The Cosmology of Male-Male Love in Medieval Japan: Nyakudo¯ no kanjincho¯ and the Way of Youths

Or Porath*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Scholars have investigated the Japanese tradition of male-male love that arose in the context of the secular and commercial culture of the early modern era. Less often noted is the role of male-male sexuality within a religious framework. This article sheds light on the unexplored religious dimension of medieval Japanese male-male sexuality through an analysis of Ijiri Matakuro¯ Tadasuke's Nyakudo¯ no kanjincho¯ (1482) and its Muromachi variant. Both works glorify male-male sexual acts and endorse their proper practice. I suggest that Kanjincho¯ attempts to perpetuate power relations that maintain the superiority of adult monks over young acolytes. Kanjincho¯ achieves this through constructing its own cosmology, built on a Buddhist cosmogony, soteriology, a pantheon of divinities and ethical norms, which, in effect, endows homoeroticism with sacrality. My analysis of Kanjincho¯ provides a nuanced understanding of male-male sexuality in Japanese Buddhism and the ideological context in which the text is embedded.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)241-271
Number of pages31
JournalJournal of Religion in Japan
Volume4
Issue number2-3
DOIs
StatePublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Buddhism
  • chigo/do¯ji
  • cosmology
  • male-male sexuality
  • medieval Japan

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