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The Influence of Buddhism on Japan Essay Example

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The Influence of Buddhism on Japan

The Heian period saw a change in philosophy. Schools teaching different Buddhist theories began opening all across Japan. Tiantai in China, the Tendai school was founded by Zhiyi in China, c. 550 AD (du Bary, et al, 124). In 804 Saichō traveled to China to study at the Tiantai teachings, at Mount Tiantai (du Bary, et al, 124). He also studied the practice of the Vajrayana, with emphasis on the Mahavairocana Sutra (du Bary, et al, 124). The primary text of Tiantai is Lotus Sutram but when Saichō established his school in Japan he incorporated the study of Vajrayana.The Kamakura period to this day saw the emergence of the Amidist Pure Land schools, which were promoted by Genshin and Honen. This sect believed in salvation through faith in Amitabha (Hall, 70). This remains the largest group in Japan today. The Amidist Pure Land tends to be more philosophical than some of the other sects.Zen schools are also very popular. Unlike Amidist Pure Land, Zen is anti-philosophical and anti-theoretical. Zen is based on the teachings of Buddha Siddhartha Gautama and Mayhayana Buddhist philosophy (Lu). A core practice of Zen is the seated meditation, which is the posture of the Buddha statue posture. Supposedly Buddha achieved enlightenment by sitting in this position under a tree. This posture promotes concentration which is part of the Eightfold path taught by Buddha. Buddhas fundamental teachings, the Eightfold Path, the Four Noble Truths, the idea of dependent origination, the five precepts, the five aggregates, and the three marks of existence, make up important elements of the perspective that Zen takes for its practice. Today Zen Buddhism is the fourth largest sect in Japan. However, it is the most popular with the West.In Japan, Buddhist art started to develop as the country converted to Buddhism in 548 CE. Some tiles from the Asuka period, the first period following the conversion of the country to Buddhism, display a strikingly classical style, with ample Hellenistic dress and realistically-rendered body shape characteristic of Greco-Buddhist art (Bell). The effect on the Japanese culture ran deep.Works of art incorporated a variety of East Asia influences, Japanese Buddhist became varied in its expression. Greco-Buddhist art remain to this day but, such as the Hercules inspiration behind the Nio guardian deities in front of Japanese Buddhist temples, or representations of the Buddha reminiscent of Greek art

References

Bell, David. Chushingura and the Floating World: The Representation of Kanadehon Chushingura in Ukiyo-e Prints. UK: Japan Library, 2001.

Blacker, Carmen. The Divine Boy in Japanese Buddhism. Cambridge: Cambridge University, n.d.

De Bary, W. T., Donald Keene, George Tanabe and Paul Varley. Sources of Japanese Tradition, Volume I. USA: Colombia University Press, 2001.

Hall, John. Japan from Prehistory to Modern Times. USA: Bantam, 1971.

Lu, David. Japan: A Documentary History. New York: ME Sharp, 1996.

Powers, John (2000). "Japanese Buddhism". A Concise Encyclopedia of Buddhism 1. Oxford: Oneworld Publications. 103-107.

Walthall, Anne. Japan: A Cultural, Social, and Political History. USA: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2005.

Watts, Jonathan S. A Brief Overview of Buddhists NGOs in Japan. Japanese Journal of Religious Studies. 31(2).

preview essay on The Influence of Buddhism on Japan
  • Pages: 4 (1000 words)
  • Document Type: Essay
  • Subject: Religion and Theology
  • Level: Masters
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