Haibutsu kishaku (廃仏毀釈) (literally "abolish Buddhism and destroy Shākyamuni") is a term that indicates a current of thought continuous in Japan's history which advocates the expulsion of Buddhism from Japan. More narrowly, it also indicates a particular historic movement and specific historic events based on that ideology which, during the Meiji Restoration, produced the destruction of Buddhist temples, images and texts, and the forced return to secular life of Buddhist monks. It is a yojijukugo phrase.
An early example of haibutsu kishaku is the Mononobe clan's anti-Buddhist policies during the time of Buddhism's early introduction to Japan in the Kofun period.The Mononobe were opposed to the spread of Buddhism not on religious grounds, but rather because of nationalism and xenophobia. The Nakatomi clan, ancestors of the Fujiwara, were allies of the Mononobe in their opposition to Buddhism.
Another example is the policies of temple closure and monk defrocking of the Okayama, Aizu, and Mito Domains, also adopted for political and economic, rather than religious, reasons during the early modern period.These domainal policies were in general based on Confucian anti-Buddhist thought. The Meiji period form of haibutsu kishaku, based on kokugaku and Shinto-centrism, was instead dictated by a desire to distinguish between foreign Buddhism and a purely Japanese Shinto.
The haibutsu kishaku during the Meiji Restoration, the most famous instance of the phenomenon, was an event triggered by the official policy of separation of Shinto and Buddhism (or shinbutsu bunri )that after 1868 caused great damage to Buddhism in Japan. The destruction of Buddhist property took place on a large scale all over the country. For example, Kōfuku-ji in Nara suffered greatly. The temple, which is now a National Treasure, was hit with full force by the movement. The temple's land was seized, the priests forced to become Shinto priests, walls were torn down, trees were planted, and the area became part of one of the city's parks. The anti-Buddhist riots caused damage to all large temples of the city. The violence marked permanently every region of the country. Between 1872 and 1874, 18 thousand temples were eradicated, and maybe as many again from 1868 to 1872. Japanologist Martin Collcutt believes Japanese Buddhism was on the verge of total eradication.
The violence had just released pent-up popular anger at the Buddhists which had been brewing for centuries because of their close alliance with the Tokugawa in the danka system,an alliance from which the religion had derived immense benefit. Although the shogunate's official philosophy was lay Neo-Confucianism, Buddhism had become an integral part of the state as a consequence of the Tokugawa's anti-Christian policy. To stop the propagation of the Christian religion, they had introduced the danka system, which obliged families to affiliate themselves with a Buddhist temple and, in return, this would certify that they were not Christian. Without this certification a normal life in Tokugawa Japan was impossible. Because of this, temples could and often would blackmail parishioners. Under the danka system families had by law several obligations towards Buddhist institutions, among them monetary donations to their affiliated temple. Because there were some 100,000 temples in a country of 30 million people, on average 300 persons had to support a temple, so the burden was considerable. Buddhism, as an institution, had a vested interest in the shogunate system, and therefore became a target of all the parties working for the downfall of the shogunate.
There were definite political and economic motivations too, in that the domainal governments wanted to restore public finances at Buddhists's expense, and the shinbutsu bunri offered a pretext to appropriate Buddhist lands.
It is estimated that 40,000 Buddhist temples were destroyed in Japan during this disastrous nationwide anti-Buddhist mayhem, and in certain places the percentage of Buddhist temples destroyed reached 80%.
It is difficult to estimate how many temples were closed during the turmoil, because it seems likely that many disappeared simply because Buddhist authorities, taking advantage of the fall of the Tokugawa, were trying to streamline the system and eliminate redundancies.Under the shogunate, obtaining the permission to open or close a temple had not been easy. However, the complete disappearance of Buddhist temples from domains like Satsuma was indeed due to the haibutsu kishaku.
Nichiren Buddhism is a branch of Mahayana Buddhism based on the teachings of the 13th-century Japanese Buddhist priest Nichiren (1222–1282) and is one of the Kamakura Buddhism schools. Its teachings derive from some 300–400 extant letters and treatises attributed to Nichiren.
Buddhism has been practiced in Japan since about the sixth century CE. Japanese Buddhism(Nihon Bukkyō) has given birth to numerous new Buddhist schools, many of which trace themselves to Chinese Buddhist traditions. Japanese Buddhism has had a major influence on Japanese society and culture and remains an influential aspect to this day.
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Japanese philosophy has historically been a fusion of both indigenous Shinto and continental religions, such as Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism. Formerly heavily influenced by both Chinese philosophy and Indian philosophy, as with Mitogaku and Zen, much modern Japanese philosophy is now also influenced by Western philosophy.
Shinbutsu-shūgō, also called Shinbutsu-konkō, is the syncretism of Shinto and Buddhism that was Japan's only organized religion up until the Meiji period. Beginning in 1868, the new Meiji government approved a series of laws that separated Japanese native kami worship, on one side, from Buddhism which had assimilated it, on the other.
The Japanese term shinbutsu bunri (神仏分離) indicates the separation of Shinto from Buddhism, introduced after the Meiji Restoration which separated Shinto kami from buddhas, and also Buddhist temples from Shinto shrines, which were originally amalgamated. It is a yojijukugo phrase.
This is the glossary of Japanese history including the major terms, titles and events the casual reader might find useful in understanding articles on the subject.
The Tenpō Reforms were an array of economic policies introduced in 1842 by the Tokugawa Shogunate in Japan. These reforms were efforts to resolve perceived problems in military, economic, agricultural, financial and religious systems.
Tanzan Shrine, also known as the Danzan Shrine, the Tōnomine Shrine and the Tōnomine Temple, is a Shinto shrine in Sakurai, Nara Prefecture, Japan.
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The danka system, also known as jidan system is a system of voluntary and long-term affiliation between Buddhist temples and households in use in Japan since the Heian period. In it, households financially support a Buddhist temple which, in exchange, provides for their spiritual needs. Although its existence long predates the Edo period (1603–1868), the system is best known for its repressive use made at that time by the Tokugawa, who made the affiliation with a Buddhist temple compulsory to all citizens.
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Bettō (別当) is a term which originally indicated the head of an institution serving temporarily as the head of another one, but which came to mean also the full-time head of some institution. The Kamakura period samurai Wada Yoshimori, for example, was the first bettō of the shogunate's Samurai-dokoro.
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This is the glossary of Japanese Buddhism, including major terms the casual reader might find useful in understanding articles on the subject. Words followed by an asterisk (*) are illustrated by an image in one of the photo galleries. Within definitions, words set in boldface are defined elsewhere in the glossary.
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