A Western Buddhist's Travels

Sightseeing & detours on the path of enlightenment

Japan accepts Buddhism

Japanese Buddhism initially came from Korea. Japan later sent scholars to China to learn from those who introduced it to the Koreans. All the schools of Buddhist thought were learned by the Japanese scholars. The indigenous religion in Japan is now known as Shinto. Shinto is based on the spiritual essence found in gods, humans, animals, plants and inanimate objects. Shinto refers to hundreds of local cults each with its own customs. The term was first used in the 500s to identify native Japanese beliefs form foreign ones, such as Taoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism. Here in Japan we encounter another form of fighting monk.  The Kamakura era(1185-1333) was a period where the samurai warriors ruled. They had seized power from a decadent and corrupt imperial aristocracy. Encountering Buddhist monks who had no fear, the samurais wanted this noble spirit for themselves. This lead to the samurai warrior studying, the ways, of Zen Buddhism. In 1281 the Zen warriors defeat Kublai Khans naval invasion force of about 100,100 men. This just shortly after these same samurai had beheaded the envoys Kublai Khan has sent to dictate terms of surrender to the Japanese. That an out of season storm had also arisen to help destroy the fleet, just added to the lore. Zen temples afterwards and for many years has the finest land to erect temples, and enjoyed wide support in bringing the wisest scholars from China, to Japan as teachers.


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