More than thirteen centuries of clergy, laity, and social conditions interacted to mold Japan's Buddhism. Today's resulting characteristics, which distinguish it from its mainland sources, include a proliferation of independent sects, emphasis on religion for lay members, and de-emphasis of clerical codes. The twenty main biographies and seventy-five sketches presented in this book reveal both the individual and social aspects of Buddhist evolution and in Japan, spanning from the sixth through twentieth centuries. They cover the many separate interchanges that brought Buddhist texts and practices from Korea and China as well as the innovations that arose in Japan.
Yusen Kashiwahara, a professor emeritus of Japanese history at Otani University, specializes in the history of Japan's popular Buddhism from the seventeenth century to the present.
Koyu Sonoda, a professor at Kansai University, specializes in Japanese Buddhist history of the seventh to twelfth centuries.