TITLE

Neither Nun nor Laywoman

AUTHOR(S)
STARLING, Jessica
PUB. DATE
January 2013
SOURCE
Japanese Journal of Religious Studies;2013, Vol. 40 Issue 2, p277
SOURCE TYPE
Academic Journal
DOC. TYPE
Article
ABSTRACT
At the intersection of two important questions in the study of Japanese Buddhism today--namely, the matter of who may be called a nun, and the problem of how to appraise the widespread phenomenon of clerical marriage and family-run temples in contemporary Japan--lies the story of a relatively unknown religious professional, the Shin temple wife, or bomori. This article seeks to analyze the legal and educational descriptions of bomori produced from the Meiji to the early Showa periods in order to locate this female religious professional both within the spectrum of Buddhist practitioners and in the context of early twentieth-century gender norms in Japan. These documents proudly enumerate the special religious status of the temple wife, while expressing some ambivalence about how women may simultaneously inhabit the roles of good wives, wise mothers, and supporting priests. As public documents, these sources tend to mirror the normative discourse on women's roles in Japan at large, but they also hint at the untold story of the bōmori's religious authority.
ACCESSION #
94737500

 

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