Ama - Buddhist Nun

. bikuni densetsu 比丘尼 伝説 Legends about Buddhist nuns .

ama 尼 / bikuni 比丘尼 (びくに) Buddhist nun

"human fish" 人魚 (ningyo) - see below

The First Buddhist Nuns
Pajapati's Story

The historical Buddha's most famous statements on women came about when his stepmother and aunt, Maha Pajapati Gotami, asked to join the Sangha and become a nun. The Buddha initially refused her request. Eventually he relented, but in doing so he made conditions and a prediction that remain controversial to this day.

Pajapati was the sister of the Buddha's mother, Maya, who had died a few days after his birth. Maya and Pajapati were both married to his father, King Suddhodana, and after Maya's death Pajapati nursed and raised her sister's son.

Pajapati approached her stepson and asked to be received into the Sangha. The Buddha said no. Still determined, Pajapati and 500 women followers cut off their hair, dressed themselves in patched monk's robes, and set out on foot to follow the traveling Buddha.

When Pajapati and her followers caught up to the Buddha, they were exhausted. Ananda, the Buddha's cousin and most devoted attendant, found Pajapati in tears, dirty, her feet swollen. "Lady, why are you crying like this?" he asked.

She replied to Ananda that she wished to enter the Sangha and receive ordination, but the Buddha had refused her. Ananda promised to speak to the Buddha on her behalf.
- snip -
A Bhikkuni (nun) even if she was in the Order for 100 years must respect a Bhikkhu (monk) even of a day's standing.
source : buddhism.about.com

- Reference -


Many Japanese noble women took the tonsure and lived in a monastery after their husband had died.

Many haiku poetesses are known as -ama, -ni 尼

. WKD : Japanese Haiku Poets .

amadera 尼寺 nunnery (for Buddhist nuns)

. Japan - Shrines and Temples .

Shōkozan Tōkei-ji (松岡山 東慶寺), Tokei-Ji
also known as Kakekomi-dera (駆け込み寺) or Enkiri-dera (縁切り寺)),
is a Buddhist temple and a former nunnery, the only survivor of a network of five nunneries called Amagozan (尼五山), in the city of Kamakura in Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan. It is part of the Rinzai school of Zen's Engaku-ji branch, and was opened by Hōjō Sadatoki in 1285. It is best known as a historic refuge for women who were abused by their husbands.
It is for this reason sometimes referred to as the "Divorce Temple".

The temple was founded in the 8th year of Koan (1285) by nun Kakusan-ni, wife of Hōjō Tokimune (1251-1284), after her husband's death. Because it was then customary for a wife to become a nun after her husband's death, she decided to open the temple and dedicate it to the memory of her husband. She also made it a refuge for battered wives.

In an age when men could easily divorce their wives but wives had great difficulty divorcing their husbands, Tōkei-ji allowed women to become officially divorced after staying there for three years. Temple records show that, during the Tokugawa period alone, an estimated 2,000 women sought shelter there. The temple lost its right to concede divorce in 1873, when a new law was approved and the Court of Justice started to handle the cases.

The temple remained a nunnery for over 600 years and men could not enter until 1902, when a man took the post of abbot and Tōkei-ji came under the supervision of Engaku-ji. Before then, the chief nun was always an important figure, and once it even was a daughter of Emperor Go-Daigo. Tenshū-ni, the daughter and only survivor of Toyotomi Hideyori's family, son of Hideyoshi, entered Tōkei-ji following the Siege of Osaka. Such was the nunnery's prestige that its couriers did not need to prostrate themselves when they met a Daimyo's procession.
© More in the WIKIPEDIA !


Rewriting Medieval Japanese Women:
Politics, Personality, and Literary Production in the
Life of Nun Abutsu 阿仏尼  (1225–1283).

Abutsu crossed gender and genre barriers by writing the first career guide for Japanese noblewomen, the first female-authored poetry treatise, and the first poetic travelogue by a woman—all despite the increasingly limited social mobility for women during the Kamakura era (1185–1336). Capitalizing on her literary talent and political prowess, Abutsu rose from middling origins and single-motherhood to a prestigious marriage and membership in an esteemed literary lineage.

Abutsu’s life is well documented in her own letters, diaries, and commentaries, as well as in critiques written by rivals, records of poetry events, and legal documents. Drawing on these and other literary and historiographical sources, including The Tale of Genji, author Christina Laffin demonstrates how medieval women responded to institutional changes that transformed their lives as court attendants, wives, and nuns. Despite increased professionalization of the arts, competition over sources of patronage, and rivaling claims to literary expertise, Abutsu proved her poetic capabilities through her work and often used patriarchal ideals of femininity to lay claim to political and literary authority.

Christina Laffin
source : www.uhpress.hawaii.edu


The famous Taima mandala was made by the Buddhist Nun
Chuujoo hime、中将姫 Princess Chujo、Princess Chûjô

. Taima Mandala 当麻曼荼羅  .


source : kuwappa.livedoor.biz

heoi bikuni, he-oi bikuni 屁負比く尼 / 屁負比丘尼 / 屁負比丘
fart-pretending nuns

Girls in nun's robes walking behind the daughter of a rich merchant, pretending they did it.
Farting was rather common in Edo, with a lot of beans and sweet potatoes consumed on a daily basis.

. chin shoobai 珍商売 strange business in Edo .


bikuni 比丘尼 prostitutes clad as nuns in Edo

source : sakamichi.tokyo
from the Bikunizaka 比丘尼坂 Bikuni slope in Shinjuku, Edo

They walked the streets, clad as niso 尼僧 nuns. Thus it was easy for them to be called inside to perform their trade in the back room of a rich businessman, officially doing some prayer service.
Some lived together in cheap lodgings called
- bikuni yado 比丘尼宿

Some were put on boats along the river Fukagawa for their duties, called
funabikuni 船比丘尼

uta bikuni 歌比丘尼 singing nun
begging for a living (and performing other kinds of service)

In 1743, it is said there were more than 5800 woman of this trade in Edo.

. fuuzoku, fûzoku 風俗
Fuzoku, entertainment and sex business in Edo .


Kumano bikuni 熊野比丘尼 nun from Kumano


sennen bikuni 千年比丘尼 a young nun for 1000 years
never growing old, because once she ate the meat of a "human-fish"

The "human fish" 人魚 (ningyo) is most probably a Dugong.
Whoever eats its meat will live for 1000 years without changing his/her features.
- source : Dugong dugon -

A young woman eats a piece of fish found in the left-overs of her father, a fisherman.
When she learns about the fact that it was a "human fish" she decides to become a nun to atone for her deed. And then . . .

There are many legends about her in many parts of Japan, after all she lived for 1000 years with the features of a beautiful woman. When she stayed at a temple for a while, people became suspicious of her never-changing beautiful features and eventually she had to leave for another place. Often she planted a walking stick in the temple compound before leaving, which sprouted to live on . . .

Yashima Kameyama 八島亀山 in Okayama 岡山
After the young woman had left her birthplace . . there was a young man from Kameyama, who visited the temple 善光寺 Zenko-Ji in Nagano, where he saw a beautiful nun in the temple and told her about Kameyama、so she became quite homesick. When he went back and told the story to the fishermen in Kameyama they went to the back of Mount Boyama 坊山 and found the remains of her old small temple. There was also an old tree, byakushin ビャクシン / 柏槙 (a kind of mountain juniper) to our day, which had sprouted from her walking stick.
This tree was then found to have a disease infecting the Japanese pear trees nearby and was cut down eventually.

In Asakuchi 浅口, Okayama in the hamlet of 貞見 Sadami
there is another tree that has sprouted from her walking stick. It has sprouted, as she had foretold, "tsue wa ikitsuku made" 杖は活き着くまで. . . and now there is another hamlet with a pun on that nearby :
Tsukuma 津熊 .
The tree that sprouted from her stick was a huge yanagi 大柳 willow tree.
It was so strong and perfect that the tree was cut down and its trunck became a beam for the famous 三十三間堂, 京都 Hall of 1000 Buddha Statues in Kyoto, Sanjusan Gendo.

. Legends about the roof beams for 三十三間堂 Sanjusan Gendo .


Yao Bikuni 八百比丘尼(やおびくに)

- quote -
One of the most famous folk stories concerning ningyo is called
Yao Bikuni (八百比丘尼, "eight-hundred (years) Buddhist priestess") or
Happyaku Bikuni.
The story tells how a fisherman who lived in Wakasa Province once caught an unusual fish. In all his years fishing, he had never seen anything like it, so he invited his friends over to sample its meat.

One of the guests, however, peeked into the kitchen, noticed that the head of this fish had a human face, and warned the others not to eat it. So when the fisherman finished cooking and offered his guests the ningyo's grilled flesh, they secretly wrapped it in paper and hid it on their persons so that it could be discarded on the way home.

But one man, drunk on sake, forgot to throw the strange fish away. This man had a little daughter, who demanded a present when her father arrived home, and he carelessly gave her the fish. Coming to his senses, the father tried to stop her from eating it, fearing she would be poisoned, but he was too late and she finished it all. But as nothing particularly bad seemed to happen to the girl afterwards, the man did not worry about it for long.

Years passed, and the girl grew up and was married. But after that she did not age any more; she kept the same youthful appearance while her husband grew old and died. After many years of perpetual youth and being widowed again and again, the woman became a nun and wandered through various countries. Finally she returned to her hometown in Wakasa, where she ended her life at an age of 800 years.

Ningyo (人魚, "human fish", often translated as "mermaid")
is a fish-like creature from Japanese folklore.
Anciently, it was described with a monkey’s mouth with small teeth like a fish’s, shining golden scales, and a quiet voice like a skylark or a flute. Its flesh is pleasant-tasting, and anyone who eats it will attain remarkable longevity. However, catching a ningyo was believed to bring storms and misfortune, so fishermen who caught these creatures were said to throw them back into the sea. A ningyo washed onto the beach was an omen of war or calamity.
..... Fishmen 魚人 Gyojin
- More about ningyo Ningyo (人魚) "human fish" :
- source : wikipedia -

Yao Bikuni 八百比丘尼(やおびくに)
金川寺 Kinsen-Ji in Fukushima -
- source : bqspot.com/tohoku/fukushima -

ara-umi ni ningyo uki-keri kan no tsuki

in the wild sea
there floats a human fish -
cold moon

Matsukoa Seira 松岡青蘿 (1740 - 1791)


Shiira bikuni シイラ比丘尼 The Nun Shiira

Iwate, 釜石 Kamaishi - and Miyagi 南三陸町 Minami Sanriku

One day a fisherman went fishing near Hiraizumi, when a strange old man living in a cave gave him a strange red fish to eat.
His companion 五郎三郎 Gorosaburo did not eat the fish meat but took it home with him and told everyone not to eat it. His young daughter of 6 years named シイラ Shiira was so tempted to eat this meat, she did not listen to her father's warning and ate it.
After this Shiira never died and lived as a nun for at least 200 years. Now nobody knows where she is.
The old man is said to have been 海尊仙人 Kaison Sennin.

After the death of 平泉の秀衡 Lord Hidehira in Hiraizumi, his retainer Gorosaburo took his life to follow his master, as was the custom of the times.
The wife of Gorosaburo took their young daughter Shiira and hid at 本吉郡の竹島 Takeshima Island in the Motoyoshi district.
The Heavenly Nymph at the Cave of the same name at Takeshima island 竹島の天女洞 refers to the girl Shiira, who lived more than 250 years, always looking like a woman in her forties.

Togura 戸倉 - Takeshima 竹島
Different from the other islands in the inlay, this island is of a soft white rock.

shiira 鱰/鱪 / シイラ is the name of the common dolphin, Coryphaena hippurus.

. Hitachibo Kaison Sennin 常陸坊海尊仙人 .


- - - - - - Continue reading here :
. bikuni densetsu 比丘尼 伝説 
Legends about Buddhist nuns .



. Chiyo Ni Ki 千代尼忌
Memorial Day for the nun Chiyo .

kigo for October 2

Kaga no Chiyo 加賀千代 "Chiyo from Kaga"


source :sasa-mi/sigakuh
Stone memorial at Otsu town, Shiga

hitori ama wara ya sugenashi shiro tsutsuji

a lonely nun
in her straw-thatched hut -
white azaleas

Tr. Gabi Greve

Written in 1690, 元禄3年
It is not clear where Basho stayed when he wrote this hokku.
But it expresses a deep solitude and simplicity in the life of the nun, with just some white azaleas to brighten her hut.


Shooshoo no ama no hanashi ya Shiga no yuki

these stories
about the nun general Shosho -
snow in Shiga

Tr. Gabi Greve

Shooshoo .. is the nickname of the resolute daughter of poet and painter
Fujiwara no Nobuzane 藤原信実 (?1175 - 1266) of the Kamakura period,
Sooheki Mon-In no Shooshoo 藻壁門院少将 Soheki Mon-In no Shosho

Matsuo Basho wrote this haiku to honor his host in Otsu
In the year Genroku 2 on the 12th lunar month
. Kawai Chigetsu (1634-1718) .
The Nun Chigetsu, Chigetsu-Ni 智月尼 / 知月

. Matsuo Basho 松尾芭蕉 - Archives of the WKD .


ama-tachi ya futari kakatte hiki daiko

these nuns -
two of them trying hard
to pull a radish

. Kobayashi Issa 小林一茶 Issa in Edo .

ama-tachi ya futari kakatte hiku daiko

working together
two nuns pull up
a long white radish

Tr. Chris Drake

This hokku is from the 10th month (November) of 1819, the year evoked by Issa in Year of My Life. Two nuns in the vegetable field of a Buddhist temple large enough to have a nunnery are working hard to pull daikon radishes out of the hardening early winter earth. Long, thick daikon radishes resemble giant carrots. Pictures of daikon made in Issa's age show them to be between a foot and two feet long and 4-5 inches around, though the varieties widely grown today tend to be a bit shorter. The radishes planted by the temple seem to be long ones, since it takes two gentle nuns, grasping the leafy stems at the top of the radish, to pull this one out of the ground.

Issa has many hokku, often humorous, about pulling up daikon radishes, but I can't help mentioning this one from 1803:

each time I pull
a long radish up
I watch the clouds

daiko-hiki ippon-zutsu ni kumo o miru

It takes so much effort to pull up a single long radish that when the radish suddenly does come out of the ground the momentum carries Issa backwards until he lands on his back in the field, giving him a nice view of the sky. I wonder if the nuns in their long robes also enjoy gazing at the clouds.

Although these long white radishes are usually called daikon ('big root') in modern Japanese, in Issa's time they were commonly called daiko, which has three syllables. This is usually the pronunciation found in haikai, since daikon is four syllables long and harder to fit into lines. Even today the old pronunciation can be found in the name of a ceremony at Ryoutokuji Temple in Kyoto to give thanks to Shinran, the founder of the temple and of the True Pure Land school of Buddhism. On Dec. 9, the Daiko-daki (Daikon Cooking) Ceremony is held, during which fresh slices of daikon radish are boiled in a broth that is given to visitors to the temple and placed before an image of Shinran.

Chris Drake

. Daikodaki (daikotaki) 大根焚 Cooking large radishes .
at Temple Sansen-In, Kyoto, Feb. 10 - 13


noozen no hana afure-ori ama hitori

the trumpet flowers ,
so many, so many -
and one nun

Tr. Gabi Greve

Ozaki Bunei 尾崎文英

. Trumpet Creeper (noozenkazura 凌霄) .
Campsis grandiflora


Haiku about nuns and nunneries

くちなしの香や尼寺はこのあたり 黛 執
どこからも見ゆ尼寺の烏の巣 飯田京畔
ひらひらと秋蝶急ぐ尼寺へ 勝村茂美
一時雨一尼寺を濡らし過ぐ 村松紅花
全身で蛇死にゆくや尼寺冷え 和田悟朗
冬尼寺尾長の列の黙しすぐ 堀口星眠 営巣期

国分寺の在れば朧に国分尼寺 野見山ひふみ
国分尼寺天平の朱の草紅葉 町田しげき
国分尼寺守る杭打つ初仕事 土屋尚
国分尼寺静かに消えて白兎 攝津幸彦
寺町に尼寺一つ花御堂 松本たかし
尼一人見えぬ尼寺なれば冷ゆ 平井照敏 天上大風

尼寺が可愛らしくて赤き秋 京極杞陽 くくたち上巻

尼寺にかかる鯰絵霾晦 宮坂静生 樹下
尼寺に付け文めきし落し文 岩橋玲子(白桃)

尼寺に小人数なる万両忌 森田 峠
尼寺に小句会あり鳴雪忌 高濱虚子
尼寺に尼は住まいて女郎花 佐藤肋骨
尼寺に海棠紅き浮世かな 野村喜舟 小石川
尼寺に猫の道あり白障子 長山順子

尼寺に蕨煮る香や黄昏るる 中塚一碧楼

尼寺のあれやこれやの葱の花 柿本多映
尼寺のくぐり戸低し藪柑子 河野柏樹子
尼寺のはづれ細身の今年竹 岸田稚魚 筍流し
尼寺の什器一式茄子の花 宮坂静生 樹下
尼寺の声ひそひそと竹の秋 原裕 出雲
尼寺の大根料理ほろ苦き 川本照子
尼寺の定家葛の夜なりけり 大石悦子 聞香

尼寺の尼の総出の蓮根掘り 宮坂静生 春の鹿

尼寺の廂の深き実南天 山崎ひさを
尼寺の戒律こゝに唐辛子 高浜虚子
尼寺の早々と掃き納めけり 穂北燦々
尼寺の春の大きなひとしづく 清水径子
尼寺の暗き明るさ夕時雨 立子
尼寺の暗さ明るさ二タ時雨 星野立子
尼寺の木の芽いろいろ見て忘る 関戸靖子
尼寺の木戸に錠なし咲く紫苑 永方裕子
尼寺の松葉牡丹に尼昼寝 長谷川かな女 花寂び
尼寺の桃も桜も濃かりけり 市野沢弘子
尼寺の水屋に小さき若井桶 小林美冶子
尼寺の沢庵石にかぎろへる 飴山實 辛酉小雪
尼寺の珊瑚樹鵯に実をこぼす 大島民郎
尼寺の留守と思ひし障子開く 魚井苔石

尼寺の畳の上の花御堂 松本たかし
尼寺の畳の上の蚕かな 猪原丸申
尼寺の細きかんぬき文字摺草 橋本榮治 麦生
尼寺の編きくわんぬき文字摺草 橋本 榮治
尼寺の縁側近きもの芽かな 高浜虚子
尼寺の苔の中より秋桜 上野泰
尼寺の草と見取図暑くなる 北村きみこ
尼寺の藪が塒の稲雀 横関俊雄
尼寺の藪に仕掛けて鼬罠 橋本花風
尼寺の蝶花石蕗の光輪に 野澤節子 花 季
尼寺の褪せたりといへ濃紅梅 下村梅子
尼寺の起居つつまし寒牡丹 川口芳雨

尼寺の開祖は男山笑ふ 高橋悦男
尼寺の陽の熱量のうとましさ 飯田龍太
尼寺の隣の春田打たれけり 星野麦丘人
尼寺の雨や一葉もまだみどり 及川貞 榧の實
尼寺の飲食見えて春の昼 中戸川朝人 星辰
尼寺の鼠に春もくれにけり 許六

尼寺は桜挿木をせしばかり 山本洋子
尼寺へ京の湯葉屋の寒見舞 内山芳子

尼寺やすがれそめたる百日草 軽部烏頭子
尼寺やのこんの竹の皮脱ぎぬ 岸田稚魚 筍流し
尼寺やよき*蚊帳たるる宵月夜 蕪村
尼寺や卯月八日の白躑躅 飯田蛇笏 山廬集
尼寺や尾はとうに無き懸り凧 鍵和田[ゆう]子 飛鳥
尼寺や彼岸桜は散りやすき 夏目漱石
尼寺や月澱みいる罌粟のなか 仁平勝 花盗人
尼寺や水の匂ひの擬宝珠咲く 豊田八重子
尼寺や甚だ淡き枇杷の味 村上蚋魚
尼寺や生木くすぶる犀星忌 川越昭子
尼寺や置いては使ふ秋団扇 川崎展宏
尼寺や能き*かやたるる宵月夜 蕪村「蕪村句集」

尼寺を裸に稲を刈り終る 右城暮石 声と声
尼寺跡にしたたるひかり種を蒔く 鍵和田[ゆう]子 浮標
尼寺跡や風のかたちに紫木蓮 山崎千枝子

彼岸花は紅笄や尼寺の跡 高井北杜
待宵の平家ゆかりの小さき尼寺 有賀玲子
恋とげて尼寺の猫太りをり 越桐三枝子
拭きこめて尼寺さむき板鏡 宮坂静生 雹
摩尼寺や蝉の経ふる石の上 中村静子
日盛の尼寺ひそとあるばかり 三沢久子
春の月仰ぎて踏みて尼寺へ 植村通草
樒咲く尼寺に干す足袋二足 猿橋統流子
湯婆の袋干さるる国分尼寺 浅井陽子
滅罪の国分尼寺跡桃清ら 細見綾子 黄 瀬
滅罪の寒の夕焼法華尼寺 津田清子 二人称
百舌鳴くやあの鬱蒼が國分尼寺 佐々木六戈 百韻反故 初學
盗まれて尼寺の柿減りゆけり 津田清子 二人称
秋雨に酔ふ尼寺のたつき跡 殿村莵絲子 花寂び 以後
秋風や飛騨にはのこる国分尼寺 松尾いはほ
紫陽花や尼寺の鉦厭ふ子等 雉子郎句集 石島雉子郎
紫陽花や筧に口をそゝぐ尼 寺田寅彦
義士祭来る尼寺の黒びかり 殿村菟絲子
老梅の受身の白や尼寺の跡 川崎慶子
訪ふたびの常座や尼寺の竹床几 木村日出夫
赤松二本つののごと生え尼寺の秋 鍵和田[ゆう]子 飛鳥
長居して尼寺の蚊に喰われたり 薗田よしみ
門に萩尼寺までの男坂 荒川一圃
除夜の鐘伊予国分寺尼寺今も 田村治子
風花に囁やかれゐて尼寺へ 鈴木鷹夫 大津絵
高校野球あり国分尼寺より帰る 武田伸一

source : HAIKUreikuDB


By . Masaoka Shiki 正岡子規 .

amadera ni fuyu no botan mo nakari keri

in the nunnery
there is not even one
winter peony . . .

尼寺に真白ばかりの蓮哉 白蓮

尼寺の佛の花は野菊哉 野菊

尼寺の佛壇淺き落葉かな 落葉

尼寺の尼のぞきけり白木槿 木槿

尼寺の庭に井あり杜若 杜若

尼寺の留守覗ふやおそ桜 遅桜

尼寺の錠かゝりけり門の霜 霜

尼寺や向へはなびくすゝきの穗 薄





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bikunidera 比丘尼寺 - nunnery


Women Living Zen:
Japanese Soto Buddhist Nuns

Paula Kane Robinson Arai

In this study, based on both historical evidence and ethnographic data, Paula Arai shows that nuns were central agents in the foundation of Buddhism in Japan in the sixth century. They were active participants in the Soto Zen sect, and have continued to contribute to the advancement of the sect to the present day. Drawing on her fieldwork among Soto nuns, Arai demonstrates that the lives of many of these women embody classical Buddhist ideals. They have chosen to lead a strictly disciplined monastic life instead of pursuing careers or leading an unconstrained contemporary secular lifestyle. In this, and other respects, they can be shown to stand in stark contrast to their male counterparts.

Paula has a long history of study of Japanese female religious; this is the result of fieldwork spent in a Soto Zen nunnery and historical analysis. The fieldwork was done in the context of the anthropological turn to "reflexivity," which is a swank academic way of saying that the book is sympathetic and involved. Accessible and very informative on the influence of women in the early development of zen and their subsequent marginalization.
- source : www.amazon.co.uk


Preachers, Poets, Women, and the Way
Izumi Shikibu and the Buddhist Literature
of Medieval Japan

R. Keller Kimbrough

According to a sixteenth-century Japanese commentary on the Lotus Sutra, the venerable Chinsô Kashô was once preaching on the “ten wickednesses of women” when an angry old nun stepped out from the audience and shouted, “It’s not just women who are so evil—you’ve got plenty of wickedness in you, too!” Women were reviled in much of the popular Buddhist rhetoric of medieval Japan, castigated for their “filthy femininity,” but their low spiritual status was in fact frequently contested. This dispute over the place of women in Buddhism was often played out in the realm of medieval preachers’ and storytellers’ apocryphal tales of the lives, deaths, and inevitable religious awakenings of prominent female literary figures of an earlier age.

Inspired by the folklorist Yanagita Kunio’s groundbreaking work of the early 1930s, Preachers, Poets, Women, and the Way explores the ways in which such fictional and usually scandalous stories of the Heian women authors Izumi Shikibu, Ono no Komachi, Murasaki Shikibu, and Sei Shônagon were employed in the competitive preaching and fund-raising of late-Heian and medieval Japan. The book draws upon a broad range of medieval textual and pictorial sources to describe the diverse and heretofore little-studied roles of itinerant and temple-based preacher-entertainers in the formation and dissemination of medieval literary culture. By plumbing the medieval roots of Heian women poets’ contemporary fame, Preachers, Poets, Women, and the Way illuminates a forgotten world of doctrinal and institutional rivalry, sectarian struggle, and passionately articulated belief, revealing the processes by which Izumi Shikibu and her peers came to be celebrated as the national cultural icons that they are today.
- source : www.cjspubs.lsa.umich.edu -


Women in Japanese Religions
Barbara R. Ambros

Scholars have widely acknowledged the persistent ambivalence with which the Japanese religious traditions treat women. Much existing scholarship depicts Japan’s religious traditions as mere means of oppression. But this view raises a question: How have ambivalent and even misogynistic religious discourses on gender still come to inspire devotion and emulation among women?

In Women in Japanese Religions, Barbara R. Ambros examines the roles that women have played in the religions of Japan. An important corrective to more common male-centered narratives of Japanese religious history, this text presents a synthetic long view of Japanese religions from a distinct angle that has typically been discounted in standard survey accounts of Japanese religions.

Drawing on a diverse collection of writings by and about women, Ambros argues that ambivalent religious discourses in Japan have not simply subordinated women but also given them religious resources to pursue their own interests and agendas. Comprising nine chapters organized chronologically, the book begins with the archeological evidence of fertility cults and the early shamanic ruler Himiko in prehistoric Japan and ends with an examination of the influence of feminism and demographic changes on religious practices during the “lost decades” of the post-1990 era. By viewing Japanese religious history through the eyes of women, Women in Japanese Religions presents a new narrative that offers strikingly different vistas of Japan’s pluralistic traditions than the received accounts that foreground male religious figures and male-dominated institutions.

- source : nyupress.org/books -


. Festivals, Ceremonies, Rituals - SAIJIKI .

- - - - - Not to mix with

. ama 海女 woman divers .
lit. "woman of the sea"

. People of Japan - ABC index of persons .



Gabi Greve said...

Women Living Zen:
Japanese Soto Buddhist Nuns

Paula Kane Robinson Arai

Gabi Greve said...

Pilgrimages of Noblewomen in Mid-Heian Japan
by Barbara Ambros

as a pdf file online
Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 1997

Even though Heian noblewomen had very sendentary lifestyles, they still
engaged in frequent pilgrimages to temples near the capital. This paper
examines the rituals that constituted their pilgrimages, or monomode, and
their motivations to undertake these religious journeys. These women were
of aristocratic background and therefore commanded considerable
wealth—a factor that naturally shaped their pilgrimages, turning them
not only into expressions of personal faith but also displays of power and

Gabi Greve said...

Shiira bikuni シイラ比丘尼 The Nun Shiira

Legends about
Hitachibo Kaison Sennin 常陸坊海尊仙人


Gabi Greve said...

Kobayashi Issa

ama-dachi ya futatsu kakatte hiki daikon

temple nuns--
it takes two
yanking the radish

(Tr. David Lanoue)