TRANS-ASIAN BUDDHIST CIRCUIT
The most updated version of this document will be found here on Medium.
In line with the emergent scholarly focus on religious circuits for tourism and development, this research grows out of my current post-doctoral project about Yogascapes in Japan and my previous project in India, Imagining Sanskrit Land. It explores the connections between these countries and expands the analytical frame to include the Chinese Yogascape (中国 zhōngguó 瑜伽 yújiā 景观 jǐngguān). The aim is to quantify and qualify the dynamics of soft power narratives situating Yoga-inflected and Buddhist-inspired tourism and development along the Trans-Asian Buddhist Circuit (TABC).
First unveiled in 2013, the TABC is an international collaboration between India and Japan. It continues to form part of the larger Japan and India Vision 2025 Special Strategic and Global Partnership. Part of this includes the VAKYO Initiative, which further cements the Japan-India connection through developing tourism at the two end points of the TABC, namely, Varanasi, India and Kyoto, Japan. Hence, the name, VA-KYO.
This capitalizes on the historical transmission and expansion of Buddhism across Asia through merging cultural heritage with modernity, development and tourism. Part of Yoga’s appeal in Japan and other Asian countries relates to how it cultivates a Pan-Asian sentiment. The same can be said of Yoga with the cultural exchange of Jiu Jitsu and Yoga teachers between the two nations dating back to independence struggles 100 years ago when Russia was defeated by Japan.
Yoga is popular as a vehicle to connect to an “ancient future”. However, India, as much as it wishes, does not fully control the Yoga and Buddhism narratives. The production of legitimacy and authority in diplomatic and economic arenas involves interweaving narratives involving a product, a place, and a nation, through which nations work to control their own images by implementing strategic communication strategies. Furthermore, other nations seek to also utilize these Indic cultural items for their own strategic purposes. China, for instance, is considered to be the economic Yoga superpower. This is because most of the yoga-related products (mats, clothing, etc.) are produced in China. Also, China’s domestic Yoga and wellness market is rapidly increasing. This is because of the economic development it experiences and middle-class cosmopolitan aspiration Yoga, particularly, symbolizes.
As well, while China builds the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), it is aware of the importance of employing Buddhism as a vital domestic and international soft power asset. It is winning the soft power war for control of India’s Buddhist Circuit(s), especially in Nepal through heavily investing in trade, the USD70 billion South Asian wellness tourism industry, transportation economies and Buddhist infrastructure in Nepal. So too, India, as well as other Buddhist countries are in a fierce competition to control Buddhist heritage sites, as evidenced by China essentially buying the birth place of Buddha, Lumbini, Nepal, through a USD3 billion investment package. Yet, in both instances, Buddhism suffers from the same ahistorical reconstructionism that Yoga does through its strong emphasis in public diplomacy.
However, while Yoga is said to be an important cultural bridge for pacifying relations, as the opening of the China-India Yoga College at Yunnan Minzu University, Kunming in 2015, demonstrates; and considering that the “TABC acts as a cultural and social integrator for Asian Nations,” to “help strengthen relations between countries that share a Buddhist heritage”; considering that Yoga and Buddhism act as cultural bridges but are also employed as competitive diplomatic tools…what, then, are the potential outcomes?
These are apparently the prime destinations. A cursory glance with a basic knowledge of geography might quickly reveal some oddities in this list. All the temples listed in Combodia*** are actually in Thailand. All the temples listed in Malaysia are actually in Cambodia. Some of the places located in India are actually in Nepal. Some of the temples located in Indonesia are actually in Malaysia.
Here is a screen shot of the map I just made plotting the main “nodes of Buddhism” along the circuit. Link to actual map is here:
This is the list as per the first image above with some approximate addresses and the corrections in terms of identifying the wrong countries where temples are located. Who is in charge of this map and this circuit? It’s the India Center…http://www.india-center.org/
· Varanasi — Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India varanasi.nic.in
· Bodhgaya — Bihar, India
· Vaishali — Harpur Basant, Bihar 843143, India
· Nalanda — Bargaon, Bihar 803111, India
· Rajgir — Bihar, India
· Kushinagar (death place) — Kushinagar, Uttar Pradesh, India kushinagar.nic.in
· Kapilavastu (raised and lived) www.ddckapilvastu.gov.nphttps://www.tourmyindia.com/pilgrimage/kapilvastu.html (NEPAL)
· Sarnath — Dharmapala Rd, Singhpur, Sarnath, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh 221007, India — uptourism.gov.in
· Shravasti — Shravasti, Uttar Pradesh 271201, India www.greatshravasti.com
· Dhauli — Bhubaneswar, Odisha 752104, India
· Ratnagiri — Ratnagiri, Odisha 755003, India
· Udaigiri — Khandagiri, Bhubaneswar, Odisha 751030, India odishatourism.gov.in
· Lumbini (birth place) Lumbini Sanskritik 32900, Nepal https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qL_Klz348qM
· The Bayaon Temple — Cambodia — Angkor Archaelogical Park, Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia
· Baphuom Temple — Cambodia — Angkor Archaelogical Park, Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia
· Phra Phantom Chedi — Thailand — 27 Tesa Rd, Tambon Phra Prathom Chedi, Amphoe Mueang Nakhon Pathom, Chang Wat Nakhon Pathom 73000, Thailand
· Pho Temple (wat phra chetuophon — wat pho) Thailand — 2 Sanam Chai Rd, Khwaeng Phra Borom Maha Ratchawang, Khet Phra Nakhon, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10200, Thailand — www.watpho.com
· Chiang Dao (doi chaing do — Thailand) 273 หมู่ 5 Tambon Chiang Dao, Amphoe Chiang Dao, Chang Wat Chiang Mai 50170, Thailand
· Tanzhe Temple — Beijing — Lutuo Rd, Mentougou Qu, Beijing Shi, China
· Lama Temple — 12 Yonghegong St, Dongcheng Qu, China, 100007 www.yonghegong.cn
· Guanghua Temple — 31 Ya’er Hutong, Shi Cha Hai, Xicheng Qu, Beijing Shi, China
· Yungang Caves — Nanjiao, Datong, Shanxi, China, 037007
· Longmen Caves — 13 Long Men Zhong Jie, Luolong Qu, Luoyang Shi, Henan Sheng, China — www.lmsk.cn
· Chenggong, Kunming, China — www.ymu.edu.cn
· Dharmikarama — 24, Jalan Burma, Pulau Tikus, 10250 George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
· Burmese Temple?
· Wat Chaiyamangalaram — 17, Lorong Burma, Pulau Tikus, 10250 George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
· Wat Buddpharam -- ???
· Kek Lok Si — Kek Lok Si Temple, 11500 Ayer Itam, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
· Borodbudur — Jl. Badrawati, Kw. Candi Borobudur, Borobudur, Kec. Borobudur, Magelang, Jawa Tengah, Indonesia borobudurpark.com
· Horyuji Yakusiji — 1–1–1 Hōryūji Sannai, Ikaruga-chō, Ikoma-gun, Nara-ken 636–0115, Japan — www.horyuji.or.jp
· Higashi Honganji -７５４ Tokiwachō, Shimogyō-ku, Kyōto-shi, Kyōto-fu 600–8505, Japan — www.higashihonganji.or.jp
· Nagashima ??? 198 gangsho-ji ??? Tawarayachō, Nakagyō-ku, Kyōto-shi, Kyōto-fu 604–0952, Japan — www.k-kyoku.net — https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nagashima
· Hojujiden — 655 Sanjūsangendōmawari, Higashiyama-ku, Kyōto-shi, Kyōto-fu 605–0941, Japan
Patrick McCartney, PhD, is a JSPS Post-Doctoral fellow at the Graduate School of Global Environmental Studies at Kyoto University in Japan. Patrick explores the communication strategies involved in the politics of imagination, the sociology of spirituality, the anthropology of religion, and the economics of desire in relation to the imaginative consumption of global yoga. His current project focuses on the Japanese yoga industry in relation to global wellness tourism and can be followed at yogascapesinjapan.com.
© 2019 Patrick McCartney
Yogascapes in Japan by Patrick McCartney is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.