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Prayers for Mediation: Thirteenth-Century Textual Culture between Kōya and Kamakura
Keywords: Printing, Japan, shogunate, esoteric Buddhism, Shingon
Abstract: This paper examines several esoteric doctrinal texts printed on Mt. Kōya in the late 1270s by the shogunate official Adachi Yasumori (1231–1285). Conventional histories of Japanese xylography follow a developmental sequence from devotional printing by wealthy aristocrats in the classical (Heian) period, through limited educational printing by temples in the medieval period, to the arrival of widespread commercial printing in the early modern period. This paper examines the complex interplay of soteriological, practical, political, and commercial elements in one medieval printing project to both critique an ‘ends’-based typology of textual reproduction and further develop recent arguments on the role of esoteric Buddhism in coordinating medieval power centers.
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