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Book: The Religious Body Imagined

Chapter: 7. Religion and the Imperial Body Politic of Japan

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.44342


Pamela D. Winfield invites us to join her on a journey throughout the history of Japan, in order to elucidate the treatment given to the emperor’s body, not only physically, but also visually and ritually. In her article, ‘Religion and the Imperial Body Politic of Japan,’ infield argues that, although this notion of body politic only emerged technically during the early modern period, it was already present in premodern Buddhist teachings and was reinforced by cultural enactments that identified the body of the emperor with his empire and sought out the health of the former to ensure the wellbeing of the latter. Winfield provides a rich historical, historiographical, and theoretical analysis of the emperor’s rhetorical, artistic, and ceremonial body-state, emphasizing the centrality of his human, physical body while framing his religious and political authority over Japan.

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