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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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Creating a new order

Creating a new order

(p.30) 3 Creating a new order
In Search of the Way

Richard Bowring

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses how the Tokugawa shogunate went about legitimizing its rule by adapting the Chinese-inspired Way of Heaven to Japanese realities. This was, however, a popularized and simplified version and should not be interpreted as an attempt to create a new ideology based on Neo-Confucianism per se. The shogunate also reduced the threat posed by Buddhist institutions by imposing controls, defining how many schools could exist, and redefining the role of temples so they could serve as a tool of social control. Every person was supposed to register with a local temple to prove he or she was not a closet Christian, a system that led to the development of the Japanese equivalent of ‘parishes’. Exceptionally, one new Zen sect (the Ōbaku sect) was given permission to establish itself.

Keywords:   Way of Heaven, Buddhism, Zen, Ōbaku, Yinyuan, Buddhist commissioners, ‘parishes’, temples

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