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November 1 - Mountains and Japanese Religions

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McMaster University
Religious Studies
Mark Rowe

Japanese November 1, 2012 – Mountains and Japanese Religions - Tuesday after midterm – no class and no tutorials whole week – week of 19-23 - So much of Japanese are mountains and they separated early clans - Many of them are considered scared - Culture and religion are embodied – the way our bodies are trained and are written on our bodies by how we move - Culture and religion is also written on mountains, landscape, geography and physical spaces – not only on temples - Traditionally mountains were seen a realms of the other world - Mountains were seen as ‘other’ space – places to dump bodies, corpses – there was animal there but also spirits - ‘Narama’ movie – practice that actually happened in the olden times – when you reach 60 your son would carry you up the mountain and leave you there to die – places of death or entries of the other world - Mountains marking the limits of everyday and the limits of our world - Major theme in this class is boundaries – pilgrims cross boundaries, Edo period people were not allowed to move unless festivals, pilgrims and what crossing boundaries does – it causes problems and is a very powerful act and the person who crosses boundaries it gives them much power - Religious people who travelled to the mountain and are considered to be very powerful - Mountains are a source of danger and also potentially a source of power - Kami – why do you do rituals to appease kami? Because if they are unhappy they will bring misery and bad things happen – but if you contain or appease those dangerous forces, they can be turned into your advantage and be used to help – bring all kind of good fortunes - Ex: Think of people and individuals and our greatest strengths are also a source of our greatest weakness – the potential source of your downfall - Cutiefcation of different Gods - turning India’s scary Gods into something good - Three scared sites - Mount Dread or Osorezan o Northern most tip of Japan o Where the dead are o Also the place where hell is o Famous for Itako – spirit mediums (sometimes blind) and they will speak to the dead for you for a fee – greatest boundaries of all – the living and non- living world o It really looks like hell – stinky sulfur o There’s a bridge of the underworld – when you die you would put coins with the dead to help pay to cross - The other two are Mount Hiei or Mount Koya - Mountain Ascetics o Yamabushi – lying down on the mountain and also called Shugenja/Gyoja – do all their practices in the mountain o Shugendo – way of cultivating – way of practices – from that lies outside of Buddhism and Shinto – Kind of combinat
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