The Sacred Koyasan: A Pilgrimage to the Mountain Temple of Saint Kobo Daishi and the Great Sun Buddha

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Takes the reader on a pilgrimage to Mount Koµya, the holy Buddhist mountain in Japan.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“For those who have been to the mountain, the contents of this book should bring memories streaming back, and also illuminate sites on the mountain whose meanings otherwise may have been obscure. For those planning to go to the mountain, this book offers an extraordinary way to prepare.” — Journal of Asian Studies

“The wide-lensed approach employed by the author makes this general study a useful introduction for students embarking upon studies of Japanese religions, but it would best be used as a companion to more in-depth studies … There is much new material here for scholars to build upon. It will no doubt be a catalyst that will inspire further studies on this fascinating site and particularly, one hopes, on the contemporary aspects which Nicoloff brings to light.” — Eastern Buddhist

“Nicoloff … writes extremely well, and his descriptions of the location and of his experiences there make for vibrant and compelling reading … immensely enjoyable … a very useful and finely-crafted description of what one sees and what goes on at a major Buddhist center.”— Japanese Journal of Religious Studies

“…a capable piece of scholarship, referencing academic studies of Koyasan, Kukai, and Shingon. Yet the descriptions of the landscape and ritual activity, and even the lengthy section on the history of the place, are so beautifully written that it reads more like a fine piece of travel writing. This is Buddhism as a living—and lived—phenomenon, and a welcome reminder that Buddhism remains a vibrant presence in Japanese society.” — Buddhadharma

“This is a well-rounded historical and contemporary account of one of the most important sacred sites in Japan. The author opens up a significant area of inquiry for those studying Buddhism and Japanese culture, and integrates the personal dimension with the historical materials in a fascinating and compelling way.” — Steven Heine, author of Doµgen and the Koµan Tradition: A Tale of Two Shoµboµgenzoµ Texts

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780791472606
  • Publisher: State University of New York Press
  • Publication date: 11/8/2007
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 430
  • Sales rank: 1,179,653
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Philip L. Nicoloff is Professor Emeritus of English at the University of New Hampshire.

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Table of Contents


1. Going to the Mountain

The Celestial Railroad
Outside the Fudō Entrance: The Women’s Hall

2. Staying at a Shukubo Temple

Our Midday Arrival
“A Mind of Rapture”: The Morning Sūtra Service

3. The Life and Legend of Kōbō Daishi (Kūkai)

The Early Years
To China’s Ch’ang-an and Hui-kuo
Conquest of the Japanese Capital
The Founding of Kōyasan
Servant to Emperor and Nation
Kūkai’s Theory of the Ten Stages
The “Death” of Kūkai

4. Twelve Centuries on the Mountain

Abbot Kangen Visits the Tomb—(835–921)
Jōyo, Fujiwara Michinaga, and Ex-Emperor Shirakawa—(921–1129)
Kōya-hijiri, the Rise of Pure Land Buddhism, and Kakuban—(1073–1143)
The Kamakura Era—(1185–1333)
Under the Ashikaga Shōgunate—(1336–1573)
Oda Nobunaga: Kōyasan Under Siege—(1571–1582)
Hideyoshi and Kōyasan’s Wood-Eating Saint—(1582–1603)
Under the Tokugawa—(1603–1867)
Meiji Persecution and the Buddhist Revival—(1867 to the present)

5. Court of the Central Halls

The Great Stūpa: Daitō
The Golden Hall: Kondō
Hall of the Portrait: Miedō
Shrine of the Mountain Gods: Myōjin-sha
Some Other Sights of the Garan

6. Three Mountain Institutions

Kongōbu-ji: Headquarters Temple of Kōyasan Shingon-shū
Daishi Kyōkai Honbu: Headquarters of the Daishi Mission
Reihōkan: Museum of Sacred Treasures

7. The Temple Town

8. Educating a Shingon Priest

The Student Years
Advancing in Rank

9. A Pilgrimage through the Forest Cemetery

First Bridge to the Middle Bridge
The Middle Bridge
On to the Third Bridge

10. The Inner Temple and Kōbō Daishi’s Mausoleum

The Halls Before the Tamagawa
The Jewel River and the Miroku Stone
The Tōrōdō: Lantern Hall
The Gobyō: Kōbō Daishi’s Mausoleum
Record of a Night’s Vigil at the Gobyō
The Morning Fire Offering

11. Kōbō Daishi’s Birthday Celebration

12. Celebrating Kōbō Daishi’s Nyujo and the “Changing of the Robe”

Preparing the New Robe at Hōki-in
The Solar Shō-mieku
The Lunar Shō-mieku

13. Annual Rituals for the Dead

Bon: Midsummer Visitation of the Dead
Higan-e: Ceremony of the Other Shore

14. Leaving the Holy Mountain

Sources Cited

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