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Buddhism 21/24 The Origins of Japanese Buddhism

Buddhism entered Japan in the sixth century of the common era. In the early years, during the reign of Prince Shotoku (574–622) and during the Nara Period (710–784), Buddhism was invoked to promote the welfare of the nation.

The indigenous Japanese tradition known as Shinto, or “the Way of the Gods,” was codified to respond to Buddhism, or “the Way of the Buddha.” When the imperial capital was moved to Kyoto in the ninth century, two new Buddhist schools emerged that changed the face of Japanese Buddhism.

The Shingon School, founded by Kukai (774–835), brought the colorful symbols and rituals of Tantra to Japan.

The Tendai School, founded by Saicho (767–822), introduced the synthesis of the T’ien-t’ai School and served as the spawning ground for several important movements that shaped later Japanese


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