Education About Asia: Online Archives

Popular Buddhism in Japan: Shin Buddhist Religion and Culture

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Reviewed by Alejandro Echevarria

When most Westerners think about Buddhism, especially Japanese Buddhism, they envision Zen. From zazen, to tea ceremony, to rock gardens, the Western conception is that Zen is Japan. Esben Andreasen begins by dispelling this notion: “ . . . Zen is a minority sect and in many respects it is not very different from other branches of Buddhism” (ix). In fact, when delving deeper into Japanese Buddhism, the predominant sect to emerge is Shin Buddhism. And reasen’s intention in Popular Buddhism in Japan is to show the diversity of Shin and its impact on Japanese culture.