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The interweaving of Japanese religious traditions in the case of bodhisattva Jizō

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Lakić Parać, Iva. (2017). The interweaving of Japanese religious traditions in the case of bodhisattva Jizō. PhD Thesis. Filozofski fakultet u Zagrebu, Department of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology.
(Poslijediplomski doktorski studij etnologije i kulturne antropologije) [mentor Šantek, Goran Pavel and Visočnik, Nataša].

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Abstract

In this paper we try to identify and question perceptions and practices that accompany the phenomenon of Jizō bosatsu worship in Japan in the past and present. Instead of focusing on the commercialization of the phenomenon through rituals mizuko kuyo (which prevails in Western literature) we focus on connectivity and interweaving of the cult with the pre-Buddhist and non-Buddhist beliefs and practices that have greatly influenced the present-day interpretation of the phenomena, but are under-emphasized or inadequately treated in the western scientific literature on Jizō. Expected scientific contribution of this study is to define the cult of Jizō within contemporary approaches and insights in the study of Japanese religions, with the aim of confirming the justification of the new scientific methods which, instead of placing emphasis on philological, doctrinal and textual studies, are focusing on political, economic, cultural and ideological dimensions of religion, and interdisciplinary methodology in the study of religious phenomena. The research will show why Jizō is the most popular Buddhist deity in Japan and contribute to the knowledge about the ways of functioning and understanding the religion in Japanese society in the past and today, and provide valuable insight to European and Croatian Japanese studies in this important aspect of Japanese culture. These studies are rare in anthropology in general, but especially in Croatia, where they apply to all Far Eastern Studies. We will identify the historical, social and cultural factors influencing the formation of the Jizō cult in Japan and their links to the interpretations of phenomena in the contemporary context. The hypothesis this study will determine is that Jizō is ideal for illustrating the functioning of religious currents in Japan and for revealing perfectly how they were mutually complementary in the past and how they work today. The aim of this research is to show the applicability of some modern studies that reject the idea of "coexistence" of different, homogeneous religious directions in Japan and argue about the existence of one tradition consisting of all Japanese religious traditions together, with their mutual interaction and intertwining. In introductory part of the paper we define the objects, goals and methodology of the research. We give current insights, explain context and give reasons for being interested in our subject. Chapter Two, entitled Japanese Religions, brings the theories and research methods on which the contemporary studies of Japanese religious traditions are based upon. The aim of our research is not analyzing the religious doctrines itself, but showing on concrete examples in which way are directed the contemporary researches of Japanese religions and on what kind of methodological approaches are based. We will demonstrate why some, until recent times, conventional “textbook” notices begun to be analyzed, critically judged and thought through different perspectives. Chapter Three, entitled Bodhisattva Jizō, we illustrate the mentioned ideas through the analysis of the meaning that Jizō overtakes from Japanese folk deities sae no kami and dōsojin, and also yama no kami. We will show how new ideas greatly depend on old ones, the ways they are assimilated into the Buddhist doctrine and how this reinterpretation functions as a tool for propagating the Buddhist theories among masses. Since Jizō with time becomes mainly known as a protector of (pregnant) women and children, in Chapter Four, entitled Phenomena Seen Trough Female Perspective, we will see what kind of religious solutions were given to women in the past and under what conditions. We will also explain the connections between Jizō and miko, a female figure that conventionally belongs to the world of shintō and Japanese folk religion. Chapter Five, entitled Jizō in Contemporary Context, brings the analysis of the perception of Jizō in contemporary context, based on the results of fieldwork research in Japan and dates collected by questionnaire among the Japanese living or traveling in Croatia and region. In order to understand correctly the relationship between Japanese people and this complex deity we need to understand the attitude Japanese have towards their religions and religiosity in general. Japanese, as we will show, feel closeness and warmth toward Jizō, and that makes him one of the most beloved Buddhist deity. But, that attitude does not show the popularity of Buddhism itself in Japan, as it shows the continuity of old Japanese beliefs and practices that trough Buddhism find their reevaluation and continuation of life.

Item Type: PhD Thesis
Uncontrolled Keywords: bodhisattva Jizō, japanska pučka vjerovanja, budizam, šintoizam, novi religijski pokreti
Subjects: Ethnology and cultural anthropology
Japanistika
Departments: Department of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology
Supervisor: Šantek, Goran Pavel and Visočnik, Nataša
Additional Information: Poslijediplomski doktorski studij etnologije i kulturne antropologije
Date Deposited: 08 May 2017 07:42
Last Modified: 08 May 2017 07:42
URI: http://darhiv.ffzg.unizg.hr/id/eprint/8772

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