This page is referenced by:
Buddhism in Jilong: The Temples
This page examines the establishment of new temples by Japanese Buddhist sects in Jilong, with a focus on the most important temples, the Kubōji and Kōzonji.
Evan N. Dawley, Becoming Taiwanese
Evan N. Dawley
Pure Land Buddhism
Jilong was certainly no stranger to Buddhism in 1895, which had a long-standing presence in the small town, primarily in forms that the Japanese later described, somewhat disparagingly, as “popular Buddhism.” Jilong contained a number of institutions and practices associated with “vegetarian teaching” (zhaijiao), which had historic connections to the heterodox Longhua Sect that combined worship of the Amitabha Buddha with popular spiritual practices. What Jilong lacked, and the Japanese settlers were eager to import, was the Buddhist schools, or sects, that had long predominated in Japan, with their clergy, monks, and institutional networks. In the context of competition with Shinto, in particular, Japanese Buddhists redefined their religion as both a foundation of a timeless Japanese essence and a modern religion that they could spread across the globe.
As Japanese arrived in Jilong, they moved as quickly as they could to set up branches of many of the main Buddhist sects. By the end of the 1910s, seven different ones—the Zen sects of Sōdō and Rinzai, Jōdō or Pure Land, Jōdō Shinshū, Nichiren, Tendai, and Shingon—all had temples in the city. The most important of these, in terms of their size and prominent locations, were the Kubōji, of the Sōdō sect, and the Kōzonji, established by the Pure Land sect. Each of these had parent temples in Japan—the Kōzonji traced its lineage through a Pure Land temple in the Tsukiji District of Tokyo back to the Western (Nishi) Honganji in Kyoto; the Kubōji had ties to two parent temples (honzan), the Eiheiji in Fukui Prefecture and the Sōjiji in Yokohama—so in a sense they were colonial outposts of sacred terrain. (All of these places are marked on the map on the Sacred Geography and the Everyday page.) Much like the temples of the Taiwanese, they also depended heavily on the actions of local elites for their support. The Sōdō sect, for example, relied upon elite figures like Kimura Kutarō and another settler luminary named Ishizaka Sōsaku for donations to establish its Kubōji, as reported in the Taiwan nichinichi shinpō in June 1906:
As for the Sōdō sect's missionary station in Jilong, it has been reorganized into the temple system, and a temple called the Kubōji will soon be constructed, however only yesterday the sect received permission to collect donations. As for the costs, the cost of construction is 15,340 yen, and the preservation fund is 4,000 yen, for a total of 19,340 yen. Out of this, the plan is that 5,000 yen will come from two parent temples, 10,000 yen from Kimura Kutarō, 2,000 yen from five people including Fujita Kanjirō, Hisatsune Chūji, Satō Ichikei, Kobayashi Isaburō, and Ishizaka Sōsaku, and the remaining 2,340 yen from donations by members of the temple.
At first, all of the sects made use of native temple grounds and buildings, but the Government General apparently grew uneasy with this practice of reconsecration, and in 1908 it halted the practice and informed Taiwan's Sōdō sect leaders that, henceforth, they would have to construct new buildings for any future temples they sought to establish. Whether this decision was to maintain the independence of the Taiwanese temples, as the authorities stated, or to preserve the purity of Japanese religion, the result was to sharpen the distinction between Japanese and Taiwanese sacred spaces.
Sacred Geography and the Everyday
This page explores the intersections between sacred and physical geography, and how everyday human activities merge sacred and physical geographies.
Evan N. Dawley
In the preceding two pages, I have made numerous references to human activity in defining sacred geography and placing limits on the actions of deities, and I have noted the territorial or human bonds that anchor divinities to specific locations or communities. What these references mean is that sacred and physical geographies often intersect and overlap with each other. To put it another way, human activities call upon aspects of sacred geography and sometimes bring them into the world through ritual actions. Traffic moves in both directions, in fact: the hell scrolls referenced in the previous page are based upon journeys to hell taken by spirit mediums and others, including the Tang Emperor Taizong. (Such journeys are, of course, common across space and time; see, for example, Odysseus's visit to the netherworld, or Dante’s Grand Tour of European sacred geographies.) The most important interfaces between the sacred and the profane (cf., Eliade, The Sacred and the Profane: The Nature of Religion) occur at the sites of temples, in everyday devotional acts, and in annual festivals. I explore these institutions through the separate Taiwanese and Japanese pathways, and examine the conflict around annual festivals in a third pathway.
Temples are the earthly homes of deities and the most socially significant nodes of intersection between the different types of geography. Although they are clearly physical structures, because they house manifestations of divine beings, they take on a sacred aura; that is, they become—or rather, societies define them to be—sacred places. The map below contains the locations of the most important temples in Jilong, and readers should zoom in and pan around in order to also see the locations of parent temples and other sites in Japan and China to which the Jilong institutions held important connections. The key institutions that readers will visit in this module include the Qing'an, Dianji, and Chenghuang Temples, for the islander/Taiwanese in Jilong; the Jilong Shrine, Kubōji, and Kōzonji for the Japanese settlers; and the Lingquan Temple, a fusion of Buddhist traditions. In all cases, the deities were moved from location to location in conjunction with human migration. When Chinese settled in Taiwan, they carried their gods with them and built them new homes in new lands. When Japanese colonized Taiwan, they built Shinto shrines and enshrined particular deities within them; even though the kami were everywhere, they had to be invited to Taiwan, installed there by the colonial settlers. With very few exceptions, such as a shrine in Tainan to Zheng Chenggong or Koxinga, the seventeenth-century half-Japanese merchant/pirate/Ming loyalist who drove the Dutch East India Company from Taiwan and installed his own regime there, Japanese settlers did not enshrine local kami. Rather, they imported familiar kami from their homelands and enshrined them in the colony.
When people perform everyday devotional acts—burning incense or ghost money, or offering food, at a Taiwanese temple; invoking a kami with sake or a written prayer at a Japanese shrine—they open pathways to sacred realms and invite divine intervention. Annual rituals, such as the summer Ghost Festival referenced in the hungry ghosts scroll on the preceding page (Zhongyuan jie or Yulan Penhui in Chinese; Bon matsuri or O-bon in Japanese), or the temple festivals examined later in the module, also bring together sacred and profane space. During such events, rituals open gates in the boundaries between worlds and allow sacred geography to spill into the physical and act upon it.
These practices and institutions reinforce an earlier point: sacred space, as imaginative geography, is a manifestation of power. In the setting of colonial Jilong, building and renovating temples, and performing festivals, were not simply acts of faith. They were tools, or weapons, in a much larger struggle over the physical geography of Taiwan and the identities of its residents.
You have reached the end of this pathway and should follow the route below back to the landing page, from where you can move into the rest of the module.