Buddhism was slowly introduced into Japan from Korea and China over an extended period of time. The first proveable introduction of Buddhism to Japan was in the year 552 when emissaries sent from Korea by Seong of Baekje introduced eight doctrinal schools to Japan. Later after Buddhist philosophy had been well established in Japan it was largely confined to the monasteries where it was primarily a small number of scholarly philosophical "study groups" and not a popular religion.
Under the influence of Empress Suiko, Buddhism became somewhat known to the general population. Imperial envoys were sent to the Chinese Sui Dynasty in 607 to obtain copies of Buddhist Sūtras. Twenty years later there were 46 Buddhist temples which accomodated 816 Buddhist monks and 569 Buddhist nuns.
During the Heian Period, Japanese monks were sent to China to study and brought back doctrines which contributed to the Tendai and Shingon Orders.
The Kamakura Period could be characterized by the introduction of Zen as well as the Amida/Amitabha devotional Orders. During this time Chinese Masters of the various Ch'an/Zen traditions came to Japan
After the Kamakura Period new, uniquely Japanese Orders, primarily based upon the devotional Pure Land Order, came into being. These new devotional interpretations established by charismatic Japanese figures today represent the mainstream of modern Japanese Buddhism.
The Six Schools (rokushū) of the Nara Period (710-784)
Sanron-shū (j), the Three Śāstra Order
Introduced to Japan in 625 by the Korean monk Hyegwan (k), Ekwan (c), Ekan (j).
The "Three-Discourse" Order traces it's origin to the Indian Mādhyamika Order
Founded by: Kumārajīva (343-413) and Seng-chao (374-414)
Primary texts: the Mādhyamika-Kārikā and the Dvādashadvāra Śāstra by Nāgārjuna, the Śata Śāstra by Āryadeva
Jōjitsu-shū (j), Satyasiddhi (s)
Derives from the Indian Sautrantika school which does not accept the Abhidharma Pitaka.
Introduced to Japan in 625 by the Korean monk Hyegwan (k), Ekwan (c), Ekan (j), whose two disciples established the Jujitsu teachings within the Sanron tradition.
Primary text: Satyasiddhi Śāstra by Harivarman (3th cent)
Founded by: Seng-t'ao and Seng-sung (wg)
Hossō-shū (j)/Yugagyouha (j), Yogācāra (s), Mind Only (e) Order
Introduced to Japan by Dōshō (629-700) in 653/4
The Hossō Jo Yuishikiron (Mind-Only) philosophy derives from Vasubandhu's Cittamatra philosophy.
Founded in China by Hsüan-tsang (wg)/Xuanzang (py)/Genjo (j) (596-664) and K'uei-chi (632-682) in ca. 630 CE
Essentially a Theravāda Order originating from the Indian Sarvāstivāda Order
Introduced to Japan in 658. Generally regarded as a sub-school of the Hossō Order.
Primary text: the Abidatsuma-kusha-ron (j), Abhidharmakośa-Śāstra (s) by Vasubandhu
Kegon-shū (j), Hua-yen (ch), Avatạmsaka (s) Order
Introduced to Japan by the Indian monk Bodhisena (s)(704-760) in 736 as well as by Shen-hsiang (wg) Shinshō (j) in 740
Founded by: Dushun (j), Dojun (ch) in ca. 600 CE
central text: Kegonkyō (j), Buddhāvatamsaka-Sūtra (s)
Ritsu-shū(j), Vināya (s)
Introduced to Japan by: Jiangzhen (py), Chien-chen (wg), Ganjin (j) (688-763) in 745/753 CE where it was established at Tōshōdaiji Temple.
Emphasises the monastic rules Vināya - Dharmagupta (s), Shibunritsu (j) version)
Founded in China by Tao-hsüan (wg), Daoxuan (py), Dōsen (j), (596-667), c. 650 CE
During the Meiji period Ritsu temples were incorporated into the Shingon Order
Only Tōshōdaiji remains as a Ritsu temple
Late in the Nara period Mikkyō (Esoteric) Buddhism was introduced to Japan by Kūkai and Saichō. The Shingon and Tendai Orders flourished in the Heian Period.
Heian Period (794-1185)
Tendai-shū (j), T'ien-t'ai (ch) Order
Introduced to Japan by Saichō (767-822) who traveled to China in 804 to study at Mount T'ian-t'ai.
Founded by: Zhiyi (py), Chih-i (wg), Chigi/Chisha (j) (538-597) in China, c. 550 CE
Saichō who also brought the Mikkyō teachings to Japan integrated elements of Mikkyō philosophy into the Tendai Philosophy.
The primary text of Tendai is the Hokkekyō (j), Lotus Sūtra (e), Saddharmapundarīka-Sūtra (s), and the Mahāvairocana Sūtra
Introduced to Japan by Kūkai/Kōbō Daishi (774-835)
Origin of the Shingon-shū can be traced to three Indian monks, Śubhakarasiṃha (s)/ Zenmui (j) (637-735), Vajrabodhi (s)/ Kongochi (j) (671-741), Amoghavajra (s)/ Fukukongo (j) (705-774), who established certain Vajrayana practices in China.
Kūkai received two lineages of teaching from Hui-kuo (wg)/ Keika (j) (746-805) - one based on the Dainichi-kyō (j)/ Mahāvairochana Sūtra and another based upon the Kongōchō-kyō (j)/ Vajrasekhara Sūtra (s)/ Diamond Peak-Sūtra.
Kamakura (1185-1333) to Modern Period
Pure Land Orders
Jōdo-shū (j), Pure Land Order (e) see or see
Introduced to Japan by Genshin (942-1017), was later established as the Pure Land Order in 1175 by Hōnen (1133-1212).
Founded by: Hui-yüan (ch), Eon (j) (334-416) in China, c. 400 CE
Doctrine: Nembutsu ("prayer to Amitabha Buddha")
Primary Text: Muryojukyo (j)/ Infinite Life Sutra (e)/ Sukhāvatī Vyūha Sūtras, the Amitābha-Sūtra and the Amitāyurdhyāna-Sūtra
remains the largest Buddhist sect in Japan and throughout Asia
Jōdo Shin-shū (j) True Pure Land (e) Order (see)
the most widely practiced branch of Buddhism in Japan
Founded in Japan by Shinran (1173-1263) a former Tendai Monk in 1224 CE
Influenced by: Jōdo-shū
Doctrine: Shintai Zokutai, "Real Truth, Common Truth"
Primary Text: Muryojukyo (j), Infinite Life Sutra (e)
Ji-shū (j) Time (e) Order
Founded in Japan by Ippen (1238-1289) in 1276
Influenced by: Jōdo-shū
Doctrine: Nenbutsu "Mindfulness of the Buddha"
Yuzu Nembutsu-Shū (a form of Pure Land Buddhism)
Founded by: Ryo-nin (?-?), 1117 CE
Doctrine: Sokushitsu Ōjō
Primary practice is the recitation of Nembutzu
Primary Texts: Kegonkyō (j)/ Buddhāvatamsaka-Sūtra (s) and the Hokekyo (j)/ Lotus Sutra (e)
Sōtō-shū (j) Caodong (ch) Order
Introduced to Japan by Dōgen, 1227 CE
Founded by Caoshan (ch)/ Sosan (j) and Dongshan (ch)/ Tosan (j), c. 850
Doctrine: Zazen, especially Shikantaza practice
Rinzai-shū (j), Linchi (ch) Order
Introduced to Japan by Eisai in 1191 CE
Founded by: Rinzai (j), Linji (ch), c. 850
Doctrine: Zazen, especially koan practice
Founded by: Ingen (??) in Japan in 1654 CE
Japanese name: ??, named the mountain where the founder had lived in China
Influenced by: Rinzai
Doctrine: Kyozen Ichi "Unity of Sutras and Zen"
The remnants of the Ōbaku-shū have been integrated into the Rinzai-shū.
Introducted to Japan by: Shinchin Kakushin in 1254 CE
Founded by: Puhua Chanshi
Influenced by: Rinzai
Abolished in 1871
The Nichiren Order traces itself to Nichiren's (1222-1282) proclamation of his teachings in CE 1253.
Primary Text: Lotus Sutra (e)/ Myoho Renge Kyō (Hokkekyō)
The Nichiren practice centers on dedication to the Lotus Sutra and the mantra "Namo Myō Hō Renge Kyō"
Nichiren Shū regards Nichiren as a Bodhisattva Website
Nichiren-shōshū views Nichiren as a Buddha Website
Hokkekō a traditional Lay group within the Nichiren Shōshū.
Sōka Gakkai officially excummunicated from the Nichiren Shōshū in 1991 due to doctrinal differences Website
Risshō Kōsei Kai Website