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Description - The Oracles of the Three Shrines by Brian Bocking

This is a richly-illustrated study of 'The Oracles of the Three Shrines' (Japanese sanja takusen), the name given to a hanging scroll depicting three important Japanese shrine-deities, Amaterasu, Kasuga and Hachiman and their respective oracle texts. The scroll has evolved continuously in Japan for 600 years, so different examples of it offer a series of 'windows' on developments in Japanese religious belief and practice. This is a pioneering study of a visual religious image which, though virtually unknown in the west, has occupied a key role in the transmission of both elite and popular religion in Japan. Approaching Japanese religious history through one of its central iconographic motifs helps overcome the false dichotomy between 'Buddhism' and 'Shinto' and allows us to see how an ostensibly 'Shinto' religious image links variously with Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism and popular religions in areas such as divine kingship, inner spiritual cultivation, pilgrimage, nationalism, religious education and even commerce.

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