Hasedera and the Proliferation of Icon and Place in Medieval Japan


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


Buddhist Studies


Hasedera has long been one of Japan’s most important pilgrimage sites and one of the first temples to grant access to women. During the Japanese middle ages, Hasedera and many other temples struggled to find support and repeatedly encountered destructive fires. New religious movements also began to challenge the efficacy of traditional temples. In response, miraculous temple histories, images, and practices became unique assets. The Hasedera proliferation is among the most vivid responses and powerful affirmations of the divine in the face of destruction and chaos. In tracing the proliferation of Hasedera temples and icons, I will demonstrate how powerful patrons, mobile monks, co-governing women, and cosmological visions laid the foundations for a society underwritten by miracles.