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In Search of the WayThought and Religion in Early—Modern Japan, 1582-1860$
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Richard Bowring

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198795230

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198795230.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 10 May 2021

Matters of faith

Matters of faith

(p.181) 12 Matters of faith
In Search of the Way

Richard Bowring

Oxford University Press

Although there is a tendency to see Buddhism as being in constant decline during this period, this is a misreading of the situation. Although Buddhist institutions had lost the secular power they had enjoyed in the medieval period, Buddhist scholarship (especially historiography) flourished in the Tokugawa period and many reforms were set in motion. Buddhism also penetrated the everyday life of the common man in a way not seen before, with a growth in street preaching and the growing popularity of pilgrimage across Japan. At the same time, however, it was subject to heavy criticism from Confucian scholars. This was not all. The writings of Tominaga Nakamoto in Ōsaka reveal a strain of sceptical thought that questioned the whole basis of any faith in divinity of any kind. This was never allowed to become mainstream but shows that radical ideas were certainly allowed to circulate.

Keywords:   Buddhist historiography, Buddhist reform, Manzan Dōhaku, street preachers, pilgrimage, Tominaga Nakamoto, faith questioned

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