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Home » 1. General Introduction » History of Shrines and Shinto
3. Shinto in the Early Modern Period (1)
When considering the history of Shinto in Japan's early modern period, it is necessary to understand the posture adopted by the shogunate toward shrines, and the new developments that resulted. While the Tokugawa shogunate established a system of control over temples and shrines, it adopted a fundamental attitude of respect toward court ritual and associated rites. It gradually reinstituted court observances which had fallen into disuse since the Ōnin War (1467-77), including the Daijōsai and Niinamesai, and the practice of dispatching imperial envoys with tribute to shrines (hōbei). Moreover, it gradually instituted a system of control of priestly lineages (shake), whereby priests (shinshoku) were placed under the supervision of the Yoshida and Shirakawa houses. Observances of famous shrines, such as the Hōjō-e of the Iwashimizu Hachiman Shrine, were restored, and shrines devoted to new objects of worship also appeared, such as the Tōshōgū shrines devoted to the deified Tokugawa Ieyasu. Some domains likewise promoted shrine rites and worship, and in a limited number of areas Shinto funerals (shinsōsai) were observed and served as precedents in the Shinto funeral movement at the end of the period.


The Establishment of the Early Modern System
       The Tokugawa shogunate established control over the court and the daimyō through the issuance of law codes, the Buke shohatto (1615) and Kinchū narabini kuge shohatto (1615). The third shogun, Tokugawa Iemitsu, strengthened the prohibition on Christianity in the Kan'ei era (1624-44) and proclaimed the closure of the country after the Shimabara Rebellion (seventh month of 1639), establishing the governing principles that were to endure for over two centuries. Around the same time the internal offices of the shogunate were established, and the institutions of rōju (Council of Elders), wakatoshiyori (Junior Council), and jisha bugyō (Magistrate of Temples and Shrines) were created. A Magistrate for Religious Inquisition (shūmon aratameyaku bugyō) was likewise appointed, strengthening control over religious sects.
       So-called "vermilion-seal" land grant deeds were renewed with each shogunal accession, giving stability to temple and shrine lands. In the seventh month of 1665 the five-article Shosha negi kannushi hatto (see below) was issued, setting out the shogunate's basic policy toward shrines and priestly lineages.
       The shogunate established an income of 10,000 (later raised to 30,000) koku for the imperal house, and added a variety of restrictions through such legal devices as the Kinchū narabi ni kuge shohatto (Laws for the Imperial Court and Nobles), but on the other hand, the imperial house was accorded dignity, and the court rites stemming from the Ritsuryō system were continued, as were official ranks, titles, and ritual etiquette. While ossified, the official Jingikan's houses of the Shirakawa and Yoshida continued with other noble houses to engage in the practice of issuing "imperial transmission certificates" to shrines and priests, who thus maintained direct or indirect connections to the imperial house.
       Although these regulations of religion and the imperial house became fixed, political stability was linked to increasing wealth among the common people. Shrine buildings were constructed in local areas, and a stable system of hereditary priestly succession was established. As a result, the priesthood had the leisure to pursue learning, and their position in regional society generally rose. This situation formed one factor in the later rise of National Learning (kokugaku).


Court Rites
       While the Ritsuryō system had already dissolved in the medieval period, the Jingikan continued to send imperial envoys to the festivals of various shrines un until the Ōnin War (1467-77). In fact, by the end of the war, it appears that the Jingikan was in ruins and a temporary facility had been erected on its former site. Although the jingihaku (see Hakke Shintō) Tadatomi-ō and Yoshida Kanetomo worked to revive the Jingikan, their plans were not realized, and even the site was eventually lost as a result of the construction of Nijō Castle by Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu. In 1590 the Yoshida house built their shrine Hasshinden on the Kyoto hill Kaguraoka, and on the sixteenth day of the ninth month of 1609, a ritual was held at the "supreme ritual site" (saijō-sho) there dispatching an imperial tribute envoy to Ise. For a brief time the Jingikan's mansion in Uchino was adopted as the site of the Jingikan, but the "proxy Jingikan" (Jingikandai) on Kaguraoka was in use much longer. In the ninth month of 1647—the same year that annual tribute envoys to the Tōshōgū were instituted—the practice of dispatching tribute envoys to Ise (Ise reiheishi) was reinstated after having been interrupted since the wars of the late fifteenth century. Thereafter a number of other shrine rites were restored after having been long interrupted, including the annual festival of Iwashimizu Hōjō-e in 1679 and the Kamo Festival in 1694. In 1687, during the reign of Emperor Higashiyama (r. 1685-1709), the Daijōsai or Great Thanksgiving Festival of Enthronment was reinstated in abbreviated form, since its last performance 220 years earlier in 1466 during the reign of Emperor Go-Tsuchimikado (r. 1464-1500). While the Daijōsai was not performed for the next reign, that of Emperor Nakamikado (r. 1709-35) the ritual was observed regularly after 1738, during the reign of Emperor Sakuramachi (r. 1735-47). The Niinamesai or Festival of First Fruits Tasting was reinstated in 1740, also in the reign of Emperor Sakuramachi. In this way, numerous court rites interrupted since the Ōnin War were reinstated, but because of problems of funding and the long hiatus, it was impossible in some cases to restore the rites perfectly to their original forms.
       Like the Daijōsai, the Shikinen Sengū ("Regular Removal of the Grand Shrines of Ise" at twenty-year intervals) had not been carried out for 120 years, the last one at the Outer Shrine having been held in 1434 and at the Inner Shrine in 1462. Fundraising efforts by the Buddhist nuns Keikōin Seijun and Keikōin Shūyō made it possible to observe the Regular Removal for the Outer and Inner shrines in 1563 and 1585, respectively. Twenty-four years later, in 1609, the Regular Removal for both shrines was held again, and thereafter they were observed thirteen times in succession at twenty-year intervals, until 1869 at the beginning of the Meiji period. In this way, the Regular Removal was reinstituted in the mid-sixteenth century on the basis of fundraising efforts led by the nuns of Keikōin, but a growing tide of anti-Buddhist feeling (see shinbutsu bunri) led priests at the Grand Shrine—where Buddhism was a taboo—to consider it inappropriate that fundraising for the Regular Removal be led by a Buddhist. As a result, fundraising for the Regular Removal was led by the shrine's own superintendent priest beginning with the observance of 1669. In addition, the shogunate established the office of Yamada Magistrate (Yamada Bugyō) during the first years of the seventeenth century to oversee rebuilding of the shrines, and that offices became a regular fixture in 1624.


The System of Religious Administration under the Edo Period Regime
       The shogunate's Magistrate of Temples and Shrines (Jisha Bugyō) had responsibility for the administration of all Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines through the period. Four magistrates were appointed to serve for the same period, each rotated in office on a monthly schedule, and each had his own cohort of subordinates. Three or five magistrates might be appointed at certain times, but in general the office itself was perpetuated through the early modern period. This institutional office was first instituted in 1635 during the rule of Shogun Iemitsu. Together with the Machi Bugyō (Town Magistrate) and Kanjō Bugyō (Magistrate of the Treasury), the Magistrate of Temples and Shrines was counted among the three crucial magistrate posts. And whereas the other two came under the authority of the Council of Elders (rōju), the Magistrate of Temples and Shrines was of the top rank, reporting directly to the Shogun. The Magistrates of Temples and Shrines were chosen from among the Tokugawa's fudai daimyō holding the office of sōshaban (Master of Shogunal Ceremony); after their tenure, many were appointed to offices as Kyoto Inspector (shoshidai), Osaka Castle Master, or even the Council of Elders.
       Since it was such an important office, the Magistrates of Temples and Shrines also administered shogunal land grants to shrines and temples, as well as laws governing games of go and shōgi, renga poets, and other matters. Within each domain, religious affairs were administered by a domainal Magistrate of Temples and Shrines appointed by the daimyō, but suits involving affairs between domains, issues regarding temples or shrines holding shogunal land grants, or lands held by those with the rank of hatamoto, the shogunal Magistrate of Temples and Shrines would conduct an investigation. As the system took matured, the shogunal magistrate would also respond to inquiries from the domain magistrates and give instruction regarding relevant precedents.
       In 1636 the shogunate renewed the Buke shohatto laws, adding an article prohibiting Christianity and instructing the domains to carry out "inquisition into sectarian membership" (shūmon aratame) to assure that local parishioners were not Christians. From 1664 religious inquisitors were appointed in the domains, and the shogunate instructed them to be thoroughgoing in their investigations. Early on, the authority to certify that someone was not a Christian had not yet taken the form of the later official "temple registration (tera-uke)" system, but that institution was gradually formalized and in some places carried out so severely that people were required to secure the local temple's seal of certification every month. Some shrine priests had maintained their own Buddhist temples since the medieval period, making it relatively easy for them to procure the temple confirming their sectarian affiliation. As the temple registration system—namely, part of the temple parish system of population control—grew in authority and rigidity, however, many Buddhist priests began to use the system to enhance their authority. Because of this, shrine priests in some areas began to seek a way to leave the parish system and to receive sectarian confirmation from a shrine rather than a temple, and to receive permission to have a Shinto rather than a Buddhist funeral. Concretely, they used the clause in the 1665 laws Shosha negi kannushi hatto enjoining shrine priests to "devote oneself to learning the way of kami rites (jingi)" as as pretext for a widespread movement to be removed from the rolls of the temple registration system. From the years 1804 to 1818, provincial priests began petitioning for this exemption in groups.


Shrine Administration Under the Edo Period System
       The period of fourth shogun Ietsuna's rule (1661-1673) was significant for shrines. The most important event of this time was the issuing of the 1665 Shosha negi kannushi hatto (Laws for Priests at Shrines), composed of the following articles:


Item:         Negi and kannushi priests are to dedicate themselves to learning the way of kami rites.
They must know the object of worship revered in their shrine (i.e., know the identity of the deity worshipped there) and carry out its customary rites faithfully. If anyone is found negligent in these duties, he will be expelled from the priesthood.
Item:        Priestly lineages with ranks that have been granted certificates of imperial transmission up to now shall continue to be recognized as valid.
Item:        Shrine personnel without rank shall wear white vestments. Vestments of other color require a license from the Yoshida house.
Item:        Shrine lands shall never be sold.
        Addendum: Neither shall they be mortgaged.
Item:        A shrine incurring minor damage shall promptly be repaired.
        Addendum: Priests shall be diligent in keeping shrines clean.
The preceding items shall be strictly observed. Anyone failing to do so shall be subject to large or small punishment as befits the case.


       This law was transmitted to all shrines, and it was also sent to domainal authorities, affixed with the seals of the Council of Elders. It was also transmitted to the Yoshida house (recognized by the bakufu as superintendents of the Jingikan), and it was re-transmitted to them with their shogunal land grants under the title Jinja no jōmoku in 1685, 1719, 1747, 1762, 1788, 1839, and 1855.
       Interesting events also were occurring in the domains. In the Mito domain a register of temples and shrines was compiled in fifteen volumes in 1663, of which two were devoted to shrines. Three years later Tokugawa Mitsukuni abolished 997 temples and made repairs to renowned temples. He carried out a separation of Buddhism and Shinto, using a policy of one shrine per village and abolishing "immoral and deviant shrines." In 1664, Aizu Domain compiled a register of temples and shrines in twenty-four volumes, of which four were devoted to shrines. In 1666, the daimyō Hoshina Masayuki took the lead in abolishing new Buddhist temples that had been constructed in the preceding twenty years, and he prohibited further temple construction. In the ninth month of 1666, the daimyō of Okayama, Ikeda Mitsumasa ordered the destruction of immoral shrines, then constructed "collective shrines" (yorimiya) to which a grant of 5,000 koku each was bestowed. Also called ujinomiya ("clan shrines"), these "collective shrines" were built so as to bring the domain into conformity with a policy of one shrine per village. By the following year, 601 shrines remained within the domain, while 10,527 shrines had been abolished. After creating this system of one shrine per village, Mitsumasa created then abolished the system of temple census registration, allowing shrine priests to issue confirmations of religious affiliation and encouraging shrine priests to conduct Shinto funerals. As a result, by 1669, some 97.5 percent of the people in the domain had adopted Shinto funerals. Such policies also affected neighboring domains, but Masayuki died in 1672, and after Mitsumasa and Mitsukuni retired, the temple registration system was again imposed at shogunal behest.
       This so-called "separation of buddhas and kami" carried out in the Kanbun era (1661-1672) continued to be maintained by the Kitsuki Shrines (see Izumo Taisha), Sata Jinja, and Miho Jinua in Matsue (in present-day Shimane Prefecture), at the Kibitsu Jinja in Bitchū (in present-day Okayama Prefecture), and at other shrines. Having a large population of Buddhist temples and kami shrines represented a heavy economic burden to domainal finances, so such streamlining was carried out in various regions. For example, the closing of immoral shrines in the Mori domain began in the Genroku era (1688-1703), but its effects continued until Meiji. In sum, while the temple registration system was briefly abolished, when it was re-imposed in the period 1688-1704 it actually emerged in stronger form due to the government's policy of protecting Buddhist temples. For example, Takahashi Sakon Mitsuyori was priest (kannushi) of the shrine Iyahiko Jinja in Echigo (in present-day Niigata Prefecture), but under the influence of Tachibana Mitsuyoshi, he abolished his shrine's jingūji (a Buddhist temple on the grounds of a shrine), removed Buddhist images from the shrine, and in their place enshrined divine emblems (reiji) of the priestly lineage. He called the shrine a reijiden (hall of divine emblems), and renamed the shrine itself the "sect of the kami" (Jingishū), conducting Shinto funerals there. However, the Shingon monks of the jingūji raised a complaint against him, and the verdict of 1697 went against him. As a result, the shrine was reconfirmed in 1699 as a Ryōbu Shintō shrine in conformity with the institutions of temple registration and religious sectarian inquisition. Later, Ono Kenkō of the Hinomisaki Shrine of Izumo likewise attempted to introduce Shinto funerals, but he also was defeated in a resulting lawsuit. In this way, the shogunate clarified its distinction between Ryōbu (Buddhistic) and Yuiitsu (kami-exclusive) shrines.
       The shogunate policy of upholding the temple registration system strictly through the Magistrate of Temples and Shrines changed little after this time. The shogunate would grant permission for Shinto funerals only if the priest had a Yoshida license, and if the temple to be affected agreed, and even then such petitions were granted only for the priest himself and his first son. The shogunate was willing to grant such petitions without the affected temple's agreement only from the Meiwa era (1764-72). In the Tempo era (1830-44) Tokugawa Nariaki of the Mito Domain carried out a major shake-up of Buddhist temples, as did Iwashita Masahira of Satsuma, who near the end of the period thoroughly abolished temples and introduced Shinto funerals.
In spite of such distinctive events, it remained difficult for shrine priests as a group to adopt Shinto funerals. Under the leadership of Oka Kumaomi, shrine priests of Tsuwano (in present-day Shimane Prefecture) were released from the requirement of temple registration in 1847, while in the following year 152 priests were permitted to conduct Shinto funerals in Owari Domain (in present-day Aichi Prefecture).


Control of Shrine Priests by the Yoshida and Shirakawa Houses
       Since the end of the medieval period the Yoshida house had distributed ritual licenses and ranks to provincial shrine priests through their right to issue "imperial certificates of transmission (shissō)." They attempted to use the power of the shogunate to monopolize this function, but other noble houses, especially the Shirakawa house, opposed the Yoshida, and the issue came up time and again. Within the Yoshida house, officials were assigned in charge of the various provinces, and they established liaison officers (furegashira) to transmit communications and consolidate preiests under their purview. Through these means they handled applications for permission to wear silk vestments (kariginu), to perform Shinto funerals, to recognize lineage succession, and for shrine licenses (sōgen senji), as well as providing various other services such as assistance to provincial priests traveling to the capital. Representatives in the provinces would also occasionally tour the villages under their jurisdiction, while priests visiting Kyoto would receive practical instruction in shrine ritual. From 1791 the Yoshida opened an office in Edo in order to conduct affairs relating to the shogunate and to transmit applications from the eastern part of the country. There was also an office of theological affairs. As of 1842, some forty people were employed in the Edo office, and an Osaka office was also established.
       The Shirakawa house, by contrast, does not seem to have been concerned with strengthening its hold over provincial priests in the early part of the period. Instead, as a noble lineage close to the imperial house, they were more occupied with instruction regarding rites of imperial succession and rites of the twenty-two shrines (nijūnisha) and others in which the Jingikan was involved. They gradually turned, however, to strengthening their lineage against the Yoshida, competing with them for control of the shrine priests of the Yamato region by touring the villages there. This tendency became particularly conspicuous from the Bunka era (1804-1818), as they began compiling registers of members. According to the registers, many of the licenses granted by the Shirakawa were issued to carpenters, and their activities in other ways spread beyond the interest in consolidating shrine priests, for example, canvassing for donations for Inari Shrines and performing calligraphy for display plaques. Besides the Yoshida and Shirakawa, the Tsuchimikado house also issued clerical licenses to priests, and there are examples of large shrines in some regions issuing their own clerical licenses to the priests under their jurisdiction.
       Next when we examine the organization of provincial shrines, we find many differences based on the period and region, starting from the integration of priests under a supervising officer (furegashira), and shifting to systems involving the organization of a priests' union with the selection of a rotating manager (kimoiri). These might involve the formation of study groups for self-directed study of Shinto writings, or to raising funds for the mutual support of lawsuits involving members. Most of the shrines involved were small, but in the case of provincial great shrines with large numbers of priests and priestly lineages (shake), numerous related organizations might be involved, depending on regional history and character. The Grand Shrines of Ise (Ise Jingū), the Kashima Shrine, Katori Shrine, and others each had around 100 shake houses, and from generation to generation, they supervised the allocation of shrine grant lands (shuinchi) and division of labor in festivals.


The Creation and Distribution of Tōshōgū
       One distinctive feature of shrines in this period is the politically motivated construction and nationwide distribution of Tōshōgū —shrines dedicated to the deified spirit of Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu. This development was considerably different in character from the establishment of Kumano shrines through the work of traveling priests and priestesses (oshi and miko), the spreading of Hachiman and Shinmei (Ise) shrines, or the spread of Gozu Tennō shrines accompanying epidemics.
       When Ieyasu died in 1616, he was buried at Kunōzan, a mausoleum was constructed in front of the grave, and rites performed by the priest Bonshun in accordance with the liturgy of Yuiitsu Shintō. Then when a mausoleum was built at Nikkō, and Ieyasu's coffin was moved there, the remains were interred in accordance with the liturgy of Sannō Ichijitsu Shintō (see Sannō Shintō) as performed by the Tendai monk Tenkai. To these mausolea the imperial court conferred the divine title (shingō) of "Tōshō Daigongen" and the court rank of Senior First, and when the Ieyasu's spirit was officially enshrined in 1617, an imperial envoy (chokushi) was dispatched from the court. While earlier precedents for the apotheosis of a ruler existed, such as that of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who was enshrined as Toyokuni Myōjin, after construction of the Tōshōgū, shrine-mausoleums came to be built at the gravesites of the founder of numerous domains. The trend toward enshrining human beings as kami increased, and various distinguished people and teachers were enshrined even while still living.

— Sugiyama Shigetsugu


See also 3. Shinto in the Early Modern Period (2)
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