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Home » 8. Schools, Groups, and Personalities » Medieval and Early Modern Schools
Hakke Shintō
The Shintō tradition transmitted by the Shirakawa Hakuō House, traditionally in charge of the post of superintendent (haku or kami) of the Ministry of Deities (Jingikan). Also called Shirakawa Shintō. Originally, the post of superintendent of the Jingikan was often held by the Nakatomi, the clan traditionally in charge of kami matters. Eventually, however, members of other Houses such as the Kose, Ishikawa, Fun'ya , Arihara, Fujiwara, Minamoto, and Tachibana, were also appointed to the post. Starting with Munesada Ō in 876, the appointees from the princely (Ō) clan became more numerous; after the appointment of Akihiro Ō, a descendant of Emperor Kazan in 1165 (Eiman 1), the position was monopolized by his descendants, the Shirakawa Hakuō house. They were in control of all matters pertaining to the Jingikan as well as of the correct performance of related rituals. During the late Kamakura period, Sukeo and Sukemichi, father and son from a collateral line of the family, began a detailed study of the Nihon shoki, but this did not lead to the formulation of a unique doctrinal system.
       While the Yoshida House, minor officials of the Jingikan and former subjects of the Shirakawa House, had already developed a doctrinal system known as Yoshida Shintō under their patriarch Yoshida Kanetomo in the Muromachi period, the Shirakawa House did not systematize its own style of Shintō until the early Edo period with Masataka Ō. In 1669, in response to a request from Emperor Reigen, Masataka Ō submitted to the court a text entitled Ise sanka no godenju. In the same year he wrote the Kagami gohai gosōden no koto in which he explained the virtue of the sacred mirror. He argued that the essence of the mirror is the original enlightened state (naishō) of the kami; it consists in the fact that nothing accumulates in the mind yet the mind is not completely void. This concept lies at the basis of what was later organized as Hakke Shintō. Masataka Ō also systematized the ancient knowledge transmitted through the Shirakawa Hakuō house in a collection called the Kasetsu ryakki which he compiled in 1680, and which contains forty-five sections beginning with "Shujō gohai go- sōden no koto."
       The Hakuō and the Yoshida Houses were both in charge of matters related to the kami, but their responsibilities were different. The Hakuō proudly emphasized that they were traditional superintendents of the Jingikan; they served in the Naishidokoro and the Hasshinden of the imperial palace, and in addition they also taught the worship procedures to the emperor, the members of the imperial clan, and the regents. In fact, at that time the Shirakawa House was keeping alive the tradition of the Jingikan in various ways, such as serving the emperor's place in morning rites of worship, initiating the aristocratic families into the correct etiquette for presenting offerings (hōbei), and by working to revive the Kinensai and other old rituals prescribed in the Ritsuryō Code but that had gone out of practice, and which they observed rigorously in the form of abstinence and seclusion. As a result of their efforts, Masataka Ō's claims were widely acknowledged at court, and the bakufu granted to the Shirakawa House an annual stipend of thirty koku (a hundred tawara bags) of rice, specifically in recognition of their official rank as superintendent of the Jingikan,.
       However, among the motives lying in the background of the formation of Hakke Shintō in the early Edo Period were perhaps some relating to the doctrinal development of Yoshida Shintō, and the fact that the Yoshida House had been using its own Shintō doctrines as a tool to place local shrines under its direct control and organize them with the support of the bakufu. In the past, the Hakuō had been in charge of the communication between the court and shrines such as Matsuo, Inari, Hirota, and Hinomisaki, but in the beginning of the Edo period, these and only a few other shrines were formally associated with the Hakuō. Even though Masataka Ō was not necessarily competing with the Yoshida, he seems to have been painfully aware of the need to put an end to the waning of his clan's influence. His intentions were shared by his son Masamitsu Ō who, in order to compete with the Yoshida, for the first time created a clan post responsible for scholarly issues (gakutō), giving Usui Masatane the responsibility for giving systematic order to the Hakuō Shintō doctrines. Subsequently, the records and documents of the Hakuō house, beginning with those in the Kasetsu ryakki, were further collected and systematized. The result was a work entitled Hakke burui, compiled in 1754 at the time of Masatomi Ō, who had received influence from Suika Shintō. In 1762 the gakutō Mori Masatane further expanded the house doctrines in his Shintō tsūkoku bengi. At the same time, the Hakuō increased the number of shrines under their control and of people studying their doctrines. Like the Yoshida, they also sanctioned affiliations by issuing authorization certificates such as the "Kami haishiki kyojō" ("authorization to observe worship ceremonies to the kami") and the "Kazaori eboshi, jōe, shiro no sashiko" ("authorization to wear ritual hats and robes"). In 1816 (Bunka 13), the Hakuō composed the Jingi Hakke gakusoku, a text containing a compendium of their doctrines. A document included in it, the "Hakke jōmoku," described the basis of Hakke Shintō as follows: "Shintō is the universal moral principle of all nations, the unchangeable rule of authority of the past and the present, the essence of Emperor Jinmu, the origin of the law." Hirata Atsutane, who collaborated in the compilation of this work, was appointed head scholar (gakutō) of the lineage in 1840 and contributed enormously to the diffusion of Hakke Shintō. With him, Hakke Shintō also came to be influenced by National Learning (Kokugaku).
See also Yoshida Shintō

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"Establishment of a National Learning Institute for the Dissemination of Research on Shinto and Japanese Culture"
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