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At first glance, the evolution of the relationship between local gods and Buddhas seems relatively simple: from separate existence, to coexistence without fusion, to fusion, clear-cut separation and finally peaceful coexistence. This article intends to show, from a specific example, that the reality was much more complex. The fusion, though it began early on, was never complete. The god Hachiman appears, from the beginning, strongly linked to Buddhism to the point of being quickly considered a bodhisattva. However, his sanctuary of Iwashimizu has become the second of the twenty-two most important Shintō shrines in the country. On the other hand, his assimilation to the Emperor Ōjin made Hachiman an imperial ancestor in the same way as the great goddess Amaterasu. The “great bodhisattva” Hachiman was also considered the tutelary divinity of warriors. Through studying the successive transformations of one of the most “Buddhicized” of the indigenous gods, we show that these god never lost any of their particular divinity.

François Macé
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