The Intersection of the Local and the Translocal at a Sacred Site: The Case of Osorezan in Tokugawa Japan

Osorezan is often portrayed today as a remote place in the Shimokita Peninsula, a borderland between this world and the other world, where female mediums called itako communicate with the dead. This article is an attempt to sketch the historical development of Osorezan with evidence from local archi...

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Bibliographic Details
Published in:Japanese journal of religious studies
Authors: Miyazaki, Fumiko 1948- ; Williams, Duncan Ryūken 1969-
Format: Electronic Article
Language:English
Check availability: HBZ Gateway
Published: Nanzan Institute [2001]
[publisher not identified]
In: Japanese journal of religious studies
Year: 2001, Volume: 28, Issue: 3/4, Pages: 399-440
Further subjects:B Mountains
B Merchants
B Abbots
B Deities
B Religious Studies
B Hot springs
B Pilgrimages
B Bodhisattva
B Hell
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Summary:Osorezan is often portrayed today as a remote place in the Shimokita Peninsula, a borderland between this world and the other world, where female mediums called itako communicate with the dead. This article is an attempt to sketch the historical development of Osorezan with evidence from local archives, travel records, temple collections, and inscriptions from stone monuments. With newly available local historical data, despite what temple pamphlets claim, we will establish that the cult of Jizō (and the death-associated rituals associated with the bodhisattva) was a late Tokugawa-period development and that the female mediums who have made the site so famous only began their communications with the dead at the mountain in the twentieth century. Indeed, what the historical evidence suggests is that Osorezan was a complex site that developed late for a major pilgrimage destination, in which the other-worldly concern with the dead (through the worship of Jizō) was only one aspect of the Osorezan cult. Major patrons of Osorezan in the Tokugawa period prayed for the success of their commercial enterprises there and local people viewed the site primarily as a place of hot spring cures. This article will examine the history of Osorezan from its emergence as a local religious site during the midseventeenth until the end of the Tokugawa period, when it became a pilgrimage destination known throughout Japan. In addition to its institutional history and its cult of Jizō, we will highlight three factors that contributed to its growth: the healing Jizō motif (especially in the context of hot spring cures); the salvation-from-hell Jizō motif (especially of children and women at the Sai no Kawara and the Chi no Ike Jigoku); and the protectionat-sea Jizō (who served to protect merchants and fishermen from the dangers of the rough seas of the western sea coast).
Contains:Enthalten in: Japanese journal of religious studies