Accepted paper:

Modifying liturgies: A strategy for religio-political reconciliation


Fumi Ouchi (Miyagi Gakuin Women's University)

Paper short abstract:

Unlike the effect of shinbutsu bunri on tangible properties, that on aural traditions has attracted almost no academic concern. A study of changes to the liturgy Sanyama Haishi reveals a device to engineer a compromise between the old tradition and the new order through the physical senses.

Paper long abstract:

Dewa Sanzan Shrine maintains the liturgy known as Sanyama Haishi, whose words and melody belong to a distinctive local tradition, as an essential element in the rituals performed there. Its simple and easily remembered musical features allowed it to be widely accepted by believers. This liturgy was produced in the process of the kami-buddha separation movement by modifying another liturgy that had been performed by the Shugendō practitioners affiliated to the Haguro sect. Unlike the destruction of tangible properties such as Buddhist statues and paintings, buildings, altars and ritual instruments, that of aural traditions like liturgical chanting and ritual sounds has attracted almost no academic concern. Yet, looking at how the text and musical characteristics of the liturgy were altered from the original in the religio-political context of the time, we can see here a device to engineer a compromise between the Shugen tradition and the new religious movement to establish Shinto as a national religion through the physical senses. This paper investigates in what way the performativity of liturgies and our aural sensibility were involved in the process of socio-religious upheaval brought about by bami-Buddha separation, through a musical and historical analysis of the modification of the liturgy in a religio-political context. It first traces how the Sanyama Haishi was set up and then examines the musical characteristics of the liturgy, comparing those of the original form that have been maintained by the Haguro Shugen Honshū and the Shingon temples at Mt. Yudono. This analysis of how the liturgy was produced enables us to discuss what the musical features of the liturgy signify and how aural sensibilities were involved in the kami-buddha separation movement.

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Aspects of the Effect of Kami-Buddha Separation (Shinbutsu bunri) at Dewa Sanzan: Iconography, Liturgy and the Reconstruction of Popular Faith