Dr. George Clonos - Postdoctoral Associate, Council on East Asian Studies
Shugendô, a tradition of mountain asceticism in Japan dating from the 8th century C.E., has been commonly portrayed as a syncretic, folk, practice-based religion influenced by Esoteric Buddhism. It is seen to have flourished in the medieval era but to have declined in the early modern period due to institutionalization and the ritualization of practice. Yet, examination of Tokugawa texts presents us with a different picture.
The talk will have two parts. The first will consist of methodological issues in the study of Shugendô, with particular reference to the position arguing for the tradition’s decline during the Tokugawa period. The second will present the material and imaginary landscape of the Ômine mountain range and discuss how rocks, memory and practice come together on the Northern Okugake practice route, located on the Kii Peninsula.