This essay takes up how state regulation of religion was managed by Soto Zen Buddhism, with particular attention given to rules governing the clerical ranks and robes.

The 1627 purple robe incident is examined as an emblematic case of the new power relationship between the new bakufu’s concern about subversive elements that could challenge its hold on power; the imperial household’s customary authority to award the highest-ranking, imperially-sanctioned purple robe; and Buddhist institutions that laid claim on the authority to recognize spiritual advancement.