Neither Monk nor Layman

Neither Monk nor Layman: Clerical Marriage in Modern Japanese Buddhism

Richard M. Jaffe
Copyright Date: 2001
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    Neither Monk nor Layman
    Book Description:

    Buddhism comes in many forms, but in Japan it stands apart from all the rest in one most striking way—the monks get married. In Neither Monk nor Layman, the most comprehensive study of this topic in any language, Richard Jaffe addresses the emergence of an openly married clergy as a momentous change in the history of modern Japanese Buddhism. He demonstrates, in clear and engaging prose, that this shift was not an easy one for Japanese Buddhists. Yet the transformation that began in the early Meiji period (1868–1912)—when monks were ordered by government authorities to marry, to have children, and to eat meat—today extends to all the country’s Buddhist denominations. Jaffe traces the gradual acceptance of clerical marriage by Japanese Buddhists from the premodern emergence of the "clerical marriage problem" in the Edo period to its widespread practice by the start of World War II. In doing so he considers related issues such as the dissolution of clerical status and the growing domestication of Japanese temple life. This book reveals the deep contradictions between sectarian teachings that continue to idealize renunciation and a clergy whose lives closely resemble those of their parishioners in modern Japanese society. It will attract not only scholars of religion and of Japanese history, but all those interested in the encounter-conflict between regimes of modernization and religious institutions and the fate of celibate religious practices in the twentieth century.

    eISBN: 978-0-8248-6058-5
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Figures and Table
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xiii-xviii)
  5. Preface to the Paperback Edition
    (pp. xix-xx)
    Richard M. Jaffe
  6. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xxi-xxii)
  7. Reference Abbreviations
    (pp. xxiii-xxiv)
  8. Ministries and Other Government Institutions
    (pp. xxv-xxviii)
  9. CHAPTER 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-8)

    More than a century after the decriminalization ofnikujiki saitai, marriage by Buddhist clerics is now a familiar part of Japanese life. According to a rough estimate made by Kanaoka Shūyū, today approximately 90 percent of the Buddhist clergy in Japan are married.¹ A comprehensive 1987 survey of the Sōtō Zen school, which has been among the most statistically selfconscious of all the Buddhist denominations in Japan, similarly found that more than 80 percent of Sōtō clerics inherited their temples from a family member and that more than 80 percent of them are married.² Surveys of other denominations, for example,...

  10. CHAPTER 2 Pre-Meiji Precedents
    (pp. 9-35)

    By the start of the Meiji period, both critics of Buddhism and many Buddhist clerics themselves generally acknowledged that a significant number of clerics ignored the rules governing clerical behavior. In particular, late Tokugawa and early Meiji authors alleged that the regulations banning sexual relations, meat eating, and alcohol consumption by the Buddhist clergy were frequently and flagrantly being violated. Although many of these allegations are difficult to verify, violations of these regulations and harsh state retributions for those unfortunate enough to be made examples were visible enough to support the general perception that many clerics ignored religious and state...

  11. CHAPTER 3 Jōdo Shin Buddhism and the Edo Period Debate over Nikujiki Saitai
    (pp. 36-57)

    Against the backdrop of the systematization of the status system, the increased control of clerical behavior by the Tokugawa and domainal authorities, the sporadic but prominent enforcement of antifornication statutes, and the increasingly vocal contention over meat eating, a sustained debate overnikujiki saitaiarose among the Buddhist clergy. As shown in the previous chapter, premodern attacks on the Buddhist clergy for violating the protocols of clerical behavior that related to sexual relations and diet were frequent, but it was not until the Edo period that sustained defenses of those practices, not as transgressions, but rather as a legitimate style...

  12. CHAPTER 4 The Household Registration System and the Buddhist Clergy
    (pp. 58-94)

    From the last decades of the Edo period through the early years of the Meiji era, the Buddhist clergy were confronted with the most violent assault on Buddhist institutions in Japanese history. Over the course of the Bakumatsu era, Buddhism was increasingly attacked from a variety of perspectives by Confucians, Shintō clergy, Nativists, and political economists. In domains like Mitō and, later, Satsuma, where anti-Buddhist sentiment ran the strongest, daimyo experimented with measures that limited entrance into the Buddhist clergy, closed temples that were abandoned or without a resident cleric, outlawed Buddhist funeral ceremonies, and forcibly returned clerics, particularly those...

  13. CHAPTER 5 Passage of the Nikujiki Saitai Law: The Clergy and the Formation of Meiji Buddhist Policy
    (pp. 95-113)

    The 1872 decriminalization of clerical meat eating, marriage, and several other associated practices was an integral part of the social reforms that ended most special legal treatment for the Buddhist clergy. As discussed in the previous chapter, the various measures enacted by the Meiji regime, although resisted by many members of the Buddhist clergy, did find some support even among Buddhist reformers. Ugai Tetsujō, for example, supported the requirement that the Buddhist clerics take surnames. Similarly, Shaku Unshō viewed the dissolution of the old religious inquiry census system as an opportunity for the clergy to return to their true calling,...

  14. CHAPTER 6 Horses with Horns: The Attack on Nikujiki Saitai
    (pp. 114-147)

    The new laws relaxing regulations regarding clerical deportment as well as the announcement that meat would be eaten at the court were met with considerable resistance from different factions of the clergy. One early violent incident occurred a little more than one month after the court announced that meat would be part of the imperial menu. On Meiji 5/2/18 (March 26, 1872), a group of ten members of the Onatake confraternity (Ontakekō), dressed in white, forced their way into the imperial grounds. The purpose of their incursion into the palace was to present the emperor with a petition demanding an...

  15. CHAPTER 7 Denominational Resistance and the Modification of Government Policy
    (pp. 148-164)

    The ferocious protest that arose following the promulgation of thenikujiki saitailaw caught the officials in the Ministry of Doctrine by surprise. In spite of much serious resistance from leading Buddhist clerics, however, ministry officials refused to rescind the new order. During the next six years, Buddhist leaders tested the government’s resolve to stay the course and tried to maintain control of the clergy in the absence of government intervention on their behalf. Although eventually accepting that enforcement of clerical regulations regarding marriage and meat eating were no longer a state concern, clerical leaders continued to claim that they,...

  16. CHAPTER 8 Tanaka Chigaku and the Buddhist Clerical Marriage: Toward a Positive Appraisal of Family Life
    (pp. 165-188)

    Although the first wave of responses to the decriminalization ofnikujiki saitaiwere overwhelmingly negative, by the 1880s some Buddhist intellectuals began openly to criticize the position taken by the leaders of the Buddhist denominations. One of the earliest, most radical responses to the problem of clerical marriage was propounded by Tanaka Chigaku (1861–1939). Tanaka was a Nichiren denomination ex-cleric and the founder of the Nichirenist (Nichirenshugi) movement, which was an important influence upon the originators of such prominent Nichiren-based new religions as Reiyūkai.¹ After leaving the Buddhist clergy, Tanaka founded a series of lay Nichirenist new religions, culminating...

  17. CHAPTER 9 The Aftermath: From Doctrinal Concern to Practical Problem
    (pp. 189-227)

    Almost a generation had elapsed since the decriminalization of clerical marriage, when the editors of the Sōtō-affiliated journalWayūshipublished the editorial above in 1901. The leadership of the Tendai, Sōtō, Shingon, Nichiren, and Jōdo denominations had drawn up numerous plans to resolve the problem of clerical marriage, but, if this editorial is to be believed, it had only worsened with the passage of time. The combination of the prohibition of clerical marriage by the sectarian establishments and its decriminalization by the government was extremely volatile. With the sons of the first cohort of legally (as far as the state...

  18. CHAPTER 10 Almost Home
    (pp. 228-242)

    The struggle overnikujiki saitai, which continues to this day, was prolonged and exacerbated by several important trends in the history of modern Japanese religious institutions. As part of the government’s effort to modernize social life, Meiji officials abolished government enforcement of such status-based legal strictures as the prohibitions against meat eating, marriage, or abandonment of the tonsure by ordained Buddhist clerics. In effect, the end to these restrictions transformed the mandatory patterns of behavior that had signified the assumption of clerical status into voluntary practices that the clergy were free to reject. Although exactly who was to decide the...

  19. Glossary
    (pp. 243-254)
  20. Bibliography
    (pp. 255-274)
  21. Index
    (pp. 275-292)