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Book: Exploring Shinto

Chapter: 10. Why does Shin Buddhism Reject the Worship of the Kami?

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.39490


It is well known that most Japanese people possess multiple religious identities, stereotypically praying at Shinto shrines on New Year’s Day, getting married at a Christian church and holding funerals at Buddhist temples. Several Japanese religions however, notably Shin Buddhism, have rejected this pluralistic stance. Here the reasons for Shin Buddhism’s formal rejection of kami worship, a position known in as jingi fuhai 神祇不拝, are considered. Second a more conciliatory position towards the Japanese kami is considered, which arose under the influence of Zonkaku存覺 (1290-1373) and Rennyo 蓮如 (1415-1499). Third, two stories in Gōzei’s仰誓 (1721-1794) Myōkōnin-den 妙好人伝 (Biographies of the Myōkōnin) from the late Edo period are explored to see how he sought to promote the normative Shin Buddhist position towards the kami, even while presenting evidence that it was not always strictly observed in practice.

Chapter Contributors

  • Robert Rhodes ( - rrhodes) 'Otani University'