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Sacred High City, Sacred Low CityA Tale of Religious Sites in Two Tokyo Neighborhoods$
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Steven Heine

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780195386202

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195386202.001.0001

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Inaricho¯ in the Low City: Im-practical Worldly Benefits

Inaricho¯ in the Low City: Im-practical Worldly Benefits

(p.141) 4 Inaricho¯ in the Low City: Im-practical Worldly Benefits
Sacred High City, Sacred Low City

Heine Steven

Oxford University Press

The final chapter investigates the role played by butsudan shops concentrated on the main street in the Shitamachi neighborhood of Inarichō as seen in their relation to other important sacred, historical, and cultural sites of Shitamachi, especially death-oriented temples around the former execution grounds near Minami Senjū Station as well as life-oriented shrines in the vicinity. Special attention is given to recent modifications in butsudan design that seek to accommodate contemporary lifestyle trends and put more emphasis on the peace of mind of those living than appeasing the ghosts of deceased ancestors. This examination is carried out in order to reconsider the conventional emphasis on “practical this-worldly benefits” as the key motivational factor of Japanese religiosity. The chapter argues that there is a multiplicity of elements supporting the religious intentions of Japanese people, some of which are intended to attain success in a very pragmatic sense, but for the most part the motives are this-worldly yet im-practical, including communal obligations, as well as nostalgia and memory that complement supernatural beliefs in warding off the revenge of untamed spirits. Therefore, an analysis of the roots of sacrality should not be limited to any one particular factor that is seen to be exclusively applicable to a complex situation.

Keywords:   Anshin, Buddhist Furnishings, Funeral Buddhism, Kamidana, Nobe-okuri, Posthumous ordination name

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