Although located far from the populated centers of traditional Japan, the three Kumano shrines occupied a central position in the Japanese religious landscape. For centuries Kumano was the most visited pilgrimage site in Japan and attracted devotees from across the boundaries of sect (Buddhist, Daoist, Shinto), class, and gender. It was also a major institutional center, commanding networks of affiliated shrines, extensive landholdings, and its own army, and a site of production, generating agricultural products and symbolic capital in the form of spiritual values. Kumano was thus both a real place and a utopia: a non-place of paradise or enlightenment. It was a location in which cultural ideals--about death, salvation, gender, and authority--were represented, contested, and even at times inverted.
This book encompasses both the real and the ideal, both the historical and the ideological, Kumano. It studies Kumano not only as a site of practice, a stage for the performance of asceticism and pilgrimage, but also as a place of the imagination, a topic of literary and artistic representation. Kumano was not unique in combining Buddhism with native traditions, for redefining death and its conquest, for expressing the relationship between religious and political authority, and for articulating the religious position of women. By studying Kumano's particular religious landscape, we can better understand the larger, common religious landscape of premodern Japan.
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D. Max Moerman is Assistant Professor of Asian Culture at Barnard College.Review:
Moerman focuses his book on a complex pilgrimage site, yet his methodological approach is very different. As he points out in his introduction, he is "less concerned with reconstructing the institutional history of the Kumano cult than with examining the social construction of a religious landscape." In other words, Moerman is interested in reconstructing the mental universe surrounding Kumano in the medieval period. Moerman is true to his word. Aside from briefly contextualizing the site institutionally and geographically in chapter one, Moerman rarely refers to Kumano's religious institutions but focuses instead on how Kumano has been portrayed in legend, art, and pilgrims' accounts...In regard to the study of pilgrimage, Moerman's monograph has much to offer, ranging from engagement with theories of pilgrimage to the discussion of Japanese specificities...His work is one of the most polished and readable among recent studies on medieval Japanese religions.
--Barbara Ambros (Religious Studies Review)
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Descripción Harvard University Asia Center, 2006. Hardcover. Estado de conservación: New. Nº de ref. de la librería P110674013956