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A Cultural History of Japanese Buddhism

ISBN: 978-1-118-60833-3
320 pages
March 2015, Wiley-Blackwell
A Cultural History of Japanese Buddhism (111860833X) cover image


A Cultural History of Japanese Buddhism offers a comprehensive, nuanced, and chronological account of the evolution of Buddhist religion in Japan from the sixth century to the present day.

  • Traces each period of Japanese history to reveal the complex and often controversial histories of Japanese Buddhists and their unfolding narratives
  • Examines relevant social, political, and transcultural contexts, and places an emphasis on Japanese Buddhist discourses and material culture
  • Addresses the increasing competition between Buddhist, Shinto, and Neo-Confucian world-views through to the mid-nineteenth century
  • Informed by the most recent research, including the latest Japanese and Western scholarship
  • Illustrates the richness and complexity of Japanese Buddhism as a lived religion, offering readers a glimpse into the development of this complex and often misunderstood tradition
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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations vii

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction 1

1 Early Historical Contexts (Protohistory to 645) 13

2 Ancient Buddhism (645–950) 45

3 Early Medieval Buddhism (950–1300): The Dawn of Medieval Society and Related Changes in Japanese Buddhist Culture 87

4 Late Medieval Buddhism (1300–1467): New Buddhisms, Buddhist Learning, Dissemination and the Fall into Chaos 135

5 Buddhism and the Transition to the Modern Era (1467–1800) 171

6 Modern Buddhism (1800–1945) 209

7 Buddhism Since 1945 231

Character Glossary 255

Index 287

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Author Information

William E. Deal is Severance Professor of the History of Religion in the Department of Religious Studies and Professor of Cognitive Science in the Department of Cognitive Science at Case Western Reserve University, and Associate Director for Digital Humanities at the Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities. He is the author of Theory for Religious Studies (with Timothy K. Beal, 2005) and Handbook to Life in Medieval and Early Modern Japan (2006).

Brian Ruppert is Associate Professor of Japanese Religions at the University of Illinois, where he is a faculty member in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures and the Department of Religion.  His publications include Jewel in the Ashes: Buddha Relics and Power in Early Medieval Japan (2000), "Buddhism in Japan" (Encyclopedia of Religion, 2nd ed., 2005), and "Buddhism and Law in Japan" (Buddhism and Law: An Introduction, 2014).
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“In short, this study is a welcome contribution to the field and will make an excellent textbook for the classroom.”  (Japanese Journal of Religious Studies, 1 October 2015)

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