Beyond the Convent Walls: the Local and Japan-wide Activities of Daihongan’s Nuns in the Early Modern Period (c. 1550 to 1868)


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


My dissertation focuses on a group of Buddhist nuns of the Daihongan sub-temple of Zenkoji in Japan’s early modern period. While previous scholarship on nuns has focused on their emplacement within convents, I demonstrate that many groups of nuns were both grounded locally and involved in broader networks. Applying this hybrid methodology to unpublished temple documents, I highlight Daihongan’s local and national connections, conflicts and compromises with the monks of a rival sub-temple, travels throughout the country, network of branch temples, economic bases, and place within Buddhist hierarchies. This shows how nuns utilized Buddhist doctrine and practice to interact with both common and elite laypeople.