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Daigo Temple and Shingon Contributions to Japan’s Religious Culture

April 10 @ 1:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Daigo Temple (Daigoji 醍醐寺) located in Fushimi, Kyoto, was established in 874 by Shobo (Rigen Daishi). Its relations with the aristocratic establishment is evidenced by the fact that several emperors and their consorts are buried there. Recent work has established the importance of Daigo-ji as a site that has preserved medieval religious culture, both in its impressive architectural structures and as a literal “treasure house” of art, ritual implements, and manuscripts. Beyond this recognition of Daigo-ji as a monument to Japan’s cultural and religious heritage, however, still relatively little work has been done in explaining how Daigoji was so successful in becoming a site that amassed this rich Buddhist culture and how it functioned as an important political institution deeply involved in court politics. While Daigoji was closely involved with the court, it also played an important role in the history of Buddhism in Japan. Thus, the scope of Daigoji’s involvement in the broadest possible religious, political, social and cultural sense deserves greater attention and study.

Thus, the symposium will consider the notion of Daigoji as a sacred site more generally, and its status as a nexus of multiple networks—dharma, political, cultural and social networks. Its connections with Japan’s religious culture more widely include, for example, being part of the Kansai Kannon pilgrimage route, while the temple’s own chief deity (honzon) is Yakushi (Bhaiṣajyaguru), an important figure for healing and medical concerns. This conversation will illustrate how Daigoji, rather than being just a “storehouse” of the treasures of the past, can be seen as a site that developed through the dynamic interactions and networks of individuals, the production and dissemination of textual knowledge, and as a site of various forms of ritual practice that involved the creation of visual and performative culture. By looking through these different perspectives in analyzing Daigoji as a site, the symposium attempts to clarify how these various factors contributed in constructing the institution that is known today as a great cultural and historical storehouse of Buddhist ritual and textual culture.

This event is sponsored by the Center for Japanese Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. Please visit the CJS website for additional information.


April 10
1:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Event Category:


UC Berkeley


Center for Japanese Studies (UC Berkeley)
Institute of Buddhist Studies