The Rehabilitation of a Japanese Buddhist Heretic

Brian Ryōjun Victoria


This study focuses on the life and death of Uchiyama Gudō (1874–1911), a disrobed Sōtō Zen priest, who had his priestly status posthumously restored to him on April 13, 1993, eighty-two years after his execution by the Japanese government for alleged participation in a plot to assassinate a member of the Imperial family in 1910. This article seeks to answer the questions of how and why this all came about and raises questions about what it means, in Buddhist terminology, to be “defeated” in the holy life and expelled from the Sangha as a result.

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