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Japanese Buddhism history is divided into three periods. This includes the Nara period (701-794), Heian period (794-1185), and the post Heian period which moves from 1185 onwards. In each period, there were the introduction of new doctrines, and a number of upheavals in the schools that existed. When the modern time came, there was the emergence of the pure lands schools, Nichiren Buddhism, Zen Buddhism, and Shingon Buddhism. An approximate of 91 million people in Japan are practitioners of Buddhism.
Nara school of Buddhism (701-794)
This is a school of Buddhism that incorporated six top Chinese schools. This included the Saron School, Jujitsu school, Hosso School, Kusha School, Ritsu School, and Kegono School. This was not the only schools as there are other schools of Buddhism.
This was transmitted to Japan by the Korean monk in 625. In this school, various arguments have been given on the existence and the non existence of original phenomena of teaching Buddhism. However, all these are explained by the various characteristics such as the instability and the impermanency.
This is considered to be an offshoot of the Sautranitka School. The only way of distinguishing it is by the rejection of abhidharma as not being the word of Buddha.
This is a school that was based on the early Indian Buddhist thought and bases on consciousness as the only option. It emphasizes and gives teachings on the idealism of phenomena of the mind. This school was founded by Xuanzang in china in 630 and introduced to Japan in 654 AD.
This was introduced from china to Japan and is a school that takes into consideration authorization and is considered to be an offshoot of India’s scarvastivada school.
This was founded in china by Daoxuan and introduced to Japan by Ganjin in 753. This is a school that specializes, in the monastic rules in Tripitaka also known as Viinaya. In this case, the strategy used to embrace religion is by using the Dharmagupta version.
This was introduced in Japan as the transmission of the Huayan school of Chinese Buddhism. This was one of the Nara school Buddhist sects that was administered with the incorporation of imported rituals. As time went by, Kegon School thought that it could be possible to make Buddhism popular when Myoe combined its doctrines with those of Gyonen and Vajrayana. However, over time, Kegon it was considered necessary to incorporate esoterically rituals from the Shingon. This is where cordial relationships are shared, and this is being practiced even to date and temples’ overseas practice.
Heian School (794-1185)
This is a school of Buddhism from (794-1185) and is made up of the Tendai School and the Shingon School.
This is a school that has dominated most in the Japanese history. It has a number of philosophical instincts that for the reconciliation of the Buddhist doctrine with the various aspects of the Japanese culture. This then can pose a challenge on how it can be possible to make the different experiences compatible. It is believed that every aspect of or sense of the phenomenon as it appears is an expression of dharma. As a result, the expression of this sense consists of the preaching about the doctrine of the lotus sutra.
In this school, the teachings are based on the early Buddhist tantras. The Womb Realm mandala and the Diamond Realm mandala. In Shingon temples, the two mandalas are pasted on each side and at the central altar. Buddhism is concerned with the rituals and meditative practices that lead to enlightenment. According to the Shingon doctrine, enlightenment is not a foreign reality that is distant.
Medieval Buddhism (1133-1600)
This was the third school of (1133-1600) and consisted of Jodoshu or pure land school, Hokke or Nichiren School, and Zen schools (Rinzai and Soto).
Jodoshu or pure land school
This was inherited from the Dharmic traditions that had supporting evidence from the dharma. This was a more devotional school that emphasized on reconciliation and compassion among the less philosophical, intellectual persons. It has been considered to be on the rise due to its aspirations and intentions. In addition, it has been significantly influenced by the Hindu and Brahmin ideas. The thought’s final outcome is that, the aspirants of the faith are born when they are already transformed.
Hokke or Nichiren School
This is a school that bases its teachings on the Japanese monk of the 13th century. Its supremacy has been enormously influenced by the emergence of the new schools such as the Kyoto school. It is believed that all people have an innate nature of Buddhism and thus capable of being enlightened in the current form in the present life. It has also been noted of being against the other forms of Buddhism schools.
Zen schools (Rinzai and Soto)
The Zen schools that currently exist in Japan are the Rinzai, and Soto. Soto is the largest followed by the Rinzai that has been divided into sub schools. The Rinzai school is characterized by the emphasis it bases on coming up with an understanding of one’s true nature. Soto is characterized by the large popularity it has and its availability of the large temples that have been subdivided to accommodate many people. It was founded during the period of colonization and from then it spread out.
Modern Kyoto school (20th century)
These are the modern philosophers who developed original philosophies by coming up new ideas based on the intellectual and spiritual traditions. It has been known mostly in the west due to its philosophies in religion and its approach in a non sectarian manner. It became possible to Japan when it reopened itself to the world after national isolation.
There assists a large number of schools that explains the religion that exists in Japan. Out of all these schools, depending on an individual’s perception and ability to adjust is the main issue of concern. In addition, the various schools transcended from one period to another.