Religion

Starting as early as 500B.C., the religion of Buddhism followed those of travelers and monks bringing more and more Buddhist teachings, prayers, and practices with them from travels. Although the religion of Buddhism started in India, it spread quickly to other parts of the world. The official story of the arrival of Buddhism to Japan states that a political delegation arrived from Korea in 538 C.E. Among the gifts it brought for the Emperor were a bronze Buddha images, some sutras, a few religious objects and a letter warmly praising the most excellent Dharma. After initial opposition, the gifts were accepted, and a temple was built to house the objects. However, an epidemic which ravaged the land was interpreted as bringing the wrath of the indigenous kami (Japanese Shinto deities) down on the nation. This led to the objects being thrown into a canal and the temple being destroyed. During the next half century, Japan witnessed the first establishment of Buddhism becoming an official religion of Japan, and being recognized and the Chinese version of the Buddhist canon. Only very few imported Chinese texts were translated into Japanese; most have continued throughout their history to be used in their original version. During the course of the development of Buddhism in Japan, the prevailing tendency is to search for fulfillment and ultimate truth, not in any transcendental sphere, but within the structure of secular life, neither denying nor repressing man’s natural feelings, desires or customs. This perhaps explains why many Japanese arts and skills are pervaded by Buddhist spirituality.