Japanese Beliefs


Daitoku-ji (大徳寺) is a Buddhist temple, one of fourteen autonomous branches of the Rinzai school of Japanese Zen.

The introduction of the Amidist schools and the Zen schools
The Kamakura period saw the introduction of the two religious streams that had perhaps the greatest impact on the country.

The Kamakura period (鎌倉時代;1185 - 1333, Kamakura jidai) saw the introduction of the two religious streams that had perhaps the greatest impact on the country. The Amidist schools, including Jōdo shū (浄土宗, "The Pure Land School") and Jōdo Shinshū (浄土真宗, "True Pure Land School"), derived from the teachings of the Japanese ex-Tendai monks such as Hōnen (法然), emphasize salvation through faith in Amitabha, and remain the largest Buddhist sect in Japan. The other stream is more philosophical Zen schools, including The Rinzai school (臨済宗, Rinzai-shū ) and Sōtō school (曹洞宗, Sotoshū) which emphasize liberation through the insight of meditation; both were equally rapidly adopted by the upper classes and had a profound impact on Japanese culture.

Yoshida Jinjya

Yoshida Kanetomo (吉田兼倶 1435-1511?) was a Japanese Shinto priest of the Sengoku period. He was a seminal figure in the evolution of a coherent descriptive and interpretive schema of Shinto ritual and mythology.

The theorists of Shintō

In the middle of the Kamakura period, the inverted honji suijaku (反本地垂迹), a paradigm that reversed the original theory honji suijaku had emerged and it gave the most importance to the kami. The doctrine was theorized further by Tendai monks, and its first full formulation is attributed to Jihen, a monk tied to Ise Jingū (伊勢神宮, Ise Grand Shrine), the shrine of the guardian gods of the imperial family. In the late period Muromachi period (室町時代; 1338 - 1573, Muromachi jidai), Yoshida Kanetomo was influenced by these ideas and brought them further, making a clean break with the past, becoming the creator of Yoshida Shintō and bringing the inverted honji suijaku to maturation. Up through the end of the Edo period (江戸時代; 1603 – 1868, Edo jidai), Kanetomo's followers and the Yoshida Shrine were granted the right to award ranks to all shrines and priests except for those associated with the Imperial family.

Feature Story

  • Japanese beliefs

    Kami, Japan’s indigenous religion and foreign Buddhism never quite fused, but a combination of Buddhist and Taoist elements, and the incorporation of shamanistic features of the indigenous religion remained however inextricably linked all the way to the present day.

Reference Columns

  • zen ()

    Zen emphasizes the attainment of enlightenment and the personal expression of direct insight in the Buddhist teachings. As such, it de-emphasizes mere knowledge of sutras and doctrine and favors direct understanding through zazen and interaction with an accomplished teacher.