Ohama Riot (大浜騒動)

Ohama Riot was the riot in Washizuka, Aomi County, Mikawa Province (currently Hekinan City, Aichi Prefecture) in 1871, although it was one of the protest movements against Haibutsu-kishaku (a movement to abolish Buddhism), it was an undesigned and incidental riot. It was also called Washizuka Riot, or Kikuma Domain Riot.

Haibutsu-kishaku Movement (a movement to abolish Buddhism)

The Meiji Government issued the edict of Separation of Shinto and Buddhism by Dajokan (Grand Council of state) in March 1868, and the Imperial Edict for Establishment of Shinto in 1870, although they did not intend to exclude Buddhism, Shinto priests who were oppressed by the priests attached to Jingu-ji Temple abusively destroyed Buddha statues and Buddhist objects, and the people who felt being exploited by the temple under the danka (parishioner) system joined the movement then it led to the Haibutsu-kishaku Movement in various places.

Before the Riot

At precisely the same time, Jun HATTORI who was transferred to an Ohama branch office (16 villages in Aomi County, 5 villages in Hazu County, 21 villages in total were called Ohama territory and were controlled by Ohama branch office in Kikuma Domain) from Kikuma, Kazusa Province, implemented the revision of village law, the imperialism education, and the religious transformation such as separation of Buddhism and Shintoism by following the policy of the Meiji Government. And in November 1870, Hattori appointed two Buddhist monks who were Setsugei FUJII from Shomyo-ji Temple in Ohama Village, Aomi County, and Kenryu TAKAGI from Korin-ji Temple, Tanao Village, as a teacher envoy and ordered them to teach the aims of new government simply to the village people. Both monks immediately taught the aim of new government around the villages in the domain and just after the end of the teaching tour, on February 15, 1871, Hattori issued a summons to appear in the temple in the branch office, and asked them about the merger of the temples which was a part of the Reformation. There were 10 questions, and five major questions were as follows.

Should the temples without Buddhist parishioner whether new or old be merged with the other temple?

Should the monks be taken in to the main temple regarding the merger?

Should the temples with few Buddhist parishioners, under conditions that are less than 10 Buddhist parishioners, less than 50, or less than 100, be merged with the other temples?

Although the temple has no Buddhist parishioner, set one temple in one village, and if it has different religious sects in one village and the number of different religious sects is less than 100, should all of them be merged with the other temple?

If the temple has no Buddhist parishioner in the village and many Buddhist parishioners in other village, should the temple be merged with the nearest temple?

The most controversial question was the third question. The temples of the Zen sect and the Ji sect submitted the answers immediately, however, such a merger deprived the economic base and it was a vital questionfor the temples of Jodo Shinshu (the True Pure Land Sect of Buddhism) (described 'Shinshu sect' as follows) which lived on Buddhist parishioners, therefore the monks of Shinshu sect were not able to answer the critical questions immediately and requested to postpone the answer to the Saiho-ji Temple and Korin-ji Temple which had a connection with the domain. However it was not accepted. Korin-ji Temple and other 13 or 14 temples were compelled to submit the letter of acknowledgement which said less than 10 Buddhist parishioners are able to be merged and less than 100 for Saiho-ji Temple. However, the temples out of the village were afraid of spreading the policy of Kikuma Domain and its critical feeling and the sense of aversion of submitting the letter of acknowledgement concentrated in Saiho-ji Temple and Korin-ji Temple. In addition, on February 21, 1871, in the opening ceremony of Tanao Shinmin School in Myofuku-ji Temple, Tanao Village, the educational discourse of Kenryu TAKAGI, a principal of the school, from Korin-ji Temple worsened the situation. Kenryu told that people should chant Norito (Shinto prayer) in front of the gods, as an example of separation of Buddhism and Shintoism which the domain mentioned, and it led to new misinterpretation. The misinterpretation which was to worship the heaven and the rising sun every morning which Kikuma Domain encouraged to do so was the same tradition with Christianity spread to the village people and caused a sense of distrust. Therefore Kenryu's talk which was a refusal feeling of Norito in front of the gods and it developed into libel against Kenryu himself. A false rumor which said 'Next, the domain may issue that not to chant Buddhist invocation even in front of the gods' was spread due to the prohibited of Buddhist invocation in front of the gods and the suspiciousness of the domain, and the situation became as 'If one dog starts to howl by mistake, all the others in the neighborhood take up the cry'.

Outbreak and Conclusion of Riot

Meanwhile, the Mikawa Goho (the defense of Buddhism) Association of Otani sect of Shinshu was afraid of spreading those movements into the other domains, therefore, the association held a meeting of Buddhist monks of Shinshu sect in Yahagi Village, Aomi County by Hotaku HOSHIKAWA, a Senju-bo (specialized monk) and a general office director, from Takatori Village, Aomi County and Tairei ISHIKAWA, a manager, from Rensen-ji Temple in Ogawa Village, Aomi County on March 8, 1871 in order to examine Saiho-ji Temple and Korin-ji Temple closely which submitted the letter of acknowledgement with the violation of the religious regulations after a series of conferences. Although there were nearly 100 monks in the meeting, the controversial two temples did not attend, therefore 38 voluntary monks centering on Tairei among the members from the Mikawa Goho Association went to examine Saiho-ji Temple and Korin-ji Temple. On their way, the followers who believed in the false rumor which said 'The Christian appeared in Ohama' offered to accompany Tairei. On the way, they stopped by at Ryusan-ji Temple in Yonezu Village, Aomi County and Tairei preached to the followers not to be rude. However, some followers who started to make a bamboo lancing appeared among the followers who were making a large paper lantern with the bamboos of Ryusan-ji Temple, the others also followed them, and most of the followers ended up being armed with a bamboo lancing. Then, it rained when they arrived in Washizuka Village and Tairei collected the followers in Rensen-ji Temple and other two temples in Washizuka Village. The branch office which sensed the disturbing movement of the monks sent five officers to Washizuka Village, they summoned the Goho Association to the house of Katayama, a Washizuka village headman, and negotiated with them. Although the Goho Association side demanded a review of the policy of integration and abolition for temples, they did not reach the agreement, and the restless followers became violent for wasting the time then started to throw rocks at Katayama house. Even though the officers from the branch office who feared for their physical safety escaped from the house to the branch office for help, they made the best of their way with a drawn sword because the violent followers chased and attacked them with rocks and bamboo lancings. However, one of the officers among six fell over, due to the sludgy road after raining, and many violent followers attacked and killed the officer. The branch office which heard the urgent news sent the domain force and farmer force and ended the riot due to the arrival of Nishio Domain and Shigehara Domain.

After the Riot

After the riot, Tairei ISHIKAWA and other monks who took a leading role in the riot and hundreds of followers who were involved in killing the officer were captured, and Tairei and one of the followers were executed by decapitation, and the other many monks and the followers were punished after the trials.

A letter from the head temple to Kikuma Domain said that the misinterpretation of branch temples ended with the misconduct and they hoped for clemency. And a punishment letter from the branch office of Minbusho (Ministry of Popular Affairs) said that monks did not acquire the changes of current affairs and went wrong due to personal desires. After the riot, although Hattori revised the policy of the abolished and merger of temples, it was implemented forcibly in Nukata Prefecture where it was created after the Haihan-chiken (abolition of feudal domains and establishment of prefectures) due to the policy of the Meiji Government.

[Original Japanese]