Gendering Religious Labor and Buddhist Temple Economies in Contemporary Japan

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This chapter explores the entanglement of Buddhism, gender, and economy. It argues that women and their labor constitute the economic bedrock of Buddhist temple communities in contemporary Japan. By focusing on religious labor of two Buddhist women, I show how women practitioners are active agents in Buddhist economic structures and play crucial roles in stimulating and propelling Buddhist circular economy forward on institutional, communal, and domestic levels. The chapter focuses on lay and non-elite Buddhist women in Jōdo Shinshū temple communities: a Buddhist temple wife and a lay member of a local Buddhist women association. In doing so, it unravels the complex and often gendered dimensions of Buddhist economic structures by considering women’s ritual and voluntary labor. Through ethnographic detail, the chapter brings into focus aspects of contemporary Japanese Buddhism that are routinely dismissed as being marginal to “real” Buddhist practice, and the gendered dimensions of labor that sustain it.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBloomsbury Handbook of Religion, Gender and Sexuality
EditorsDawn Llewellyn, Sonya Sharma, Sian Hawthorne
Number of pages211
PublisherBloomsbury Publishing plc
Publication date13 Jun 2024
ISBN (Print)9781350257177
ISBN (Electronic)9781350257184
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jun 2024

    Research areas

  • Faculty of Humanities - Japanese Buddhism, Jodo Shinshu, economic networks, Buddhist temple economies, religious labour, Volunteering, Buddhist materiality, Buddhist giving, fundraising

ID: 360341649