AA12438820.22.1.pdf 1.64 MB
Transformation of Koyasan in Wakayama and Management of religious sites : Maintaining sacredness in tourism development
management of the sacredness
Koyasan has been a sacred place for prayer and training for followers of the Shingon sect (one of the Buddhist schools) since its inception. After the Meiji Restoration in the 1860s, however, Koyasan faced radical political, social, and economic changes and tourism promotion, all of which contributed to the transformation of this religious place to a commercial space. This study used Koyasan in modern times as a case to analyze ways to preserve the sanctity of a religious space under the force of commercialization through tourism promotion. The study looked into the activities of religious organizations, railway companies, visitors, local residents, and the government, based on the idea that a place could be constructed through conflicts and collaborations among different subjects with their various thoughts and intentions. The results of the research suggest that Koyasan was drastically restructured in the two periods following the 1860s. First, in the 1870s, Koyasan largely lost its economic foundation due to a series of land reforms by the Japanese government, and was changed socially due to a lift on a ban for outsiders to enter the sacred space of Koyasan. The second period is the Taisho and early Showa eras (1912-1930s). During this period, under the national boom of tourism, Koyasan became a popular tourist destination for its traditional religious rituals. The other factor of popularity of Koyasan as a tourist destination was the improvement of traffic access to this site by the construction of railways all over Japan and the development of a local transportation system from a collaboration between Nankai Electric Railway Company and Kongobuji—the main temple of Koyasan. This railway company further promoted tourism of Koyasan in order to increase passengers for its trains. In response to this progress in tourism, Kongobuji tried to maintain the solemnity and sacredness of the place by regulating land use through a land reclamation project. Due to this project, the construction of commercial accommodation facilities was restricted, and succeeded in preventing from commercializing the space of Koyasan to a certain level. Thus, the regulation of land use may be an important factor for Koyasan to maintain its landscape and sacredness as a religious place. This case may provide useful implications for those who search means to protect the sanctity of religious places from the pressure to commercialize them for tourism development.
Departmental Bulletin Paper
680 Transportaion Services. Tourism