Cutting-Edge Research
in Kyoto University


Mysterious Inventory, Shizai-cho ! Archaeological research on documents of history and property concerning ancient Buddhist temples.

Mahito Uehara, Kodaijiin no shisan to keiei
(Tokyo: Suiren sha, Co., Ltd., 2014)

Do you keep the packing material for your furniture once you have moved into a new house? Your answer to this question is most likely “no”, but some ancient Buddhist temples would answer in the affirmative. Certain temple inventories reveal that the packing materials for Buddhist statues were stored even after the statues had been moved. Archaeological research has provided a key to solving this mystery: the temples were obliged to move to new sites in Nara several times; therefore, the packing materials had to be retained. I have analyzed the Shizai-cho, the documents of history and property in ancient Buddhist temples, from an archaeological perspective. My studies encompass everything owned by the ancient temples – including their facilities, property, and equipment – and clarify the effectiveness with which they utilized those resources, both financially and religiously. The re-use of packing materials is only one detail of the vivid lives led in ancient Buddhist temples, as discovered by me in the pages of the Shizai-cho.

Mahito Uehara, MA
Graduate School of Letters