Research Project


Chinese Methods of Divination: The Case of Shugendo in Japan

George Klonos

The main aim of this proposal is to study the Chinese elements of divination in the Japanese tradition of Shugendo. The question is how were elements of Chinese divination combined with Esoteric Buddhist incantations and other ritual elements such as mandalas? This step involves outlining the structure and components of divination in Shugendo and will involve tracing knowledge on divination to the Asian mainland. Shugendo acted as a repository of Chinese and Daoist frameworks and practices in Japan; indeed, the yamabushi are similar to the early Chinese “masters of methods” (Ch. fangshi 方士) in their experimentation with diverse spells and rituals. The question is how these elements were adapted to Japan and the Esoteric Buddhist framework of Shugendo doctrine, and how the tradition modified them to its system.

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