Click here return to the Hualin main page.

Click here return to the Hualin E-Journal Vol 1.2 Table of Contents page.


Hualin International Journal of Buddhist Studies 1.2 (2018): 70–110;
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Buddhist Arts)

Download full text PDF


On the ‘Shintō’ Statues of Matsuo Shrine: Tendai Buddhist Rituals, Iconography, and Veneration in Japan and China

University of Saskatchewan

 Abstract: Matsuno’o (Matsuo) shrine possesses some of the oldest statues of kami in Japan. A large statue of the male deity Ōyamakui may have been sponsored by Enchin (814–891), thereby illustrating how early we can document connections between the Tendaishū monastic institutions of Enryakuji and Miidera (Onjōji) and Matsuo shrine. In this paper I introduce the statues kept in the Shinzōkan at Matsuo shrine and discuss several key historical documents that tie Matsuo shrine with the Tendai Buddhist establishment in medieval Japan. I also demonstrate how statues of kami also now kept in the Shinzōkan speak to the sponsorship of the Matsuo shrine manuscript Buddhist canon by father and son shrine priests (kannushi) Hata no Chikatō and Hata no Yorichika during the twelfth century. Finally, I discuss a colophon from 1558 that shows how the Matsuo kami shrine-temple complex (jingūji) maintained a special ritual connection to Enchin and the kami associated with Miidera through the sixteenth century.

Keywords: Shintō statues, Matsuo shrine, Enchin, Tendai Buddhism, Shinra myōjin, Japanese history


About the Author: Dr. George A. Keyworth is Associate Professor in the Department of History at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada. He received his Ph.D. in Chinese Buddhist Studies from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Dr. Keyworth has received grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada to support research about and the publication of peer-reviewed articles on Northern Song dynasty (960–1127) Chinese Chan Buddhism and the figure of Juefan Huihong 覺範惠洪 (1071–1128); Japanese pilgrims to Song China (e.g., Jōjin 成尋 [1011–1081]); apocryphal Chinese Buddhist scriptures and the particular case of the Shoulengyan jing 首楞厳經 (*Śūraṃgama-sūtra) using sources from Dunhuang, Central Asia, and Japan; esoteric Buddhism in Tang (618–907) and Song China; Zen Buddhism in Edo Japan and the figure of Kakumon Kantetsu 覚門貫徹 (d. 1730); and old Japanese manuscript Buddhist canons, especially from Nanatsudera 七寺, Amanosan Kongōji 天野山金剛寺 and the Matsuo shrine 松尾大社 canon kept at Myōrenji 妙蓮寺. Dr. Keyworth is currently working on two books, tentatively titled: A History of Matsuo Shrine and Copying for the Kami: A Study and Catalog of Three 12th century Manuscript Buddhist Canons.


This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.