Buddhism in Japan

Chronology of Japanese Historical Periods:

Jomon, Yayoi, and Kofun (prehistoric and protohistoric up to 6th century CE)
Taika 645-710
Nara 710-784
Heian 794-1185
Kamakura 1185-1333
Muromachi 1333-1568
Momoyama 1568-1600
Tokugawa 1600-1867
Meiji 1868-1911
Taisho 1912-1925
Showa 1926-1945
Postwar 1945-Present

538 CE:

  • Official introduction date of Buddhism into Japan
  • Korean religious figures visit Japan during the 6th century with envoys spreading Buddhism in order to obtain peace with Japan
  • Distinguishable beginning for Buddhism in Japan (c.552 CE)
  • Prince regent Shotoku (died 621) helped with the early development of Japanese Buddhism by writing commentaries of scriptures
  • Buddhism is declared the state religion of Japan (c.594 CE)

710-794 CE:

  • Known as Nara Period
  • A new phase in the development of Japanese Buddhism
  • Nara Buddhism: a combination of 6 academic schools from China, sprung up during this period
  • 6 schools of Nara Buddhism:
    • Kusha (Abhidharmakosa sect)
    • Joitsu
    • Ritsu (based on vinaya)
    • Sanron (Madhyamika, San-lun)
    • Hosso (Yogacara, Fa-hsiang)
    • Kegon (Hua-Yen)
  • Emperor Shomu, Empress Shotoku, and Hosso monk Gyogi, aided in the growth of Buddhism at this time
  • The Taiho reforms of 702 CE caused some resistance to Buddhism

794 CE:

  • Beginning of the Heian Period in Japan
  • Capital of Japan is changed to Kyoto (794)
  • Ruler at time is Emperor Kammu
  • The "high water mark" of Japanese Buddhism
  • 2 schools came from China:
    • Tendai (T'ien-T'ai) -- brought by Saicho (767-822 CE)
    • Shingon (Chen-yen) -- brought by Kukai (774-835 CE)
  • Esoteric Buddhism (mikkyo)
  • These 2 schools did clash along with the success they both found in this time period

1192 CE:

  • Beginning of Kamakura Period
  • Power held by a group of Samurai
  • New schools of Buddhism begin that are strictly Japanese:
Pure Land (Jodo) Honen (1133-1212 CE) _
True Pure Land (Jodo Shinshu) Shinran (1173-1263) Shinran was a disciple of Honen
Nichiren Nichiren (1222-1282 CE) Sokagakki school founded after 1945 defeat of Japan by Tsunesaburo Makiguchi as Nichiren spinoff
Rinzai Zen (Lin-ch'i) Eisai _
Soto Zen (Ts'ao-tung) Dogen (1200-1253 CE) _