Neither Monk nor Layman: Clerical Marriage in Modern Japanese Buddhism
320pp. August 2010
Neither Monk nor Layman: Clerical Marriage in Modern Japanese Buddhism
Author: Jaffe, Richard M.;
Buddhism comes in many forms, but in Japan it stands apart from all the rest in one most striking way—the monks get married. In Neither Monk nor Layman, the most comprehensive study of this topic in any language, Richard Jaffe addresses the emergence of an openly married clergy as a momentous change in the history of modern Japanese Buddhism. He demonstrates, in clear and engaging prose, that this shift was not an easy one for Japanese Buddhists. Yet the transformation that began in the early Meiji period (1868–1912)—when monks were ordered by government authorities to marry, to have children, and to eat meat—today extends to all the country’s Buddhist denominations.

Jaffe traces the gradual acceptance of clerical marriage by Japanese Buddhists from the premodern emergence of the "clerical marriage problem" in the Edo period to its widespread practice by the start of World War II. In doing so he considers related issues such as the dissolution of clerical status and the growing domestication of Japanese temple life. This book reveals the deep contradictions between sectarian teachings that continue to idealize renunciation and a clergy whose lives closely resemble those of their parishioners in modern Japanese society. It will attract not only scholars of religion and of Japanese history, but all those interested in the encounter-conflict between regimes of modernization and religious institutions and the fate of celibate religious practices in the twentieth century.

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“Jaffe’s masterful investigation of debates and denominational responses to marriage, meat-eating and non-ascetic practices, is the most comprehensive treatment ever produced of the history behind Japan’s married Buddhist clergy. . . . Jaffe provides a model of how to write a book that maintains obsessive attention to detail while grabbing the reader with energetic prose. . . . This book’s reissue in paperback is a boon for teachers.” —Pacific Affairs (84:4, December 2011)

"First-rate. Jaffe’s research is utterly original; virtually none of theissues covered have been seriously investigated in any otherWestern-language study, and there are precious few Japanese secondarystudies in the area. The book is well organized, well balanced, and adelight to read." —Robert Sharf, University of California, Berkeley

"Thatthe male Buddhist clergy in Japan is almost entirely married is ananomaly within Buddhism as a whole. Jaffe’s subject is the problem ofhow this came about. What were the implications for the Buddhistunderstandings of marriage, sexuality, and reproduction? What accountsfor the fact that almost all Buddhist male clergy marry, while virtuallyno nuns do? What does ‘monasticism’ mean in modern Japanese Buddhism?These are some of the questions animating Jaffe’s study." —HelenHardacre, Harvard University

Author: Jaffe, Richard M.;
Richard M. Jaffe is associate professor of religion at Duke University.
Read the introduction (PDF).
Figures and Table
Preface to the Paperback Edition
Reference Abbreviations
Ministries and Other Government Institutions

1. Introduction
2. Pre-Meiji Precedents
3. Jodo Shin Buddhism and the Edo Period Debate over Nikujiki Saitai
4. The Household Registration System and the Buddhist Clergy
5. Passage of the Nikujiki Saitai Law: The Clergy and the Formation of Meiji Buddhist Policy
6. Horses with Horns: The Attack on Nikujiki Saitai
7. Denominational Resistance and the Modification of Government Policy
8. Tanaka Chigaku and the Buddhist Clerical Marriage: Toward a Positive Appraisal of Family Life
9. The Aftermath: From Doctrinal Concern to Practical Problem
10. Almost Home