Topographies of the Sacred in Medieval Japan


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


History of Art


Between the 12th to 16th centuries, religious groups in Japan competed with each other to promote centers associated with their preferred doctrine or icon. This study focuses on these sites and their material cultures to clarify the practical effects of religious identities and affiliations. The project analyzes the textual and visual narratives that produced conceptual maps of the sacred landscape in order to develop a textured theoretical model for the rise and fall of places recognized as “sacred” in the dynamic religious environment of medieval Japan. By considering religious sites as living entities and actors—the “hagiography of place”—this study shows how various groups used the visual arts to manipulate notions of history and sacred cartography throughout medieval times.