Dancing the doctrine: Honji Suijaku thought in Kagura performances

Irit Averbuch*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


In order to transmit his doctrine to the multitude of sentient beings, the Buddha preached his principle of up�?ya, skillful means. This principle stands behind the doctrinal claim, found especially in Mahayanic scriptures, that the Dharma can be taught not only through language but by means of all the senses, even directly from mind to mind. The idea of translating the Dharma into physical manifestations, among them dance and drama, is thus very old in Buddhism, and has been expressed in a rich variety of Buddhist arts and rituals throughout the ages.1 This chapter traces the influence of esoteric Buddhist ideas on the deep structure of the native Japanese kagura dance tradition. I will try to illustrate here how a complicated Buddhist doctrine like that of esoteric Buddhism was preached to the common people through the non-verbal medium of dance.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBuddhas and Kami in Japan
Subtitle of host publicationHonji Suijaku as a Combinatory Paradigm
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)0203220250, 9781134431243
ISBN (Print)0415297478, 9781138965164
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2003


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