During the Kamakura Period (1192–1333), Japan suffered wide social and political unrest, in part because of the military threat of the Mongol invasion. Some Buddhist thinkers began to doubt whether it was possible to practice Buddhism successfully in such a “degenerate age” (mappo).
Honen (1133–1212) and Shinran (1173–1262) argued that the Japanese people should abandon any attempt to save themselves and should rely on the compassion of Amida (Amitabha) Buddha by chanting Amida’s name with faith.
Nichiren (1222–1282), one of the most distinctive prophetic figures in Buddhist history, denounced the degenerate practices of his time and said that Japan could be saved only if it expressed devotion to the Buddha in the form of the Lotus sutra.
Honen, Shinran, and Nichiren changed the face of Buddhism in Japan, and the traditions they set in motion have had enormous impact wherever Japanese Buddhism has traveled in the rest of the world.