This study aims to redress the lack of serious scholarly study on Contemporary
Japanese Buddhism. using the Tendai sect as an example. The sects of Temple
Buddhism today are caught between ideal images of "real" Buddhism. which they
themselves help perpetuate through their self-legitimizing rhetoric of renunciation. and
the reality of day-to-day temple functioning. which often fails to live up to the rhetoric.
Moreover. both scholarly and popular constructions of Temple Buddhism communicate a message that Temple Buddhism is "corrupt:' This unique space occupied by the sects of Temple Buddhism provides the thematic focal point for the dissertation. while each
chapter addresses a theme related to the problems Temple Buddhism now faces.
Chapter II takes the temple parish as its theme. In particular. this chapter provides
analysis of the ways in which the Tendai sect seeks to change popular images of "funeral Buddhism." including Tendai efforts to redefme the roles of parishioners to recreate Tendai's role in Japanese society. Chapter III takes the priesthood of Temple Buddhism as its theme. examining the Tendai sect's efforts to create priestly roles that counter growing popular images of priests as funeral businessmen. Priests' wives are the theme of Chapter IV. Clerical marriage is the most obvious threat to the rhetoric of renunciation pursued by Temple Buddhist sects. In response. the Tendai sect. for example. developed a special "temple wife ordination" ceremony in order to place temple wives within the religious and administrative structures of the sect. Death and taxes are the theme of Chapter V. which addresses the fiscal necessities of running a temple today and the practices priests engage in to m~et those needs. This chapter includes an examination of how economic realities shape ritual practices as well as how such mundane factors as taxes shape the debate over Temple Buddhism's contemporary role in Japanese society.
WMU ScholarWorks Citation
Covell, Stephen G., "Living Temple Buddhism in Contemporary Japan: The Tendai Sect Today" (2001). Comparative Religion Publications. 1.