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Helen Hardacre

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190621711

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190621711.001.0001

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The Esotericization of Medieval Shinto

The Esotericization of Medieval Shinto

(p.147) 5 The Esotericization of Medieval Shinto

Helen Hardacre

Oxford University Press

Examines the pervasive influence of Buddhist esotericism. Premised on the ultimate identity of Kami and Buddhist divinities, esotericism neutralized Shinto’s claims to represent the indigenous. The Great Purification Prayer came to be used in shortened form for all manner of private devotional purposes. Warrior oaths show that the Kami were increasingly perceived as requiring people to conform to a moral code. Shugendō, the cult of sacred mountains, introduced myriad ceremonies for mountain deities, who came to be roughly classed with the Kami, contributing to the ongoing diversification of the pantheon. In the late thirteenth century, when the Mongol invasions threatened to destroy Japan entirely, typhoons called Kamikaze, “divine winds,” diverted them. The popular sense that the Kami had saved Japan greatly strengthened ideas of Japan as a divine land (shinkoku), propagated by Kitabatake Chikafusa (1293–1354), among others.

Keywords:   Kitabatake Chikafusa, shinkoku, Japan as a divine land, Shugendō, Great Purification Prayer, cult of sacred mountains, concepts of Kami, diversification of the pantheon, Mongol invasions, divine wind

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