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Transmission and Preservation of Buddhist Sacred Texts in Japan - showing the example of Todai-ji Library

橫內裕人 1

1일본문화청

Irregular Papers

ABSTRACT

In Japanese temples, a multitude of Buddhist canons and sacred texts have been made and copied as the result of the monks' religious and academic activities. And even the small temples in the country, to say nothing of the big temples such as Todai-ji(東大寺), Kofuku-ji(興福寺), Enryaku-ji(延曆寺) and Koyasan(高野山) preserves a lot of texts now. In the case of Todai-ji, the collections of Sonsho-in(尊勝院), Tonan-in (東南院) and Kaidan-in(戒壇院) among many branch temples have been gathered and arranged in the Todai-ji library. In spite of the two times war conflagration in the Kamakura jidai and Sengoku jidai (Warring Countries Period) the library have managed to accumulate and preserve the sacred texts of the branch temples, which covers the 8 schools achievements. Though the sacred texts of Sonsho-in - present Shogozo(聖語藏, Sacred Words Storage Canons) - were offered to the royal family the Todai-ji library still have about 10 thousand sacred texts including some ancient texts and Sosho(宗性)’s and Gyonen(凝然)’s works, most of which have been passed down in the branch temples. Many of the texts had been designated as national heritages befoere and also recently in 2009 1,806 pieces consisting of 872 pieces of hand copy texts and 934 pieces of wood block print texts were named to ‘Todai-ji Sacred Texts’ and designated as a new national important heritage. The Nanbokucho jidai (South and North dynasties period) collection of Tonan-in which possesses 97 kinds of Buddhist texts in the form of 96 books and 225 foldings imported from Song China and Koryo dynasty shows even in the medieval times Todai-ji had continued to accommodate the new Buddhist thoughts in the continent. Some Uicheon editions(義天 版) belongs to it. Also the collection of the Sonsho-in which possesses a few Tang China texts and May 1st Tripitaka hand copied in Nara period shows Todai-ji had tried to receive and preserve the new texts and thoughts of continent from the Nara period. The collection also includes some Uicheon editions. The Todai-ji sacred texts which centers on Huayan and Sanlun but covers all the 8 school works are the essential texts which had supported the academic activities in the Todai-ji. It outstands other Nanto (Southern Capital) temples' libraries. The investigation on the Todai-ji library is still underway and now the texts which shows the details of Todai-ji Buddhist studies such as Rongisho(論議書, debate texts) are on the investigation. The Buddhist sacred texts in Japan have been created and copied following the religious activities in the temples. They have been stored and preserved up to now through the special efforts of many people. These sacred texts are the treasure house which holds valuable wisdom and experiences and can be used for many academic studies such as Buddhology, Buddhist history, Japanese, Japanese Literature and History. We have not only the privilege to use these heritages but also the duty to pass down them to the next generation by proper preservation and repairs. We hope the experience of Japan can be any help for the preservation of Korean sacred texts.

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.