A Family of Clerics: The Making of a Female Buddhist Professional in Contemporary Japan by Jessica Starling
Date: 3:00pm PST December 11, 2012 Location: PLEASE NOTE CORRECTION IN ROOM# – JRHH 259
PLEASE NOTE CORRECTION IN ROOM# – JRHH 259
PLEASE NOTE CHANGE IN ROOM# – JRHH 259
Since the governmental reforms of the Meiji period (1868-1912), Buddhist priests in Japan have been permitted to openly marry, and parish temples have been passed down from father to son. While much has been made of the “corruption” and “laicization” of the Japanese Buddhist clergy, surprisingly little attention has been paid to the essential role that priests’ wives often play in temple operations and in the propagation of Buddhism at the local level. This presentation draws on two and a half years of fieldwork among temple wives in the Jōdo Shinshū, or True Pure Land School of Buddhism, to bring this untold story to light. Using detailed accounts of two temple wives as a window into the dynamics of Japanese Buddhism “on the ground,” I will show that regardless of their official ordination status, the wives, sons and daughters of temple priests are considered de facto religious professionals, their lives intimately tied to the operation of the temple.