Against the ghosts of recent past: Meiji scholarship and the discourse on Edo-Period Buddhist decadence

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Abstract

This article examines the process by which the academic discourse on the decadence of early modern Buddhism was developed, especially in the context of Meiji Japan (1868-1912). The predominant framework in which much of the modern research on Edo Buddhism took place was informed, grosso modo, by the assumption that early modern Japanese Buddhism was very distant from what it should essentially have been. The origins of this discourse are usually traced back to Tsuji Zennosuke, but by the time he published his works on the subject, such an image of Edo Buddhism was already the norm among both scholars and clergy. Keeping these aspects in mind, after brief considerations on the role of precept restoration during the late Edo Period, this article will focus in particular on the period from the Meiji Restoration (1868) to the establishment of Japanese Buddhist history as a specific field of study during the early years of the twentieth century. It will also deal to a certain extent with Tsuji's ideas on the subject.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)263-303
Number of pages41
JournalJapanese Journal of Religious Studies
Volume35
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2008

Keywords

  • Buddhist decadence
  • Edo Buddhism
  • Kinsei bukkyō darakuron
  • Meiji Buddhism
  • Tsuji Zennosuke

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Religious studies

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