wakayama Prefecture), who contributed to the success of Empress Jingū’s campaign in Korea.30 References to funadama in ancient texts seems to stop here. Elaborations on this deity emerge only several centuries later in the Edo period in a variety of sources. Wakun shiori by Kokugaku scholar Tanikawa Kotosuga (1709–1776) and the encyclopedia Wakan sansai zue by Terashima Ryōan argue that the funadama kami is Sumiyoshi, but they also mention the Chinese goddess Mazu (Tianfei, also known as “Ship bodhisattva,” Ch. Zhou pusa, Jp. Fune bosatsu), worshiped by Chinese sailors in Nagasaki.31 Other sources claim that the funadama is in fact the god Sarutahiko (Makita 1966: 141–142). Sumiyoshi is one of the main sea gods; Sarutahiko is the path finder god, associated with both Ōkuninushi (an avatar of the fortune god Daikokuten) and sea-faring deity Sukunabikona. The oscillation between Sumiyoshi and Sarutahiko seems to indicate the existence of two different pantheons and, possibly, different cosmologies and systems of values, but little is known about this. A third set of texts, including the influential Wakan sen’yōshū, propose a Buddhist interpretation and associate funadama with Buddhist divinities such as Śākyamuni, Dainichi, Kannon,


The Sea and the Sacred in Japan

or more generically with a “tathāgata of profound attainment” (jin’i nyorai) (Wakan sen’yōshū, pp.  55–56; see also the section on the god Sumiyoshi on pp.  61–64). The thread connecting funadama with Buddhism was identified in a passage from the Lotus Sutra, stating that if the crew throws a jewel into the sea, Kannon will save the boat, even if the wind carries it all the way to the Land of the Rakshasa ogres.32 Various texts seem to suggest funadama beliefs may have originated in China. Wakun shiori and Wakan sansai zue mention the Chinese goddess Mazu (Tianfei, also known as “Ship bodhisattva,” Ch. Zhou pusa ( ) , Jp. Fune bosatsu), worshiped 33 by Chinese sailors in Nagasaki; the Nagasaki kenbunroku of 1818 (better known as the first text in Japan mentioning coffee and chocolate) identify the funadama as the protecting god of Chinese ships, the goddess Mazu (“ship bodhisattva”).34 Kansai hikki by Confucian author Fujii Ransai (1628–1709) writes: “all sailors in our country believe that the ship god is a female god; perhaps, it is Ten hi [Ch. Tian fei]” (p.  239), that is, Mazu. Nishikawa Joken, perhaps one the first authors to spread knowledge about this Chinese belief, adds that Mazu is also known as Seibo, and is an avatar of bodhisattva Kannon (in Wakan sen’yōshū, p.  56). It is relevant to mention here that the goddess Seibo, which in China refers to a Daoist deity, in Japan was already identified with Empress Jingū by the early fourteenth century (Simpson 2017). As we can see, there was no unified intellectual discourse on funadama, and all these theories may have been significantly distant from the actual practices and beliefs of fishermen. However, the coexistence of folkloric, Shinto, and Buddhist elements in these various representations is interesting to note. Fujita Akiyoshi suggests that there were at least two different sets of beliefs regarding funadama: an older one in which the boat spirit was incorporated inside the boat, as discussed above, and a more recent one dating to at least the Edo period, in a god protecting the boat, called Funadama Myōjin. Fujita argues that the Chinese deity Maso (Ch. Mazu) became the model for representations of the new seafaring deity, first in Kyushu, from where it spread all over Japan. Later, other deities such as Konpira gongen or Benzaiten also began to play this role (Fujita 2008). This is an interesting theory, but unfortunately it lacks historical confirmation; however, the possible existence of a transnational network of sea deities, from the Yellow Sea to Kyushu and from there on to the rest of Japan, is a hypothesis well worth exploring further. What we can identify, however, is the existence of an ancient layer about funadama, based on Shoku Nihongi, Engishiki, and cults at Sumiyoshi shrine; this layer seems to have been revived during the Edo period, when it was joined with recent knowledge about Chinese beliefs regarding the sea goddess Mazu.

Conclusion This exploration of discursive fields addressing the relations between the sea and the sacred in Japan reveals a range and variety of interventions and conceptualizations. Elite texts about the purification ceremony (Nakatomi no harae) envision the sea as either the site of Ne no kuni and the abode of its kami or as a portal to that realm; the sea is increasingly considered as an essential sacred space, the central nexus of a circuit

Sea Theologies


of pollution and purification and, ultimately, life and death. By the late Edo period, purification is no longer a mere cleansing of the land, but something that requires the essential role played by the sea—which not only absorbs and disposes of polluting elements but also determines that the creative and producing powers (including negative elements) of the kami reach us in this world. The central but ambiguous status of the sea is also highlighted in popular discourses about takarabune and funadama, in which it is described as the mediating zone between this world and an elsewhere of promises and riches. In much broader terms, one could say that ōharae purification rituals, takarabune, and funadama are, each in their own way, cultural devices to ensure and control interactions between nature (the sea) and culture (society): takarabune convert bounty from the sea (fish and pearls) into wealth and fortune; ōharae does the opposite, but sending back to nature (the sea) polluting elements that can be conceived as effects of social (cultural) activities; finally, funadama is ritual technology to protect boats engaged in such transformation activities. In all these cases, boats—the vessels that enable humans to navigate this liquid realm and reap its fruits—play the role of semiotic shifters: they carry away pollution and misfortune and bring in wealth and fortune; they are potentially treacherous mediators between the human world and the realm of sea deities and their powers over life and death. It is not surprising, then, to see boats taking on divine features. This is in part due to their status as semi-divine technological devices, whose effective function required the enshrinement of funadama gods and their propitiation, but also because of the divine nature of the sea and the complex but little-known features of sea deities.


Notes General Introduction 1 2 3 4

5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13

On this subject, see Saitō Hideki’s chapter in this book. For more detail, see Mark Teeuwen’s chapter in this book. On this aspect, see Abe Yasurō’s chapter in this book. Among the various books published by Amino on the role of the sea in premodern Japan, see Amino 1992 (only a few chapters deal directly with sea-related matters: marine villages in Wakasa province, sea routes, Inland Sea pirates, and Kyushu seafarers); 1997; 1998 (a collection of essays on maritime aspects in various parts of Japan); 2004 (mostly on sea trade, trade routes, and people involved in them in various regions of Japan; the only direct reference to religious matters is the role of Ise and Kumano personnel on pp. 173–189); several of the above materials are reprinted, with additional chapters, in Amino 2007. Notable exceptions are some chapters included in the series, still unique and unrivaled, Umi to rettō bunka edited by Amino Yoshihiko and others (Amino et al., eds., 1990–3). On cargo cults and takarabune, see Fabio Rambelli’s chapter in this book. Shinra Myōjin, discussed in Sujung Kim’s chapter in this book, is an example of sea dragons. On fish shinsen, see Satō Masato’s chapter in this book. On namazu beliefs, see Ouwehand 1964; Rambelli 2014. On the imagination of mermaids and mermen, see Tanabe 2008. Lindsey DeWitt discusses these three authors in her chapter in this book. For a discussion of Westerdahl’s contribution, see Gaynor Sekimori’s chapter in this book. On the place of the coastal areas in Japanese culture, see Tanabe 2014.

Preface 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

See video on the web at (Seinoo dance at Wakamiya Onmatsuri, Kasuga Shrine, 2010). On this dance, see also the chapters in this book by Ōuchi Fumi and Saitō Hideki. On a medieval aspect of ama, see Abe Yasurō’s chapter in this book. On the Azumi clan, see also Mark Teeuwen’s chapter in this book. On Empress Jingū, see Emily Simpson’s chapter in this book. On Munakata, see Lindsey DeWitt’s chapter in this book. This was the voice of the fetus, the future Emperor Ōjin, who was later deified under the name Hachiman. On the god Ebisu, see Ōuchi Fumi’s chapter in this book. On maritime religiosity and cargo cults, see Fabio Rambelli’s chapter in this book.




Chapter 1: Imperial Sea Magic? 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

11 12 13 14

A variant in Nihon shoki follows this same narrative, which is absent from the main version. For a succinct discussion of these laws, included in the Yōrō code of 718, see Naumann 2000. It is possible that similar laws were included in the Kiyomihara code of 689 and the Taihō code of 701, but neither is extant. While Empress Jitō’s shigō includes Takama no hara (heaven), the shigō names of Monmu, Genmei, Genshō and Kōken begin with the phrase Yamato neko (the roots of Yamato, or Japan). Miyake (1984: 113–142) discusses all variants in Nihon shoki. Chapter 5 of Breen and Teeuwen 2010 offers a brief history of the daijōsai, referring also to Mizubayashi’s theories. Note that even Engi shiki says nothing about the ritual acts of the emperor inside of the yuki and suki halls. Shoku Nihongi, entries Tenpyō-shōhō 8 (756), eleventh month (vol. 14: 169), and Jingo-keiun 3 (769), eleventh month (vol. 15: 271). This version of the text employs the reading niiname. It is by this name that the Great Tasting was referred to in the court protocols Kōnin shiki (820) and Engi shiki (927). On the relation between Orikuchi’s theory about the daijōsai and the official line on this ritual (summed up in the phrase jinnō kiitsu, “unifying god and emperor”), see Saitō 2017. The key term ho, used in Ninigi’s full name Ama-tsu-hiko Ho no Ninigi, is in this same version written with the character “fire” rather than “rice-ears”—a fact that illustrates the cherry-picking that is necessary to sustain this discourse. (Kojiki, incidentally, writes ho in Ninigi’s full name with the character .) In the main Nihon shoki version, moreover, it is not even Amaterasu who dispatches Ninigi but the male deity Takami-musubi; also, there is no mention of rice ears. A typical and accessible example of this discourse is Mayumi 1988. Referring to this version, Robert S. Ellwood suggests that “sitting on this couch is a kind of test as to whether one is a true ‘Heavenly Grandchild’ ” (Ellwood 1973: 71). On the general format of nocturnal feast for the kami (common to such central court rituals as niiname, tsukinami, and also daijōsai), and the accompanying drunkenness and sexual license, see Okada 1994: 26–27. Note that the Azumi served offerings not only at the Great Tasting, but also at the twice-yearly tsukinami and the annual niiname rituals.

Chapter 2: The Sea and Food Offerings for the Kami (shinsen) 1

However, dried meat and salted meat are not limited to livestock and may also consist of fish and birds. For example, the Ryō no gige vol. 6, “Shokuin ryō, Dazaifu” draws on the words “dried salmon” from the ancient Chinese dictionary Shuowen jiezi (Jp. Setsumon kaiji). In an entry from the ninth day of the second month of Ninna 3 (887) in the Nihon sandai jitsuroku, “dried pheasant” appears; and in the Engishiki, there is a reference to “dried small fish” in addition to “dried deer” and “dried hog.” Regarding “salted meat,” the Engishiki mentions “salted fish” in addition to “salted deer” and



3 4

5 6 7


9 10 11 12 13


“salted rabbit”; thus we cannot necessarily conclude that livestock were always the ingredients. For example, the account of village celebrations killing cattle and holding rainmaking prayers in the entry for the twenty-fifth day of the seventh month of the first year of Emperor Kōgyoku (642) in the Nihon shoki, and the account of the kinoe inu (sixteenth day) of the ninth month of Enryaku 10 (791) in the Shoku Nihongi of forbidding the killing of cattle to worship Chinese gods for worship in various provinces, etc. Abalone occupies an especially important position in the shinsen of the Engishiki, but this may be related to the fact that the skill of abalone fishing was transmitted by the Yayoi culture. On abalone fishing, see Sahara 2003, pp. 30–54. Pigs were also used as food in livestock traditions, even in continental wet-rice culture. Breeding can be confirmed in Japan as well during the Yayoi period. Unlike herbivorous livestock and despite the absence of environmental impediment factors, pig breeding for food use is thought to have faced a gradual decline since the Kofun period. On the breeding of pigs in ancient Japan, see Sahara 2003, pp. 18–25; Nishimoto, ed., 2008, esp. ch. “Kachiku to Nihonjin” (III ) and “Buta to Nihonjin.” In the Engishiki, however, besides wild animals, birds are also excluded. I would like to pursue the reasons for this in future research. Han-dynasty image of tile folio rubbing, Sichuan University Historical Museum Collection. These three conditions are as follows: the monk who is going to eat the meat offered to him did not actually see the animal being killed; he did not hear that the animal was killed in order to offer its meat to him; and he does not know that the animal was killed precisely for that purpose. For example, according to article 63 of Fukego of Fujiwara no Tadazane, and articles from the twenty-seventh day of the eleventh month of the first year of Chōhō (999) in the Gonki and the second day of the tenth intercalary month of Kanji 2 (1088) in the Chūyūki, among other sources, we can surmise that fish was not served at meals at the time of the imperial dispatch to Usa. Ruijū fusenshō vol. 1, “Chikuzen no kuni Munakatagū daigūji bunin ni ōjiru no koto.” “Taga jinja nenjū gyōji” , in Nihon sairei gyōji shūsei, vol. 1. However, even at the Kasuga Wakamiya Onmatsuri, “hanging birds” (kaketori ), sea bream, and other fish and birds were offered at the Ōshukusai, in which Yamato samurai played a leading role. “Tale of a man from Chikuzen Province who worshiped Kannon and was reborn in the Pure Land,” in Konjaku Monogatari shū, fasc. 16. In the tale “The suspicious matter of offering living things to the gods” in Shasekishū, fasc. 1.

Chapter 3: Taming the Plague Demons 1

In its earliest incarnation, this rite was alternatively referred to as the Taina (“Great Exorcism Rite”). This Tsuina prototype was based on a Chinese ritual which was also named the Taina (Saitō 2007, 31). Its earliest written record occurs in the Shoku Nihongi (first day of the twelfth month of 702), when a Taina ritual was performed to heal an epidemic that had spread across the country (Saitō 2007: 24; Ooms 2009: 235).



Performances of the Tsuina in 821 and 871 were recorded in the Dairi shiki, a handbook of court ceremonies held throughout the year (Saitō, ibid.). 2 Norito are prayers and incantations read to the gods. The Tsuina no sai no norito is recorded in Engishiki, book 8. For further detail and English translation of the Norito, see Philippi (1959); and Bock (1970–1972, 1: 17–24). 3 See Fabio Rambelli’s chapter in this volume. 4 The term Urabe was written with two alternative pictogram combinations ( and ). Both refer to guilds of diviners; however, usually referred to plastromancers from Tsushima, the Iki islands, and Izu; and referred to those who practiced scapulmancy, using bones from animals such as deer and wild boar. Occasionally, the two sets of pictograms were used interchangeably (Ōe 2006: 25–31). 5 The Ryō no gige (ca. 833) states that the character refers to scorching of a turtle shell (Kory 2015: 343). Kiboku entailed scorching the turtle shell with fire to obtain the crack omens (bokuchō ) through which divinatory prognostications could be obtained. 6 English translation in JHTI : . 7 Tsushima is located in the Tsushima strait, roughly equidistant between Japan and South Korea. Iki is situated a few miles off the coast of Kyushu, between Kyushu and Tsushima. 8 The inscription reads: “from the Urabe Kusuri and Urabe Hironiwa in Mishima District, Kamo County, Izu Province.” This mokkan is held at the Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (Nara Kenritsu Bunka Kenkyūjo), serial number 011, tablet 342 9 A passage in the seventh volume of the Izu shichitō junken shi dated 1781 describes in detail the ritual duties of Magodayū , the Urabe of Sueyoshi village, Hachijōjima. The Izu shichitō junken shi was compiled by Satō Genrokurō, an official of the Tokugawa government who was dispatched to survey the Izu islands. This is the earliest known written record concerning Hachijō’s plastromancy practice. Incidentally, Satō was subsequently sent to Ainu territory to investigate opening up a northern trade route for the shogunate (Walker 2001, 142–143). The Ennō kōgo (1802) by Hachijōjima resident Takahashi Yoichi (1753–1822) also contains information on the Urabe in the section Hachijōjima kiboku bunji (“Notes on Hachijō pyro-plastromancy”). This section provides details about Hachijōjima Urabe’s lineages of oral transmission, the divination diagrams used in their plastromancy rituals, and detailed information about the occasions on which plastromancy took place. Lastly, the Hachijō jikki, compiled by a samurai’s son, Kondō Tomizō (1805–1887) while sentenced to exile on the island (1827–1880), also contains a chapter devoted to Hachijō’s plastromancy practices. 10 Initially held in the sixth and twelfth months, this rite was eventually performed whenever pestilences or epidemics occurred (Philippi 1959: 8). The Ryō no gige explains it as a ceremony to prevent calamity-causing demons from entering the capital by intercepting and regaling them on the streets (Namiki 2007). The first mention of this rite occurred in 735 CE in response to a smallpox epidemic that killed an estimated one-fourth to one-third of Japan’s population (Ooms 2009: 235). 11 Kory (2015: 351) observes that this ritual involved the burial of old fires and the lighting of new ones for purification and protection. 12 The entry in the Shoku Nihongi for the second year of Taihō (702) is generally regarded as the earliest mention of the rite (Bialock 2007: 95).



13 According to the Engishiki, the Urabe were based in three locations. However, works such as the Shinsen kisōki (date uncertain) on the origins of divination indicate that the Urabe occupied four lands (see Kory 2015: 358). This latter figure, based on the historic practice of subdividing Tsushima into upper and lower subsections, accords with the Great Purification’s four lands. Taking this into account, it is possible that the Great Purification’s ritual defenders of Japan were Urabe from the three border islands. 14 Saitō (2007: 35) provides an example of a ritual documented in the Konjaku monogatari-shū, which appears to be an amalgamation of the Road Banquet festival and the Tsuina. The exorcism ritual occurs in book 24, witnessed by ten-year-old Kamo no Yasunori (917–977), a future prominent Onmyōji. It involved feeding the demons a banquet, following which they fled on the boats, horses, and carts that adorned the ritual. 15 This term appears in the folk song Hachijō Oiwake . The song describes the feelings of one of the exiles from the Japanese mainland cast out to Hachijōjima in the Edo period. The song laments: I have been cast out to Hachijō, the island where even the birds do not stop by. When I think of my wife and child I left behind, it makes me cry.

16 17


19 20


A herding song, this was traditionally performed by the island’s cattle herders as an accompaniment to their work. For a Japanese transcription of this song, see Kaneda 2004: 218. For details about religious changes carried out on Hachijōjima in the Meiji period, see Kikuchi Mari, Nankai Times, October 23, 2015. For a Japanese transcription of this saimon, see Honda 1985: 990. I suggest that the presence of this formula from the Heian Tsuina may derive from the historic performances of the Tsuina held at Yakushi shrine on Hachijōjima, a practice that persisted on the island until the Meiji period. Incidentally, the kamisōze initiation ritual is itself considered by islanders to be part of a treatment process as it results in the alleviation of mikoke (lit, “miko-spirit”), a condition indicating that an islander possesses the ability to become an initiated ritualist; mikoke frequently manifests itself with physical and psychological symptoms resembling illness. The term moyaimono possibly derives from the pictogram moyau, the mooring of a berth of a vessel. The sanshu no ōharae uses the invocation tō hō kami emi tame. This incantation forms a central part of turtle shell divination rituals as these syllables appear on the magical five-line mark engraved by the Urabe on turtle shells. The Urabe scorches this mark with fire, using this as the basis for divinatory prognostication; he also recites this formula as the pyro-plastromantic rituals are conducted (see Kory 2015: 368). The origin of the nokemono recitations is unclear. They contain a mantra in Sanskrit, Nōmaku sanmanda basaranda sendan maguroson undai sowakai untai ta¯ka¯ma¯ sowaka. This closely resembles the Shingon Buddhist mantra recited in honor of Fudō Myōō, which is nōmaku samanda bazaradan senda makaroshada sowataya un tarata kanman (Homage to the all-pervading Vajras! O violent one of great wrath! Destroy!). The nokemono also make multiple references to tengu (mountain guardians) and mountains, both of which have strong associations with Shugendō, a form of folk religion based on mountain worship. The nokemono recitation Ōyama daishō ( ) states that Fudō Myōō of the great mountain is a great tengu. The worship of Fudō Myōō was an important part of the


Notes training of yamabushi (priests who specialize in Shugendō). The stated relationship between Fudō Myōō, tengu and mountains suggests that the nokemono have a basis in Shugendō. It is therefore likely that the Shingon aspect of the nokemono ascribes to the secondary route of Shugendō.

Chapter 4: Island of Many Names, Island of No Name 1

Okinoshima appears in historical sources as and as Okitsushima ( , ). 2 Munakata Shrine assumed its current name, Munakata taisha in the wake of its 1901 designation by the Meiji government as an Imperial shrine (Kanpei taisha). The shrine had previously been known by various other names, including Munakata sha, Munakata jinja, and in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century records as Munakata Hachiman gū. For more on the shrine’s multiplicity of names, see Kawabuko 2011: 252. 3 Popular descriptions of the island commonly refer to it as sacred. One example is the homepage of the World Heritage Promotion Committee, available online at www. (last accessed May 21, 2017). The adjective “sacred” (sei, also glossed as “holy”) appears frequently in popular discourse as well. 4 In Japanese, the name of the site differs slightly from the English: “Island where gods dwell” Munakata, Okinoshima and the Related Heritage Group (“Kami yadoru shima” Munakata, Okinoshima to kanren isan gun). 5 The Japanese-language homepage headline of the World Heritage Promotion Committee, for example, describes Okinoshima as such. Available online at (last accessed May 21, 2017). 6 Munakata is referred to in Kojiki as and in the Nihon shoki as . The characters can be found in Shōsōin documents and wooden tablets (mokkan) from the Nara period (710–784). The current form has been widespread since the Heian period (794–1185). For more on the etymology of Munakata, see Kamei 2011: 106–107. 7 For detailed treatments of the mythology behind the Munakata goddesses, see Shinokawa 2012: 67–72; and Kamei 2011: 107–113. 8 For a summary of the Munakata clan origins, see Kamei 2011: esp. 138–139; and in English, see Morley 2009: 27–33. 9 The full text of all four versions of the Nihon shoki can also be found online at (last accessed August 10, 2016). 10 I refer to “extraordinary” as it is conceptualized in Holloway and Hubbard 2014: 6. 11 Some examples of Okinoshima as “Shōsōin Treasury of the sea” include a 2016 symposium at the Kyushu National Museum titled “The Shosoin of the Sea, Okinoshima,” an accompanying short film by the same title that is shown every thirty minutes at the museum, and the special exhibition “National Treasures of the Munakata Shrine” (Munakata Taisha kokuhō ten) held at the Idemitsu Museum of Arts in Tokyo in 2014. Museum founder Idemitsu Sazō (1885–1981) was a native of Munakata and founder of the Munakata Shrine Restoration Committee (Munakata Taisha fukkō kiseikai), which played a major role in restoring and reviving the grand shrine in Tashima, in such poor condition during and following World War II that visitors were not again welcomed until 1971. Idemitsu and the restoration effort also sponsored large-scale archaeological and historical investigations. On this, see Sasaguchi 2014.



12 For more on Okinoshima’s ritual sites, see Sasō 2012: 43–61; and in English, see Kaner 2011: 340–349. 13 There were other gaps prior to this as well. See Batten 2001 and Hirose 2014. 14 Morley additionally notes that the ceremonial rank of the Munakata goddesses rose significantly in the ninth century, indicating a shift in the ideology and administration that precluded the need for the style of rituals theretofore conducted on Okinoshima. 15 Kawakubo identifies Munakata ki and Munakatasha kuketsu (Oral instructions of Munakata Shrine) as the earliest extant written records pertaining to rituals at Okinoshima—both texts appear in a collection of texts compiled by Kenna (1261– 1339), the second abbot of Shōmyōji in Kanazawa. As Kawakubo explains, Munakata ki and Munakatasha kuketsu seem to have been written by the same author as Munakata shrine registers (ruki) of the time, and served as precedents for the Munakata daibosatsu goengi. According to a passage from the Munakata ki, rites were performed uninterruptedly on Okinoshima by people from Goryeo (Korea) from the fourth-century Emperor Nintoku until the Bun’ei era (1264–1275), and during that time many ritual offerings were buried in the island’s valleys. The text states that the existence of such treasures was known throughout Kyushu. Kawakubo 2011: 241. 16 “Secret island” is another variant. For an example, see Hattori 2011: 131. 17 Chikuzen no kuni zoku shosha engi: 903–904. For more on the Kuroda family’s connection to Christianity, see Hattori 2011: 151. 18 Available online thanks to Waseda University Library: kotenseki/html/ru04/ru04_00011/index.html (last accessed August 1, 2017). Page numbers cited in this essay refer to the PDF page counter. 19 The repeated edits reflected Kaibara’s efforts to negotiate ongoing disputes over shrine hierarchy based on discrepancies in Kojiki and Nihon shoki—the priests of Hetsumiya on Tashima claimed their site was the first enshrined (to Ichiki-shima-hime no mikoto), while the priests of Okitsumiya on Okinoshima argued that theirs took precedence (dedicated to Tagori-hime no mikoto). For more on the inter-shrine conflict, see Kawakubo 2011: 253; and Munakata jinja shi vol. 1: 106–107. 20 This part of the chapter is greatly indebted to three recent studies by Kawakubo, Sugiyama, and Hattori that discuss Okinoshima’s taboos and motivated me to investigate Kaibara and Aoyagi’s writings further. 21 Neither Kaibara nor Aoyagi mention this directly. 22 Of note, another form of divination documented by Kaibara involved “reading” mold growth on rice. By examining the appearance and consistency of mold on rice offering, presented to each of the three goddesses during festival times—whether it was black and hair-like, or akin to seaweed, for example—one could determine people’s fortune. Chikuzen no kuni zoku fudoki vol. 16: 56. 23 See also Sugiyama 2012: 87. 24 The precise location of Shōsanmi shrine on Okinoshima today lies at a midway point between the shore and the main shrine of Okitsumiya, but scholars like Hattori question whether it has been moved since Aoyagi’s time. A Shōsanmi Shrine can be found on Ōshima as well, also enshrining the god of Shikanoshima. See Hattori 2011: 141. 25 Western anthropological studies propose a range of explanations for taboos in fishing communities. The ritualization of behavior prescribed by such taboos as uttering specific words and avoiding others might be seen as a means to cope with dangers and “sustained uncertainties” at sea. Poggie, Jr. and Pollnac 1989: 66. Alternatively, taboos might be viewed as a device through which fishermen separate land and sea activities. Ginkel 1987: 57–68. A third perspective ponders whether they serve as a means to


26 27


29 30

31 32

33 34 35

Notes enforce cooperation on board vessels by “promot[ing] cooperation by communicating a willingness to accept traditional patterns of authority.” Palmer 1989: 42. Kawakubo gives the example of “snake,” a word that appears in the Engishiki yet is not included among Okinoshima’s taboo words. Kawakubo 2011: 334. I plan to explore taboo words at Okinoshima and other sites in future research. “Women’s exclusion” (nyonin kinsei or nyonin kekkai) conveys a variety of genderbased proscriptions, including barring women’s entry from certain sites (e.g., shrines, temples, festival floats, sumo rings, sports arenas) or, historically, from certain occupations (e.g., brewing sake, firing kilns). For an overview of the broader cultural aspects of exclusions, see Suzuki 2002: esp. 6–26; and Minamoto 2005: esp. 1–10; in English, see DeWitt 2015. Lore concerning jealous female deities and their detesting of “real” women can also be heard at other locations in Japan that were formerly or currently off-limits to women, such as Ōminesan in Nara prefecture. Interestingly, the exact reverse logic—a jealous male god enraged by the presence of other men—is cited as the explanation for a contemporary ritual practice at Okutsuhime Shrine in Wajima, Noto peninsula, Ishikawa prefecture. During the shrine’s summer festival, young men dress in women’s makeup and hoist a portable shrine (mikoshi) that carries their female deity into the sea in order to unite her with a male god. According to shrine and local lore, the union (and, hence, the following year’s fishing bounty) will be jeopardized if the male god sees other men carrying the goddess. I plan to publish this as part of an ongoing research project with Cynthea Bogel of Kyushu University. Ōga and Munakata City World Heritage Promotion Committee 2015: 172. At this point in the comic book, a young man suddenly appears on the shore. Iratsume demands to know who he is, to which he responds, “A person from Yamato.” At this, she raises a spear as if to attack him, but in fact spears a fish. “The Munakata are amazing. Even the women are good at catching fish!” Another man runs up, scolding Iratsume for being on the beach alone. As she runs off, the young man from Yamato ponders whether she might be the young Munakata princess. The episode narrates a historical event—the offering of Munakata Amako no Iratsume, daughter of Munakata no Kimi Tokuzen, as a consort to Prince Ōama no Miko (631–686), who would later ascend the throne as Emperor Tenmu (r. 673–686). Iratsume gave birth to Prince Takechi no Miko (626–672), Tenmu’s eldest son. See Kamei 2011: 115–116. For the Nihon shoki accounting of the event in English, see Aston 1972: 322. Kawakubo provides a detailed survey of sources related to Munakata Shrine’s medieval and modern history. See esp. pp. 240–241. The term miare refers to the gods descending to earth and reproducing their spirit to refresh agricultural practice for the following year. The Miare Festival therefore signifies the annual rebirth or regeneration of the gods. Miare Festivals are held all over Japan, for example at Kamigamo Shrine in Kyoto. Munakata Shrine’s Miare Festival stands out, however, because it involves three shrines, and two of them lie out at sea. For more on this, see Mori 2011: 198. Mori provides detailed coverage of the history of minagate and hōjōe rites, pp. 199–200. Some examples include Akimichi 2012: 160; Takashi 2011: 75; and Katsuei 2005: 134. Here I draw in general terms from the work of geographer Philip Steinberg, who has coined the notion of “wet ontologies,” described as “a means by which the sea’s material and phenomenological distinctiveness can facilitate the reimagining and reenlivening of a world ever on the move” (Steinberg 2015: 248). Steinberg writes in opposition to



philosophical and political theories that have dismissed the ocean as a space “rendered ideologically and physically insignificant in reference to sociocultural and geopolitical concerns” (249). Claude Lévi-Strauss wrote, for example, that the ocean is a “diluted landscape” with an “oppressive monotony and a flatness” that fails to hold qualities to enliven the imagination (1973: 338–339). Roland Barthes similarly described the sea as a “non-signifying field [that] bears no message” (Barthes 1972: 112). Carl Schmitt, in The Nomos of the Earth, noted that “the sea has no character, in the original sense of the word, which comes from the Greek charassein, meaning to engrave, to scratch, to imprint . . . on the waves there is nothing but waves” (Schmitt 2003: 42–43). 36 Available at (last accessed February 15, 2017). 37 I am intrigued by a proposition put forth by Norman Havens of Kokugakuin University, who writes: “The earliest official rituals on Okinoshima were not so distant from the time when Himiko of the legendary Yamatai kingdom was alive. If so, then it would seem at least strongly possible that ‘miko’ (female shamans) were onboard the ships alongside male priests as the ships traversed the sea between Kyūshū and the Korean Peninsula. At the very least, we must hold it as a strong possibility, considering the importance of women in proto-Shintō.” Havens 2012: 90.

Chapter 5: Musical Instruments for the Sea-God Ebisu 1

2 3 4

5 6 7 8 9

I would like to express my gratitude to the Kao Foundation for Arts and Sciences for their financial support for this research. The paper given by Professor Abe at a symposium at the University of California, Santa Barbara in June 2016 and the following discussion gave me strong encouragement to develop my argument along these lines. I would like to thank him and other symposium colleagues. Miho Shrine has maintained a ritual called Aofushigaki shinji said to represent this mythic story; see below. Modern research on Ebisu began with the studies by Naganuma Kenkai (1915–1916) and Kida Sadakichi (1916). For more recent works, see Yoshii 1999 and Kitami 1991. I am deeply grateful to head priest Rev. Yokoyama Haruyuki, who gave me special permission to access the important properties, and to deputy head priest Rev. Yokoyama Naomasa, who kindly provided me with a list of the musical instruments and explained the instruments and the rituals related to them. The drum still exists at Miho Shrine. It is a type of drum called sarugaku daiko, with a short body and drumheads fastened with braids. Despite its antique appearance, there is no clear evidence that it was actually made in the medieval period. On drifting deities (yorigami), see Ofuji 1949; Ogura 1979; and Iwamoto 1960, among others. According to the official website of Miho Shrine, its god (myōjin-san) is a music lover who predicts whether the sea will be calm or troubled. ( #anchor3) The connection between Mihosusumi and Mihotsuhime is unclear. Throughout the Edo period, the question of which was the main deity of Miho Shrine, Mihosusumi or Mihotsuhime, was pursued inconclusively (see Wakamori 1980: 38). The Jingi shiryō by Kurita Hiroshi (1835–1899), a scholar of Japanese classics who worked for the Mito domain at the end of the Edo period, gives the same interpretation (Jingi shiryō: 446).



10 For a later version of the story, see Rokugō kaizan ninmon daibosatsu hongi; English translation in Grapard 1986: 27–50. For a detailed analysis, see Emily Simpson’s chapter in this volume. 11 Fukuhara Toshio (1993) has advanced a new interpretation of the origin of the Seinoo dance, suggesting that it may have originated in rituals performed at prominent temples in Nara and Kyoto, contrary to the general understanding that its origin is in Kyushu. 12 In the Izumo region, a type of sea snake has been regarded as the dragon god, who leads the divinities from all over Japan to gather there in the fall. See Kamita 1972 and Ogura 1982: 212–237. 13 On the dragon/jewel connection in the religious culture of medieval Japan, see Faure 2016: 255–316; Dolce 2013; and Trenson 2016. I will look further into the subject in a future study. 14 The image appears in Yoshii 1999: 189. The book also contains several examples of printed images of Ebisu, some of which depict the god with gems (186–190). 15 Detailed notes on these rituals by a senior member of Miho lay organization are included in Wakamori 1980: 145–261. 16 In the past, more complicated rituals originating in the myth of Kotoshironushi for welcoming the divinities from the reef at the shore used to be performed. See Wakamori 1980: 146. 17 Commentary to the exhibit, in Shimane kenritsu kodai Izumo rekishi hakubutsukan eds., 2011. 18 Koka is considered to be an ancient reed instrument used during the Xia dynasty. 19 In the revised edition published in the Meiji period, the waka about the performance of a “stone flute” at Miho Cape connecting it with the iwafue that Kotoshironushi created was added to the song (Kondō 1895). 20 Some of the family members of the head priest of Miho Shrine were involved in the tradition of the yakumo-goto as performers (Kubota 1995: 108–122). The yakumo-goto also came to be used in the activities of the new religious movement Ōmotokyō. The connections between the yakumo-goto, the Miho cult, the Izumo cult, the Kokugaku movement, and new religious movements including Ōmotokyō that formed between the end of the Edo and the Meiji periods are another important issue for further research.

Chapter 6: An Empress at Sea 1 2


Kojiki [D] 1: 240–256 (Emperor Chuai’s reign, including Jingū’s actions after his death). Nihon shoki [C] 2: 400–413 (Emperor Chūai’s reign), 416–465 (Empress Jingū’s reign). For more on the Jindaiki’s historical provenance, see Tanaka 1985: 207, 531–533, Kumagai 1993, Yato 1998, and Ban 2007. The Sumiyoshi taisha jindaiki is printed in the original kanbun in Shinto taikei (Jinja hen 6), 232–255 (hereafter, Jindaiki A). The text has also been rendered into classical Japanese in the Kodai ujibumishū, 1–42 (hereafter, Jindaiki B). Royall Tyler refers to the portion in parentheses as “an ancient gloss now included in the text” (Tyler 2009: 143). Indeed, all extant versions of the text have this note, but it is written in smaller characters in two lines within the single line of the main text, so it is clearly an explanatory aside. See Tanaka 1985:17.

Notes 4



Such enshrinement takes a variety of forms. While at Sumiyoshi Taisha and many other Sumiyoshi shrines, Jingū appears alongside the three Sumiyoshi deities, many other shrines include both Jingū and Sumiyoshi, with Jingū listed first. For instance, at Umi Hachimangū in Fukuoka Prefecture, the two Hachiman gods Ōjin and Jingū are joined by Sumiyoshi. At Shōmogū (Sacred Mother Shrine) in Nagasaki Prefecture, Jingū is the first of the primary deities, followed by her husband Chūai and then Sumiyoshi. The Nihon shoki’s language suggests a southern tour rather than a rebellion, but such tours no doubt were undertaken partially in order to assert authority and discourage revolt. This is unlikely to refer to the rebellion and subsequent conquest of the Kumaso, who were centered in southern Kyushu rather than Tsukushi, which falls largely in modern day Fukuoka Prefecture.

Chapter 7: Frogs Looking Beyond a Pond 1 2


4 5

According to Katō (1998: 8), there were three phases: from the late fourth century to the early fifth century, from the second half of the fifth century to the late fifth century, and the late seventh century. The Silla immigrant communities appear in neither Chinese nor Korean historical sources, and so Ennin’s diary provides valuable information for understanding Silla immigrants in ninth-century China. Ennin’s diary is the first document written by a foreigner about China and life there. Yi 2009: 1–20. Due to its geographic advantage, Silla functioned as a traffic hub connecting Tang China, Silla, Parhae, Japan, and even Southeast Asian kingdoms and Muslim merchants both in and outside of the official tributary channel. Silla merchants actively promoted the triangular trade starting from the sixth century, when the Silla kingdom occupied the Han River region in 553, which was the closest port to China and was formally controlled by Paekche. In 532, Silla annexed Kaya, a small kingdom located on the south coast between Silla and Paekche (Samguk sagi, 56). Occupying Kaya gave Silla direct control over another trade hub located along Nakdong River, which thereby allowed the kingdom to develop the area into a major trade node connecting China, Korea, and Japan. The Shoku Nihongi story of the alleged Silla prince Kim T’aeryŏm (d.u.) illustrates how this international trader played a leading role in transmitting goods and new practices in the eighth century by navigating the East Asian Mediterranean waters. Although the text states that Kim came to pay tribute to Japan, modern scholarship argues that Kim’s visit was for trade purposes. In 752, with 700 attendants, Kim arrived in Dazaifu and from there went to the Heian capital to sell goods. The document entitled “The purchase record of Silla goods,” kept in the Shōsōin imperial repository, reveals what items were exchanged, who was engaged in trade and on what scale, and the nature of the eighth-century Silla merchants who actively mediated between China, Silla, and Japan. For further detail, see Tōno 1992: 174–178; Batten 2006: 55–65. For instance, when Japanese ships went aground on Silla coastlines on their way to China, they still received help from the people of Silla. Kim 2006: 276; Park 2011: 253. Ennin’s and Enchin’s trips to Tang China were carried out when the official channel between China and Japan was opened, but by this time Japanese missions to the Tang (Jp. kentōshi) were already in decline. The last Japanese official to China left in 838, and



although Japan planned a kentōshi envoy for 894, the court cancelled it after protestation from the ambassador, Sugawara no Michizane. On kentōshi, see Fuqua 2004. Fuqua argues that kentōshi had a commercial role and acted as a force that accelerated maritime trade in East Asia. 6 Although the name “Sekizan Myōjin” does not appear, Ennin’s dream of his protective deity is found in the Jikaku daishiden, pp. 42–43. The name “Sekizan Myōjin,” however, appears in the Sekizan myōjin Engi (948). According to the engi, one night Ennin prayed for a successful study trip to the mountain deity of Mt. Chi at the deity’s shrine. On that night, the deity appeared in Ennin’s dream and assured Ennin of his protection. Sekizan Daimyōjin engi, p. 623. 7 His name crops up several times in the histories of China and Japan as well as those of Korea. In China, his name is written as . In Silla, his alternative name is Kungbok (or Kungp’a ). In Japanese sources his name is also written Chō Hōkō . For more about Chang Pogo, see Reischauer 1955a: 100–101. Ennin’s various references to Chang Pogo are extensively discussed in Okada 1933: 303–330. Although Chang is the only example of a civilian recorded in the official records of China, Korea, and Japan, he has received little attention in western scholarship. According to Ennin’s description of the temple, it was thriving with some hundred lay followers from the area and other monks and nuns dispatched from Silla. Pŏbhwawŏn was indeed one of the most active Silla temples in China at the time, providing lodging to Silla monks and travelers. There were about thirty Buddhist monks in residence. Ennin records that for their rituals and ceremonies they followed the customs of Silla. In winter and summer they held lectures, lecturing in winter on the Lotus Sutra, and in summer on the eight-scroll Konkōmyō-kyo. See Reischauer 1955a: 131. Also, see Kwŏn 2006: 143–165. 8 For instance, Silla communities were called “Silla villages” (Kr. Silla-bang). There were many Silla immigrants spread out over the Shandong and Jiangsu area, in which several Silla villages are identifiable. The administrative institutions of the Silla villages were called “Silla offices” (Kr. Silla-so). There was also a local facility called the “Silla lodging” (Kr. Silla-gwan). Located in Penglai village in Dengzhou, Silla immigrants built the place as a lodging facility for official envoys and other visitors from Silla before heading to their final destination, Chang’an. 9 With his economic and military might, Chang Pogo exercised great political power in Silla. He was deeply involved in the succession to the throne in Silla, which eventually led to his untimely death. Yŏm Jang, who once was one of his loyal subordinates, assassinated Chang upon order from the court in 841. On Chang Pogo, see Samguk sagi 177; 183–185. 10 Although Chang was from a low class in the bone rank system of Silla, he began to establish himself first as a commander for the Chinese army in China. Later in the early ninth century he resigned from the position of commander and transformed himself into a successful merchant. He established his base in Shandong peninsula, the closest point in the sea route between Silla and China. 11 The legislation aimed at enforcing state control over international trade. According to the order sent by the court to the officials of Dazaifu, when a trading ship of Silla arrived at Dazaifu, officials were to examine all the goods it carried in order to decide which of them should be sent to the court in Kyoto. All the remaining goods were permitted for trade. See Tanaka 2007: 141. 12 Hakamada thinks that the head official of Chikuzen at that time was Ono no Suetsuku. Hakamada 2012: 197.



13 Two Korean scholars working on Shinra Myōjin suggest the link between Shinra Myōjin and Chang Pogo: Kim 1987; Lee 2006 (in Japanese, Lee 2012). 14 This was largely due to the fact that Japan in the ninth century had not yet fully developed the technology to build ships capable of long-distance travel. For instance, the Japanese sailors who manned the kentōshi vessels lacked sufficient knowledge of how to utilize seasonal winds and how best to avoid typhoons. See Mozai 1984: 89; Sudō 1981: 71. Thus, it was common practice for Japanese student-monks to travel on the vessels of Korean merchants. Japanese sailors of the time were also not accustomed to sailing the open sea. Thus, among those Japanese who hoped to travel to China, most were bound to follow the southern coastlines of the Korean peninsula after departing from the northwestern part of Kyushu, the closest point between the two countries. See Iida 1980: 14. 15 The same thing also happened to Enchin. For more on Enchin’s connections with Silla merchants, see Kagamiyama 1972: 806–807. 16 Chang Yŏng also arranged for Ennin to embark on his boat when the latter was preparing to return to Japan, but eventually, for some reason, Ennin was unable to board. See Mori 1964: 44. 17 For the whole letter, see Reischauer 1955a: 166–167. 18 The land on which Sekizan zen’in was built had originally belonged to Minabuchi no Toshina (808–877), an administrator of Dazaifu. Interestingly, Minabuchi and his son were also involved in international trade with Chang and other Silla merchants in China. Lee, Byŏng-ro 2006: 328. 19 According to the Sekizan daimyōjin engi, there were three stages in completing the construction. In 864, a building called Zen’in was constructed according to Ennin’s will. In 868, Anne built a shrine for the deity. The temple was destroyed at one point and reconstructed in 888 by Sōō (831–918). See Shiozawa 2008: 28–47. 20 On this text, see Oyamada 1987: 13–20; Guth 1999: 115. 21 See Tsuji 1931; Miyaji 1931. Kageyama also thinks the two are the same deity whose origin can be traced back to the Silla temple in China. Kageyama 1973: 245. 22 On the historical background and the development of the schism, see McMullin 1984: 83–105.

Chapter 8: Hachiman Worship Among Japanese Pirates (wakō) of the Medieval Period 1 2 3 4 5

I would like to thank Peter Shapinsky for his valuable suggestions. On Empress Jingū, see the chapter by Emily Simpson in this book. For the history of the term, see for instance the standard monograph on wakō history by Tanaka Takeo. Tanaka estimates that the term became a fixed compound related to the “wakō phenomenon” in Korean texts around 1350 (Tanaka 2012: 17; 20; 26–27). Xie Guoming, a wealthy merchant with Chinese background, even became jitō of estates belonging to the Munakata Shrine (Kawazoe 1990: 403). The year 1223 is generally acknowledged as the beginning of waegu/wakō activity (Hazard 1967: 261). Large-scale wakō attacks, however, set in around 1350. In the late fourteenth century, wakō attacks on Goryeo territory seem to have reached a peak during the reign of King U Wang (r. 1374–1388), when 378 raids were recorded (Seoh 1969, p. 31).

214 6 7 8


10 11 12

13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21

Notes Cited with modifications from Lim 2013: 11. The phrase was coined by Tang Shu (1497–1574), a secretary in the Ministry of Justice during the wakō disturbances in Southern China of the 1550s. Amino would speak of umi no ryōshu, while Kishida Hiroshi used umi no daimyō, implying a feudal system on the sea, which existed independently but mirrored “terracentric” political structures (Shapinsky 2009: 275). According to one variant in the Nihon shoki, Tsushima was counted among the “eight great islands” produced by Izanagi and Izanami. The Sanguo zhi (third century CE ), which contains the earliest Chinese reports on the “Eastern Barbarians” (tung-i), mentions Tsushima as an island of the Wo (=Japanese). Korean sources such as the Samguk sagi, on the other hand, claim that Tsushima (Kor. Taemado) originally belonged to the Korean kingdom of Silla (Seoh 1969: 28). More literally “foreign intrusion of the Ōei [era].” Note that Japanese historiography applies the same character for the Korean attacks of 1419 as for the Mongol attacks (genkō ) of the thirteenth century. Incidentally, the character is also part of the term waegu/wakō . Chouhai tubian (“Illustrated book on maritime defense”) by Zheng Ruoceng (1503– 1570), quoted from Elisonas 1991: 255. Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Fujian provinces were especially affected (Lim 2013: 9). According to the dynastic history of the Ming (Mingshi), entry of 1553/3: “Wang Zhi led the Japanese in a large campaign to attack [the Chinese coast]. The combined fleet consisted of several hundred warships that covered the sea” (in Clulow 2012: 528). The actual composition of the wakō/wokou population is described in letters between Chinese officials of the period. Obviously, Chinese traders styled themselves as wokou in order to escape persecution. “Thus, despite the traditional label of wokou attached to the wave of piratical attacks that swept across the south-eastern coast in the 1550s and 1560s, Ming popular opinion and officialdom were in fact unanimous in openly acknowledging that the crisis was caused by the Chinese rather than the Japanese” (Lim 2013: 11). See also Tanaka 2012: 24. According to Tanaka Takeo, the image of the wakō as aggressive outlaws from Japan turned into a fixed stereotype in China only after Hideyoshi’s attack on Korea (Tanaka 2012: 176). On Japanese piracy in the seventeenth century see, for instance, Clulow 2012. Nihon kokugo daijiten vol. 10, p. 1344, s.v. bahan; Tanaka 2012: 185. The early editions of Setsuyōshū consist of word lists in iroha-order, rendered with kanji, katakana, and sometimes a short explanation. The document is part of the Matsura monjo, a collection of historical documents from the time of Hideyoshi (Iwao 1958: 589; Tanaka 2012: 185; Nihon kokugo daijiten vol. 10: 1344). Dai Nihon komonjo, Shimazu-ke monjo, doc. 1090 (Nihon kokugo daijiten vol. 10: 1344; Tanaka 2012: 185). Doi 1955: 47; Nihon kokugo daijiten vol. 10: 1344. According to Peter Shapinsky (forthcoming), “Nankai tsūki circulated as hand-copied manuscripts and was published at least three times, in 1714, 1773, and 1818.” The stereotypical depiction of half-naked barbarian wakō fighting against civilized Chinese troops becomes particularly visible in a few extant pictorial sources from the late sixteenth century (see Tōkyō Daigaku Shiryō Hensanjō, ed., 2014). The Sanja takusen appeared at the latest by 1409. It may have been invented by the Daianji temple in Nara and was later disseminated by Yoshida Shintō (Bocking 2000).



22 Kanmon gyoki is the diary of Fushimi no miya Sadafusa, a.k.a. Gosukō-in (1372– 1456), a member of the imperial lineage whose son became the Emperor GoHanazono in 1429. 23 Ōta acknowledges this to a certain extent and adds yet another piece of evidence in support of his bahan-Hachiman hypothesis: since Hachiman was also an important motif in the decoration of Japanese swords, which were among the most prized items in wakō overseas trade, bahan/Hachiman became a code word for the ships that carried such Hachiman swords. Ōta 2002: 489–490. 24 See (last accessed February 20, 2017). 25 See / last accessed February 20, 2017). 26 Kanmon gyoki, Oei 26 (1419)/8/13, cited from Klein 2013: 428; see also Shapinsky 2014: 148; for the context of this report and other reflections of the Ōei Invasion in Japanese literature, see Klein 2013: esp. 425–431.

Chapter 9: Shugendō and the Sea 1 2

3 4




For an excellent treatment of the position of lower-ranking groups like dōshū in the institutional and ritual structure of such temples, see Tyler 1989, 1990. Mikael Adolphson (2012) also discusses dōshū more broadly. For a review of Shugendō scholarship, see Sekimori 2009. For an excellent summary of the issues involved around the development of Shugendō, see Blair 2015: 270–294. For a collection of essays by leading “new-generation” scholars in Shugendō studies, see Tokieda et al., eds., 2015. Suzuki Masataka (2014) discusses the genealogy to which Gorai and Miyake Hitoshi belong. He sees both men’s ideas deriving from Yanagita Kunio, with Miyake’s intersected by Hori Ichirō. Tainai kuguri, literally “passing through the womb.” The practice of crawling through a narrow space between rocks or into and out of a cave symbolizes rebirth, a central theme in Shugendō practice. This practice is carried out for example at Higashi Fudaraku on Gassan in Yamagata prefecture. It is portrayed in the film Shugen, The Autumn Peak of Haguro Shugendō, Kitamura Minao, 2005. The same term, Kulturelandschaft, was also used by German cultural geographers like August Maitzen and Wilhelm Müller-Wille to “summarize the material remains and structures of inland agrarian economies, regardless of period.” This was “partly absorbed into archaeological thinking” (Westerdahl 2011). The taboos and the existence of taboo words among Scandinavian fishermen described in this article are largely identical with those found in Japan (okikotoba); he interprets them as “based on a contrast or antagonism between sea and land,” with division into sex or gender secondary. His observations on the varied role of the female in maritime life may be useful when considering the male–female binary in the Japanese situation related to sea religion. Gabriel Cooney notes “the contact zone between the sea and the land . . . as a liminal zone, resource-rich but also appropriate for the disposal of the dead” (Cooney 2004: 326). This is suggestive regarding the disposal of sea corpses (animal or human) in the Japanese context, though it implies an antagonism between land and sea, not the continuum that Westerdahl seems to suggest as his concept developed. For the disposal of corpses in Japan, see Kalland 1995, 45 ff.

216 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15

16 17 18 19

Notes Gorai 1989: 108–109. Chapter 4 deals with the Shikoku heji (103–154) and Chapter 5 with the Kii heji and the Noto mōde (157–237). For a description of the modern practice, see Shugendō shugyō taikei hensan iinkai, eds., 1994: 104–121. Katsurei zakki, at Accessed February 28, 2017. The colophon dates this to 1141, but according to Togawa Anshō (Hagurosan engi: 14) it reflects a medieval tradition. The best verifiable dating is 1644, when it was “copied” by Ten’yū. Otome (“maidens”) were young girls (often in a group of eight) who performed sacred (gosechi) dances, particularly at harvest time. The term also refers more broadly to shrine miko who perform offertory dances. Interestingly, the Hagurosanden and other early engi literature, which reflect a medieval understanding, already associate Shinatorishima-hime and Tamayorihime as the Hagurosan kami (Hagurosanden: 14). For an account of the changes to the Akinomine, see Sekimori 2005, 2011. The yōhaisho is at Fukigoshi, between the main shrine and Kōtakuji. Today however shugenja are instructed to venerate the cave from the pond in front of the Main Shrine (Mitarashi-ike) rather than from Fukigoshi (personal information; also mentioned in Togawa 1972: 105). The connection between Yura and Hagurosan is discussed in Miyake 2000: 27–42 and Naitō 2005. For a full discussion, see Gaynor Sekimori, “Miko and Haguro Shugendo,” paper presented at AAS 2010, Philadelphia. On this subject, see Gaynor Sekimori, “Forging Identity: Maritime Deities and the Maritime Cultural Landscape,” paper presented at the annual meeting of the European Association for Japanese Studies 2014, Ljubljana. The spirit of the boat is known as funadama, a female divinity who protects it during storms and brings good catches. Symbolized by a woman’s hair, a pair of dice, coins, a pair of paper dolls, and grains, it was enshrined in the wheelhouse of a new boat by the carpenter, accompanied in the past by saimon and norito recited by yamabushi. In visual form, it was often depicted as Kannon (Sekimori, “Forging Identity”). See also Fabio Rambelli’s chapter in this book.

Chapter 11: Lands and People Drifting Ashore 1

2 3

The term Chūsei Nihongi refers to the medieval variations on various myths from the Nihon shoki or Nihongi, the earliest of the six great histories of early Japan, and commentaries on them. For more on the full body of medieval myths, see Tokuda 1982: 34–40, Fukuda 1993: 258–268, Hara 1999: 174–184 and Itō 2016: 32–55. For more on the scattered millet grain theory, see Ishida 1996, Sasaki 1987: 275–315, Takagi 1982: 272–301, and Narusawa 1984: 129–176. According to the Kokin wakashū sanryūshō, a medieval commentary on the Kokin wakashū, a famous Heian period poetry collection, both Kinpusen and Mount Tsukuba were part of China’s Mount Wutai and came flying to Japan. In addition, the Shosan engi, an early Kamakura history of key shugendō mountain sites, states that Kinpusen flew over from Vajra Peak (Kongōbu) (Vulture Peak). In the sixth scroll of the Keiran shūyoshū, a fourteenth-century Tendai text, Mount Hiei in Japan and



5 6

7 8

9 10 11 12 13

14 15 16 17



Mount Tiantai in China come from the northeastern edge of Vulture Peak. For a detailed treatment of the subject, see Sakaguchi 1989: 338–340. This quote comes from the Gakuenji sō bō-shojō dankan, a document from the Genki Period (1570–1573) held at Gakuenji (Taisha chō-shi, vol. 1: 432). The notion that the Izumo Peninsula on which Gakuenji sits was a part of Vulture Peak that drifted ashore can be seen earlier in the Gakuenji shutotō kanjin jōan from Kenchō 6 (1254), so we may trace the idea back to the Kamakura Period. For more on the medieval myths of Izumo, see Inoue Hiroshi 1998: 365–384 and 2000. Honji suijaku, meaning “trace manifestations of original ground,” postulates that Japanese kami are manifestations of Buddhas, who appear as kami in order to bring salvation to the Japanese people. This theory was particularly prominent in the medieval period of Japanese history. (Translator’s note.) Mah¯avairocana, the cosmic Buddha, is known in Japanese as Dainichi nyorai, or “the Great Sun Tath¯agata.” The sun imagery of this name makes Mah¯avairocana a natural equivalent to Amaterasu. (Translator’s note.) Māra is one of the Six Demon Kings, who represent the six cravings of the world of desire and are enemies of Buddhism, seeking to thwart it whenever possible. Māra is the strongest of the six, known for trying to tempt the Buddha with his three daughters during Śākyamuni’s quest for enlightenment. (Translator’s note.) A seed syllable (Skt. bīja) is a mystical or spiritual essence contained within a given Sanskrit letter, a concept in both Hinduism and esoteric forms of Buddhism. (Translator’s note.) The island of Hokkaido was not formally incorporated into Japan until the late Edo Period. (Translator’s note.) A vajra is a metal instrument used in esoteric Buddhist rituals, and is usually pronged on both sides. (Translator’s note.) Xiu Ouyang and Sima Guang were both Song dynasty scholar officials and historians, but Xiu is more known for his poetry, and the poem is more commonly attributed to him. (Translator’s note.) : This four-character phrase refers to the burning of texts (213 BCE ) and burying alive of several hundred Confucian scholars (210 BCE ) carried out under the first Qin emperor, according to the Book of History (Shiji). As Sima Qian wrote the Shiji over a hundred years after the events and under the Han dynasty, there are doubts as to the veracity of these events, but the phrase and its legacy remain strong, particularly in the Confucian tradition. (Translator’s note.) Another name for Kusanagi, the legendary sword that forms one of the three imperial regalia of the Japanese imperial house. (Translator’s note.) See Seki 1938, Ozaki 1944, Kondō 1981, Fukuoka 1992, Ishikawa 2002, Watase 2005 for several examples. For an English version of this poem, see Giles 2000: 883–890. (Translator’s note.) References to Yang Guifei’s tombs in Japan can be found, for instance, in Shokoku Ikken Hijiri monogatari (1387), pp. 17–18; Zen monk Ishō Tokugan (1360–1437)’s Tōkai keikashū fasc. 3 (p. 790); and in Baika mujinzō by Zen monk Banri Shūku (born 1428), p. 817. For instance, the thirty-ninth fascicle of the Owari gazetteer Chōshū zasshi, completed in 1789, includes a drawing of Yang Guifei’s grave, with a five-tiered pagoda. However, it also includes the note “Yang Guifei’s grave is no longer,” so we know that it has already been lost by this time (Chōshū zasshi shō, p. 333).



19 This image first appeared in the 1523 text Unshū hi no kawa kami ama ga fuchi no ki (p. 453). In addition, we can see the same description in Kiyohara Nobukata (1475– 1550) “Chōgonka to biwakō shō” (in Kunida Yuriko, ed., 1976: 177) and the chapter on Yang Guifei in the Utaishō (late sixteenth century, preserved at Kōzan Bunko of Hōsei University in Tokyo). Moreover, in the compilation Chōgonka zushō , published in Enpō 5 (1677), the fourth scroll advances the theory that Atsuta Myōjin (Shining Divinity) manifested as Yang Guifei, Sumiyoshi as the rebel general An Lushan (703–757), and Kumano Gongen as Yang Guifei’s cousin and incompetent official Yang Guozhong (?–756) (National Diet Library Collection, pp. 19–20). 20 According to the Kojiki and Nihon shoki, Empress Jingū (169–269) conquered the three Korean kingdoms of Silla, Goguryo and Baekje in 200, guided and aided by diverse kami. Whether this invasion actually occurred has been the subject of much controversy. Regarding the transformation of the story of Empress Jingū in the medieval and early modern periods, see Kubota 1972, Tada 1991, and Sakamoto 1996; in English, see Emily Simpson’s chapter in this volume. 21 For a general treatment of this early-modern approach to mythology, see Ogihara, 1998: 419–468. 22 Wu Taibo or was the brother of King Wen’s father. According to historical tradition, King Wen’s son, King Wu, actually conquered the Shang dynasty (c. 1600–1046 BCE ) and formed the Zhou dynasty (1046–256 BCE ), but in filial fashion, King Wen was honored as the first king of Zhou. (Translator’s note.) 23 In ancient and medieval China, criminals were often tattooed, making the tattoo a sign of shame. (Translator’s note.) 24 The Weizhi sections pertaining to Japan can be found in de Bary, Keene et al., eds., 2002: 1–8. 25 Chūgan Engetsu, in addition to becoming head of various Zen monasteries in later life, was also known for his pursuit of Chinese studies, especially his writing of Chinese-style literature. He spent seven years in China studying with various Zen masters in the 1320s. (Translator’s note.) 26 Yet, there are allusions to these texts in the Shikishō (Commentaries on the Shiji) by the Rinzai monk Tōgen Zuisen (1430–1489), in fasc. 2 “Shū hongi ” (True Chronicles of the Zhou) and fasc. 9 “Go Taihaku seika ” (The Lineage of Wu Taibo). See Shikishō, pp. 36, 273. 27 In addition, a fascinating theory was advanced by Tō Teikan (1732–1797), an expert of military and court practices. In his Shōkōhatsu, printed in Tenmei 1 (1781), he states that Emperor Jimmu (the first human emperor), was not the son of the kami Ugaya Fukiaezu, but the descendant of Wu Taibo. When Taibo arrived at Amami Island, he met the young island maiden Tamayori-bime, who later gave birth to Jinmu. For more details, see Itō 2006. 28 For the essentials on these shindai moji, see Miyazaki 1942 and Yamada 1953. For more recent studies, see Shimizu 1989, Yamashita 2000, and Iwane 2008.

Chapter 12: Buddhist Japan and the Global Ocean 1

For a facsimile edition of the original Latin and Japanese manuscripts, see Kirishitan Bunko Library, ed., 1997. For the edited Latin text and English translation, see Hiraoka 2005: 99–175.

Notes 2 3 4





Original text: “Quia, ut Apostolus ait, visibilia haec, mundi scilicet machine, caelorumque perpetuus et immutabilis ordo, invisibilia Dei attributa maxime demonstrant,” in Hiraoka 2005: 108. In addition to numerous woodblock-printed and manuscript editions, Terajima’s encyclopedia was also reissued in a moveable metal type edition in the late nineteenth century. Inden 1999: 60. The four ships that appear on the Bankoku sōzu of 1645 and 1652 in the Kobe City Museum and the undated seventeenth-century Bankoku sōzu published by Eya Shōbei are Japanese, Chinese, Portuguese, and Dutch. The 1688 Bankoku sōkai no zu by Ishikawa Ryūsen include only the Japanese and Chinese vessels and the 1708 Sekai bankoku chikyū zu by Inagaki Kōrō has only the Chinese and Dutch ships. Ryūsen’s Bankoku sōkai no zu is also the only seventeenth-century example to list the distances between Japan and various foreign countries. In the Vimalakīrti sutra, Aniruddha, the disciple of the Buddha foremost in divine sight, is asked: “How far can this heavenly eye of yours see?” He replies: “I can see the boundless ten-thousand-fold world as though I were peering down at a fruit in the palm of my hand”: Weimojie suoshuo jing: 522c–523a. The expression is also found in Zhiyi’s commentary on the Lotus Sutra entitled Miaofa lianhuajing wenju (T. 1718, vol. 34: 15c), the Shoulengyan yishu zhu jing (T. 1799, vol. 39: 848b), the Great Collection Sutra (T. 397, vol. 13: 136a), and elsewhere. The images of the horned owl that can catch a flea at night but cannot see a hill at midday and the frog in the well that knows nothing of the vast oceans are both drawn from the Autumn Floods chapter of the Zhuangzi: see Watson, trans., 2003: 103, 108–109. The expression “visiting distant places without ever traveling beyond one’s garden gate” comes from the Yi jing commentary on hexagram 60. See also Laozi section 47.

Chapter 13: The World Was Born from the Sea 1 2


4 5

For the citations from Nihon shoki in the Ruijū jingi hongen, see note 2 below. Regarding these sources, I have consulted the annotated version of Ruijū jingi hongen (in Chūsei shintō-ron), and Hara 2004. I have only listed texts for which the title was identifiable. However, in practice, many passages are in fact derivative citations (magobiki) drawn from other sources, such as the Song period reference work Xinduan fenmen zuantu bowenlu and the anthology Taigenshin ichi hisho, possibly compiled at the Ise Shrine, but for the purpose of this chapter, I refer to the original texts without such distinction. An asterisk indicates those passages that I have quoted with their respective commentaries. See, for instance, Kubota 1959; Kubota 1995; Kamata 1998; Murei 2000. Recently, Mark Teeuwen (2016) discusses the significance of the idea of primordial chaos from Daoist texts in the Ise nisho taijingū jinmyō hisho in connection to late Kamakura discourse on virtuous politics. I made some changes to the reading of the text. Hereafter, citations from the Ruijū jingi hongen are indicated by a page number at the end. The annotated version of the Yamato Katsuragi hōzanki [A] in Chūsei shintō-ron reads this as isai (“slight difference”); I have amended it according to the Shinpukuji version [B] of the text, included in Ruijū jingi hongen (Shinpukuji zenpon sōkan). As already suggested by Agatsuma Matajirō (1982: 47), the tale in the Yamato Katsuragi


6 7


Notes hōzanki is based on the Da zhi du lun (Jp. Daichiron), which has Ichū ,a transliteration of Vis.n.u (116a05-a11). The Yamato Katsuragi hōzanki, however, changed this into imō (“reed-net”). On this subject, see also Iyanaga 2003. In this connection, Itō Satoshi suggests that the transformation of the term from the Daichidoron to the Yamato Katsuragi hōzanki might indicate the intention to connect the account in the former with myths in Kojiki and Nihon shoki involving the reed-sprout (ashikabi ) as the primordial being. Itō 2011: 161–162. Takahashi Miyuki points out (2010: 19) that the version of Jō Agonkyō in the collection of sacred texts (Shōgozō) at the Shōsōin imperial repository has “Heaven and Earth” (tenchi) instead of “the earth” (daichi). Kubota Takaaki writes about the method of the Ruijū jingi hongen: “Ieyuki saw one common principle behind the individual myths” (1995: 45). Itō Satoshi points out: “Both Ryōbu Shinto and Ise Shinto texts were created in an extremely short period while mutually influencing each other [. . .] It is obvious that some common principle would become evident when ordering and classifying them according to their subjects” (2016: 212). Kitabatake Chikafusa (1293–1354) was inspired by Ieyuki’s Ruijū jingi hongen and other works, and used them as the basis for his own Gengenshū (c. 1337) and, later, his historical account Jinnō shōtōki (written 1339, revised in 1343); see Hirata 1979: 29–34, 80–91. As Kubota Osamu already indicated (1959: 394–395), Kanera’s treatment of the three imperial regalia (sanshu jingi) in his Nihon shoki sanso is indebted to Chikafusa’s Jinnō shōtōki (for an analysis, see Nitō 2007: 19–22). Finally, Kubota Osamu indicated the possibility that Kanera, when writing his Sanso, could have used Ieyuki’s Ruijū as a direct source text, but the reference work that Kanera might have used might have been, instead the Shinsho sanso hoi (preserved at Tenri Library), which includes citations that appear to be taken from either the Ruijū or Chikafusa’s Gengensho; see Kanazawa 2016.

Chapter 14: Orikuchi Shinobu and the Sea as Religious Topos 1

2 3 4 5

“Kokubungaku no hassei” was rewritten multiple times. The first draft appeared in the journal Nikkō in April 1924 (Taishō 13), and the second in multiple installments of Nikkō the same year (June, August and October). The third version, though written at the end of Taishō, was finally published in Minzoku in January 1929 (Shōwa 4). The fourth version was actually published earlier, in three installments of Nihon bungaku kōsei in January, February and November of 1927 (Shōwa 2). The difference between Yanagita and Orikuchi’s understanding of kami (gods) can be seen in a famous symposium held in 1949 (Shōwa 24), called “Nihonjin no kami to reikon no kannen sono hoka” (Orikuchi 1995: Appendix 3). Motoori Norinaga (1730–1801) was a leader of the National Learning (kokugaku) movement. One of his best-known contributions to Japanese literature and religion was his reading and interpretation of the Kojiki, the Kojiki-den. (Translator’s note.) Emperor Yūryaku ( , 418–479) was the twenty-first sovereign of Japan; Orikuchi is here referring to the entry on Emperor Yūryaku in the Kojiki. (Translator’s note). Norinaga, in keeping with his preference and constant search for the original Japanese language and meaning, uses the name for Emperor Yūryaku as seen in the Kojiki, not in the Nihon shoki he is quoting.

Notes 6 7

8 9 10 11 12 13 14




See, among others, Saitō 2010, 2011a, 2011b, 2012; Yamashita 2010; and Yamashita and Saitō 2012. Ueda Kazutoshi (1867–1937) is famous as the linguist who established the term kokugo (national language), but in the Taishō era, he was deeply connected to Shinto studies and to the development of Shinto priesthood as a board member of the Kōten kōkyūjo (Institute for Imperial Classics) and President of Kōgakkan and Kokugakuin Universities. Katō Genchi (1873–1965) was a Shinto scholar who studied Shinto from the standpoint of comparative religion. After holding the position of Shinto Chair at Tokyo Imperial University, he also lectured in religion and comparative intellectual history at Kokugakuin, Risshō and Komazawa Universities. Tanaka Yoshitō (1872–1946) served as professor of Shinto studies at Tokyo Imperial University and then Kokugakuin University. He founded the Shintō Gakkai (Association of Shinto Studies), which published Shintōgaku zasshi and focused on the study of Sect Shinto and Shinto philosophy. In addition, he participated in the founding of Shintō seinen renmei kyōkai (Shinto Youth Alliance). Imaizumi Sadasuke (1863–1944), having studied at the seminary (Seitoryō ) of the Shintō jimukyoku (Shinto Executive Office) and apprenticed to a Shinto priest, was also involved in the compilation of the Koji ruien, commissioned by the Tokyo Gakushiin (Tokyo Academy, a government organization) and the founding of Kokugakuin University. Later, in the Taishō period, he was president of the Jingū hōsaikai (Shrine Observance Society, in charge of Ise Shrine observances and communications with the imperial household) and was appointed special advocate in relation to the League of Blood Incident (Ketsumeidan jiken) in 1932. He was greatly influenced by the rituals of spirit pacification performed by the folk Shinto preacher Kawatsura Bonji (1862– 1929). For more on these four Shinto scholars, see the respective entries in Kokugakuin Daigaku Nihan bunka kenkyūjo, ed., 1994. For more on how the concept of “religion” took form in modern Japan, see Isomae 2003, Part 1: “Shūkyō gainen no keisei to kindaiteki gakuchi.” In the Nō theater, which emerged from Sarugaku, the shite is the leading role, and the waki the counterpart or foil to the shite. (Translator’s note.) Yogoto ( or ) is a recitation of celebration, similar to a norito prayer, but specifically from the lower class to the higher, functioning somewhat as a vow or pledge as well. (Translator’s note.) Sei-no-o or Sai-no-otoko can also appear as Seinō, with characters or . A kagura dance of spirit pacification (chinkon). A legendary empress appearing in the Kojiki and Nihon shoki, Jingū supposedly conquered the Korean peninsula under the direction of the gods. (Translator’s note.) See Chapter 6 in this book. The study of Shinto ritual dancers (shinjimai-dayū), shōmonji and other religious performers has developed under the umbrella of research concerning the existence of Ying-Yang diviners in the Edo Period. See Hayashi 2005, Umeda 2009, and Koike 2011. In Daijōsai, one of the most important imperial ceremonies, the newly enthroned emperor shares a meal and communes with his divine ancestors; see Breen and Teeuwen, A New History of Shinto (2010), esp. Chapter 5 (168–198). (Translator's note.) Hanamatsuri is a series of festivals that takes place in the mountain areas of presentday Aichi Prefecture, involving kagura sacred dance. It is a celebration of the arrival of the new spring and, at the same time, of the birth of the Buddha. (Translator’s note.)



17 On this question, see the arguments put forth by the panel session “Gods of East and West: Theories of Spirit and Supreme Beings” in the 70th meeting of the Conference on Japanese Religions (Nihon shūkyō gakkai) in September 2015.

Chapter 15: Sea Theologies 1 2 3 4 5

6 7 8


10 11 12 13 14 15 16

I would like to express my gratitude to Tagomori Chiko of Munakata City office for her help with the illustrations and Ellen Van Goethem for her suggestions on this chapter. The official version is included in Engishiki, fasc. 8. For English translations, see Bock 1970–1972, 2: 85–85; Philippi (trans.), 1990, pp. 45–49. For a study of the symbolic structure of the purification, see Sakurai 1993: 74–126; Sakurai 1996: 55–93. Nakatomi no harae kunge, in ST, Koten chūshaku-hen vol. 8, Nakatomi no harae chūshaku. In English, see Teeuwen and van der Veere 1998. For an analysis of the Nakatomi no harae kunge, see also Sakurai 1993, pp. 244–273. Godō Daijin is a deity from Chinese popular religion; its multiple functions include overseeing the realm of transmigration, checking the amount of good and evil carried out by each human, and guiding the dead to the afterlife. Even a later text belonging to a different lineage, such as Kōtenki, attributed to Arakida Ujitsune, composed towards the end of the fifteenth century, closely follows the Buddhist interpretation of the sea and the purification deities proposed by the Kunge (OKCT 1: 232–233). On Watarai Ise Shinto interpretations of the cosmogonic role of water, see Chapter 13 of this book. On Esoteric Buddhist ideas about the five syllables, see Rambelli 2013. This location may be related to a passage in the previously mentioned Nakatomi no harae ge, where Kiyohara Nobukata says that the harae ceremony began with the descent of the gods to Takachiho in Hyūga, when the first Emperor Jinmu swept away the fog and the mist to have a full vision of the land he was about to conquer (OKCT 1: 381). Later, Mutobe Yoshika, a disciple of Hirata Atsutane, suggested that Ban Nobutomo’s theory of the vortex was based on the Chinese text Liezi, which mentions a great sea vortex in the Sea of Japan, where all the water of the world flows: Ōharae no kotoba amatsu sugaso, in OKCT 2: 728. The remote island of Hachijōjima, traditionally one of the signposts of the maritime borders of Japan, has since ancient times been considered the place where pollution originates and where it should be returned; see Chapter 3 of this book. One wonders if the model for this vortex might have been the tidal whirlpools at Naruto between Shikoku and Awaji island. On Hirata Atsutane’s cosmology of Ne no kuni—Yomi no kuni, see Zhong 2016. On Orikuchi Shinobu, see Chapter 14 in this book. We should mention here that wooden and metal effigies (hitogata) have a long history in Japan, as many archeological remains indicate. Some effigies found in excavation sites were shaped as boats (funagata). On purification and protecting rituals involving hina dolls, see Rambelli 2007, esp. chapter 6. An Edo-period text, Kiyū shōran (vol. 9: 310) by Kita Muranobu, mentions an older attribution of this poem to Shōtoku Taishi.



17 Wakun shiori, Zenpen , fasc. 26 “Fu no bu ,” entry “Funadama ,” at _ID =G0003917KTM &C_CODE = 0281–077102 slide nr. 897 right. See also Sekiguchi 2015. 18 In the Kansai region, these prints were sold at temples and shrines (Matsueda 1995: 18, 23). Sources report these itinerant peddlers also selling printed dōchū sugoroku, a sort of Snakes and Ladders game representing a trip from Edo to Kyoto along the Tōkaidō main highway; sugoroku was used for gambling, and in that sense it was associated with fortune and treasures. See Nakamura 2000: 69. 19 We know little about the Zheng He’s treasure ships, but from contemporaneous accounts it appears that they were 400-feet long; as a comparison, Christopher Columbus’s Santa Maria was only 85-feet long. Zheng He’s were huge ships, veritable floating cities, carrying thousands of people and countless items. On Zheng He and his travels, see Levathes 1997; National Library Board, eds. 2005. 20 He built the Tianfeigong, a temple dedicated to Mazu, in Nanjing, and promoted the rebuilding of the Tianfeigong in Nanshan (Fujian). On Zheng He’s religious activities, see Sen 2009. 21 For instance, Ansai zuihitsu, by Ise Sadatake (1718–1784), reports an episode from the first half of the sixteenth century, which also expresses skepticism regarding this custom (vol. 1: 364–365). 22 On the history of Ebisu’s cult, see also Mayumi 1987; Yoneyama 2001. On the god Ebisu, see also Chapter 5 in this book. 23 See the Introduction to this book, pp. xvii, xix. 24 The centipede was associated with Bishamonten, one of the shichifukujin; in ancient China, this insect was used to produce vermillion (Inoue 1936: 26–28), an expensive color, and was thus a symbol of wealth. As a poisonous insect, it may also have been associated with magical antidotes and protection. 25 The possible existence of a type of cargo cult already in ancient Japan has been suggested by Robert Ellwood (1984), based on his study of an entry in Nihon shoki (fasc. 26, reign of Emperor Kōgyoku, second year [644 CE ], seventh month), which describes a case of religious frenzy centered on a worm called “Tokoyo no kami” (the god from Tokoyo). This worm is normally interpreted today as a silkworm, and thus, capable of generating wealth. 26 My discussion of funadama and the rituals and beliefs associated with them is based especially on Makita 1966; 134–267, Sakurada 1968: 317–347; Kamino 2000: 127–210; and Kameyama 1986: 257–260, 284–290. 27 On the structural similarities between shipbuilding and house building, see Kamino 2000: 163–169. 28 The lack of a definite and systematic set of beliefs and practices regarding the funadama can also be gauged by the Funaosa nikki, a late Edo-period account of a ship voyage (1813–1817): see Ikeda 2005. When the crew realize they are lost at sea, or when they find themselves in the midst of a storm, they address their prayers to a range of divinities: first Ise (p. 7), then Konpira (12), Amida (by chanting the nenbutsu), and the Lotus Sutra (by chanting the daimoku) (pp. 19–20), but never to the funadama; the latter is only mentioned when, at a moment of dire despair, the captain thinks that it must have left the ship (pp. 34–35). I owe this reference to Niels van Steenpaal. 29 Shoku Nihongi (fasc. 24, section on Emperor Junnin, Tenpyō Hōji 7, eighth month), vol. 14: 435.



30 Sumiyoshi Taisha jindaiki, in ST, Jinja-hen vol. 6, Kawachi, Izumi, Settsu no kuni, p. 234. On this text, see Chapter 6 in this book. For a study on the funadama in this text, see Mayumi 1977. 31 Kokubungaku kenkyū shiryōkan’s version of Wakun shiori, Zenpen, fasc. 26 “Fu no bu,” entry “Funadama,” at _ID =G0003917KTM &C_CODE =0281–077102 slide nr. 897 right. Wakan sansai zue [B], entry “Senjin” , Vol. 5: 316–317. 32 Hokkekyō, T 9, 262: 56c. English translation in Watson, trans., 1993, pp. 299, 304. 33 See note 31 above. 34 Online version at, slide 15 left.

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Index Abe Yasurō, 59–60 Ama (Noh play), 119 ama (sea people), xiii, 10, 13, 120, 124, 126 Amaterasu (also, Tenshō Daijin), 3, 41, 53, 95–6, 133, 160 Amino Yoshihiko, xiii, 79, 91, 201 n.4 Anbasama cult, 102, 112 Ansai zuihitsu, 223 n.21 Aogashima island, 29–37 Aoyagi Tanenobu, 39, 45–7 Ariyasu Mika, 105 Asanuma Kimiko, 32–4 Atsuta-gū hishaku kenmon, 135 Atsuta shrine, 135 Awashima Myōjin, 75–8, 105 Azumi clan, xxv–xxix, 10–11, 13, 70, 74 Azumi no Isora, sea god, xxvi, 59, 60, 69–74, 175–6 bahan (see Hachiman ships) baku (nightmare chaser), 188, 190 Ban Nobutomo, 185 Bankoku sōzu, 143–4 Barthes, Roland, xx, 209 n.35 Benzaiten (Sk. Sravastī), xviii, 191, 198 binbōgami, 188 Bishamonten (Sk. Vaiśravan.a), 58, 191 boundaries, and the sea, 27, 107, 215 n.7 Brahmā (Jp. Bonten), 159–60 Braudel, Fernand, 79 Buddhism, and the world across the sea, 120–9 passim cargo cults, xvii, xxviii, 193–4, 223 n.25 cartography, 139–52 passim Cassano, Franco, xxi Chang Pogo (merchant from Silla), 83–4, 212 n.7 Changhenge (The Song of Everlasting Sorrow), 135 Chikuzen no kuni zoku fudoki, 44–6

Chikuzen no kuni zoku shosha engi, 43–4 chinkasai (fire quelling ritual), 28 Chi no gozen, 58 Chūai, Emperor, xxvii, 67 Chūgan Engetsu, 137 Chunqiuwei yuanmingbao, 164–5 chūsei Nihongi (medieval re-elaborations of Nihon shoki), 120, 129, 131, 216 n.1 Compendium Catholicae Veritas, 142 Confucianism (and Confucian scholars), 136–8, 148, 198 Corbin, Alain, xiv–xv cosmography (Buddhist), 132, 139–52 passim cosmology (and the sea), xvi–xviii, 5, 24–5, 155–66 passim, 183 Da zhi du lun (Jp. Daichidoron), 160 daijōsai imperial ritual, 6–12, 178 Daikokuten (Sk. Mahākāla), 191 Dainichi no inmon (Mahāvairocana’s seal), 133 Daisen, Mt., 110 Dao de jing, 159, 162 Daoism, 159, 169, 191–2, 198 Deguchi (Watarai) Nobuyoshi, 184, 185 Deleuze, Gilles, xx–xxi Dening, Greg, xx Dewa Hiroaki, 81 divination, 25–6 Dōshō, 123 Douglas, Mary, 27, 33 dragon girl, 120, 124 dragon lights (ryūtō), 112 Dragon Palace (Ryūgū), xviii, 103, 111, 119, 126, 128, 129, 182, 183 dragons (ryū), dragon god (ryūjin), dragon king (ryūō), xviii, 59–60, 72, 73, 103, 111, 114, 123, 124, 128 Zenmyō, 126–7


256 drifting objects (driftwood, statues, etc.), xxviii, 58, 113–14, 121, 129 East Asian Mediterranean, 80 Ebisu, xvii, xviii, xxviii, 53, 58–60, 188, 190–1 Ebisu dance (Ebisu-mai), 61 Eliade, Mircea, 180 Ellwood, Robert, 223 n.25 emaki, emakimono, 125 En no Gyōja, 110 Engakukyō (Ch. Yuanjue jing), 164 engi narratives, 113, 119–29 passim Engishiki, 6, 13, 15–18, 24, 26, 75, 197 Enma, king of the afterlife, 182, 183 Enni Ben’en, 98 Ennin, 82–4 exorcism, 32–4 eyami no kami (also ekijin), 24, 28, 30 Faure, Bernard, xxviii–xxix fish, xviii–xix, xxvii–xxviii, 15–22 fishing and fishing communities, xviii, xix, 13, 47, 197, 198, 207–8 n.25 “flying boats” (hikōsen), 149–52 food, xxvi, 16–22 passim, 202 n.1 food offerings (shinsen), xviii, 15–22 Foucault, Michel, 194 Frois, Luis, 141 Fudaraku (Potalaka) Pure Land, 103, 114, 124 Fudō Myōō, 30, 205–6 n.21 Fuji Nyūdō, 139–40 Fujii Ransai, 198 Fujita Akiyoshi, 198 Fukansai Habian (Fabian Fucan), 141–2 Fukurokuju (Ch. Fulushou), 191 funadama (boat spirits), 115, 194–8, 216 n.19 Funaosa nikki, 223 n.28 Fune bosatsu (Ship bodhisattva, Ch. Zhou pusa) (see Mazu) funsho kōju (Qin Shi Huangdi’s antiConfucian persecutions), 134, 135 Fusō ryakki, 122 Gakuenji temple, 132 Gangōji, 123, 124 Gangōji engi, 123

Index Ganjin (Ch. Jianzhen), 123, 128 geo-philosophy, xx–xxi geo-politics of culture, 131–8 passim, 139–52 passim ghosts (yūrei), xix Gnecchi-Soldo, Organtino, 141 Godō Daijin, 182–3, 222 n.4 Gorai Shigeru, 102–3, 109 Go-Tenjiku zu, 144–5 Grapard, Allan G., 70, 73 Guattari, Felix, xx–xxi Hachijō oiwake, 205 n.15 Hachijōjima, 26, 185, 186 Hachiman, god, xxvii, 53, 58, 59, 70, 74, 95–100 passim Hachiman gudōkun, 59, 72–4, 135–6 Hachiman ships (bahan), 89, 93–5 Haguro Gongen, 111, 114 Haguro, Mt., 110–11 Haha ga kuni, 169–70 Hakozaki Hachimangū, xv, 60 hari kuyō, 77 Harley, J. B., 139 Hashiguchi Naotake, 28 hatsuyume, 188–9 Hattori Hideo, 48 Haven, Norman, 209 n.37 Haya-aki-tsu-hime, 182–3 Haya-sasura-hime, 182–5 hayarigami, 191 Hayashi Razan, 137 Hayato tribe, 10–11, 13 heji (pilgrimage), 103, 108 Hell (Buddhist), 182, 183, 184 Hie (Hiyoshi) shrine, 20 Hiei, Mt., 132 Hikohohodemi (also, Howori/Hoori), 5–6, 9, 11, 12, 129, 170 hina nagashi, 76, 77, 188 Hirata Atsutane, 62, 171, 185, 187 Hirohito (Shōwa), Emperor, 179 Hirota shrine, 58 Hiruko, xxviii, 53, 58, 188, 191 Historia da Igreja do Japaõ, 142 Hizō hōyaku, 161 Hōgen monogatari, 35 hokaibito, 174 honji suijaku, 133–4, 136

Index Hōtan, 145–9 Hotei (Ch. Budai), 191 Huainanzi (Jp. Enanji), 163, 164 Ichijō Kanera (Kaneyoshi), 165, 184, 220 n.8 Iki island, 26, 91, 98 Ikkō Shōnin denki, 128 Imaizumi Sadasuke, 173, 221 n.7 Inoue Kazuo, 190, 193–4 Ise Shrines (and Ise Shinto), 16, 160, 164 Itsukushima shrine (Miyajima), 104, 105, 190 iwafue (stone flute), 55, 62 Iwashimizu Hachiman shrine, 21, 73, 74, 127 Izanami and Izanami, xvi, xxviii, 3, 132–3, 155–7, 170, 188 Izu islands, 26 Izu shichitō junken shi, 204 n.9 Izumo no kuni fudoki, 53, 56–7, 132 Izumo no kuni Miho ryōgū engi, 57, 61–2 Izumo no kuni shikisha kō, 57 Izumo shrine, 60, 132–3 Jacob, Christian, 139 Jambudvīpa (Jp. Nasenbushū, Enbudai), 140–51 passim Jesuits, 139–46 passim jewels (controlling the tide), 60, 73 jewels (found at sea), 119–29 passim, 192 Jikaku Daishi den, 83 jindai moji, 138 jingi rituals, 4–5, 13 Jingimon, 133 Jingū, Empress, xviii, xxvi–xxvii, 58, 59, 65–78, 98–9, 135–6, 175, 197, 198, 211 n.4 jin’i nyorai, 198 Jinmu, Emperor, 137, 169 Jinmu Tennōron, 137 Jinnō shōtōki, 134–5, 137, 178 Jinteki mondō, 133 Jinten ainōshō, xiii Jō Agonkyō, 161–2 Jurōjin (Ch. Shou lao sheng), 191 Kada Awashima jinja engi, 74–8 Kada Awashima shrine (and temple), 105, 109, 188


Kageyama Haruki, xvii kagura, 54, 60–1, 73, 173, 175–6 Kaibara Ekken, 39, 43–5 Kamino Yoshiharu, 196, 197 Kanayama (god of metal), 32–3 Kannon (including icons), 103, 110, 113, 120, 121, 124–5, 197, 198 Kansai hikki, 198 karinpō (rokuji karinpō), 33, 188 Kasai Shigesuke, 94–5 Kashima shrine, 193 Kasuga, 95–6 Kasuga Daimyōjin, 127 Katō Genchi, 173, 221 n.7 Katsurei zakki, 109 Kawakami Junko, 9 Kawakubo Natsuko, 48 Kefuki-nushi, 182–3, 185 Kegon engi emaki, 125–7 Kegonkyō (Avatam . saka sūtra), 125–6, 148, 189 Keiran shūyōshū, 135 Kikuchi Takeshi, 105, 112 Kinpusen, mountain, 132 Kinsei jibutsu kō, 188 kisonsha (primordial being), 167, 179–80 Kitabatake Chikafusa, 134, 137, 178–9, 220 n.8 Kitami Toshio, xiii Kiyohara Nobukata, 184 Kiyū shōran, 222 n.16 Kodai kenkyū, 168, 170, 173 Kōfukuji, 101, 119–20 Kojiki, xxvii, 3–6, 11–12, 41–2, 53, 156–7, 169, 171, 176, 179 Kojikiden, 137, 170–1, 177 Kokugaku, 54, 62–3, 170–2, 177–8, 185–7, 197 Konjaku monogatarishū, 22, 108, 123, 124 Konkōmyōkyō (Golden Light Sutra), 20 Kōnoshi Takamitsu, 9, 11 Konpira (Kotohira), sea god, xviii, 198 Kon’yo bankoku zenzu, 142 Korean immigrants to Japan, 81–7 passim Koshiden, 62 Kotoshironushi, 53, 57, 58, 60 Kubota Osamu, 220 n.8 Kudō Hiroshi, 12

258 Kūkai, 107, 161 Kumano shrines, 101, 114, 134 Kumazawa Banzan, 137 kuni-hiki shinwa, 132–3 Kuroda Toshio, 21 Latour, Bruno, 87 Lenin, Vladimir, 173 Lévi-Strauss, Claude, xx, 209 n.35 Lotus Sutra, 120, 124, 198 Mack, John, xx Maekawa Akihisa, 16 Magatsuhi, 185, 187 Mahāvairocana Buddha (Jp. Dainichi Nyorai), 133, 197 Malmer, Mats, 106 Makita Shigeru, 196 Man’yōshū, 29, 171 Māra (demon king), 133 marebito, xiii, xvii, 167–6, 187 maritime culture, xiii, xx–xxi, 106–7, 208–9 n.35 maritime landscape, xv–xvi Matsumoto Ken’ichi, xv–xvi Matsuoka Yūen, 185 Mayumi Tsunetada, 70 Mazu (sea goddess from China, also Tianfei), xviii, 190, 197, 198 (see also Seibo) miare festival, 49, 208 n.32 michiae no matsuri (ritual), 28 Miho shrine, 53–63 rituals, 61–2 Mihotsuhime (goddess), 56–7 minagate ritual, 48–9 Minakata Kumagusu, 188 Minamoto no Tametomo, 35–7 Miroku (Sk. Maitreya), 123, 191, 193 Mishima Daimyōjin, 96–7 Mishina Shōei, 67 Miwa monogatari, 137 Miyaji hiji kuden, 28 Miyake Hitoshi, 103–5 Miyake-ki, 26 Miyata Noboru, xix, 191, 193 Mizubayashi Takeshi, 4–13 passim Mochi-sasura-hime, 182, 184 Mongol Invasions, 35, 70, 99–100, 135–6

Index monsters, xix Morikore kaijoshū, 183 Motoori Norinaga, 138, 170–1, 177, 185 mountains, sacred, xii Munakata daibosatsu goengi, 48 Munakata deities, xxvii, 41–2, 195, 206 n.7, 207 n.14 Munakata ki, 43, 207 n.15 Munakata Taisha shrine, xviii, 21, 39–50 passim, 185, 206 n.2, 206 n.6 Murai Shōsuke, 24, 35 Murakami clan, 92, 96–7 musical instruments, 54–6, 59–60 Musubi no kami, 156, 171, 176–8, 187 Mutobe Yoshika, 222 n.9 Myōe Kōben, 125–7 Naganuma Kenkai, 93, 190 Nagasaki kenbunroku, 198 Nakatomi no harae chūshō, 183 Nakatomi no harae ge, 184 Nakatomi no harae gokōdan kikigaki, 184 Nakatomi no harae keihiroku, 185 Nakatomi no harae kotoba yōkai, 185 Nakatomi no harae kunge, 182–3 Nakatomi no harae zuihōshō, 184 Nakatomi no ōharae norito, 181–7 (see also ōharae) Nakayama Danjō (also, Nakayama Kotonushi), 55, 62 Nankai tsūki, 94–5 Nansenbushū bankoku shōka no zu, 146–9 Ne no kuni, 169, 182, 183, 184, 186 Nigatsudō (Tōdaiji), 124–5 Nihon ryōiki, 17 Nihon shoki, xxvii, 3, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 41–2, 46, 58, 74, 75, 113, 121, 122, 136, 156–7, 161, 171, 176, 179 Nihon shoki sanso, 165–6, 184 Nippo jisho, 94 Nishikawa Joken, 198 Nishinomiya shrine, xxviii, 58, 59, 191 Nittō guhō junrei gyōki, 82, 84 Noji Tsunenari, xiii, xviii Nōjo Taishi, 110, 111 nokemono, 32, 205–6 n.21 Ōbarae no kotoba goshaku, 185 Ōbayashi Taryō, xiii

Index Oda Nobunaga, 141 Ogawa Toyoo, 179 ōharae, 28, 188 Ōharae no kotoba amatsu sugaso, 222 n.9 Ōharae kotoba shio no yaoe, 187–8 Ōharae norito kōgi, 185 Ōjin, Emperor, xxvi, 67, 72, 98 Oka Kumaomi, 185–6 Okada Seishi, 16 Okinawa, 167 Okinoshima island, 39–50, 209 n.37 Okitsushima sakimori nikki, 45–7 Ōkuninushi (Ōnamuchi), 53, 75, 132, 169, 170, 176, 187, 191, 197 ōmima no miura (divination), 28 oni-ga-shima, 24, 34–5 Onjōji, 80 onmyōji, 24, 28, 173, 176, 188 Orikuchi Shinobu, xii–xiii, 8, 55, 167–80, 187, 202 n.9 Ōsumi Kazuo, 158 Ouyang Xiu, 134 Ōyamatsumi (Mishima) shrine, 96, 104 Penglai (Jp. Hōrai), as Japan, 134 performing arts and artists, xxviii, 59, 120, 174–6, 191 Pettazzoni, Raffaele, 179 pollution (kegare), 24–5, 31, 182–7 purification (harae), 25–9, 182–7, 188 Qin Shi Huangdi, 134–5 Raban, Jonathan, xxiv Ragyō, 110 Riben dao ge (Jp. Nippontō ka), 134 Ricci, Matteo, 142–3, 146 rituals, xii, 3–13 passim, 23–37, 60–2, 107–14, 125, 195–6 Rodrigues, João, 142 Rokugō kaizan Ninmon daibosatsu hongi, 69–74 Ruijū jingi hongen, 155–66 passim, 178 Ryōjin hishō, 108 Ryōnin, 127 Sada Kaiseki, 194 Saigō Nobutsuna, 9 Saitō Hideki, 28–9


Sake Daimyōjin, xix Sakurada Katsunori, xiii Śākyamuni, 197 Sancai tuhui, 143 sangoku, 132, 165 Sanja takusen, 95, 96–7, 214 n.21 Sanzan gashū, 110–11 Sarutahiko, 197 Satow, Ernest, 31 Sauer, Carl, 106 Schmitt, Carl, xx, 209 n.35 Schottenhammer, Angela, 80 sea, and mythology, 3–4, 155–7 sea, and theology, xiv-xv, 167–80 passim, 181–99 passim sea, as semiotic shifter, xvii sea, religious history, xiv–xvi sea deities, xiii sea vortex, 185–7 Seibo (sea goddess, also Shōmo), 98, 198 sei-no-o dance, xxv–xxvi, 59, 174–5, 210 n.11 Sekai bankoku no zu, 150–2 Sekizan Myōjin, 82–5, 212 n.6 Sekizan Myōjin engi, 84 Sendai kuji hongi, 161 Seori-tsu-hime, 182, 183, 185 Shasekishū, 22 Shanhai yudi quantu, 142–3 Shapinsky, Peter, 91, 95 Shiba Kōkan, 150 Shibusawa Keizō, xiii, 16 shichifukujin, 187, 188–9, 191–2 Shidoji temple, 120, 124 Shikanoshima, xxvi, 175 Shikaumi shrine, xviii, xxvi–xxvii, 59, (see also Watatsumi sea god) shinbutsu bunri, xv shinbutsu shūgō, xv, 20–2, 125 shinkoku, 131, 133 Shinra Myōjin, 79–87 Shinsho monjin, 178 shintai (physical body of the kami), 185, 194–7 Shintō gobusho, 159 Shintō hidenshō, 184 Shinto, modern, 172–4 Shintōshū, 110



ships (cultural symbolism), 149–52 passim, 189, 194–6, 199 Sho-harae-shū, 183 Shoku Nihongi, 123, 197 Shōtoku Taishi, 121–2, 222 n.16 Shōtoku Taishi denryaku, 122 Shugendō, xii, 101–15 passim, 205–6 n.21 “Shugendō of the sea” (umi no shugen) 101–15 passim Shūkaishū, 112 Shuyajin, 189 Soko no kuni (see Ne no kuni) Sonoda (Arakida) Morikore, 183 spirits (tamashii, rei, reikon), 174, 176–7, 187, 194 Steinberg, Philip, 208–9 n.35 Suika Shinto, 165, 184–5 Sukunabikona, 75–6, 102, 169, 176–7, 197 Sumeru, Mount (Jp. Shumisen), 131, 133, 140–8 passim Sumiyoshi, sea god, xviii, 3, 67–9, 72–4, 78, 197, 198 Sumiyoshi shrine, xv, xviii, 69, 194, 197 Sumiyoshi Taisha jindaiki, 66–9, 197 Susanoo, 41, 132, 184 Suwa shrine, 21 Suzuki Shigetane, 171, 177–8, 185 taboos against women (in relation to the sea), 45–9, 196–7, 207–8 n.25, 208 n.28 Taiji tushuo, 162 Taikyō teiyōshō, 124 Taishokan, 59, 119–20 Taizan Fukun, 183 Takahashi Miyuki, 158–9 Takamagahara (also Takama no hara), xii, xvi, 5, 156, 157, 177 takarabune, 103, 187–94 takarabune-me, 189 takarauri, 189 Tamaki Masahide, 184–5 Tamatori matsuri, 60 Tanaka Takeo, 93, 94 Tanaka Yoshitō, 173, 221 n.7 Tanigawa Ken’ichi, xix Tanikawa Kotosuga, 197 Tathāgatagarbha thought, 166 Tenchi reikaku hisho, 165 Tenchi reiki furoku, 161

Tenmu, Emperor, 4, 7 Tenryūji-bune, 190 Terashima (Terajima) Ryōan, 143, 197 Tokai setsuyō hyakkashū, 150 Tokoyo, xiii, 168–73 tortoise, 128 (see also dragons) Toyotama-bime, 9, 170 Toyotomi Hideyoshi, 92, 93, 136 “treasure ships” (baochuan), 190 (see also Zheng He, takarabune) Tsuchida Kenjirō, 162 Tsuina ritual, 24, 203 n.1 tsumi, 28, 182 Tsushima island, 26, 91, 98 Ueda Kazutoshi, 173, 221 n.7 Uisang (Jp. Gishō), 125–6 Umi no tami Munakata: Genkainada no mamorigami (manga), 47–8, 208 n.30 Unabara (Plain of the Sea), 5, 159, 160 UNESCO, 40 Urabe diviners, 23–37, 204 n.4, 205 n.13 Usa Hachiman shrine, 21, 175 Valignano, Alessandro, 141 Vasanta-vayanti, 189 Vimalakīrti-nirdeśa-sūtra (Jp. Yuimagyō), 147, 219 n.5 vision, 147–8 Vulture Peak (Sk. Gr·dhrakūt.a, Jp. Ryōjusen), 132 Wa (Ch. Wo, ancient Japanese), 137, 214 n.8 Wakamiya Onmatsuri (Kasuga shrine), xxv, 19, 21, 59 Wakamori Tarō, 56, 62 Wakan sasai zue, 143, 197, 198 Wakan sen’yōshū, 197–8 wakō pirates, 90–5 Wakun shiori, 189, 197–8 Watarai Ieyuki, 155, 158, 178 Watarai Yukitada, 165 Watatsumi, sea god, xviii, xxvi–xxvii, 3, 9, 13, 70, 98, 129, 169 Weizhi, 137 Westerdahl, Christer, xx, 106–7 wet ontologies, 208 n.35 whales, xvii, xix, 58 whaling, xvii, 191

Index Wonhyo (Jp. Gangyō), 125–6 world map (Western and Buddhist), 139–52 passim Wu Taibo (Jp. Go Taihaku), 136–7 Wuxing dayi, 163–4 Wuxue Zuyuan (Jp. Mugaku Soen), 134 Xavier, Francis, 140–1 Xu Fu (also Xu Shi), 134–5 Xuanzang, 123, 145 Xuanzong, Emperor, 135 yakumo koto, 55, 63 Yamamoto Hiroko, 160 Yamato Katsuragi hōzanki, 159–60, 161 Yamato-takeru, prince, 4, 113 Yanagita Kunio, xii–xiii, 168 Yang Guifei (Jp. Yōkihi), 135–6 Yano Ken’ichi, xix Yichu liu tie (Jp. Giso rokujō), 134 Yijing, 162, 163

Yin and Yang, 156–7, 163–4, 184 Yomi no kuni, 169, 185–6 yonaoshi, 192–3 Yōrō code, 28 Yoshida Kanetomo, 57, 178 Yoshida Shinto, 112, 136, 165 Yoshida Shūsaku, 60 Yoshikawa Koretari, 184 Yuanwu foguo chanshi yulu, 164–5 Yuanwu Keqin, 164–5 Yuanwu xin yao, 164 Yuzū nenbutsu kamegane engi, 59–60, 127–8 Zenkōji Amida icon, 122 Zenkōji engi, 122 Zenrin kokuhōki, 98 Zheng He, 190, 223 n.19, 223 n.20 Zhuangzi (Jp. Sōji), 148, 162 zokusan hendo, 132 Zongmi, 164