The unique amalgam of prayer and play at the Sensoji temple in
Edo is often cited as proof of the "degenerate Buddhism" of the
Tokugawa period. This investigation of the economy and cultural
politics of Sensoji, however, shows that its culture of prayer and
play reflected changes taking place in Tokugawa Japan, particularly
in the city of Edo. Play was an integral part of the business of
religion at Sensoji, and the temple supplied both in equal measure
to often rootless Edoites.
Hur's reappraisal of prayer and play and their inherent
connectedness provides a cultural critique of conventional
scholarship on Tokugawa religion and shows how Edo commoners
incorporated cultural politics into their daily lives through the
pursuit of prayer and play.
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