Zoe's Timeline

This timeline includes major religious events happened in the history of Japan.

0000-01-01 00:00:00

Mahayana Buddhism

Mahayana Buddhism, meaning "we are the better Buddhists", emerged in India around turn of Common Era. It established Bodhisattva ideal that required voice hearer to spend more years to stay in their path to save other people. Mahayana Buddhism supported multiple Buddhas and had radical notions of emptiness. It believed that: 1. nothing lasts forever, nothing has independent existence. 2. Everything is empty. (Lecture Notes, 02/22/2016

0000-01-01 00:00:00

Lotus Sutra

Lotus sutra was viewed as a physical object to worship. By reciting and copying, people can get merits. Lotus Sutra said that there is only one thing people need to do in order to become Buddhas, and that skillful lies and means are allowed to save people from suffering because Buddha approach to different people differently. Lotus Sutra also conveyed that Buddha does not die and they live forever, and everybody can become a Buddha. Lotus Sutra has been translated into Chinese several times and circulated widely in China. (Lecture Notes, 02/22/2016)

0170-01-01 02:27:42


Himiko (卑弥呼) was a shaman queen of Yamataikoku in ancient Wa (Japan). Before Himiko, the Wa polity had male rulers and endless civil war. Then the Wa people made Himiko their ruler. Himiko was skilled in the way of Demon and controlled everything under her spell. She lived in a palace resembling a stockade and remained unmarried throughout her life. She was assisted by her brother and served by one thousand maidservants and one man. Himiko ruled the Wa for six decades. Queen Himiko maintained a tributary relation with the Cao Wei Kingdom during her governance. (Kidder, Weizhi excerpt)

0300-01-01 10:55:40

Kofun Period

Kofun (古墳, from Japanese "ancient grave) are giant keyhole-shaped burial mounds that are constructed between 300 and 645 AD to bury the Japanese kings. This burial tradition was unique to ancient Japan and can be considered the first religious practices of death in Japan. However, when Buddhism came to Japan in the sixth and seventh century, this burial tradition gradually faded. (Lecture Notes, 01/20/2016)

0300-10-01 02:17:01


Buddhist ideology points out that if the mind is the essence of all phenomena, then sentient beings and Buddhas should be integrated together in the mind of oneness. This is called nondualism. The threefold physical, verbal and mental activity of a practitioner is not distinct from the threefold activity of the object of worship. The practitioner who contemplates this is the sublime body of the realm of enlightenment and that means he becomes a Buddha. He is forever liberated from the ordinary nature of a common, ignorant person. (Saicho, Universal Buddha-Nature)

0500 BC-01-01 00:00:00

Four Noble Truths

Four Noble Truths, also known as the Truths of the Noble Ones, are the basic creed of Buddhism. The Truth of Suffering is that all conditional phenomena and experiences are not ultimately satisfying. The Truth of the Origin of Suffering is that craving for and clinging to what is pleasurable and aversion to what is not pleasurable result in becoming, rebirth, dissatisfaction, and redeath; The Truth of the Cessation of Suffering is that putting an end to this craving and clinging also means that rebirth, dissatisfaction, and redeath can no longer arise; The Truth of the Path Of Liberation from Suffering is that by following the Noble Eightfold Path—namely, behaving decently, cultivating discipline, and practicing mindfulness and meditation—an end can be put to craving, to clinging, to becoming, to rebirth, to dissatisfaction, and to redeath. (Lecture Notes 02/01/2016; Lopez, the Universe)

0500 BC-01-01 00:00:00


Saṃsāra means wandering in Sanskrit and in Buddhist ideology it refers to the process of cycling through rebirth in the six paths. Buddhism cosmology characterizes six realms of existence: God Realm, Demi-God Realm, Human Realm, Animal Realm, Hungry Ghost Realm and Hell Realm, from highest to lowest. Saṃsāra is characterized by suffering and each of the six realms represents a different level of suffering. Beings are reborn in realms within the cycle based on their deeds in their last lifetime. (Lopez, the Universe)

0500 BC-07-01 18:34:34

Wheel of Rebirth

Buddhist ideology states that there are six realms located in this world, populated by beings that are born there as a result of their karma. Together these six realms constitute the Desire Realm. The first and highest is the realm of gods. The second category is the class of demigods, or titans, who are less powerful than gods but more powerful than humans. Human occupies the third realm; the realms of gods, demigods, and humans are regarded as fortunate places of rebirth. The lower three realms are of animals, hungry ghosts and hell beings, which are considered unfortunate and contain intense and various forms of suffering. (Lopez, The Universe)

0500-01-01 21:37:28


Chan (禅) is a school of Mahayana Buddhism developed in China from 6th century. When Buddhism came to China, it was exposed Confucian and Taoist influences and Chan emerged and developed into a religion. Chan emphasizes lineage and transmission from master to student and follows original monastic culture centered on meditation. During the development, new genre of texts, Koan, which means public cases, emerged and the rhetoric was highly suspicious of language and authority. (Class Note, 03/23/2016)

0550-01-01 00:00:00


Shintō (神道, the way of the gods) is the indigenous and the largest religion in Japan that focuses on ritual practices and worship of eight million Kami, the Japanese gods. The principal worship of kami is done at public or home shinto shrines. Shintō emphasizes afterlife; newborns must be recorded at local shrines and people hold ritual practices for their ancestors. The word shintō was first used in the the second half of the 6th century. (Reader, chapter 1)

0599 BC-01-01 00:00:00


The Buddha, also known as Shakyamuni, was the founder of Buddhism. He lived and taught the truths he awoke to during a period between the fourth and sixth century, and his teachings became the foundation of Buddhism. He had lived in a palace as a prince before he saw the suffering and death of people and found his way to awakening. (Lecture Notes, 02/01/2016)

0710 BC-01-01 05:14:33

Nara Period

Nara was once the capital of Japan and its name is used to define the time period from 710 BC to 794 BC. During that time, Japan witnessed the rise of state structures and centralized rule (ritsuryo 律令); military campaigns emerged in frontier regions, namely Yamato. Japan was at that time under strong influence of continental culture from China and Korea; literacy and textual production developed and Buddhism spread over the country; the Nara Capital was constructed based on the Chinese model of city planning and Japanese writing systems incorporated Chinese character. (Lecture Notes, 01/27/2016)

0712-01-01 07:32:36

Izanagi and Izanami

Izanagi (伊邪那岐), "male who invites" and his younger sister Izanami (伊邪那美) "female who invites" are two shinto deities who created the islands of Japan. Izanami died after giving birth to the fire god and Izanagi went to the Yomi (the Underworld) to retrieve her. But Izanagi escaped after he saw the hideous decaying body of Izanami. Izanagi blocked the way connecting the underworld and the living world to prevent the chase of Izanami and Izanami was forever trapped in the underworld. He gave birth to Amaterasu, Tsukuyomi and Susanowo when washing himself after his trip to the Yomi. (Readable Mythology, 01/25/2016)

0712-01-01 20:14:22


Amaterasu (天照) is seen as the goddess of the sun in shinto and its name means "shining in heaven". She was born from Izanagi washing his right eye after he returned from the Yomi. She has two brothers, Tsukuyomi, the moon god who was born from Izanagi washing his left eye, and Susanowo, the god of sea and storms who was born from Izanagi washing his nose. The emperors of Japan are considered to be the direct descendants of Amaterasu. (Readable Mythology, 01/25/2016)

0729-01-01 21:23:17


Onryo refers to vengeful spirits that are thought to be the result of unnatural circumstances surrounding a person's death. Unnatural circumstances include unfulfilled political ambitions, death away from home, improper burial, negligence of a dead body and death caused by injustice. Vengeful spirits seek to destroy the objects of their resentment, from the people who caused their unnatural deaths to the entire country where they experienced their misfortune. In order to appease the onryo, the Japanese people often pray to Buddhas and Kami and offer the vengeful spirits proper burial and enshrinement. (Herbert Plutschow, The Fear of Evil Spirits in Japanese Culture)

0774-01-01 01:42:49

Kukai and Shingon School

Monk Kukai founded the Japanese Shingon School of Esoteric Buddhism in Heian Period. He was posthumously awarded the imperial title Kōbō Daishi, the great teacher who spread the dharma. Born to a lower-tier aristocratic family, in 791 Kukai was enrolled in the imperial college for classical Chinese literary and Confucian studies. After a few years of dissatisfying study, he dropped out to undertake a spiritual quest in the mountains. Later he went to China to study under the Chinese Shingon master and returned to Kyoto in 809. In 815, he established a Shingon monastic compound and began teaching the esoteric traditions he had learned in China. (Kukai, Japanese Philosophy: A sourcebook)

0788-01-01 21:37:28

Mount Hiei

Mount Hiei (比叡山) is a mountain to the northeast of Kyoto. The temple of Enryaku-ji, the first outpost of the Japanese Tendai sect of Buddhism, was founded atop Mount Hiei by Saichō in 788. Mount Hiei became one of the most important religious sites in Japan since then. Hōnen, Nichiren, and Shinran, three major founders and developers of Japanese religions all studied at the temple. Mount Hiei is also essential to a unique set of the ascetic spiritual trainings of walking long distance, Kaihōgyō (回峰行).

0788-02-01 21:37:28

Esoteric Buddhism

Esoteric buddhism was introduced to Japan by Kukai and is central to the development of medieval shingon and tendai. Esoteric Buddhism rejects the mainstream Mahayana Buddhist view that the ultimate aspect of a Buddha's enlightenment, the dharma-body, is abstract and formless. It holds that the dharma body of the Buddha nourishes all living things and thus is preached everywhere in the phenomenal world. Esoteric Buddhism developed specific bodily techniques that aim to unite the practitioner with a deity. (Kukai, Japanese Philosophy, A sourcebook)

0800-01-01 00:00:00


Shugendō (修験道) refers to a Japanese mountain religious tradition that originated in Heian Period. Ascetic practitioners of Shugengo went into sacred mountain areas to chant incantations and perform ascetic practices including exorcism, prayer and fire walking. These practitioners identified themselves as Shugenja, also known as Yamabushi, which means those who lie down in the mountains. In 17th century Shugendo officially declared its affiliation to Tendai and Shingon School of Esoteric Buddhism. (Keenan, En the Ascetic)

0845-01-01 19:47:10

Sugawara no Michizane

Sugawara no Michizane gained great prominence during the Heian period as a master of Chinese literature and Minister of the Right. He was later accused by his rivals of plotting against the throne and was exiled and died away from home. One of Michizane's rivals died in the prime of his career and this was followed the death of a crown prince and lightning striking the palace. People started to believe that Michizane had caused these deaths and he was exempt from all his accusations and enshrined in the Heian capital. (Lecture Notes, 04/04/2016)

0869-07-01 12:58:46

Gion Matsuri

Gion Matsuri in Kyoto, along with Tenjin Matsuri in Osaka and Kanda Matsuri in Tokyo, ranked as one of the top three festivals in Japan. (Only in Japan, n.d.) The first Gion Matsuri was held in 869 to soothe the angry deities that brought plague to Japan. Matsuri is a Japanese religious festival during which the Kami (gods) in local shrines are carried by floats and travel in the areas of their influences to give happiness and health. Matsuri offers annual opportunities for local residents to identify themselves as members of a community and connect themselves with their Kami.(Lecture notes, 01/13/2016)

1000-01-01 21:23:17

Filial Piety

Filial Piety (孝) means to revere one's parents, elders and ancestors, to take care of them when they are sick, to support them when they are sad and to express grief when they pass away. Indian Buddhism and Chinese Buddhism included many doctrines and rites related to filial piety. In India, Buddhists made offerings on behalf of ancestors. In China, Buddhism emphasized texts such as that of Mulian Saves his Mother to respond to filial piety. Japanese memorial rituals for the dead originated from Nara Period. In Heian Period, deathbed practices and Buddhist funerals for aristocrats became common. (Patricia Buckley Ebrey, Chinese civilization; Lecture Notes 04/06/2016)

10000 BC-01-01 00:00:00

Jōmon Period

The Jōmon period (縄文時代, 10.000BC - 300BC) is a prehistoric period when Japan was inhabited by a hunter-gatherer culture. The Jōmon period was named after the cord-pattern of the pottery made during that era. In the end of Jōmon period, people started to practice agriculture and began to form communities and practice the earliest forms of religions like burial traditions. (Lecture Notes, 01/20/2016)

1133-01-01 03:18:22


Hōnen is considered the founder of the movement Kamakura Buddhism and revered by the Pure Land (Jōdo) sect of Buddhism as its founder. Hōnen spent his entire life as a traditional monk in the Tendai School, integrating his unique creation with the intellectual tradition of Tendai Philosophy. He boldly announced that the religious goal of achieving buddhahood was no loner viable and he instead advocated exclusive nenbutsu practice based on Amida's eighteenth vow. Hōnen created a new paradigm for understanding humankind, society and truth that influenced later Kamakura-period thinkers. (Hōnen, Japanese Philosophy: A sourcebook)

1141-01-01 23:58:51


Myōan Eisai was one of the two pioneers who brought Zen Buddhism to Japan. Eisai entered Buddhism in 1154 at the Tendai center on Mount Hiei. He visited China twice in 1168 and in 1187 and established temple in Kyushu, Kyoto and Kamakura, where introduced his Zen teachings despite the opposition of the entrenched Tendai establishment. The teachings of monk Eisai were considered the beginning of Rinzai Zen. (Yampolsky, The Development of Japanese Zen)

1168-01-01 00:00:00


Zen Buddhism began to emerge as a separate school in early eighth-century China. It was not until the late twelfth century that Zen Buddhism was brought to Japan by Monk Eisai. Zen began to be prominent in Japan during the Kamakura Period and in Muromachi Period it became associated with warrior patronage. Zen in Japan has three principal schools, Sōtō, Rinzai, and Ōbaku. (Yampolsky, The Development of Japanese Zen)

1173-01-01 16:57:51


One of Hōnen's students, Shinran developed his own view of Pure Land thought that was considered the beginning point of the Jōdo Shinshū, the largest Pure Land school in Japan. The key to understand Shinran is his concept of faith. For Shinran, faith is a state wherein humanly contrived choices cease and one reposes effortlessly in Amida's embrace. That is when Amida's mind and purpose become one's own mind and purpose. Therefore, people do not have to look to their deaths as the only moment they are reborn in Pure Land and achieve enlightenment; the transformation happens in one's life. In this way, Shinran rejected the importance of upholding clerical precepts and deathbed rites. (Dobbins, Shinran's Faith as Immediate Fulfillment in Pure Land Buddhism)

1175-01-01 03:18:22


Nenbutsu (念仏) is an essential practice of Pure Land Buddhism for attaining birth in Pure Land. Pure Land Buddhism states that people can eradicate the karmic effects of all their wrongdoings and be reborn in Pure Land and achieved enlightenment by chanting single-mindedly and with reflection Amida's name, know as the nenbutsu, in the form Namu Amida Butsu, "I take refuge in the Buddha Amida". (Dobbins, Genshin's Deathbed Nembutsu Ritual in Pure Land Buddhism)

1185-01-01 00:00:00

Kamakura Buddhism

During the Kumakura Period, founders of new schools such as Nichiren, Dogen and Shinran reformed Buddhism in Japan. Simple practices of Buddhism were brought to the people for the first time as true Buddhism emerged in contrast to state Buddhism. However, new scholarly view holds that during the Nara Period, Buddhism had already spread beyond state, and during Kamakura Period older forms of Buddhism and new schools developed in relation to one another.

1185-01-01 23:45:49

Original Enlightenment and Medieval Japanese Buddhism

Original enlightenment thought dominated Buddhist development throughout Japan’s medieval period. Emerging from within the Japanese Tendai School, ideas of original enlightenment reflect the medieval Japanese paradigm of liberation: Non-linearity of liberation; single condition (one factor leads to liberation); all- inclusiveness (the factor contains all of enlightenment); liberation no longer tied to removal of sins or merit making. Tendai holds that every animate and inanimate object manifests the primordially enlightened Buddha just as it is. (Stone, Original Enlightenment and the Transformation of Medieval Japanese Buddhism; Lecture Notes, 02/22/2016)

1200-01-01 13:11:00


Kōan means public cases in literal translation and refers to discourse records that capture the words of Zen masters in the forms of dialogue, story, question or statement. Kōan was used for contemplation and a pedagogical tool for stimulating insight and became dominant in the Chinese Sung-style Zen Buddhism. In later year, kōan became the essential object of study in Rinzai Zen. Students of Rinzai Zen would meditate on the words of kōan and meet with their masters to discuss their thoughts in order to achieve enlightenment. (Lecture Notes, 03/21/2016)

1200-01-01 13:11:00


Dōgen, the founder of the Sōtō sect, is one of the best-known figure in Japanese Zen Buddhism. Dōgen was born in an aristocratic family and received a thorough literary education. His parents died while he was still young and he entered the Tendai establishment on Mount Hiei at the age of twelve. Later he studied with monk Eisai's disciple Myōzen and accompanied him to China, where he received sanction from a Chinese abbot named Ju-ching. Dogen returned to Kyoto and Kenninji in 1227 and established the sōtō sect. (Yampolsky, The Development of Japanese Zen)

1200-10-01 23:58:51


Rinzai Zen flourished in Kyoto and Kamakura during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries and became the largest sect of Zen Buddhism. Rinzai Zen was strongly influenced by strict Sung-style koān Zen and therefore became literary oriented. The steady patronage of the imperial court and the shogunate enabled Rinzai Zen to withstand opposition. In the early fourteenth century, temples affiliated with Rinzai Zen became associated with Gozan system. (Yampolsky, The Development of Japanese Zen)

1222-01-01 00:00:00


Nichiren lived in the Kamakura Period and was the founder of Nichiren Buddhism. Nichiren believed that people must be awaken to the mythic truth within their life in order to attain elightenment. He stated that by chanting Myoho-renge-kyo and devoting to the Lotus Sutra people could grasp the mythic truth and attain enlightenment. This practice called Daimoku characterizes the essence of his doctrines. (Nichiren, The One Essential Phrase)

1230-01-01 00:00:00


Sōtō is the second largest sect of Zen Buddhism and was founded by Dogen (道元, 1200 -1253) during the 13th century after he traveled to China. Dogen was critical of Koan study and promoted Zazen with Dogen's Universally Recommended Instructions. Just sitting (Shikan taza) characterized the most essential practice to Sōtō. (Class Notes, 03/23/2016)

1230-01-01 03:36:53

Just sitting / Shikan taza

In contrast with the emphasis of Rinzai Zen on the study of koān, Dogen's sōtō sect emphasized seated meditation. Just sitting, or Shikan taza, characterizes the core of sōtō doctrines. Sōtō sect states that the Way is originally perfect and all pervading and the true vehicle is self-sufficient. It suggests that people follow the seated practice done by Buddha and Bodhidharma and put aside the intellectual practice of koān study to take a step back. Let the body and the mind drop away and the original face will manifest. The true dharma appears of itself, so that from the start dullness and distraction are stuck inside people's heart. (Dōgen, Universally recommended instructions for zazen)

1253-01-01 00:00:00


Daimoku refers to a mantra that is chanted as the essential practice of Nichiren Buddhism — Namu Myōhō Renge Kyō (南無妙法蓮華経), meaning devotion to the mystic law of the Lotus Sutra. The practice of chanting the daimoku is called shōdai and the purpose of chanting daimoku is to attain perfect and complete awakening.

1263-01-01 16:57:51

Jodo Shinshu

Although Shinran did not see himself as a founder of a sect, his teachings greatly influenced the development of a sect of Pure Land Buddhism called True Pure Land Sect (Jodo Shinshu). True Pure Land Sect grew from localized small-scale organizations to a large temple complex based at the temple that was first a memorial gravesite for Shinran. Rennyo transformed the sect into one of the largest and most powerful schools of Buddhism in Japan till today. (Lecture Notes, 03/30/2016)

1350-01-01 21:23:17


Noh is a major form of traditional Japanese musical drama that integrates masks, costumes and various props in a dance-based performance. Noh plays can be classified into three categories: present Noh, supernatural Noh and mixed Noh. Supernatural Noh, also called Mugen, can be divided into first half and second half. In the first half, a traveler visits a place and meets a local person who tells of an incident that occurred there and confesses that he is the person related to that incident; then the local person vanishes. In the second half, spirit of the local person returns and appears to the traveler in his dream and through dances it re-enacts the incident. Then the traveler awakens from the dream. (Lecture Notes, 04/04/2016, Wikipedia)

1480-01-01 00:00:00

One and Only Shinto

One and Only Shinto (Yuiitsu Shinto 唯一神道) was a primary sect of shinto founded in the late 15th century by Yoshida Kanetomo (吉田兼俱). The One and Only Shinto articulated a new understanding of the cosmos and a new religious endeavor. It states that Japan is the center of the cosmos because the light of the kami first shone on Japan. Japan is thus designated the land of the kami and the Japanese Way as the Kami Way, that is, Shinto. ThusShinto was the source of all principles and gave rise to Buddhism and Confucianism, and that Buddhas are manifestations of Shinto Kami. (Breen and Teeuwen, Kami Shrines, Myths, and Rituals in Premodern Times)

1520-01-01 00:00:00

Latter Day of the Law

The Latter Day of the Law is the third and last of the Three Ages of Buddhism. This age is considered to begin 2000 years after Gautama Buddha's passing and last for 10,000 years during which the Dharma declines. During this degenerate third age, it is believed that people will not be able to follow the Buddha's teaching and become enlightened and the society will become morally corrupt.

1603-01-01 00:00:00

Edo/Tokugawa Period

The Edo period (Edo Jidai 江戸時代) is the time period between 1603 and 1868 in the history of Japan. At that time, the Japanese society was under the rule of the Tokugawa shogunate and hence the period is also called Tokugawa period (徳川時代 Tokugawa Jidai) Edo was the center of government during that period and is the present day Tokyo. Under the Bakuhan (幕藩) system of governance, Edo Period was an extended period of peace. During Edo period, economy grew and strict social order and foreign policies emerged. Urban culture developed with the rise of Kabuki (歌舞伎) and woodblock prints; the inhabitants in Edo numbered over one million. The period came to an end with the Meiji Restoration in 1868. (Lecture Notes 02/08/2016)

1603-01-01 21:23:17

Temple Certificate System

Temple certificaiton system emerged as a part of anti-Christian movement during Edo/Tokugawa Period. It required all Japanese citizens to present themselves each year at the Buddhist temples they were affiliated to and receive certificates. Without these certificates, citizens would be identified as Chritian and would be sentenced to death. This system greatly enhanced the Danka System and benefitted the Buddhist temples by solidifying their danka. (Lecture Notes 04/06/2016)

1603-01-01 23:45:49

Danka System

In the Edo Period, an important system of Japanese funeral practices called Danka System emerged. Danka refers to patron households or individuals who were affiliated with and supported a specific temple. These individuals and families held funerals in the temples they supported and in this way Danka system provided temples with a stable financial foundation. During the anti-Christian movement, Danka system was enhanced by temple certification system. After the World War II, Danka system was undermined by the Japanese land reform and gradually became obsolete in the urbanized Japanese society. (Lecture Notes 04/06/2016)

1629-01-01 21:23:17


During anti-Christian movement in the Edo period, the religious authorities of Tokugawa shogunate made pictures, called Fumie, of Jesus Christ and Virgin Mary out of stone or wood. Fumi means stepping on and e means pictures. The suspected Christians were required to trample on the fumie in order to prove that they were not members of the foreign religion. If they refused to step on the fumie, they would be imprisoned and executed. Not only was fumie used to ferret out the true Christians, but it was also used to torture the faithful Christian priests by threatening them that if they would not renounce their faith, their believers would be executed. (Endo, Silence; Lecture Notes 04/11/2016)

1630-01-01 21:23:17

Kakure Kirishiran

Kakure Kirishitan means hidden Christians, which refers to members of Japanese Catholic Church who continued to practice Christianity secretly during the anti-Christian movement in Edo Period. The Kakure Kirishitan formed an underground organization. These believers creatively transformed figures of Jesus Christ and Virgin Mary into small statues that resembled Buddha or bodhisattvas. They made their prayer sound like Buddhist chant and orally passed the Christian doctrines. (Endo, Silence; Lecture Notes 04/11/2016)

1686-01-01 23:58:51


Hakuin Ekaku was responsible for the revival of Rinzai Zen in the late Tokugawa Period. Hakuin began his intense pursuit of kōan study when he was fifteen. He turned back to the strict kōan Zen and added new elements of his own devising. He stated that through doubts emerging in the study of kōan one could achieve awakening. This initial awakening needed to be followed with futher kōan study to deepen one's experience. Hakuin addressed the importance of making Buddhism accessible to the general public; as a result, Hakuin gained a large following in his era and became the pioneer of all modern Rinzai lineages. (Hakuin, Orategama; Yampolsky, The Development of Japanese Zen; Lecture Notes, 03/25/2016)

1700-01-01 00:00:00


Nativism (Kokugaku, lit. National learning) was an intellectual and literary movement during Edo Period. The movement tried to peel away foreign influences to recover original Japanese culture and language. In the aspect of shinto, it considered Japan as a land of gods that was blessed with a divine and unbroken imperial dynasty to grant the authority. The movement extended to shrines where statues, sutras, and other objects of foreign religions were destroyed. (Breen and Teeuwen, Kami Shrines, Myths, and Rituals in Premodern Times; Lecture Notes, 02/10/2016)

1726-08-01 09:03:14

Chinese Tiantai Philosophy

Chinese Tiantai philosophy derived from Mount Tiantai in China and has three truths: empty, provisional and middle. It holds that emptiness is an object of attachment and itself is dangerous. It also adds four new realms to the original Buddhist wheel of six paths. It adds voice hearers, solitary Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and Buddhas. Chinese tiantai Philosophy also believes in Three thousand worlds in a single thought moment. It also emphasizes the universalism of emptiness. Everything is empty so there is no difference between everything. There is no distinct difference between hells and Buddhas, and to become enlightened and a Buddha is to realize this truth. (Lecture Notes, 02/22/2016)

1868-01-01 00:00:00

Separation of Buddhas and Kami

Separation of Buddhas and Kami (shinbutsu bunri 神仏分離) refers to a set of edicts issued in 1868 that commanded a series of actions to eradicate the influence of Buddhism over Shinto. The deities were renamed to cut off Buddhist associations. Shrines had to submit reports of their origins and links to imperial househould and Buddhist priests serving at shrines were laicized. All Buddhist objects such as bells and statues were removed from shrines and the references to Buddhist forms of kami were forbade. (Breen and Teeuwen, Kami Shrines...; Lecture Notes, 02/10/2016)

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