Family Temples and Religious Learning in Contemporary Japanese Buddhism

Jessica Starling


It is well known that in the modern period, the various Buddhist schools in Japan followed the example of the Jōdo Shinshū in adopting clerical marriage and a family inheritance system for the transmission of parish temples. This article highlights the importance of family as the context in which religious professionals are produced in contemporary Japanese Temple Buddhism. I examine how temple sons become resident priests in the Rinzai Zen, Tendai, and the Jōdo Shin schools in order to demonstrate how scholarship that focuses on ordination, taking precepts, and undergoing training at a monastery tends to neglect the less formalized—and less documented—process of young successor-priests acquiring authority and expertise by virtue of their position within the temple family.


clerical marriage; Japanese Buddhism; Jōdo Shinshū; temple succession; monastic training

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Copyright (c) 2015 Jessica Starling

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