Sh-Otoku: Ethnicity, Ritual, and Violence in the Japanese Buddhist Tradition

ISBN : 9780195188615

Michael Como
256 Pages
165 x 243 mm
Pub date
May 2006
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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 evolution of 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. By comparing 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 Japanese Imperial cult and the nation of Japan were conceptualized and created.

About the author: 

Michael I. Como, Professor of Religion, College of William and Mary

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