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head temple (honzan 本山)

In the Edo period (1600-1868), all Buddhist temples in Japan were organized by government decree into a hierarchies of "main" (hon 本) "mountains" (san 山) (i.e. monasteries) and branch temples (matsuji 末寺) that were organized by denomination (shūha 宗派) and geographic area. Such affiliations have been voluntary since the establishment of the current constitution in the aftermath of the second world war, but many networks of temples still maintain those traditional relationships.