Hermeneutical Strategies of Japanese Medieval Religions: The Yotenki


The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Dissertation Fellowships in Buddhist Studies


School of History Religions and Philosophies


My dissertation focuses on sanno shinto, a medieval discourse on the deities of the Hie shrines, near Kyoto, informed by Tendai Buddhism and linked to the main Tendai centre, the Enryakuji. My aim is to complicate our understanding of medieval discourses on the relation of deities (kami) to Buddhism: no comprehensive research exists on the sanno deities, despite their centrality in the Japanese landscape. I focus on the narratives included in the text called Yotenki. I assess the role of continental models, and address the problem of why kami identities are often multiple and contradictory. I demonstrate that these are constituted by modular strands of narratives, which could be adopted wholesale or pick-and-chosen. I reconsider the neglected role of shrine lineages.