The Tree on White Mountain: On Ritual, Spirit and Place

Alison Pryer


This article examines the religious significance of the mukaekō, an annual performance ritual held at Taimadera, which commemorates Chūjōhime’s attainment of rebirth in Amida’s Pure Land. Focusing on the artistic, religious, historical, and social circumstances that contributed to the popularity of Pure Land Buddhism in the Kamakura period (1185-1333), the reasons behind early medieval Japanese society’s aspiration of faith in Amida and the desire to be reborn in his Pure Land are explored. My discussion of the interrelationship of history and art examines how both faith in Amida and pictorial expressions of this faith inspired the creation of the mukaekō ritual. Through this analysis, I will show that the mukaekō is a living tradition of medieval Japanese Pure Land Buddhism and a unique embodiment of mutual influences of art, religion, and  history.


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University of Victoria
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ISSN (Print): 1705-2947
ISSN (Online): 1712-5634