あ:religion

03/15/2019

About the conquest of the Emishi by the Imperial Court from the 7th century to the early 9th century

Since the 7th century, the Imperial Court had been trying to conquer the Emishi, who lived in northern Japan and had not assimilated to the Court’s rule.
 
Therefore, official defense-sites called Josaku were constructed along the Mogami river and along the Japan sea coasts in north-east Japan. Some Josaku were actual castles and others were smaller structures. These facilities had governmental buildings for administrative offices and warehouses.
 
Many farmers in Kanto region were moved to areas around Josaku for the development. On the other hand, captured Emishi were forced to move to the areas west of Kanto-region.
 
In 780, an Emishi lord Azamaro Koremori who had previously submitted to the Konin Emperor raised an army against the Court, because Emishi were being severely discriminated against.
 
Azamaro burnt down Taga-castle which was an important military base in today's Miyagi prefecture. After this battle, many wars broke out between the Court and Emishi.
 
In 789, the Court dispatched a large army commanded by a high ranking-general, Kino-Kosami, to conquer Emishi living in the Izawa region, which is located around the middle basin of the Kitakami river.
 
Castles_for_emishi_conquering_in__2
 
Nevertheless, the Imperial army suffered a crashing defeat by Emishi's resistance which was led by an Emishi great lord, Aterui.
 
In 802, the Court dispatched troops commanded by Shogun Tamuramaro Sakanoue. He built Izawa castle in the region where Aterui was headquartered.
 
Aterui had many soldiers but he surrendered to Sakanoue without fighting. Although the reason why Aterui surrendered is not exactly known, it is said that Sakanoue was a great strategist who could persuade Aterui to surrender peacefully.
 
Sakanoe also respected Aterui as an outstanding leader, and therefore, petitioned the Court to spare the Aterui's life. But the petition was refused and Aterui was executed.
 
Thereafter, Sakanoue used Izawa castle as the main military base to conquer northern Japan.
 
In 803, Sakanoue built Shiwa-castle in the upper basin of the Kitakami river, consequently, rule of the Court was extended to today's Akita prefecture.
 
As a matter of fact, two big projects by the Court, conquering Emishi and building the capital in Kyoto became heavy burden on people and the Court's finance.
 
Therefore, the Kanmu Emperor broke off these two projects in 805.
※Some details about Sakanoue
 
Shogun Tamuramaro Sakanoue was the founder of Kiyomizudera-temple in Kyoto.
 
This temple is a very popular sightseeing spot and registered as a World Heritage site.
 
This temple was originally built in 780.
 
According to a book written about the origin of this temple, a monk, Kenshin, had a dream in 778.
 
In the dream, an old man told Kenshin that he should go to northern Kyoto and find clean water.
 
Following the message in the dream, Kenshin visited northern Kyoto and found a waterfall at Otowa mountain where Kenshin met the man he had seen in his dream.
 
This man said he lived on the mountain and trained as a Buddhist monk.
 
He asked Kenshin to create a wooden Kannon statue and protect this holy waterfall, and then, the old man disappeared.
 
Kenshin believed the man was the embodiment of Kannon.
 
Thus, Kenshin created a wooden Kannon statue and protected the waterfall.
 
Two years later, in 780, Tamuramaro Sakanoue visited the area to hunt deer.
 
He met Kenshin at the waterfall. Kenshin admonished Sakanoue against hunting in this holy area and told him about the Kannon's virtue, Kannon is believed to save and protect people.
 
Since Sakanoue deeply impressed with Kenshin's preaching, Sakanoue built a temple on Otowa mountain and enshrined the Kannon statue there.
 
He named the temple Kiyomizudera, which means a temple of clean water.
Kiyomizudera-temple was burnt by fires many times.
 
Kiyomizu_temple_3
 
Today's Kannon statue in this temple is believed to have been created in the 13th century.
 
This statue is enshrined in a closed room in the main building of the temple, so visitors cannot see it, but they can see a replica placed in front of the closed room.
 
In Kiyomizudera-temple, visitors can also see that waterfall which Kenshin found. This waterfall is called Otowa-no-taki, and it is believed that the water has special power.

07/29/2018

the politicalization of Buddhism in the 8th century

The Syomu Emperor pushed forward big projects such as building Kokubunji-temples in regions across Japan and building the great Buddha statue in Nara.
 
On the other hand, under the policy of Buddhism protection, the cost of building temples and the decrease of tax revenue caused by the increasing number of monks, who were tax exempt, became a heavy burden on the national finances.
 
In the process of Buddhism taking root in Japan, Buddhism became known as a way to gain material benefits. In addition, Buddhism assimilated the indigenous religion of ancestor worship.
 
Therefore, Buddhist statues and transcribed scriptures were made for healing the souls of ancestors.
 
In addition, a thought to merge Shinto with Buddhism was born.
 
Meanwhile, monks who didn’t like the politicalization of Buddhism left the big temples and started Buddhist training in the mountains.
 
They became the bases of a new Buddhism in the 9th century.

07/28/2018

Buddhism in Japan in the 8th century

In the 8th century, Buddhism prospered in Japan because of the great support from the Imperial Court.
 
In those days, many natural disasters occurred , such as big earthquakes, famine and plagues.
 
In addition, there were many problems and conflicts in the Court.
 
Therefore, the successive Emperors tried to sustain Japanese social order by prompting Buddhism.
 
At great temples in Nara such as Kofukuji-temple, Gangoji-temple, Yakushiji-temple, monks studied Buddhist doctrine from India and China.
 
Since Buddhism was still considered more academic than religious, the monks created six divisions called Nanto-Rokusyu.
 
In one of the six divisions, a monk named Roben studied under monks who came from Shill and Tang China, and then he greatly contributed to build Todaiji-temple.
 
In another divisions, a monk called Gien educated many great monks, such as Gyoki.
 
Gyoki was a very unique monk. He was not only a missionary, but also organized donations to construct socially necessary infrastructure, such as bridges, irrigation systems and building rescue facilities for poor people.
 
Therefore, he was very popular among common people.
 
Unfortunately, in those days, monks had to work only for the government, not for common people.
 
Accordingly, Gyoki was often arrested by officers.
 
Later, however, when Gyoki's popularity became overwhelming, the government changed its tack and used Gyoki to encourage common people to work for free building a great Buddha statue in Nara.

07/17/2018

Regional geography books, Fudoki in the 8th century

In 713, regional geographies called Fudoki were created in each regions by order of the Genmei Emperor.
 
Fudoki contained information about regional products , origins of the names of mountains, rivers, fields and ancient legends.
 
Fudoki of five regions, Hitachi, Izumo, Harima, Bungo, Hizen still exist.
 
Izumo's Fudoki is almost complete.

06/19/2018

About a powerful monk interfered in politics in the 8th century

After the Komyo retired-Empress passed away, Oshikatsu Emi was isolated and his political influence was decreased in the Court.
 
The Koken-abdicated Emperor loved a monk who took care of the abdicated Emperor when she was sick. Unfortunately, the monk had political ambitions and used the Koken-abdicated Emperor for his own purpose, encouraging her to defy the Junnin Emperor.
 
Since Oshikatsu Emi was afraid of losing his authority, he raised a rebellion against the Koken-abdicated Emperor in 764, but he was destroyed by the forces of the abdicated Emperor.
 
After that, the Junnin Emperor was forced to retire and was sent to Awaji-island. The Koken-abdicated Emperor came back to the throne of the Emperor and became the Syotoku Emperor during her second reign.
 
Since the monk, Dokyo, received strong support from the Syotoku Emperor, he became the Grand Minister and then rose to the top of the Buddhist hierarchy.
 
In 769, a conspiracy related to Dokyo occurred. A priest of Usa Hachiman Shinto shrine reported to the Syotoku Emperor that the Usa Hachiman god said Dokyo should ascend to the throne. Usa Hachimangu was one of the most important Shinto shrines in those days. To confirm the god's message, the Syotoku Emperor sent a servant to the Shrine. The servant, Kiyomaru Wake listened to the god's message himself and reported to the Emperor that the god was opposed to Dokyo's ascending the throne. Therefore, the conspiracy failed.
 
After the Syotoku Emperor passed away, Dokyo lost his political power and the Konin-Emperor succeeded to the throne. In those days, many of the Tenmu Emperor's direct descendants succeeded the throne, but the Konin-Emperor was a grandson of the Tenji Emperor, who was an older brother of the Tenmu Emperor.
 
The Konin Emperor was strongly supported by Momokawa Fujiwara. The Emperor aimed for the reconstruction of national politics and finance.

05/05/2018

About Buddhism for national protection in the 8th century

To revive of the family's political power, one of the members of the Fujiwara family brewed a big revolt in 740 in Kyusyu, which is a western island of the Japanese archipelago.
 
The revolt was subdued by the governmental forces, but the incident caused political unrest in the Court.
 
In addition, people were suffering from great earthquakes , outbreaks of smallpox and famine. Therefore, the social situation was very unstable.
 
In spite of the confusion, in 740, the Syomu-Emperor moved the capital of Japan from Heijo-kyo to Kuni-kyo, in southern Kyoto-fu, and then the Emperor moved the capital again from Kuni-kyo to Naniwa-no-miya, in today's Osaka-city, in 744. After that, the Emperor moved the capital from Naniwa-nomiya to Shigaraki-no-miya, in southern Shiga-prefecture in 745. Finally the Emperor returned the capital to Heijyo-kyo in 745.
 
Even now, nobody knows the exact reason why the Emperor moved the capital-city so often in such a short term, but it is said that the Emperor tried to change the social situation by capital relocation.
 
During those moves, the social situation went going from bad to worse, so the Syomu -Emperor decided it would also help to stabilize the nation by adapting a foreign religion, Buddhism. It was an unusual choice for the Japanese Emperor, because traditionally the Imperial family's belief is Shinto.
 
However, the Syomu Emperor profoundly devoted himself to Buddhism, because he was strongly affected by the Fujiwara family's belief. His mother and his wife were from the Fujiwara family, who had a strong relationship with foreign countries and earnestly believed in Buddhism.
 
In 741, the Emperor issued the decree to build provincial temples, and then Kokubunji-temples and Kokubun-niji-temples, which were convents, were built in each province, called Kuni.
 
In 743, the Emperor issued another decree for the construction of the Great Buddha statue in Todaiji-temple. Todaiji-temple was placed as the head temple of Kokubunji-temples and Kokubun-niji-temples all over Japan.
 
The purpose of building temples all over Japan was to protect the nation by the efficacy of monks' prayers, not propagation of Buddhism.
 
As a matter of fact, Buddhist monks were strictly managed by the government and they were not allowed to engage in missionary work in those days.
 
In 752, the Koken-Emperor, a daughter of the Syomu-Emperor, held the grand ceremony to consecrate the Great Buddha statue. The ceremony was attended by Shomu-retired-Emperor, Komyo-retired-Empress, Chinese monks, Indian monks and ten-thousand Japanese monks.
 
Sep, 740 Hirotsugu Fujiwara’s revolt in Kyusyu.
 
Dec, 740 the capital-city was moved to Kuni-kyo.
 
Feb, 741 the decree to build provincial temples and convents.
 
Oct, 743 the decree to for the construction of the Great Buddha statue in Todaiji-temple.
 
Feb, 744 the capital-city was moved to Naniwa-no-miya.
 
Jan, 745 the capital-city was moved to Shigaraki-no-miya.
 
May, 745 the capital city was moved to Heijyo-kyo
 
May, 752 the grand ceremony to consecrate the Great Buddha statue

09/20/2017

About the Asuka Culture

The Asuka culture was created by powerful local lords such as the Soga-clan and the Emperor's relatives in the early seventh century. The culture was strongly influenced by Buddhism and foreign cultures.
 
Horyuji-temple in Nara prefecture is one of the most important cultural assets in the period. The temple was established in 607 by the Suiko Emperor and Shotoku-taishi. It is said that the temple is the oldest wooden building in the world. Horyuji-temple is registered as a World Heritage.
 
Horyuji
 
The columns in the temple's main hall and the main gate have a bowed shape rather than a straight column. This style is called entasis. It is thought that the architecture was indirectly influenced by ancient Greece culture such as the Parthenon.
 
↓columns at the main gate
 
Horyujicolumns_2
 
There are many important cultural assets in Horyuji-temple. One of them is Syaka-sanzon-zo. It is a set of statues of the Buddha, which was created by Kuratsukurinotori, who is considered the first serious sculptor of Buddhist statues in Japan. 
 
Syaka-sanzon-zo   This photo is from Wikipedia
 
800pxhoryuji_syaka_sanzon
 
Another important asset is Kudara-kannon. This statue used to be called Kokuzobosatsu, which means a bosatsu of happiness and wealth. 'Bosatsu' means those who are engaged in ascetic training in pursuit of enlightenment in Buddhism.
 
Kudara-kannnon  This photo is from Wikipedia
 
Kudara_kannon_1
 
↓Tamamushi-zushi is a miniature shrine covered with wings of jewel beetles. This photo is from wikipedia
 
Tamamushi_shrine
 
 
These are all national treasures of Japan.
 
※The Asuka period ranged from the later 6th century to the mid 7th century.
The Asuka period coincides with the later Kofun period.
 
 

09/12/2017

About powerful local ruling families in the Asuka period

The Asuka period ranged from the later 6th century to the mid 7th century. The Asuka period coincides with the later Kofun period. The period was named after the place where the capital was located, today's Asuka-village in Nara prefecture.

The Yamato Imperial Court governed Japan in the period. The Court was organized by local lords and led by Okimi; later Emperor. The top of the Court was Okimi, but two major local ruling families had immense power in those days. One of them was Soga and the other was Mononobe. Soga and Mononobe had seriously conflict, because Soga supported Buddhism and Mononobe supported Shinto.

Buddhist_temple 

Horyuji-Temple in Nara prefecture

Shinto_shrine

Shimogamo-Shinto Shrine in Kyoto

In 587, Umako Soga destroyed Mononobe and obtained overwhelming power in the Court.  In 592, Umako Soga assassinated the Sushun Emperor  and made Suiko succeed to the throne as the first Empress. Umako Soga wielded very strong power in the Court.

09/06/2017

The religious services related to agriculture in the Kofun period

The religious services related to agriculture were very significant for people in the Kofun period as well as people in the Yayoi period. There were two especially important services for them, one of these was Toshigoi-no-matsuri in spring praying for good harvest and the other was Niiname-no-matsuri in autumn to appreciate the harvest of the year. Even now, these services are still being held at many Shinto shrines.

In addition, people in the Kofun period worshiped various things in nature, such as beautifully shaped mountains, big trees, huge rocks and solitary islands. Some of them still exist and people established Shinto shrines for them, for instance, Okami Shinto shrine in Nara prefecture which honors Mt. Miwa and Okitsumiya at Munekata-Taisha-shrine in Fukuoka prefecture which honors a solitary island Okinoshima. At these shrines, there are historical remains of the religious services in the Kofun period and the shrines continue to hold the rituals regularly even now.

Huge_tree big tree

There are other shrines that came from old faiths, such as Ise-Jingu-shrine that honors Amaterasu-Omikami who is considered an ancestor of the Imperial family, Izumo-Taisya that honors Okuninushi-no-Mikoto and Osaka-Sumiyoshi-Taisya that honors the ocean god.

Izumo_taisya_shrine

↑at an approach to Izumo Taisya shrine

People in the Kofun period used copper mirrors, copper arms and farming tools in the religious rituals and buried these around Kofun burial mounds as funeral accessories, though people in the Yayoi period buried bronze ritual objects. In the 5th century, people created stone imitations of these items, which were used in the rituals.

Various magical-religious practices began in the Kofun period, for example, Misogi and Harae for evading troubles, Futomani-no-Ho which is fortunetelling by baking deer bones and Kukatachi which was used for judging genuineness

※ the Yayoi period ranged over from around 400 B.C. to around 300 A.D.

※the Kofun period ranged over from the later third century to the seventh century.

2020年7月
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
      1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30 31  
My Photo

About me

  • Hi there! I'm Lala. I'm a Japanese living in Tokyo. I'm an English speaking licensed guide and authorized tour conductor. If you have questions, please leave comments on this blog or send me e-mails. lalalamumin☆yahoo.co.jp (please replace ☆ with @ when you send me e-mails)

Copy right

  • Copyright (C) 2007-2017 Trip to Japan's history All Rights Reserved.

Recent Comments

無料ブログはココログ