Episode 512 – The New Buddhisms

This week: the advent of the medieval era brings with it new strands of Buddhism that will radically remake the image of the religion from an aristocratic faith to a distinctly Japanese one. So, how do the wildly different beliefs of Zen, Pure Land, and Nichiren Buddhism all grow out of the same moment in religious history?


Osumi, Kazuo. “Buddhism in the Kamakura Period” in The Cambridge History of Japan, Vol 3: Medieval Japan

Bodiford, William M. “Medieval Religion” in Japan Emerging: Premodern History to 1850

Faure, Bernard. Visions of Power: Imagining Medieval Japanese Buddhism


Dogen Views the Moon, a roughly contemporary painting. It is usually dated to around 1250.
An 1811 edition of the Shobogenzo, Dogen’s most famous work on, well, everything.
Amitabha, or Amida Buddha. This statue is located in Ushiku, Japan.
A roughly contemporary image of Shinran, though presumably his neck didn’t actually look like that.
Nichiren’s first exile in 1261. The collapsed figure on the shore is Nichiro, one of his disciples, who attempted to join his master in exile but was forbidden by Nichiren to do so. 
A statue of Nichiren in Kyoto’s Honnoji (same temple Oda Nobunaga burned to death in). Nichiren Buddhism is a diverse school of thought with several different branches.