Intersections: Gender and Sexuality in Asia and the Pacific
Issue 16, March 2008

Performance and Text:
Gender Identity and the Kumano Faith[1]

Alison Tokita

  1. The three sacred sites of Kumano, Ise and Kōyasan are at the heart of Japanese national and spiritual identity, and have been major pilgrimage destinations since ancient times. Whereas Kōyasan was a male-dominated centre of Buddhist orthodoxy, and Ise, as the chief shrine of the Sun Goddess, is the most important Shinto precinct in Japan, Kumano has been a much more ambivalent and syncretic space, having strongly retained the Shinto-Buddhist fusion. It was one of the few Buddhist precincts which was female–friendly and welcoming to women. The Kumano bikuni, nuns affiliated with the Kumano religious complex, were active in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries as both proselytisers of the Kumano faith and as fund-raisers, travelling throughout the country collecting donations for the Kumano shrines and temples. In the absence of direct oral sources, this research draws on the iconographic record of the mandalas for clues about these women and their message.
  2. Japan’s oral narrative performance practices, no longer extant, were often the preserve of itinerant women entertainers in the medieval era. Kumano bikuni were remnants of the medieval itinerant religious practitioners, who were performers and entertainers, even prostitutes, and who continued as liminal figures operating on the margins of society, or (as Faure argues) in the interstices between established religion and sedentary society.
  3. This paper seeks to retrieve late medieval (particularly Muromachi–Early Edo, or sixteenth and seventeenth century) women’s voices from the dominance of latter-day narratives, accessible only through the ‘slant’ of male documents. It focusses on the preaching of the nuns who taught the Kumano faith across the land using as visual props the Kumano mandalas.
  4. Women in medieval Japan are known to us chiefly through histories written by men, and these mainly in Chinese. There were a large number of writings by elite women—tales, diaries and poetry—which tell us about the lives of their writers, but rarely do they touch on the lives of women in other classes. Largely excluded from women’s literary output are those women who were itinerant entertainers. Women such as the Kumano bikuni were not part of the central unit of medieval society—the ie or corporate household—but banded together in quasi-occupational groups and troupes, and made a living from a variety of entertainments, including oral storytelling, preaching and ritual services. Our knowledge of these kinds of women is fragmentary, indirect and filtered through other accounts.
  5. While little can be known about medieval oral narrative and teaching genres, such as the picture teaching (etoki), confession narratives (zange monogatari) and Hell journeys (jigoku meguri), some clues about the narrative voices of women itinerant performers in medieval Japan, including the Kumano bikuni and their predecessors, itinerant shamanesses (aruki miko) and many other types,[2] can be found in texts which originated as oral narrative, including setsuwa collections such as the Shintō-shū, and otogi zōshi tales.[3]
  6. Using the two mandalas principally associated with Kumano as a kind of performance text, I will argue that the Kumano nuns in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were significant agents for spreading a female–friendly form of the Buddhist faith (specifically the Kumano faith) by assuring their listeners that women could indeed attain salvation without first being reborn as men. Through their teaching and preaching they brought solace and hope to women of all social levels.
  7. I will contest Faure’s negativity: 'The case of the Kumano nuns, who worked on behalf of women, yet at the same time contributed, albeit unwittingly, to their debasement, should remind us that things are never simple.'[4] He claims that 'they tried to conceal the sexist nature of the dogma by presenting their message as one of feminine emancipation.'[5] Did they merely internalise and reinforce a dominant male discourse and did they only contribute to the debasement of women? Certainly, 'things are never simple,' and I will argue that the iconography of the two Kumano mandalas is far from being a simple predetermined message.
  8. Of course, women were important to Japanese Buddhism. The first convert to Buddhism in Japan is supposed to have been a woman, the mythical nun Torani.[6] In the eighth century, a network of provincial monasteries and nunneries was established by the Emperor Shōmu. The nunneries provided asylum for old and sick women. By the medieval period, the social position of women had become marginalised, but this was accompanied by an emerging ideology of veneration of mothers. At the same time, it was taught that women were sinful, deceitful and polluted, and that, as Pandey explains, 'women cannot become bodhisattvas and eventual buddhas without first being reborn as men.'[7] Misogyny and religious discrimination against women were inherent in Buddhism, as they were viewed as the cause of erotic danger, the corruption of priests, and also as being the physically corrupt or disgusting polluters of sacred spaces (both attractive and unattractive), despite the Mahayana rhetoric of non-duality. Woman had to be reborn as man before she could enter Nirvana or achieve enlightenment, because her body burdened her with the Five Hindrances or Fivefold Obstruction (itsutsu no sawari).[8]
  9. I will also question Kaminishi’s claim of controlled meaning, which seems to deny the possibility of any reciprocity between preacher and listeners. This may have been the case with some etoki, but in the Kumano case, the complexity of the images and the ambivalent status of the nuns, suggests more flexibility. The polysemous nature of the iconography would allow both readings, because of their freedom from a written script.
  10. Faure warns of the dangers of the project of retrieving voices, particularly against the wishful thinking which leads to 'ventriloquism' by those who attempt this process and who succeed in only anachronistically attributing their own voice and ideas to people in the past. He warns us to tread carefully in this attempt. I am therefore trying an unconventional approach. The concept of formulaic expression which characterises oral narrative will be applied to the visual iconography of the mandalas. The persistence of formulaic expression provides a clue to the earlier stages of performance.
  11. I have argued elsewhere that the formulaic verbal and musical expression in eighteenth and nineteenth century jōruri narratives preserved something of the voice of medieval women narrators.[9] I suggested that the formulaic kudoki 'plaint' sections in kiyomoto and shinnai narratives retain some vestige of the medieval woman's voice (whether wandering shamaness—aruki miko, bodhisattva, or saviour sister or lover) through the persistence of textual and musical formulaic expression. I posited that, even after the 'great enclosure' (Faure's term for the establishment of licensed prostitution and entertainment quarters from the end of the sixteenth century), and the banning of women performers from the stage from 1629, their voice was not entirely lost, but was preserved in the tropes of jōruri narratives such as those of Chikamatsu, and continued into later narratives.
  12. The verbal and musical formulaic aspects of oral narrative have correspondences in the visual (pictorial illustration) or kinetic (drama or dance) expressions of narrative, and the etoki, or picture–preaching based on the mandala, is one such case. In this paper, I will consider the formulaic nature of the iconography as analogous to the formulaic nature of jōruri and related narratives (indeed of a whole tradition of extant performed narrative genres from kōshiki shōmyō, heike, , kōwaka and jōruri), whose formulaic expression contains and preserves the narrative and the way it is performed. The formulaic nature of the verbal and musical expression of oral narrative can throw light on the nature of the iconography of the Kumano mandalas. Since there are no written records of what the Kumano nuns preached, this can be an attempt to reconstruct the content of their performance, and retrieve their voices long silent. However, because of the polysemous nature of the icons, there is indeterminacy, and the final judgement as to the nature of their message may be highly contested.

    Kumano and its power in the medieval imagination
  13. Kumano is a sacred precinct located at the southern part of the Kii Peninsula in Wakayama Prefecture, to the south of Nara and other ancient capitals. Spiritually, it can be termed the source and origin of Japan, or its heart. It is a place of birth, death and rebirth. In the ancient era, the mountains of Kumano are identified in the old chronicles as the place of the dead, where the deity Izanami was buried and where Susa no O became god of the underworld. It is also indicated as the stepping-off point to the more horizontally distant offshore Other World (tokoyo).[10] It forms the southern point of a broad triangle of sacred space, bounded in the north by the great monastery complex of Kōyasan, and in the east by the Ise Shrine, the seat of the Sun Goddess and the chief shrine of the Imperial family (see Figure 1).

    Figure 1. Map of Kii Peninsula. Source. Higashi-Kishu IT Community, 'The variety of Kumano Kodo,' in Kumano Kodo "Ise-ji route": What is Kumano Kodo, 2004, online:, accessed 21 February 2008.

  14. A place of great natural beauty comprising sea, mountains, rivers, forests, and a massive waterfall, with its numerous shrines, temples and other architectural features it was listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 2002. The complex consists of three main shrines which are home to many kami (Shinto gods): Hongū, in the upper reaches of the Kumano river; Shingū, near the coast; and Nachi, the waterfall shrine, near Shingū. Moerman lists them as three separate traditions which were combined into a single cultic unit[11] . Their kami and corresponding Buddhist deities are:

    Hongū: Ketsumiko Amida Nyorai
    Shingū: Hayatama Yakushi Nyorai
    Nachi: Fusumi Senju Kannon

  15. Kumano is not only an origin, it is a destination. On the periphery of ancient Japan, Kumano was and still is difficult of access. But it is at the centre of Japanese spirituality, and is associated with the image of the Heart. It was linked tightly with the centre of power (the old capital Kyoto), as it was a destination of pilgrimage for the nobility, in spite of its distance and its remoteness. The route joining the three shrines alone (Hongū, Shingū, Nachi and back to Hongū) is 130 kilometres. It used to take about two weeks on foot to cover the distance of 330 kilometres from Kyoto to Hongū. The total journey was therefore about 800 kilometres. Kimbrough calls it the 'remote Kii Peninsula in Central Japan.'[12]
  16. There are innumerable verbal and visual depictions or representations of pilgrimage and other types of journeys to Kumano from ancient times. It was believed that to make this pilgrimage would aid one's rebirth in the Pure Land after dying, and from the ninth century many people felt impelled to go. Favoured by retired emperors and imperial consorts, the Emperor Goshirakawa (r. 1155–58) made thirty-four pilgrimages to Kumano, and the Emperor Gotoba (r. 1183–98) made the pilgrimage a total of twenty-eight times. Later it became a favoured pilgrimage destination for members of the military aristocracy. From the sixteenth century, the time when Kumano bikuni became active, it became popular among commoners. Kumano was also a mythical site of healing and redemption, as in the sekkyō-bushi narrative Oguri Hangan, which focuses on the spiritual power of Kumano for cure and rebirth.[13] Finally, there was the virtual pilgrimage to Kumano made possible by the narratives of the Kumano bikuni.
  17. For any pilgrim to get to Kumano, guides were needed, usually mountain ascetic priests, (yamabushi). Those who could not undertake the journey themselves could make the pilgrimage vicariously guided by an etoki (literally 'picture explainer'), who 'took' a listener to Kumano through the mandala experience, using these visual texts.
  18. At the same time, the physical landscape of Kumano is itself a mandala representing the Womb World, while the area directly to its north was designated as the Diamond World Mandala. To travel through it is a rite of passage to new life. Alan Grapard writes of shugendō practice in Kumano: 'The site of practice became a natural mandala, a large geographical area endowed with all the qualities of a metaphysical space.'[14]
  19. With its ritual birth and re-birth practices, Kumano was accessible to women, in that they were permitted to enter it; it did not enforce the ban on women—that boundary to a sacred precinct beyond which women were not to cross (nyonin kekkai) because of their ritual impurity, due to the blood of menstruation and childbirth. And above all, its key representatives were women, the Kumano bikuni.
  20. This contrasts with the androcentric institutional Buddhism and with shugendō, the esoteric practice of mountain priests, focussed on the sacred precinct of Ominesan, adjacent to Kumano, where the ban on women is still in force today. Kumano has never had such a ban, and it was the Kumano bikuni women who came to popularise the faith all over Japan from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries. The Kumano faith was taught by them via wide networks of travel and by affiliation with temples in many parts of Japan. For the women to whom they preached the Kumano message, they provided a female interface with the faith.

    Kumano bikuni: who were they, and what did they do?
  21. Ruch presents the iconographic evidence of Kumano bikuni in action, preaching to women from pictures in both public and domestic spaces.[15] She argues against a holistic composite view of Kumano bikuni, for there is great variation in the type of women gathered under this rubric. Kaempfer's Kumano bikuni were elegant, attractive; they playfully accosted travellers and sang, and hardly seem to be delivering a religious message. According to Ruch, those who performed etoki were actually called etoki bikuni, and she criticises Kaminishi's conflation of Kaempfer's Kumano bikuni with etoki bikuni, although Nishiyama also identifies these as Kumano bikuni.[16]
  22. Kumano bikuni as a group were a Buddhist transformation of the earlier itinerant shamanesses (aruki miko) of Shinto[17] operating at the margins of society. Nishiyama stresses that Kumano bikuni have frequently been depicted teaching from the Kumano Ten Worlds Mandala on or at the foot of a bridge. He argues that the bridge is a liminal space, an extension of the river bank or riverbed (kawara), the place of transient communities (kawaramono). It was a place of death and rebirth; where corpses were abandoned and funerary rites performed; it was also a place where performances and entertainments took place. The bridge was a passage to a holy precinct, both separating the profane from the sacred and linking the two. A typical example was the Gojōhashi in Kyoto which led to the path or pilgrimage route to the Kiyomizu temple outside this precinct was the Toribeno burial ground.[18] The performances of Kumano bikuni thus served to mediate metaphorically between this world and the other world.
  23. There is a further type of Kumano bikuni, powerful abbesses of the Keikōin temple in Ise,[19] who in the late sixteenth century, through their fund-raising and political negotiating with the highest powers, achieved the ritual rebuilding of the Gegū outer shrine at Ise, after 129 years of neglect. Their efforts were rewarded with the conferral of the title Ise Shōnin, and the privileges of aristocratic nuns.
  24. Although many of the pictures of Kumano bikuni show them performing etoki, of pictures that are very similar to the Kumano Ten Worlds Mandala, none illustrate an etoki of the Nachi Pilgrimage Mandala. All the available evidence suggests they taught that Kumano was a Pure Land on earth, and that Nachi was identified with Fudaraku, that is, Kannon's abode. Before the coming of Buddhism, this region had a secure place as the originary site of Japan's mythological beginnings.

    Texts relating to Kumano faith
  25. Something of the nature of the Kumano message can be surmised through some tales (setsuwa) in the Shintō-shū and otogi zōshi collections. The Shintō-sh (Stories concerning the way of the gods) is a collection of tales compiled in the mid-fourteenth century, in the broad genre of setsuwa.[20] It expounded various examples of Shinto-Buddhist fusion (honji suijaku), including that of the Kumano Shrines, and the apotheosis of a suffering hero. The otogi-zōshi is a genre of tales of the Muromachi period,[21] many of which have antecedents in earlier collections such as the Shintō-shū: the otogi-zōshi tale Kumano no gongen no sōshi is almost identical with the story Kumano Gongen no koto in the Shintō-shū. These texts can be considered to have been based on orally transmitted tales which were collected and then distributed by literati and preachers. The story of the deities of the Kumano shrines and their original Buddhist identities (honji) is an Indian tale about a mythical Indian princess who came to Japan.[22] The king of the Indian country of Magadha had one thousand wives, but none had borne a son. There was one of the wives called Gosuiden who had yet to attract the attention of the king. She prayed to Kannon that the king would notice her, and she was rewarded, and soon became pregnant. The other wives were so jealous that they tried to sabotage her pregnancy with various means, eventually ordering that the five months pregnant woman be beheaded. After several episodes about the intrigues of the jealous wives, Gosuiden commands the child to be born, offering him to the protection of the buddhas and gods. Although decapitated, she continued to breast-feed the baby, and the child survived with this milk and divine protection from wild anmimals for three years, when he was discovered by a wandering ascetic priest. The child was returned to the king, his father, and all three flew to Japan and landed on the mountains, and then moved to Kumano. Thus Gosuiden became the Kumano Gongen, the major deity of Kumano, although apparently divided between the three shrines. Kumano only appears at the end of the tale, but it is the implied destiny, the place where the long-suffering wife and mother found her expiation. The misogynistic portrayal of the other wives sets off the virtues of the Gosuiden lady and offers hope to women in general.[23]
  26. Wakita discusses the myths of the fourteenth century Shinto-shū in relation to the formation of the ie in the early medieval era.[24] These stories were produced by lay and monastic aristocrats, filtered through the idiom of aristocratic culture. But as they were also produced for a general audience, they speak to the concerns of the receivers, resulting in a mixture of Buddhist and folk beliefs.
  27. Wakita states that the Shinto-shū stories were narrated by wandering miko and later by Kumano bikuni to their audiences of men and women who managed households (ie), 'the site of daily life, based on monogamous love.'[25] The religious world of the Shinto-shū is different from both Buddhism and from establishment Shinto (such as the Yoshida and Ise sects), in that it gives a positive depiction of women and of conjugal (that is sexual) love and childbirth, with the promise of discounting blood pollution. The stories give a very human face to the gods. They demonstrate that sexual love and childbirth were central to medieval society, which was based on the social unit of the ie. Wakita argues that this is a world of equality between wife and husband, in fact a world separate from the official philosophy of Buddhism; inhabited by the common people, it treated seriously relations between men and women, motherhood and childbirth. This view is consistent with the interpretations of the two Kumano mandalas to be discussed below.
  28. The otogi zōshi version is longer and has more narrative elaborations than the earlier Shintō-shū one, indicating its elaboration over a period of two centuries in the oral story-telling culture of medieval Japan. Moerman tells us that altogether there are over forty variants of the story. Although Moerman states that the Kumano no honji is 'the narrative preached by the Kumano bikuni,' this story is not in evidence in the three main Kumano shrines today.[26]
  29. Certainly the Kumano legend was circulating from at least the fourteenth century to place the Kumano shrines in the context of Buddhist cosmology. It used this tale of Indian provenance to show that Kumano was the home of the gods but also chosen by the Buddhist deities. This is explicitly stated in the opening section of the Shintō-shū text. The Shintō-shū tale was collected for use by male preachers, but most likely it draws on what was told about Kumano by women aruki miko.

    Visual texts: Kumano mandala and etoki bikuni
  30. Since Kumano was thought to represent the Pure Land on earth, the Kumano faith relates to some of the canonical sutras, and also to Japanese doctrinal tracts such as the Ōjō yōsh (Essentials of salvation) by the priest Genshin.
  31. Kaminishi reports that no etoki manual or text seems to exist. But a jōruri play by Chikamatsu, Morihisa (1686), contains a scene of a Kumano bikuni performing etoki. Though fictional, it is a valuable record of this oral performance.[27] Apart from this scene, we do not have direct access to oral performances of the Kumano bikuni. The Kumano mandalas used by the Kumano bikuni as they travelled and solicited donations for the Kumano temples, can provide clues as to their narrative practices.
  32. The mandala is a highly structured visual text, with its geometrically organised elements producing an abstract diagrammatic picture. There is however a narrative element which becomes stronger in mandalas where representational icons dominate the composition.[28] In esoteric Buddhism a mandala can be a map of the cosmos and a guide to meditation. Ten Grotenhuis writes that Japanese mandalas can be 'interpreted broadly as sanctified realms, where identification between the human and the sacred occurs.'[29] The abstract mandalas, such as the Womb and Diamond realm pair, were extended in China to a type of mandala depicting the Pure Land, related in turn to Tang representations of sanctified places. In Japan, new forms developed with no apparent parallel on the Asian continent. The so-called Taima mandalas (after the Taima temple) were representations of specific temples, showing them as sacred landscapes, often to illustrate their origins. From this emerged the kami-worshipping mandalas, which stressed the physical beauty of holy places, usually with shrine buildings and deities, and embodying the concept of honji-suijaku, the localisation of Buddhist deities. The Nachi Pilgrimage Mandala is such an example. It shows the Japanese localisation of Fudaraku (Skt. Potalaka), the abode of Kannon. The Kumano Ten Worlds Mandala on the other hand depicts more abstract idealised cosmic realms.
  33. As visualisations of sacred space, the Kumano mandalas are a pictorial counterpart to the verbalisation of sacred space achieved by etoki narrative. The icons within the mandalas refer to specific stories and teachings. These two mandalas have survived in multiple copies, in various lineages and variants, usually as a set. The extant versions all date from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. This kind of mandala is a performative text, a consumable, not an art work whose artist is known. They were produced in workshops, as artisanal products. Folded up for travelling and unfolded for performance, the many extant copies show the fold lines clearly. The same design was reproduced any number of times, like a performance.
  34. Kaminishi posits a model of etoki preaching based on a written canonical text which gives rise to a painted image on the one hand, and to a spoken sermon on the other. The etoki preacher 'deciphers' or 'translates' the images in the picture, and thus teaches the meaning of the text. She also adds meaning to the original teaching in performance. 'Images redefine the original written text through pictorial form.'[30] In this analysis of etoki practice the picture is a visualisation of an original text, which the etoki performer knows and explicates to listeners, creating a new performance text. This text is not only the canonical Buddhist texts, but can also be setsuwa stories that are well-known to the audiences.
  35. He further states, 'For viewers of etoki paintings...there is little chance of free interpretation since preachers dictate their meaning. In other words, etoki performers strive for a uniform reception from an audience.'[31] Kaminishi insists that the mandala as a visually complex text requires the deciphering of the etoki. I am, instead, seeing it as a visual cue for the narrative and I doubt that the Kumano bikuni were always tied to a fixed narrative and a fixed message.

    Etoki performance from mandalas: performed meaning
  36. Etoki is an activity, and the preacher (or teacher, story-teller, narrator, perhaps singer) uses the mandala picture (e) as a prop, a set of visual cues, a set of dot points (as in a power-point

    presentation), as a visual aid for her performance and as an aid to understanding for her listeners. Each etoki performance however was different, and was not tied to a written text. Whereas in jōruri narrative, the texts were stable (the music less so), in the Kumano bikuni's etoki narrative the visual icons were stable, but their realisation in performance need not have been. The verbal narrative had the potential for wide variation, depending on the etoki's knowledge, expertise, whom she had been instructed by; and also depending on the receptivity of the audience, their composition (age, gender, class etc), and their generosity.

    Figure 2. Etoki performance 2006 – Kumano Ten World Mandala. Source. 'Report on Young Women's Group Activity (Taiken Gakushūkai): Experiencing Kumano,' in The Shingū Chamber of Commerce and Industry Newsletter, no. 250, (31 May 2006), online:, accessed February 21, 2008.

  37. Some of the iconography represents the familiar everyday experience of the listeners of the time, while other images represent mythical and divine actors in the sacred landscape. In the Ten Worlds Mandala, there are a number of elements that depict normal human experience in a descriptive way, such as the hill of ageing, as well as mythical elements such as bodhisattvas and ogres. In the Nachi Pilgrimage Mandala, the pictorial, representative elements dominate, giving the impression that it is a bird's eye view of a topographical area. The narrative potential in both of these mandalas for the etoki narrator is vast.
  38. The etoki narrator can move from icon to icon and tell isolated miniature stories or anecdotes, like stand-alone setsuwa. Each icon or miniature scene contains the potential of a short story on its own, and in combination with other elements can form an episode in a longer narrative. The narrator can also depict a continuous journey, taking the listener through the landscape vicariously or metaphorically, following the path of the familiar everyday figures, such as the pilgrim couple, or the figures on the hill of life. She can embellish events and experiences that they would have on the way. This is very akin to the michiyuki trope in the literary and performing arts.
  39. The michiyuki is a verbal map, a vicarious journey experienced in the telling and viewing or enacting of the journey by a narrator-actor. The archetypal form of the performed michiyuki journey is the pilgrimage. The narration of these two mandalas must have included elements of this; in fact, Hagiwara suggests that the prominent michiyuki form must have influenced the development of the pilgrimage mandala.[32] This is related to the way oral narrative, with musical delivery, is structured.
  40. It is not possible to determine all potential meanings of the icons. Nor can we know how the bikuni were taught what to teach and how much freedom they had to preach their own message. Therefore, we need not concur with Faure's argument that the Kumano nuns, while working on behalf of women, at the same time contributed to women's debasement.[33]
  41. The two mandalas are not purely female in orientation. For example, the self-immolation or religious suicide at sea was a male practice, and it is hard to see how the Kumano nuns would have used that image for a feminist message. A selection process must have taken place depending on the audience.
  42. Kaminishi's triangular model of reciprocal meaning between text-icon-oral text is difficult to apply, since it is not clear which text or texts the two Kumano mandalas are explicating. Most scholars say that the Ten Worlds Mandala is explicating the Blood Bowl Sutra (Ketsubon-kyō), whereas Ruch argues that it is the Heart Sutra. The Nachi Pilgrimage Mandala has so many icons with literary and mythical referents, and yet no referent to the Gosuiden Lady who, according to the setsuwa, became the Kumano Gongen. They do not convey a coherent theology, but a folksy mishmash of meanings. Given that the nuns performed while on the move in near and distant provinces, it is likely that they did not have to conform to any doctrinal orthodoxy, but had latitude in the emphases they gave to the narrative.
  43. In the absence of any etoki texts, it seems true to say that etoki was an oral narrative prompted by the icons and their layout. We can ponder on the possible meanings of the icons, and their narrativity. I am convinced that they have a plurality of meanings and are full of indeterminacy, offering many possible narrative outcomes which could be created by the etoki in a performance situation.

    Kumano kanjin jikkai mandala (Kumano Ten Worlds Mandala)
  44. I witnessed a reconstruction of a Kumano bikuni etoki narrative in January 2008 in Kumano. The ensuing discussion is influenced by that experience, particularly the sequencing of the two mandalas. The performance was informed by male academics, and by an ideology of conjugal love.
  45. Of the numerous paintings and art works associated with Kumano,[34] I will discuss two significant mandalas associated with Kumano bikuni: the Visualisation mandala of the Heart and Ten Worlds of Kumano (hereafter the Kumano Ten Worlds Mandala; Kumano kanjin jikkai mandala), and the Nachi Pilgrimage Mandala (Nachi sankei mandala). They both depict gateways to sacred spaces, enabling a vicarious journey or pilgrimage, and are both believed to have been used as proselytising tools by Kumano nuns.[35] They suggest to us much about the message which Kumano bikuni must have brought to their listeners. According to Moerman, there are twenty-five extant examples of the Nachi Pilgrimage Mandala.[36] There are fifty extant examples of the Ten Worlds Mandala, apparently transmitted in many cases paired with the Nachi Pilgrimage Mandala.[37]
  46. The Kumano Ten Worlds Mandala is an abstract representation of the Buddhist cosmology. That this mandala was used by Kumano bikuni for etoki teaching is clearly stated in the caption of the screen painting of a Kumano bikuni in the Freer Museum: 'Kumano bikuni doing etoki of Kanjin Ten Worlds Picture at the foot of the Sumiyoshi Shrine Taikobashi bridge.' Although it is composed of many pictorially naturalistic elements, it is on balance not a recognisable landscape. It does not refer specifically to the Kumano site; only the name of the mandala, and the content, with its focus on female themes. Further, while both of the Kumano mandalas feature the orbs of sun and moon at the top (a Taoist motif), the Kumano Ten Worlds Mandala is more solidly Buddhist than Shinto, though some Shinto elements are conspicuous: the torii gates to the various realms, the strong focus given to the human life cycle and the passing of the seasons, and the message of hope for women. The journey on which the etoki would have taken her listeners is not a literal pilgrimage through a physical landscape (in the form of a michiyuki), but a spiritual one, the life journey as a whole, abstracted to follow the Buddhist teachings of transmigration and salvation. This mandala has a large, almost cosmic, scale, and is visually and intrinsically cyclic, following the wheel of transmigration (samsara or rinne) through the six realms (rokudō). It depicts a three-tiered cosmos and the six realms, geometrically laid out with gruesome hells, but also offering a way out of those hells. The crammed icons all represent narrative episodes which provide a vast canvas of topics and themes for the preacher who uses the mandala as her teaching prop, just as the oral story-teller has a repertoire of formulaic themes, phrases and melodies at her disposal.
    Figure 3. Kumano Ten World Mandala. Source: Hagiwara Tatsuo, Miko to Bukkyō-shi, Yoshikawa Kōbunkan, Tokyo, 1983, frontispiece

  47. Kaminishi argues that all mandalas explicate a written text or sutra. He states that the text behind this mandala is the Kegon sect's Garland Sutra, expounding the oneness of things in heaven and hell and in between.[38] It incorporates the Pure Land teaching of a Western Paradise. However, Kuroda suggests that it is the iconographic expression of the fundamental Tendai thought of ichinen sanzen (three thousand in one thought) and jikkai gogu (each of the ten realms mutually containing the other nine): that all realms were inherent in the heart, and that all people had the potential to attain Buddhahood.[39]
  48. Doctrinally, it certainly illustrates the Buddhist tenets of karma and rebirth, with its strange combination of hell and heaven in one picture. Of course, it also aimed to spread the cults of the Kumano mountain deities, collectively called the Kumano Gongen, and to offer salvation to women in particular. It focuses on women's life cycle and concerns, especially the relationships of husband and wife, mother and child, child and parent. Some of the many hells illustrated in this mandala are intended exclusively for women and some appear in Japanese iconography for the first time.[40]
  49. The mandala suggests that there were two different Buddhist theologies in the Kumano message.[41] The bottom half of the mandala which depicts hell is the pessimistic view of punishment and samsara (in which it was taught that women had to be reborn first as men), whereas the upper half depicting the human life cycle is the optimistic view of the Pure Land salvational faith. That is, it depicts two worlds: that of the human life cycle, and the transmigration beyond this life.
  50. Kaminishi states: 'The Kumano Ten Worlds Mandala is a group of...crossbred images that shows a number of designs borrowed not only from Buddhist but also Shinto and Christian paintings.'[42] Further, he states: 'The Kumano Ten Worlds Mandala harnesses two very dissimilar, if not contradictory, theologies: the conventional Buddhist outlook that teaches a pessimistic view of samsara...versus Pure Land Buddhist propaganda that...offers an optimistic hope of rebirth in heaven.'[43]
  51. The samsara world view depicts the six realms of existence and rebirth (rokudō). The first two occupy the top (slightly less than) half of the frame:

      1. heavenly beings (upper left torii)
      2. humans (birth torii)

    Iconographically, the depiction of the human life cycle is linked with traditions in Europe (the Ages of Man) and other parts of Asia (Wheel of Life).

    The next four are the realms of hell:

      3. ashura – warriors
      4. animals (with human heads)
      5. gaki (middle left)
      6. those condemned in hell

  52. Compositionally, the most important icons are placed along the vertical axis describing the 'heart' of the mandala. At the top is the peak of the cycle of life, then below that the image of the Amida Buddha, then the character for heart (kokoro) in a circle (this is the meaning of the title Kanjin: visualising the heart. It is interesting that a written character should form the hub of a constellation of non-verbal icons), then the segaki service, which is placed at the intersection of the vertical and horizontal axes. Below this is the Sai no kawara area where children who died young are protected by Jizō, then the torii gate which is the entrance to hell, and at the bottom a demon is piercing a woman who is suffering in boiling water. This is Mokuren's mother (see below).
  53. The horizontal axis, dividing the mandala in two parts, just above the centre, extends from the aristocratic house of a couple where a baby has just been born, over to the home of the dead (cemetery) at the far left, with the segaki service in the middle. The upper part of the picture comprises the heavenly and human realms, the life of enlightenment nestling beneath the arch of this human life; at its centre is the heart, neither above nor beyond. The lower part contains the four hellish realms: ashura, gakidō, chikushōdō and jigokudō, including many gruesome tortures for the dead souls. These four realms are arranged roughly in a semicircle which together with the arch of ageing form a circle, symbolising samsara or the wheel of transmigration (rinne).
  54. From the character of 'heart,' eleven thread-like red lines radiate out like spokes of a wheel to each of the eight torii gates, and to the ten realms (jikkai), including Amida and the two Bodhisattvas. This creates the impetus to look into one's own heart (kanjin), whichever realm one is in, since all realms (four enlightened and six unenlightened) are inherent within one's heart.[44]
  55. This is actually an example of a hell-tour tale (jigoku meguri).[45] On balance, despite the horrors of hell, especially those reserved for women, the overall message is of human relationships within the family, reflecting the fact that by this time the ie had become the basic unit of society, consisting of a man with one wife and their children.[46] The life course illustrated begins with a noble couple, but as they age they change into commoner mien. Most interesting about this course is that at the baby and early childhood stages, the gender is unisex, only differentiated as male and female after puberty. In old age, again the couple disappears and becomes one old degendered person.
  56. Women are indeed central to the diffuse narrative of the mandala. The hells depict many women suffering in special hells, representing the relations of love and jealousy, the attachment of mothers to their children, and the concern of children for parents. The Pool of Blood hell seems to be an existential punishment for menstrual bleeding and the blood of childbirth. Some scenes do however show ways of escape from suffering. The Kannon gives a copy of the Ketsubon sutra to a woman and saves her; Jizō leads a male and female pair of dead across the Sanzu River, saving them from the dangers of that river, and taking them out of the picture to the left. Jizō also appears in the Sai no kawara protecting the dead children. The most important tale referenced is the sight of Mokuren weeping for his mother who is being impaled in a boiling pool by a demon, and then of him praying to Shakyamuni for her release. He is instructed to perform the segaki service, of giving food and drink to the dead in the realm of hungry ghosts (gakidō) during the Urabon season. This illustrates the many versions of the story of Mokuren, which originated in India.
  57. An interesting facet of the Kumano Ten Worlds Mandala is its possible Korean provenance. Nishiyama argues that the prototype of this mandala is the Korean Kanrozu depiction of paradise, and that it can be dated back only as far as Hideyoshi's invasion of Korea in the 1590s. He states that there are several extant examples of the Kanrozu mandala in Korea, and at least four in Japan.[47]
  58. This coincides also with Japan's Christian century, and many writers have suggested that the Stages of Life icon was brought by European missionaries, and that both the Korean and the European iconic images were combined in Japan. It is possible also to see Korean connections in the Taoistic icons of the Sun-Moon-Five peaks painting which is a backdrop to the Korean throne of the Choson dynasty, and in other Taoistic Korean paintings.
  59. It seems then that the syncretic practice of religious proselytising combining Shintō and Buddhist traditions was also formed as a result of the appropriation of both Christian and Korean Buddhist symbols, without the receivers being aware of their foreign origin. We should remember that Japan in the sixteenth century and up to the 1630s was open to many international influences, on the eve of the long period of the Closed Country.

    Nachi sankei mandala (Nachi Pilgrimage Mandala)
  60. In the January 2008 reconstructed performance, the preaching about hell and how to avoid it in the Ten Worlds Mandala was followed by the Nachi Pilgrimage Mandala, as a direct urging to listeners to achieve salvation by making the trip to Nachi. Not only its title, but the content graphically illustrates the whole shrine precinct of the Nachi waterfall. It is the focus of an entire book, a study of Kumano and the Kumano faith, including the female nature of the site, and the position of women in the Kumano cult.[48] Moerman uses this mandala to unlock a rich vein of Japan's religious history, exploring the place of Kumano in Japan's religious history as the most visited pilgrimage site in Japan for many centuries. He analyses its political and institutional aspects, and its spiritual dimensions, and the evolution of the site from a Shinto place of death to a syncretic Buddhist site which represents the eternal Pure Land and the abode of Kannon. Arguing for its place as a centre of political religious power and at the same time an embodiment of paradise, he calls it 'a place at once real and imaginary,' and further, Kumano is 'both place and practice.'[49]
  61. The taima type of mandala was a stylised representation of specific temples or holy places, different from the abstract mandala of esoteric Buddhism. The Nachi Pilgrimage Mandala is a kind of taima mandala, and within that category, it is a pilgrimage mandala, depicting the geography of Nachi in vivid detail. Its realistic depiction of people and their activities shows links with genre painting, but Nishiyama argues that the figure types in the mandala are specific to the genre of religious painting.[50]
  62. Whereas the Kumano Ten Worlds Mandala is more symmetrical, both top and bottom, and in the right and left halves of the picture and does not dictate any particular narrative route, the Nachi trajectory is a zigzag across the plane of the mandala, with a route delineated by the pilgrim couple progressing through the picture. Each mandala in its own way presents a highly eclectic message, bringing together a great variety of disparate elements as icons in a unitary frame. The Nachi mandala frame is the geographical setting, female-friendly, naturalistic and asymmetrical. Pilgrimage mandalas were produced in large numbers from the late sixteenth to the early seventeenth century for the purpose of etoki activity. Pilgrimage actually declined during this period due to social control, so the activity of etoki such as the Kumano bikuni served as an 'outreach' substitute. Etoki is 'the act of narrating the belief and ideas that are conveyed in a religious painting,' and it also refers to the performer.[51] A male etoki is depicted in the Sanjūniban utaawase scroll; whereas a Kumano bikuni etoki is depicted in action with a Kumano Ten Worlds Mandala in the Sumiyoshi-sha saireizu screen, held in the Freer Gallery.

    Figure 4. Nachi Pilgrimage Mandala. Source: Hagiwara Tatsuo, Miko to Bukkyō-shi, Yoshikawa Kōbunkan, Tokyo, 1983, frontispiece

  63. Almost like Google Earth, the viewpoint of the painting is an aerial perspective, panoramic and pictorial. The whole is however divided into scenes which should unfold one after the other in a temporal sequence. It suggests that the narrative of the etoki might have taken on some of the qualities of the verbal journeys (michiyuki) in performed narratives.[52] The viewer is not really a viewer, so much as a listener, as the focus of the etoki performance would have been the verbal (perhaps musicalised) narrative, with the picture as a visual aid. The content of the painting is so dense that any one performance could not include it all, but it surely offers numerous possible narratives.
  64. The listener/viewer is meant to 'travel through' the mandala, guided by an etoki. We the narratees are represented in the picture by the pair of white clad pilgrims, who appear in several successive scenes which unfold continuously, led by their yamabushi guides.
  65. The mandala is crowded with many beautifully delineated figures, which Nishiyama classifies into two types.[53] The first is of realistic recognisable people such as the guides (sendatsu yamabushi), Kōya ascetics (hijiri), temple workers, dengaku performers, local people visiting the shrine, who all form a procession marking the pilgrimage route from the shore at the lower right, across to the Ninohashi bridge, then diagonally right across the picture to the Nachi falls, then across to the Myōhōzan temple on the upper left. Somewhat unique among this group is the pilgrim couple (a married couple, according to Nishiyama) dressed in white, the clothing of the dead, who are the archetypal pilgrims. This whole group describes the pilgrimage route. Clusters of figures in certain precincts show the significance of those places, their gestures and actions indicating the function of each place, such as acts of worship.
  66. The second group of figures is mythical, and is clearly connected with specific tales of temple/shrine origin (engitan) and miracles. For example, the holy man Mongaku and the two children of Fudōmyō-ō at the foot of the Nachi falls; and the Heian lady poet Izumi Shikibu under the cherry trees at Ninoseibashi bridge (note that she is at the foot of the bridge, that archetypal spot), whose presence is symbolic of the welcoming nature of Kumano for women. These legendary or mythical figures provide direct links with the narrative worlds of setsuwa, engitan and miracle tales. The figures in the first group seem oblivious to those in the second group, who are part of an unseen spiritual landscape. Strangely, however, there seems to be no visual reference to the Kumano Gongen setsuwa about the Gosuiden lady discussed above. It can be noted of course that this mandala depicts only one of the three sacred Kumano sites, excluding Hongū or Shingū.
  67. The plane of the picture consists of three sections (in Nishiyama's analysis): the bottom third (along the seashore) is delineated with a line of stylised cloud tapering into mist; the upper two-thirds are divided diagonally by the path from lower left to upper right, into the Nachi Falls triangle, and the upper section with the Myōhōzan triangle.
  68. Let us take a journey following the Nachi pilgrimage route through this mandala, following the progress of the two white clad pilgrims who are drawn in several progressive scenes.[54]

    1. Lower right hand corner. At the gateway of the torii, the two commence their journey. They seem oblivious to the scene of ritual suicide taking place to their left.

    Fudarakusen-ji (Skt. potalaka). This is located at the start of the journey but it is also an ending. It is a point which links ancient Kumano as a place of death with the new Buddhist Kumano as a place of life after death, of new life, the earthly realisation of Kannon's Pure Land. From here, the rudderless, oarless boats set sail for Kannon's abode. This reflects a practice of religious suicide, when a devotee was nailed into a coffin-like box and set adrift onto the ocean. Twenty-five priests are documented as having done this between 868 and 1722. A famous passage in the Heike monogatari relates Koremori's suicide by drowning at this coast. It also links with the practice of burial at sea.

    2. The pilgrim pair (couple) are next drawn crossing the Ninoseibashi bridge, having passed the legendary figure of Izumi Shikibu.

    3. The couple is next seen having just crossed another bridge, where the abdicated monarch Kazan is in dialogue with a divine youth astride the neck of a dragon in the Nachi River. They are now heading up the diagonal path of Daimonzaka towards the Daimon gate. After this point the pilgrimage path divides in two: the lower path by the Oku no in, and the upper path directly to the dengaku performance space.

    4. Past the Oku no in compound, they then proceed through the Chūmon (Middle Gate), pass a bell tower, then go past an ascetic performing hot water ablutions. They go through a clearing with dengaku performers and ceremonial log-pulling.

    5. They then proceed to the main complex of Nachi buildings where they are pictured before monks reciting sutras at the Raidō.

    6. Before the goshintai, enshrined kami, at the Nyoirindō.

    7. In the courtyard (saiwa) of the Nachi shrine.

    8. Upper left corner, at the graveyard on Mount Myōhōzan, and the Daishidō, the memorial hall of Kōbō Daishi.
  69. Kumano was a favoured pilgrimage destination for imperial consorts and other Heian court women, and later elite samurai women, before it became popular with commoners. The feminine, even feminist, nature of the Kumano message, 'the meanings that Kumano held for women,'[55] can be seen in the presence at the bottom of the mandala of Izumi Shikubu, who was given permission by the Kumano deity to enter the sacred precinct even while menstruating. Also, the destination of the pilgrimage is the Myōshinji Temple on top of Mount Myōhō in the upper left section, the institutional headquarters for the Kumano bikuni. The motive for many female pilgrims lies in the favour of Kumano deities, such as Kannon and Musubi, towards the granting of children.

  70. Ruch argues that the various examples of iconographic and other evidence about the nature of the Kumano bikuni, should not be seen as a composite whole but as showing a variety of types of Kumano bikuni. However, seen even more broadly, they form part of a type of woman who is not part of normal society, but is in a liminal position. She is in fact the successor of the miko (female shamans) who were losing their authority to institutionalised religion, especially Buddhism, in the medieval period. Like the miko and other itinerants, the Kumano bikuni is situated outside the ie, the corporate household which became the main organisational unit of society in medieval Japan.[56] Women outside the security of the ie had to band together and form living support networks with an occupational focus. There were abundant nunneries for the wealthy and socially well-situated, but for the poor and those of low social station, itinerant work was the typical solution. The Kumano bikuni were one such group.
  71. The setsuwa dealing with the legendary origins of Kumano also have a strong focus on the feminine nature of the Kumano faith and were among the messages which the Kumano bikuni would have taught to their listeners. These stories were part of a huge complex of narratives circulated orally and later in written form in medieval Japan by a dense network of storytellers, male and female. The storytelling network linked a number of key nodes or centres, one of which was Kumano. There was a movement of people and information criss-crossing Japan, a flow of ideas, of concepts of salvation, and teachings on how to live and how to die. It was also a circulation of money (collection of donations, kanjin) and religious artefacts (amulets) and services. This formed a religious economy surrounding the ideas of shinbutsu shūgō and honji suijaku. Women were still an important part of this economy, as producers, distributors and consumers.
  72. The two mandalas discussed above presented the Kumano faith in symbolic form. The Kumano Ten Worlds Mandala combined the two worlds of the human life cycle and the underworld of hell and the means of escape from it. The Nachi Pilgrimage Mandala presented the Pure Land in microcosm, as a goal and as a journey. That is, these two types of journey were recreated verbally by the bikuni who pointed the way to nirvana and the mercy of Amida Buddha. The depictions of hell and the teachings relating to the female state were particularly relevant to women. The mandalas preached the meaning of both life and death, and offered salvation and hope, especially for women.
  73. Women in this era were excluded from the major religious precincts, such as Kōyasan because of the teaching of the five hindrances, and because of pre-Buddhist ideas of blood pollution. However, women continued to make a contribution to spiritual welfare at the margins of society, and preached messages of hope to women. The work of the Kumano bikuni as etoki served to counteract the inherent misogyny of Buddhism in this era with Japanese indigenous positive attitudes to fertility, birth, sexuality and motherhood.


    [1] I am grateful to two anonymous readers for their comments, and for pointing me to Faure's book and giving much helpful advice. I have not been able to act on all of the advice, but their penetrating insights have enabled me to deepen my understanding of the Kumano bikuni as etoki narrators and as nuns.

    [2] Wakita Haruko, Josei geinō no genryū: kugutsu, kusemai, shirabyōshi, Tokyo: Kadokawa shoten, 2001.

    [3] Keller Kimbrough, 'Tourists in paradise: writing the Pure Land in medieval Japanese fiction,' in Japanese Journal of Religious Studies, vol. 33, no. 2, (2006), pp. 269–96.

    [4] Bernard Faure, The Power of Denial: Buddhism, Purity, and Gender, Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2003, p. 53.

    [5] Faure, The Power of Denial, p. 78.

    [6] D. Max Moerman, Localizing Paradise: Kumano Pilgrimage and the Religious Landscape of Premodern Japan, Harvard: Harvard University Press, 2005, p. 203; Wakita, Haruko, Women in Medieval Japan: Motherhood, Household Management and Sexuality, trans. Alison Tokita, Melbourne: MAI Press, 2006, p. 28; Faure, The Power of Denial, p. 225.

    [7] Rajyashree Pandey, 'Women, sexuality, and enlightenment: Kankyo no Tomo,' in Monumenta Nipponica, vol. 50, no. 3 (Autumn, 1995): 325–56, p. 325.

    [8] Pandey writes: 'This refers to the exclusion of women from five forms of rebirth – the female body "cannot become first a Brahma god king, second the god Sakra, third king Māra, fourth a sage king turning the wheel, fifth the Buddha-body. How can the body of a woman speedily achieve buddhahood?"' Cited in Pandey, 'Women, sexuality, and enlightenment,' p. 326, from Leon Hurwitz, tr., Scripture of the Lotus Blossom of the Fine Dharma (The Lotus Sutra), Columbia U.P. 1976, pp. 201–02.

    [9] Alison Tokita, 'The image of the yūjo in Japanese musical narratives in the Edo period (1600–1867),' in Representations of Women in Japanese Cultural Forms, ed. Alison Tokita, Melbourne: Japanese Studies Centre, 1995, pp. 1–20.

    [10] Moerman, Localizing Paradise, pp. 110–11.

    [11] Moerman, Localizing Paradise, pp. 75–76.

    [12] Keller Kimbrough, 'Preaching the animal realm in late medieval Japan,' in Asian Folklore Studies, vol. 65 (2006), 179–204, p. 180.

    [13] Alison Tokita, 'Katarimono ni okeru michiyuki: sekkyō-bushi 'Oguri Hangan' o chūshin ni (The mitiyuki in Japanese performed narratives: focussing on the sekkyō-bushi narrative Oguri Hangan),' in Proceedings of the Third Symposium on Global Perspectives in Japanese Studies, Tokyo: Ochanomizu University Graduate School of Humanities and Sciences, 2002, pp. 2.29–2.35.

    [14] Elizabeth Ten Grotenhuis, Japanese Mandalas: Representations of Sacred Geography, Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 1999, p. 166.

    [15] Barbara Ruch, 'Woman to woman: Kumano bikuni proselytizers in medieval and early modern Japan,' in Engendering Faith: Women and Buddhism in Premodern Japan, ed. Barbara Ruch, Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Center for Japanese Studies, 2002, pp. 537–80.

    [16] Nishiyama Masaru, Seichi to sōzōryoku: sankei mandara o yomu, Kyoto: Hōzōkan, 1998, p. 175.

    [17] Wakita, Women in Medieval Japan, p. 29.

    [18] Nishiyama, Seichi to sōzōryoku, pp. 3–34.

    [19] Wakita, Women in Medieval Japan, pp. 115–17; Faure, The Power of Denial, p. 35.

    [20] Wakita Haruko, 'The formation of the ie and medieval myth: the Shintō-shū, theatre, and picture scrolls of temple origins,' in Gender and Japanese History, vol. 1, ed. Haruko Wakita, Anne Bouchy and Ueno Chizuko, Osaka: Osaka University Press, 1999, pp. 53–85.

    [21] Barbara Ruch, 'Origins of the Companion Library: an anthology of medieval Japanese stories,' in The Journal of Asian Studies, vol. 30, no. 3 (1971) 593–610.

    [22] Otogi-zōshi, Nihon koten bungaku taikei, vol. 38, Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 1958, pp. 411–33.

    [23] Moerman, Localizing Paradise, p. 219.

    [24] Wakita Haruko, 'The formation of the ie and medieval myth,' pp. 53-85.

    [25] Wakita, Women in Medieval Japan, p. 32.

    [26] Moerman, Localizing Paradise, p. 216, n. 91.

    [27] Kaminishi, Explaining Pictures, p. 142; Kimbrough, 'Preaching the animal realm in late medieval Japan,' pp. 181–82; Hosokawa Kumiko, 'Chikamatsu jōruri Shume Hōgan Morihisa ni egakareta Kumano Bikuni no etoki: e-iri jūnanagyōbon sashi-e no zuzō shiryō to shite no ikkōsatsu,' in Etoki kenkyū, nos. 20-21, 2007, pp. 199–213.

    [28] Hagiwara Tatsuo, Miko to Bukkyō-shi:Kumano bikuni no shimei to tenkai, Tokyo: Yoshikawa Kōbunkan, 1983, p. 70.

    [29] Ten Grotenhuis, Japanese Mandalas, p. 1.

    [30] Kaminishi, Explaining Pictures, p. 7.

    [31] Kaminishi, Explaining Pictures, p. 10.

    [32] Hagiwara, Miko to Bukkyō-shi, pp. 69–70; Alison Tokita, Michiyuki to Nihon Bunka: Geinō o chūshin ni (The Michiyuki in Japanese Performing Arts), Nichibunken Forum Pamphlet, Kyoto: International Research Center for Japanese Studies, 1999.

    [33] Faure, The Power of Denial, p. 53.

    [34] Moerman, Localizing Paradise, pp. 65–75.

    [35] Nishiyama, Seichi to sōzōryoku, p. 175.

    [36] Moerman, Localizing Paradise, p. 27.

    [37] Nishiyama, Seichi to sōzōryoku, p. 175.

    [38] Kaminishi, Explaining Pictures, p. 140.

    [39] Kuroda Hideo, 'The Kumano kanshin jikkai mandara and the lives of the people in early modern Japan,' trans. Haruko Wakabayashi, in Practicing the Afterlife: Perspectives from Japan, ed. Susanne Formanek and William R. LaFleur, Vienna: österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2004.

    [40] Kuroda, 'The Kumano kanshin jikkai mandara, p. 117.

    [41] Kaminishi, Explaining Pictures, p. 144.

    [42] Kaminishi, Explaining Pictures, p. 137.

    [43] Kaminishi, Explaining Pictures, p. 144.

    [44] Kuroda, 'The Kumano kanshin jikkai mandara and the lives of the people in early modern Japan,' p. 109.

    [45] Kimbrough, 'Tourists in paradise: writing the Pure Land in medieval Japanese fiction,' p. 270.

    [46] Wakita, Women in Medieval Japan, pp. 11–45.

    [47] Nishiyama, Seichi to sōzōryoku, p. 18.

    [48] Moerman, Localizing Paradise.

    [49] Moerman, Localizing Paradise, pp. 2, 36.

    [50] Nishiyama, Seichi to sōzōryoku, pp. 188–89.

    [51] Kuroda, 'The Kumano kanshin jikkai mandara and the lives of the people in early modern Japan,' p. 102.

    [52] See Tokita, Michiyuki to Nihon Bunka: Geinō o chūshin ni (The Michiyuki in Japanese Performing Arts).

    [53] Nishiyama, Seichi to sōzōryoku, p. 188-89.

    [54] Moerman, Localizing Paradise, p. 25–26. Such a journey would take two whole days, according to Ten Grotenhuis, Japanese Mandalas, p. 174.

    [55] Moerman, Localizing Paradise, pp. 181–231.

    [56] Wakita, Women in Medieval Japan.


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