Book Announcement: Assembling Shinto: Buddhist Approaches to Kami Worship in Medieval Japan

Assembling Shinto: Buddhist Approaches to Kami Worship in Medieval Japan

Anna Andreeva


ISBN 9780674970571, Harvard East Asian Monographs 396

420 pages, 9 color illustrations, 1 halftone, 14 line illustrations, 3 maps

During the late twelfth to fourteenth centuries, several precursors of what is now commonly known as Shinto came together for the first time. By focusing on Mt. Miwa in present-day Nara Prefecture and examining the worship of indigenous deities (kami) that emerged in its proximity, this book serves as a case study of the key stages of “assemblage” through which this formative process took shape. Previously unknown rituals, texts, and icons featuring kami, all of which were invented in medieval Japan under the strong influence of esoteric Buddhism, are evaluated using evidence from local and translocal ritual and pilgrimage networks, changing land ownership patterns, and a range of religious ideas and practices. These stages illuminate the medieval pedigree of Ryōbu Shintō (kami ritual worship based loosely on esoteric Buddhism’s Two Mandalas), a major precursor to modern Shinto.

In analyzing the key mechanisms for “assembling” medieval forms of kami worship, Andreeva challenges the twentieth-century master narrative of Shinto as an unbroken, monolithic tradition. By studying how and why groups of religious practitioners affiliated with different cultic sites and religious institutions responded to esoteric Buddhism’s teachings, this book demonstrates that kami worship in medieval Japan was a result of complex negotiations.



Part I. Mt. Miwa and the Yamato Landscape

1. The Ancient Cultic Site

2. Temple Networks in Southern Yamato

Part II. Holy Men and Buddhist Monks at Miwa

3. Miwa Bessho

4. Saidaiji

5. From Ise to Miwa and Beyond

Part III. Assembling Shinto

6. Enlightenment for the “Country Bumpkins”

7. Miwa-ryu Shinto


About Paula

Paula lives in the vortex of academic life. She studies medieval Japanese history.
This entry was posted in announcements, culture and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s