A detailed and animating study of the syncretic cult of Kasuga Shrine at its height in the 12th, 13th, and 14th centuries


Kasuga was the Shinto shrine of the Fujiwara clan and was paired with Kofuku-ji, the clan’s Buddhist temple. Since the beginning of the Meiji period, Buddhism and Shinto have been officially separated. At a site such as Kasuga in an earlier time, however, the practices and beliefs appropriate to a shrine and to a temple were linked according to the pricniple that the Shinto gods were local and particular emanations of universal Buddhist deities. Thus the Buddhist deities and the paradises associated with them were present at Kasuga Shrine. The Cult of Kasuga Seen Through Its Art examines the relationships of the Buddhist and Shinto gods of Kasuga Shrine and explains their presence at Kasuga. Using visual art as well as stories and documents, it brings to life a medieval shrine cult and defines its contribution to Japanese religion.

Susan C. Tyler received a doctorate from the University of Oslo and now lives in Canberra, Australia. She is interested in medieval Japanese religion and art.

"A fascinating book offering a rich store of historical and cultural information about aristocratic religious practices in medieval Japan."—Patricia Yamada, Chanoyu Quarterly

"A handsome and welcome book. It is well researched, well conceived, and well presented . . . a valuable comment on and contribution to our changing and deepening understanding of medieval Japanese religion."—Richard B. Pilgrim, Monumenta Nipponica

"This is not a narrowly focused art-historical treatise but a broad-ranging study of the art and culture of one of the great religious institutions of Japan. Students of medieval Japanese history, literature, and religion-as well as art historians-will all benefit from this book."—Martin Collcutt, Princeton University

“An excellent study of a very important topic. The cult of Kasuga is a major phenomenon in Japanese religious history, and until recently there has been virtually nothing in western languages on it outside of the occasional scattered reference. One of the strengths of this work is its thoroughly comprehensible discussion of honji-suijaku theory; it is definitely state-of-the-art.”
—Helen Hardacre, Griffith University