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Sala, Emanuela (2022) The Yōtenki: kami identities in medieval Sannō shintō. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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My thesis focuses on Medieval Japan, in particular on the cult of the deities of the Hie shrines, near Kyōtō. This is known as Sannō shintō, and the deities themselves as Sannō (mountain sovereigns). Informed by Tendai Buddhism and linked to the main Tendai centre, the Enryakuji, Sannō shintō was central to the medieval cultural landscape, not only religious but also literary and political. My thesis is the first comprehensive study in English. It focuses on a text called Yōtenki, composed in stages from the thirteenth to the fifteenth century, both by priestly lineages at Hie and monastics affiliated to the Enryakuji. There is no comprehensive research on the Sannō deities. Only one monograph and articles exist in Japanese, as well as a few English-language articles. In the first two chapters of the thesis, I systematise the existing scholarship for the first time, reconciling it with my own textual research. I reconsider the neglected role of shrine lineages and produce a working definition of Sannō shintō which takes account of its continental models. In the third chapter, I tackle the composition process of the Yōtenki. The fourth chapter is the first extensive study on origin stories of the Hie deities, also showing the impact of medieval narratives on modern understandings of their identities. Finally, the fifth chapter shows how one chapter of the Yōtenki self-consciously addresses the continental models which I have introduced in the second chapter. My thesis also includes the first English translations of two sections of the Yōtenki, “Ōmiya no onkoto” and “Sannō no koto”. My thesis is the first introduction in English to the main actors of the Sannō cult, both human and divine. It clarifies the institutional discourses reflected by mythologies on the Sannō deities and sheds light on the variety of purposes for which mythological accounts on the deities were composed.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > School of History, Religions & Philosophies > Department of Religions & Philosophies
SOAS Research Theses
Supervisors Name: Lucia Dolce
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 May 2022 14:49
Funders: Other, Other, Other, Other

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