Democratizing access to the best data on religion since 1997
networking concept still life arrangement

Buddhism: Japanese - Family Tree   [Return to List of Trees]

Buddhism entered Japan in 538 from Korea through established trade routes that originated in northern China. The original form of Buddhism in Japan was Mahayana Buddhism, though additional forms were introduced over time, such as Vajrayana and Pure Land. Many of the new transmissions of Buddhism came from China over the following centuries.

The image below is dynamic. You can move groups around and see group descriptions by hovering over a group. To zoom use the "+" and "-" keys. Use the "DEL" key to remove a group and its connections. The buttons in the upper right can be used to export an image file and add notes to the tree.

Note: Groups that are colored blue are currently active. Groups that are colored gray are defunct.

Included in this tree

Group/Place/Event Founded Description
Chan Meditative Buddhism No description available.
Lin-chi Chan No description available.
Caodong Chan No description available.
Central Asia 3rd C. BCE Buddhism spread through the kingdoms of Central Asia following the missionary activity of Asoka in the third century BCE and became established in Afghanistan by the first century. The Mahayana Buddhism that emerged gradually became the dominant form of Buddhism. It dies out after the arrival of Islam and its establishment as the state religion.
Tian Tai Buddhism No description available.
Chinese Esoteric Buddhism No description available.
Pure Land Buddhism No description available.
Jodoshu 1175 Honen, a Tendai priest, developed Pure Land Buddhism in Japan as he began to emphasize how faith in the Buddha Amida (Chinese: Amitabha) and calling upon his name through repetition of the Nebutsu mantra, would guarantee entrance into the Heavenly realm (the Pure Land).
Rinzai Zen 1191 Rinzai Zen continues the Lin chi Chan school. It is identified with the use of koan, mental riddles that are deemed helpful in reaching enlightenment.
Jodo Shinshu 1224 Shinran, a student of Honen, developed a slight variation of the Jodoshu teachings, and after his death, his followers separated from the main Jodoshu organization.
Soto Zen (Japan) 1227 Soto Zen Buddhism continues the Chinese Caodong Meditative or Chan Buddhism. Dogen, its founder, eschewed the use of koans. It is one of the two major Zen Buddhist traditions in Japan, and it received new life in the United States in the 1950s with the arrival of two teachers from Japan to serve in the Soto Mission, the Soto Zen organization which had served the Japanese American community since the 1920s. Hakuyu Taizan Maezumi (1931-1995) began to teach at the Los Angeles zendo in 1956 and Shunryu Suzuki Roshi (1901-1971) arrived four years later to begin work in San Francisco. Both teachers attracted non-Japanese students and eventually led to the formation of two new organizations, the Zen Center of Los Angeles (1967) and the San Francisco Zen Center (1969), from which current Soto Zen in America would eventually blossom. Suzuki would initially be assisted by Dainin Katagiri (1928-1990), who had arrived in the United States in 1963 and who would relocate to Minneapolis (1972) and open the Minnesota Zen Meditation Center. Also in 1969, Juyi Kennett (1924-1996), the first Western female to complete her training and be acknowledged as a Zen master and teacher arrived in San Francisco where after a brief stay at the San Francisco Zen Center, she founded the Zen Mission Society that would soon move to Mt. Shasta, California, and evolve into what is now known as the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives. In 1959, Robert Aitken (1917-2010) and his wife would found a small meditation center in Hawaii which, after some ups and downs through the 1960s, would emerge as the American center of a relatively new Soto lineage, the Sanbo Kyodan, notable for its attention to lay practitioners and mixing Soto and Rinzai Zen insights. In 1970, Aitken's work evolved into the Diamond Sangha. Hakuyu Taizan Maezumi founded the Zen Center of Los Angeles (ZCLA) in 1967. He would eventually pass his lineage to eight of his students, most of whom eventually left and founded affiliated centers in other cities. The expansion in the 1970s was followed by a period of turmoil after the 1983 announcement that Hakuyu Taizan Maezumi was suffering from an advanced case of alcoholism and had entered a rehabilitation program. Subsequently, most of the affiliated centers led by his dharma heirs dropped their official connections to the ZCLA, and began the focal points for new networks of Zen centers. In the years since the controversy died, those people who traced their lineage back to Hakuyu Taizan Maezumi have become part of a cooperative fellowship, the White Plum Asanga. Lineage in Zen Buddhism is traced primarily through those Zen masters who have the authority to transmit their own lineage to another recognized teacher. The teachers of the many centers affiliated with the San Francisco Zen Center (SGZC) have received their authority from Shunrya Suzuki who left two dharma heirs: Hoitsu Suzuki or Richard Baker. A number of presently independent Zen groups began as branches affiliated with the SFZC and their teacher stands in Shunryu Suzuki's lineage. The same year the ZCLA experienced its problems, the SFZC went through its own trauma, when Richard Baker was forced out of leadership due to sexual misconduct.
Tendai 806 Tendai Buddhism continues Chinese Tian Tai Buddhism, an eclectic school that includes a variety of means of practice including meditation, the use of mantras, and allegiance to a variety of Buddhist scriptures. Tian Tai developed a method of rating Buddhist scriptures which tended to place the Lotus Sutra at the top. Much of Chinese and Japanese Buddhism would develop as Tian Tai/Tendai priests began to emphasize one or more elements of practice or belief.
Nichiren Shu 1274 Nichiren Shonin, a Japanese prophet of the thirteenth century, emphasized the exclusive supremacy of the Lotus Sutra and spread the practice of calling upon the Lotus Sutra with a mantra, "Namu Myoho Renge Kyo," meaning "Devotion to the Law of the Lotus Flower Scripture." He established the Minobusan Kuonji Temple in Minobu, Japan, in 1274, and he lived and taught there until his death. It is considered the most sacred place of worship for his followers.
Nichiren Shoshu 1290 The core disciples of Nichiren split soon after his death over the strictness of practice, the split occasioned by what some thought was neglect of Nichiren's relics.
Honpa Hongwonji 1600s At the beginning of the seventeenth century, the Jodo Shinshu sect divided. Both branches became substantial organizations, and the Honpa Hongwonji his now the largest Buddhist group in Japan.
Higashi Hongwongi 1600s At the beginning of the seventeenth century, the Jodo Shinshu sect divided. Both branches became substantial organizations, and the Honpa Hongwongi his now the largest Buddhist group in Japan. The group was first established in the U.S. by Rev. Junjyo Izumida, who in 1904 established the Los Angeles Buddhist Mission.
Obaku Zen 1654 Obaku Zen is a seventeenth century variation of Rinzai Zen.
Reiyukai 1920 Reiyukai was founded by Kakutaro Kubo and Kimi Kotani as a lay Nichiren organization and has no priests.
Soka Gakkai 1930 Soka Gakkai was founded in 1930 as a lay organization of Nichiren Shoshu. It was first established in the United States in 1960, and formally separated from Nichiren Shoshu in 1991. A highly evangelical group, it has become the largest Buddhist group in the United States and in many European countries.
Rissho Kosei Kai 1938 Rissho Kosei Kai was founded in 1938 by Nikkyo Niwano and Myoko Naganuma, both former members of Reiyukai. It is also a lay-led group. The group follows Niwano's interpretation of Buddhism, with attention focused on the three Hokke Sutras. Worship includes the chanting of the Lotus Sutra, the daimoku, and a sermon.
Soka Gakkai International–USA (SGI–USA) 1960 Soka Gakkai (literally, "Society for the Creation of Value") was founded in Japan 1930 by Tsunesaburo Makiguchi upon the publication of his work "Soka kyoikugaku taikei" (The System of Value-Creating Pedagogy). The organization responds to the needs of individual happiness and empowerment of peace, culture, and education. It is exclusively a lay membership that follows the teachings of the Nichiren school of Mahayana Buddhism. Although founded in 1930, it was established in the United States during a visit by its third president, Daisaku Ikeda, in 1960. The group's name at the time was Nichiren Shoshu Soka Gakkai of America (NSA), and an international group formed in 1975. The group took on its present name when it formally separated from Nichiren Shoshu in 1991. A highly evangelical group, Soka Gakkai has become the largest Buddhist group in the United States and in many European countries.
Chinese Buddhism 100s Buddhism is initially introduced into China from Central Asia, but subsequently receives numerous transmissions directly from India through the first centuries of the Common Era.
Indian Buddhism 5th C. BCE Buddhism begins with the enlightenment experience of Gautama Buddha and his organization of the Sangha (community of monks) who will spread the movement throughout India (including what today is Nepal and Pakistan). Buddhism dies out in India in the 12th century with the spread of Islam.
Korean Buddhism 300s Buddhism is transmitted from China to Korea even as Chinese Buddhism is still in its formative stages.
Six Nara Schools 710-794 During the period that Japan's capital was located at Nara, six schools (sects) of Buddhism established a temple and began to propagate Buddhism.
Hosso 660 The Hosso school followed the "Five Natures" or Yogacara belief that human being will tend to follow one of five paths of Buddhism, each being valid in itself though any one will be exclusive for the individual.
Japanese Buddhism 538 Buddhism enters Japan in 538 from Korea. Buddhism sects begin to emerge during the Nara period. From this point, almost all of the transmission of Buddhism comes directly from China.
Kegon 740 The Kegon school is the Japanese branch of the Huayan or Flower garland school of Chinese Buddhism, emphasizing the teaching of the Avatamsaka Sutra, one of the holy books of Mahayana Buddhism.
Ritsu 759 The Ritsu school has been primarily concerned with the establishment of the monastic life and perpetuating the traditional the standards of behavior for the monks.
Shingon 816 Shingon Buddhism continues the emphases of Vajrayana or Esoteric Buddhism which had been developed in India and was passed to China and Tibet. It came to Japan from China. By the nineteenth century, it had become the largest branch of Esoteric Buddhism, though Tibetan Buddhism was better known.

Our Sponsors

Our Affiliates

© 2023 The Association of Religion Data Archives. All rights reserved.