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Worshipping Hitomaro: From Text To Image

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Chapter Summary

A key element in the development of Japanese Buddhism was its synthesis with existing Japanese religious beliefs in what came to be known as honji-suijaku, "original ground-manifest trace" thought, which held that the native deities of Japan were "manifest traces" of the "original ground", consisting of buddhas and bodhisattvas. An earlier phase of Hitomaro's literary reception was his inclusion in the Sanjūrokuninsen selected by Fujiwara no Kintō. This poetic canonization was transformed into religious elevation by Sensai, who, on the same pilgrimage to Sumiyoshi during which the confessional preface was presented, also drew up a so-called waka mandala. In its longing for the distant past within the context of waka composition, the waka mandala prefigures the Hitomaro eigu, in which a poet from the past was raised to the status of an icon. The main model for the form of the Hitomaro eigu is the Confucian shidian ceremony.

Keywords: Hitomaro eigu; honji-suijaku; Japanese Buddhism; Sanjūrokuninsen; shidian ceremony; waka mandala



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