Shotoku: Ethnicity, Ritual and Violence in the Japanese Buddhist Tradition

Hardcover | April 9, 2008

byMichael I. Como

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Prince Shotoku (573?-622?), the purported founder of Japanese Buddhism, was one of the greatest cultural icons of pre-modern Japan. The cult that grew up around his memory is recognized as one of the most important religious phenomena of the time. This book examines the creation and evolutionof the Shotoku cult over the roughly 200 years following his death - a period that saw a series of revolutionary developments in the history of Japanese religion. Como highlights the activities of a cluster of kinship groups who claimed descent from ancestors from the Korean kingdom of Silla. Bycomparing the ancestral legends of these groups to the Shotoku legend corpus and Imperial chronicles, Como shows that these kinship groups not only played a major role in the formation of the Japanese Buddhist tradition, they also to a large degree shaped the paradigms in terms of which the JapaneseImperial cult and the nation of Japan were conceptualized and created.

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Prince Shotoku (573?-622?), the purported founder of Japanese Buddhism, was one of the greatest cultural icons of pre-modern Japan. The cult that grew up around his memory is recognized as one of the most important religious phenomena of the time. This book examines the creation and evolutionof the Shotoku cult over the roughly 200 yea...

Michael I. Como is at College of William and Mary.
Format:HardcoverDimensions:256 pages, 9.25 × 6.13 × 0.98 inPublished:April 9, 2008Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195188616

ISBN - 13:9780195188615

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"This is an ambitious and richly interdisciplinary book that reexamines our sources on Prince Shotoku to trace the Prince's iconic image as cultural hero and royal Buddhist paragon in Japan's seventh and eighth centuries. Unwrapping Shotoku's multi-layered image provides critical clues to the multifaceted transition that spanned Japan's pre-Buddhist and Buddhist epochs. At the center of the process, Como locates Korean emigres, especially those from Silla, whose grasp of the tools of literacy gave them key roles in the construction of kingship and mythmaking. Shotoku is a well-written book that anyone interested in Japan's history, culture, and religion will want to read." --Joan Piggott, Gordon L. Macdonald Professor & Director of the Project for Premodern Japan Studies, History Department, University of Southern California "This book vastly expands our understanding of ancient Japan and the role played by 'immigrants' in its formation. Michael Como's sleuthing in the historical record and his close readings of legends and myths enable him to trace the genealogies, intermarriages, locations, and functions of these communities. The evolving myths surrounding the figure of Shotoku Taishi constitute the centerpiece of this reconstruction. Pleasantly surprising mini-denouements of suspense-building interpretations invariably tie together beliefs and practices that have traditionally been labeled separately ('Shinto, ' 'Buddhist, ' 'Daoist'), as sharing roots in 'non-native' cultural soil. Como's focu on the immigrant connection and his firm and sure expository style cuts a clear path through and around the innumerable historical controversies that surround this fascinating periodof Japanese history." --Herman Ooms, author of Imperial Politics and Symbolics in Ancient Japan