Buddhism and the State in Sixteenth-Century Japan

Buddhism and the State in Sixteenth-Century Japan

Copyright Date: 1984
Pages: 456
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  • Book Info
    Buddhism and the State in Sixteenth-Century Japan
    Book Description:

    The author reassesses the reasons for Nobunaga's attacks on the Buddhist temples and explores the long-term effects of his activities on the temples and on the relation between Buddhism and the state.

    Originally published in 1985.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5597-1
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-1)
  4. Map of Central Japan in the Sixteenth Century
    (pp. 2-2)
    (pp. 3-12)

    “… all who prosper are destined to fall. The proud, like a dream on a spring evening, do not last long. The mighty too perish in the end like dust before the wind.”

    So opens the famousTale of the Heike (Heike Monogatari), quoting the words of Gautama Buddha.¹ The author of theHeike Monogatanused these words in reference to the fall of the mighty Taira family in the latter decades of the twelfth century. They might also be applied, however, to the fall of another ancient and powerful set of institutions in Japanese history, the Buddhist institutions, in...

  6. PART ONE: The Protagonists
    • CHAPTER I The Buddhist Temples
      (pp. 15-58)

      Before proceeding to the main topics of this work, the eradication of the military power and the suppression of the economic power of the Buddhist temples and the redefinition of the relation between Buddhism and the state in sixteenth-century Japan, it is necessary to appreciate both the nature and scope of that power and the development of Buddhism–state relations since the sixth century.¹ Buddhism was officially received in Japan in the year 538, and as John W. Hall points out, its introduction immediately had profound “political as well as religious repercussions.”² At first, certain powerful families, notably the Nakatomi...

    • CHAPTER II Oda Nobunaga
      (pp. 59-94)

      Oda Nobunaga was born in June of the year 1534 in Nagoya castle in the province of Owari. His father, Oda Nobuhide, was one of three “deputy shugo” (shugodai) of the Shiba family, the hereditary shugo of Owari province, and an elder in one of the two factions that were competing for control of Owari. Nobuhide died in 1551 when Nobunaga was seventeen years old, and from 1551 to 1560 Nobunaga conducted a series of military campaigns to gain control of his home province. By 1560 he had overcome the other branches of the Oda family, and thus he entered...

  7. PART TWO: The Conflict
      (pp. 97-98)

      The major task that Oda Nobunaga, like the other Sengoku daimyo, had to accomplish in order to unify his domain and attain supreme authority in it was the eradication of all competing forms of military and economic power, the latter consisting of two main forms, namely, landholdings and commercial and mercantile centers. Thus we may speak of the three subpolicies of what Fujiki Hisashi calls Nobunaga’s “unification policy” (tōitsu seisaku):¹ a military policy whereby Nobunaga strove to eradicate all competing forms of military power, a land policy whereby he attempted to assert control over the private landholdings in his domain,...

    • CHAPTER III The Eradication of the Buddhist Temples’ Military Power
      (pp. 99-161)

      Nobunaga made his position regarding the involvement of temples in military affairs perfectly clear in 1570. In the fall of that year the forces of Asai Nagamasa, the daimyo of northern Ōmi province, and of Asakura Yoshikage, the daimyo of Echizen province, which had been routed in a battle with Nobunaga’s troops, fled to and took refuge on Mt. Hiei. Nobunaga pursued them to the foot of Mt. Hiei, but instead of attacking the mountain he met with ten representatives of the Enryakuji and instructed them that they could follow one of three courses of action in his forthcoming battle...

    • CHAPTER IV The Suppression of the Buddhist Temples’ Economic Power
      (pp. 162-216)

      In addition to the eradication of the military power of the temples in his domain, Nobunaga also strove to eliminate all competing forms of economic power. To achieve this goal, as Fujiki Hisashi points out, Nobunaga implemented the following two policies: a “land-farmers policy” (tochi-nōmin seisaku), or “farming communities policy” (nōson seisaku), and a “markets - business class policy” (ichiba-chōnin seisaku), or “urban policy” (toshi seisaku).¹ The purpose of these two policies, which Fujiki calls “dismanding policies” (kaitai seisaku), was to assert control over the lands (tocbi-cbyjyōchi) and the farmers (nōmin), and to “reorganize” (saihen) the markets (ichiba) and the...

      (pp. 217-230)

      It is evident from the foregoing examination of Nobunaga’s policies toward the Buddhist temples that there were many inconsistencies in his treatment of them. He mounted military campaigns against some powerful temples, such as the Honganji and Mt. Hiei, but in other cases, such as the Negoroji, he did not do so even though the Negoroji was a fitting target of his policy of eradicating the temples’ military power; on several occasions he even used its sōhei as his allies. Nobunaga confiscated the landholdings of some temples, such as Mt. Hiei’s in the provinces of Ōmi and Mino late in...

  8. PART THREE: The Result
      (pp. 233-235)

      In order to appreciate the nature and extent of the changes that took place in the power, wealth, and independence of the Buddhist temples in the latter decades of the sixteenth century it is necessary to place those changes in a historical context that is broader than the fourteen-year span of Nobunaga’s rule. It is not possible to evaluate those changes in such a short period because the extent of the military and economic power of the temples in the periods immediately preceding and immediately following Nobunaga’s rule is not known: there is very little data available on the number...

    • CHAPTER V The Place of Buddhism in Japanese Society Redefined
      (pp. 236-263)

      The policies that Oda Nobunaga implemented vis-à-vis the Buddhist temples were carried on after his death by Toyotomi Hideyoshi and after him by Tokugawa Ieyasu and the Tokugawa bakufu.

      By the time Hideyoshi took power in 1582 most of the task of eradicating the power of the temples had been completed, and therefore it was not necessary for him to conduct military campaigns against large numbers of temples. He could afford to treat most temples with leniency because they constituted no threat to him as they had to Nobunaga. Some of Hideyoshi’s actions vis-à-vis the temples have led a number...

    • CHAPTER VI “Post-Buddhist” Japan
      (pp. 264-284)

      The changes that came about in Buddhism in the sixteenth century must be seen in the larger context of developments in the religious dimension of Japanese society in that period. The social upheaval of the Sengoku period was indeed great, and social upheaval is, as Christopher Dawson observed, an index of spiritual change.¹

      It is generally acknowledged that a new sense, a new atmosphere, began to pervade Japanese society from around the time of the Ōnin War at the end of the fifteenth century. Writing in the year 1620, João Rodrigues, a Jesuit missionary to Japan, observed that “Japan has...

  9. NOTES
    (pp. 285-410)
    (pp. 411-424)
  11. INDEX
    (pp. 425-441)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 442-442)