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Engendering Faith
Women and Buddhism in Premodern Japan
edited by Barbara Ruch

Engendering Faith is a monumental and pioneering study on women and Buddhism. It clarifies distinctions necessary for a proper understanding of just what was understood by “nun” in early Japanese history and offers a great deal of information, knowledge, and ideas that are of critical importance to understanding Buddhist history as it relates to women (and men), and to understanding premodern Japanese culture in general.

The lengthy front matter and twenty chapters open a sorely neglected area of Japanese cultural history by bringing new research on women and Buddhism to the English-reading audience of scholars not only in Japan-related fields but also in religious history, comparative religion, and women’s studies. Richly illustrated and with a comprehensive list of characters, Engendering Faith is must reading for anyone interested in premodern Japanese history, culture, and religion.

Contributors include: Robert Borgen, Chikusa Masaaki, Margaret H. Childs, Martin Collcutt, James C. Dobbins, Anne Dutton, Endo€ Hajime, Nicole Fabricand-Person, Hank Glassman, Paul Groner, Carol Hochstedler, Hongo€ Masatsugu, Masayo Kaneko, Katsuura Noriko, Susan Matisoff, Mikoshiba Daisuke, Nagata Mizu, Nishiguchi Junko, Obara Hitoshi, O–sumi Kazuo, Barbara Ruch, Cecelia Segawa Seigle, Virginia Skord Waters, Marian Ury, Ushiyama Yoshiyuki, Burton Watson, Paul B. Watt, Diana E. Wright, Philip Yampolsky, Mimi Yiengpruksawan, Yoshida Kazuhiko.  

“Through these wonderfully written essays by Japanese and Western authors, Japanese Buddhist women, both nuns and laywomen, stand center stage for the very first time. This is a pioneer work in two senses. It announces the urgent need to study the lives of women in all Buddhist traditions, and it provides us with the methodology to carry out this task. The authors use art, temple records, and historical and literary writings to reconstruct the rich history of Buddhist women’s lives in Japan. This is truly an enlightening book. It declares the arrival of a new era in Buddhist scholarship.”
Chun-fang Yu, Rutgers University
 

“This volume brings together genuinely original scholarship that has emerged from the pioneering efforts of Japanese and Western scholars and two groups: the Research Group on Women and Buddhism in Japan, organized by Professors Nishiguchi Junko and O–gumi Kazuo, and the Institute for Medieval Japanese Studies, directed by Professor Barbara Ruch. These studies address long-neglected questions about the roles of women in Japanese Buddhism and represent the welcomed first steps toward disclosing ‘the other half of Buddhist history.’ Much remains to be done, but the ground has now been broken and a strong foundation laid by the interdisciplinary studies presented in this important volume. Barbara Ruch is to be commended for her vision and her devotion to this project.”
Laurel Rasplica Rodd, University of Colorado, Boulder

Michigan Monographs in Japanese Studies No. 43
Published 2002, 784 pp., b/w & colour illus.
ISBN 1 929280 15 7, hardback, £45.00