We are currently seeking submissions for future volumes of Culture and Cosmos.
Star Rituals and Nikkō Shugendō
Star rituals in Japan are offerings made to the stars and constellations to increase fortune and ensure long life. They are highly influenced both by Chinese models and Esoteric Buddhism. State ritual tended to focus on the Pole Star, especially in its Buddhist deified form, Myōken Bosatsu. Today, hoshi matsuri (star festivals) are widely performed as annual ritual events held particularly at the beginning of spring. This paper takes as its starting point the unusual prevalence of shrines known as star shrines (Hoshi no Miya) in the vicinity of Nikkō, and examines the significance of stars in the traditions of medieval Nikkō Shugendō, its role in the proliferation of Hoshi no Miya in the region, and the existence today of a star rite dedicated to Myōken in the form of the 'Honoured Star Monarch' (Sonjōō), as a major ritual within the revivified Nikkō Shugendō.