Everyday Secrecy: Rural Soto Zen Temples and Their Secrets in Premodern Japan


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


Language and Culture of Japan


Despite housing one of East Asia’s most extensive collections of Buddhist secret manuscripts, the role of secrecy in premodern rural Soto Zen temples remains underexplored. This study addresses this gap by investigating how covert insights became integral to the everyday life of these communities. Through close readings of archival sources, it elucidates two critical aspects: the links between secrecy and local networks, and the function of secrecy within each temple’s internal dimension. This book brings attention to the overlooked world of rural temples, uncovering their role in the evolution of Buddhism. It also advances the study of religious secrecy by proposing a community- and practice-oriented approach, showcasing how peripheral actors integrated secrecy into daily life.