The Opening up of Koyasan in the Age of Globalization---a Study of Temple Lodgings---

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 16:15
Oral Presentation
Miori NAGASHIMA, Hokkaido University, Japan
Makoto WATANABE, Hokkaido Bunkyo University, Japan
Peter RICHARDSON, Hokkaido University, Japan
Masako WADA, Hokkaido University, Japan
This study investigates how globalization in the form of increased numbers of overseas tourists affects traditional Japanese Buddhism by focusing on how temple lodgings on Koyasan deal in diverse ways with the rapid internationalization and capitalization of religious goods and services. The sacred mountain of Koyasan hosts 120 temples and a vast complex of tombstones, in addition to being the world headquarters of the Shingon Buddhist sect. Many of the temples on the mountain offer dedicated lodgings or shukubo providing devotees with a place to stay while participating in religious practices. These devotees were traditionally distributed among the shukubos according to the region of Japan they were from, but this system is currently undergoing change as a result of an increase in overseas tourists due to Koyasan’s UNESCO World Heritage Site designation in 2004. Taking Shimazono’s (1998) four models of religious relations as a starting point, we investigate how the shukubos have adapted in different ways to cope with this one particular effect of globalization. We begin with a quantitative analysis categorizing the shukubos according to their level of support for overseas tourists, such as the availability and type of English-language or multilingual versions of brochures and web sites. This is then combined with a qualitative approach using participant observation and interviews with monks, shukubo workers, and tourists. We found that their responses ranged from granting free access to international guests not familiar with Buddhism to the continuation of restricting access only to recognized believers. Our conclusion was that their degree of acceptance of globalization and their willingness to adapt was influenced by attitudes towards religious individualization (Beck 2010), the perceived relationship between faith and commerce, and the value assigned to the World Heritage designation.