This first major study in English on Japanese Buddhism by one of Japan’s most distinguished scholars in the field of Religious Studies is to be widely welcomed. The main focus of the work is on the tradition of the monk (o-bo-san) as the main agent of Buddhism, together with the historical processes by which monks have developed Japanese Buddhism as it appears in the present day. niquely, Japanese Buddhist monks are allowed to marry (1872), thereby rejecting the traditional precepts; they are preoccupied, almost to the exclusion of other ‘community’ activities, with performing funeral rites, and for centuries Buddhism was institutionalised and politicized as a national religion, thereby marking it out as a distinctive sect within the Buddhist traditions worldwide. In more recent times, Japanese Buddhism has also engendered the birth of numerous new religious movements. In conclusion, the author reviews the future direction of Japanese Buddhism and the role of monks in society. Students and researchers will find A History of Japanese Buddhism an indispensable source of reference, as well as providing valuable key benchmarks for further research. Importantly, the volume also contains a comprehensive bibliography of relevant English language references.
Acknowledgements; Japanese Calendar, Temples, Names and Words; List of Plates; Introduction; 1 Characteristics of Japanese Buddhism; 2 Ancient Buddhism - Official Monks; 3 Official and Reclusive Monks; 4 Medieval Japanese Towns and the Rise of Kamakura New Buddhism; 5 Fieldwork in Kamakura; 6 Black and White: The Symbolism of the Colour of the Kesa; 7 Era of Religious Fund-raising; 8 Salvation of Outcasts; 9 Salvation of Women; 10 The Logic of Funerals - the Salvation of the Deceased; 11 The New Thinking of Kamakura New Buddhism - Shinran and Eizon; 12 Rise of the Medieval Towns and Awareness of the 'Individual'; 13 Buddhism in the Muromachi Era; 14 Buddhists in the Edo Era - 'Official Monks' of the Edo Shogunate; 15 Modern Times and Japanese Buddhism; 16 Shikoku Pilgrimage - Visiting the Ancient Sites of Kobo Daishi; Afterword; Bibliography; Index