XVI. BUDDISM IN JAPAN.
THE religion founded by Buddha, which is older by six centuries than that founded by Christ, which is professed by nearly one-third of the human race, which has a literature perhaps larger than all other religious literatures combined, I shall not attempt to treat of except in the broadest terms. My object in this chapter is to portray the entrance and development of Buddhism in Japan, to outline its rise and progress, and to show its status in that now fermenting nation in which its latest fruits are found.
Christians must surely be interested in knowing of the faith they are endeavoring to destroy, or at least, to displace. When it is considered that Buddhist temples, are already erected upon American soil, that a new development of this ancient faith may yet set itself up as a rival of Christianity in the Western part of our country, that it has already won admirer, if not professors, in Boston, London, and Berlin, the subject will be seen to possess an immediate interest.
Buddhism originated as a pure atheistic humanitarianism, with a lofty philosophy and a code of morals higher, perhaps, than any heathen religion had reached before, or has since attained. Its three great distinguishing, characteristics are atheism, metempsychosis, and absence of caste. First preached in a land accursed by secular and spiritual oppression, it acknowledged no caste, and declared all men equally sinful and miserable, and all equally capable of being freed from sin and misery through knowledge. It taught that the souls of all men had lived in a previous state of existence, and that all the sorrows of this life are punishments for sins committed in a previous state. Each human soul has whirled through countless eddies of existence, and has still to pass through a long succession of birth, pain, and death. All is flecting. Nothing is real. This life is all a delusion. After death, the soul must migrate for ages through stages of life, inferior or superior, until, perchance, it arrives at last in. Nirvana, or absorption in Buddha.
The total extinction of being, personality, and consciousness is the aspiration of the vast majority of true believers, as it should be of every suffering soul, i. e., of all mankind. The true estate of the human soul, according to the Buddhist of the Buddhists, is blissful annihilation. The morals of Buddhism are superior to its metaphysics. Its commandments are the dictates of the most refined morality. Besides the cardinal prohibitions against murder, stealing, adultery, lying, drunkenness, and unchastity, "every shade of vice, hypocrisy, anger, pride, suspicion, greediness, gossiping, cruelty to animals, is guarded against by special precepts. Among the virtues recommended, we find not only reverence of parents, care of children, submission to authority, gratitude, moderation in time of prosperity, submission in time of trial, equanimity at all times; but virtues such as the duty of forgiving insults, and not rewarding evil with evil." Whatever the practice of the people may be, they are taught, as laid down in their sacred books, the rules thus summarized above.
Such, we may glean, was Buddhism in its early purity. Besides its moral code and philosophical doctrines, it had almost nothing. An "ecclesiastical system" it was not in any sense. Its progress was rapid and remarkable. Though finally driven out of India, it swept through Burmah, Siam, China, Thibet, Manchuria, Corea, Siberia, and finally, after twelve centuries, entered Japan. By this time the bare and bald original doctrines of Shaka (Buddha) were glorious in the apparel with which Asiatic imagination and priestly necessity had clothed and adorned them. The ideas of Shaka had been expanded into a complete theological system, with all the appurtenances of a stock religion. It had a vast and complicated ecclesiastical and monastic machinery, a geographical and sensuous paradise, definitely located hells and purgatories, populated with a hierarchy of titled demons, and furnished after the most approved theological fashion. Of these the priests kept the keys, regulated the thermometers, and timed or graded the torture or bliss. The system had, even thus early, a minutely catalogued hagiology. Its eschatology was well outlined, and the hierarchs claimed to be as expert in questions of casuistry as they were at their commercial system of masses still in vogue. General councils had been held, decrees had been issued, dogmas defined or abolished; Buddhism had emerged from philosophy into religion. The Buddhist missionaries entered Japan having a mechanism perfectly fitted to play upon the fears and hopes of an ignorant people, and to bring them into obedience to the now and aggressive faith.
If there was one country in which the success of Buddhism as a popular religion seemed foreordained, that country was Japan. It was virgin soil for any thing that could be called a religion. Before Buddhism came, very little worthy of the name existed. Day by day, each new ray of the of research that now falls upon that gray dawn of Japanese history shows that SltintŎ was a pale and shadowy cult, that consisted essentially of sacrificing to the spirits of departed heroes and ancestors, with ceremonies of bodily purification, and that the coming of Buddhism quickened it, by the force of opposition, into something approaching a religious system. Swarms of petty deities, who have human passions, and are but apotheosized historical heroes, fill the pantheon of ShintŎ. The end and aim of even its most sincere adherents and teachers is political. Strike out the dogma of the divinity of the mikado and the duty of all Japanese to obey him implicity, and almost nothing is left of modern ShintŎ but Chinese cosmogony, local myth, and Confucion morals.
If the heart of the ancient Japanese longed after a solution of the questions whence? whither? why? - if it yearned for religious truth, as the hearts of all men doubtless do - it must have been ready to welcome something more certain, tangible, and dogmatic than the bland emptiness of ShintŎ. Buddhism came to touch the heart, to fire the imagination, to feed the intellect, to offer a code of lofty morals, to point out a pure life through self-denial, to awe the igorant, and to terrify the doubting. A well fed and clothed Anglo-Saxon, to whom conscious existence seems the very rapture of joy, and whose soul yearns for an eternity of life, may not understand how a human soul could ever long for utter absorption of being and personality, even in God, much less for total annihilation.
But, among the Asiatic poor, where ceaseless drudgery is often the lot for life, where a vegetable diet keeps the vital force low, where the tax-gatherer is the chief representative of government, where the earthquake and the typhoon are so frequent and dreadful, and where the forces of nature are feared as malignant intelligences, life does not wear such charms as to lead the human soul to long for an eternity of it. No normal Japanese would thrill when he heard the unexplained announcement, "The gift of God is eternal life," or, "Whosoever believeth on me, though he were dead, yet shall he live." Such words would be painful to him, announcing only a fateful fact. To him life is to be dreaded; not because death lies at the end of it, but because birth and life again follow death, and both are but links in an almost endless chain. Herein lies the power of Buddhist preaching: "Believe in the true doctrine, and live the true believer's life," says the bonze, "and you will be born again into higher states of existence, thence into higher and higher heavens, until from paradise you rise as a purified and saintly soul, to be absorbed in the bosom of holy Buddha. Reject the truth, or believe false doctrine (e. g., Christianity), and you will be born again thousands, of times, only to suffer sickness and pain and grief, to die or be killed a thousand times, and, finally, to sink into lower and lower hells, before you can regain the opportunity to rise higher." This is really the popular form of Shaka's doctrine of metempsychosis. The popular Buddhism of Japan, at least, is not the bare scheme of philosophy which foreign writers seem to think it is. It is a genuine religion in its hold on man. It is a vinculum that binds him to the gods of his fathers. This form of Buddhism commended itself to both the Japanese sage and the ignorant boor, to whom thought is misery, by reason of its definiteness, its morals, its rewards, and its punishments.
Buddhism has a cosmogony and a theory of both the microcosm and the macrocosm. It has fully as much, if not more, "science" in it than our mediæval theologlans found in the Bible. Its high intellectuality made noble souls yearn to win its secrets, and to attain the conquests over their lusts and passions, by knowledge.
Among the various sects of Buddhism, however, the understanding of the doctrine of Nirvana varies greatly. Some.believe in the total nonentity of the human soul, the utter annihilation of consciousness; while others, on the contrary, hold that, as part of the divine whole, the human soul enjoys a measure of conscious personality.
Persecution and opposition at first united together the adherents of the new faith, but success and prosperity gave rise to schisms. New sects were founded in Japan, while many priests traveled abroad to Corea and China, and came back as new lights and reformers, to found new schools of thought and worship. Of these the most illustriouswas KŎbŎ, famed not only as a scholar in Pali, Sanskrit, and Chinese, but as an eminently holy bonze, and the compiler of the Japanese alphabet, or syllabary, i, ro, ha, ni, ho, he, to, etc., in all forty-seven characters, which, with diacritical points, may be increased to the number of seventy. The katagana is the square, the hiraqana is the script form. KŎbŎ was born A.D. 774; and died A.D. 835. He founded a temple, and the sect called Shin Gon (True Words). Eight sects were in existence in his time, of which only two now survive.
The thirteenth of the Christian era is the golden century of Japanese Buddhism; for their were developed those phases of thought peculiar to it, and sects were founded, most of them in KiŎto, which are still the most flourishing in Japan. Among these were, in 1202, the Zen (Contemplation); in 1211, the JŎdŎ (Heavenly Road); in 1262, the Shin (New); in 1282, the Nichiren. In various decades of the same century several other important sects originated, and the number of brilliant intellects that adorned the priesthood at this period is remarkable. Of these, only two can be noticed, for lack of space.
In A.D. 1222, there was born, in a suburb of the town of Kominato, in Awa, a child who was destined to influence the faith of millions, and to leave the impress of his character and intellect indelibly upon the minds of his countrymen. He was to found a new sect of Buddhism, which should grow to be one of the largest, wealthiest, and most influential in Japan, and to excel them all in proselyting zeal, polemic bitterness, sectarian bigotry, and intolerant arrogance. The Nichiren sect of Buddhists, in its six centuries of history, has probably furnished a greater number of brilliant intellects, uncompromising zealots, unquailing martyrs, and relentless persecutors than any other in Japan. No other sect is so fond of controversy. The bonzes of none other can excel those of the Nichiren shiu (sect) in proselyting zeal, in the bitterness of their theological arguments, in the venom of their revilings, or the force with which they hurl their epithets at those who differ in opinion or practice from them. In their view, all other sects than theirs are useless. According to their vocabulary, the adherents of Shin Gon are "not patriots;" those of Ritstu are "thieves and rascals;" of Zen, are "furies;" while those of certain other sects are sure and without doubt to go to hell. Among the Nichirenites are to be found more prayer-books, drums, and other noisy accompaniments of revivals, than in any other sect. They excel in the number of pilgrims, and in the use of charms, spells, and amulets. Their priests are celibates, and must abstain from wine, fish, and all flesh. They are the Ranters of Buddhism. To this day, a revival-meeting in one of their temples is a scene that often beggars description, and may deafen weak ears. What with prayers incessantly repeated, drums beaten unceasingly, the shouting of devotees who work themselves into an excitement that often ends in insanity, and sometimes in death, and the frantic exhortation of the priests, the wildest excesses that seek the mantle of religion in other lands are by them equaled, if not excelled. To this sect belonged Kato Kiyomasa, the bloody persecutor of the Christians in the sixteenth century, the "vir ter execrandus" of the Jesuits, but who is now a holy saint in the calendar of canonized Buddhists.
Nichiren (sun-lotus) was so named by his mother, who at conception had dreamed that the sun (nichi) had entered her body. This story is also told of other mothers of Japanese great men, and seems to be a favorite stock-belief concerning the women who bear children that afterward become men of renown or exalted holiness. The boy grew up surrounded by the glorious scenery of mountain, wave, shore, and with the infinity of the Pacific Ocean before him. He was a dreamy, meditative child. He was early put under the care of a holy bonze, but when grown to manhood discarded many of the old doctrines, and, being dissatisfied with the other sects, resolved to found one, the followers of which should be the holders and exemplars of the pure truth.
Nichiren was a profound student of the Buddhist classics, or sutras, brought from India, and written in Sanskrit and Chinese, for the entire canon of Buddhist holy books has at various times been brought from India or China, and translated into Chinese in Japan. Heretofore, the, common prayer of all the Japanese Buddhists had been "Namŭ, Amida Butsŭ" (Hail, Amida Buddha! or, Save us, Eternal Buddha!). Nichiren taught that the true invocation was "Namu miŎ hŎ gé, kiŎ" (Glory to the salvation-bringing book of the law; or, literally, Hail, the true way of salvation, the blossom of doctrine). This is still the distinctive prayer of the Nichiren sect. It is inscribed on the temple curtains, oil their tombstones and wayside shrines, and was emblazoned on the banners carried aloft by the great warriors on sea and land who belonged to the sect. The words are the Chinese translation of Mamah Saddharma-pundarika-sutra, one of the chief canonical books of the Buddhist, Scriptures, and in use by all the sects. Nichiren professed to find in it the true and only way of salvation, which the other expounders of Shaka's doctrine had not properly taught. He declared that the way as taught by him was the true and only one.
Nichiren founded numerous temples, and was busy during the whole of his life, when not in exile, in teaching, preaching, and itinerating. He published a book called Ankoku Ron ("All Argument to tranquilize. the Country"). The bitterness with which he attacked other sects roused up a host of enemies against him, who complained to HŎjŎ Tokiyori, the shikken, or holder of the power, at Kamakura, and prayed to have him silenced, as a destroyer of the public peace, as indeed the holy man was. The title of his book was by no means in exponent of its tone or style.
Nichiren was banished to Cape Ito, in Idzu, where he remained three years. On his release, instead of holding his tongue, he allowed it to run more violently than ever against other sects, especially decrying the great and learned priests of previous generations. HŎjŎ Tokiyori again arrested him, confined him in a dungeon below ground, and condemned him to death.
The following story is told, and devoutly believed, by his followers: On a certain day he was taken out to a village on the strand of the bay beyond Kamakura, and in front of the lovely island of Enoshima. This village is called Koshigoyé. At this time Nichiren was fortythree years old. Kneeling down upon the strand, the saintly bonze calmly uttered his prayers, and repeated "Namu miŎ hŎ ren gé kiŎ" upon his rosary. The swordsman lifted his blade, and, with all his might, made the downward stroke. Suddenly a flood of blinding light burst from the sky, and smote upon the executioner and the official inspector deputed to witness the severed head. The sword-blade was broken in pieces, while the holy man was unharmed. At the same moment, HŎjŎ, the Lord of Kamakura, was startled at his revels in the palace by the sound of rattling thunder and the flash of lightning, though there was not a cloud in the sky. Dazed by the awful of Heaven's displeasure, HŎjŎ Tokiyori, divining that it was on account of the holy victim, instantly dispatched a fleet messenger to stay the executioner's hand and reprieve the victim. Simultaneously the official inspector at the still unstained blood-pit sent a courier to beg reprieve for the saint whom the sword could not touch. The two men, coming from opposite directions, met at the small stream which the tourist still crosses on the way from Kamakura to Enoshima, and it was thereafter called Yukiai (meeting on the way) River, a name which it retains to this day. Through the pitiful clemency and intercession of HŎjŎ Tokimuné, son of the Lord of Kamakura, Nichiren was sent to Sado Island. He was afterward released by his benefactor in a general amnesty. Nichiren founded his sect at KiŎto, and it greatly flourished under the care of his disciple, his reverence Nichizo. After a busy and holy life, the great saint died at Ikégami, a little to north-west of the Kawasaki railroad station, between Yokohama and TŎkiŎ, where the scream of the locomotive and the rumble of the railway car are but faintly heard in its solemn shades. There are to be seen gorgeous temples, pagodas, shrines, magnificent groves and cemeteries. The dying presence of Nichiren has lent this place peculiar sanctity; but his bones rest on Mount Minobu, in the province of Kai, where was one of his homes when in the flesh. See Frontispiece.
While in Japan, I made special visits to many of the places rendered most famous, by Nichiren, of his birth, labors, triumph, and death, and there formed the impressions of his work and followers which I have in this chapter set forth. So far as I am able to, none of the native theologians, has stamped his impress more deeply on the religious intellect of Japan than has Nichiren. It may be vain prophecy, but I believe that Christianity in Japan will find its most vigorous and persistent opposers among this sect, and that it will be the last to yield to the now tritimphing faith that seems clasping the girdle of world-victory in Japan.
Their astonishing success and tremendous power, and their intolerance and bigotry, are to be ascribed to the same cause - the precision, distinctness, and exclusiveness of the teachings of their master. In their sacred books, and in the sermons of their bonzes, the Nichirenites are exhorted to reflect diligently upon the peculiar blessings vouchsafed to them as a chosen sect, and to understand that they are favored above all others in privilege, that their doctrines are the only true ones, and that perfect salvation is attainable by no other method or system. It is next to impossible for them to fraternize with other Buddhists, and they themselves declare that, though all the other sects may combine into one, yet they must remain apart, unless their tenets be adopted. The proscription of other sects, and the employment of reviling and abuse as a means of propagation introduced by Nichiren, was a comparatively new thing in Japan. It stirred up persecution against the new faith and its followers; and this, coupled with the invincible fortitude and zeal of the latter, were together as soil and seed.
The era and developments of Nichiren may be called the second revival of Buddiasm in Japan, since it infused into that great religion, which had, at the opening of the thirteenth century, reached a stage of passive quiescence, the spirit of proselytism which was necessary to keep it from stagnant impurity and heartless formality.
Though the success of Nichiren inaugurated in era of zeal and bigotry, it also awoke fresh life into that power which is the best representative of the religious life of the nation. Whether we call Buddhism a false or a true religion, even the most shallow student of the Japanese people must acknowledge that the pure religious, as well as the superstitious, character of the masses of the Japanese people has been fostered and developed more by Buddhism than by any and all other influences.
Some of the superstitions of the Nichirenites are gross and revolting, but among their beliefs and customs is the naqaré kanjŎ (flowing invocation). I shall call it "the mother's memorial." It is practiced chiefly by the followers of Nichiren, though it is sometimes employed by other sects.
A sight not often met with in the cities, but in the suburbs and country places frequent as the cause of it requires, is the nagaré kanjŎ (flowing invocation). A piece of cotton cloth is suspended by its four corners to stakes set in the ground near a brook, rivulet, or, if in the city, at the side of the water-course which fronts the houses of the better classes. Behind it rises a higher, lath-like board, notched several times near the top, and inscribed with a brief legend. Resting on the cloth at the brookside, or, if in the city, in a pail of water, is a wooden dipper. Perhaps upon the four corners, in the upright bamboo, may be set bouquets of flowers. A careless stranger may not notice the odd thing, but a little study of its parts reveals the symbolism of death. The tall lath tablet is the same as that set behind graves and tombs. The ominous Sanskrit letters betoken death. Even the flowers in their bloom call to mind the tributes of affectionate remembrance which loving survivors set in the sockets of the monuments in the grave-yards. On the cloth is written a name such as is given to persons after death, and the prayer, "Namu miŎ hŎ ren gé kiŎ" (Glory to the salvation-bringing Scriptures). Waiting long enough, perchance but a few minutes, there may be seen a passer-by who pauses, and, devoutly offering a prayer with the aid of his rosary, reverently dips a ladleful of water, pours it upon the cloth, and waits patiently until it has strained through, before moving on.
All this, when the significance is understood, is very touching. It is the story of vicarious suffering, of sorrow from the brink of joy, of one dying that another may live. It tells of mother-love and motherwoe. It is a mute appeal to every passer-by, by the love of Heaven, to shorten the penalties of a soul in pain.
The Japanese (Buddhists) believe that all calamity is the result of sin either in this or a previous state of existence. The mother who dies in childbed suffers, by such a death, for some awful transgression, it may be in a cycle of existence long since passed. For it she must leave her new-born infant, in the full raptures of mother-joy, and sink into the darkness of Hades, to wallow in a lake of blood. There must she groan and suffer until the "flowing invocation" ceases, by the wearing-out of the symbolic cloth. When this is so utterly worn that the water no longer drains, but falls through at once, the freed spirit of the mother, purged of her sin, rises to resurrection among the exalted beings of a higher cycle of existence. Devout men, as they pass by, reverently pour a ladleful of water. Women, especially those who have felt mother-pains, and who rejoice in life and loving offspring, repeat the expiatory act with deeper feeling; but the depths of sympathy are fathomed only by those who, being mothers, are yet bereaved. Yet, as in presence of nature's awful glories the reverent gazer is shocked by the noisy importunity of the beggar, so before this sad and touching memorial the proofs of sordid priestcraft chill the warm sympathy which the sight even from the heart of an alien might evoke.
The cotton cloth inscribed with the prayer and the name of the deceased, to be efficacious, can be purchased only at the temples. I have been told, and it is no secret, that rich people are able to secure a napkin which, when stretched but a few days, will rupture, and let the water pass through at once. The poor man can get only the stoutest and most closely woven fabric. The limit of purgatorial penance is thus fixed by warp and woof, and warp and woof are gauged by money. The rich man's napkin is scraped thin in the middle. Nevertheless, the poor mother secures a richer tribute of sympathy from her humble people; for in Japan, as in other lands, poverty has many children, while wealth mourns for heirs; and in the lowly walks of life are more pitiful women who have felt the woe and the joy of motherhood than in the mansions of the rich.
In Echizen, especially in the country towns and villages, the custom is rigidly observed; but though I often looked for the nagaré kangŎ in TŎkiŎ never saw one. I am told, however, that they may be seen in the outskirts of the city. The drawing of one seen near Takéfu, in Echizen, was made for me by my artist-friend Ōzawa, a number of whose sketches appear in this work.
The Protestants of Japanese Buddhism are the followers of Shin shiu, founded by his reverence Shinran, in 1262. Shinran was a pupil of HŎnen, who founded the JŎdŎ shiu, and was of noble descent. While in KiŎto, at thirty years of age, he married a lady of noble blood, named Tamayori himé, the daughter of the Kuambaku. He thus taught by example, as well as by precept, that marriage was honorable, and that celibacy was an invention of the priests, not warranted by pure Buddhism. Penance, fasting, prescribed diet, pilgrimages, isolation from society, whether as hermits or in the cloister, and generally amulets and charms, are all tabooed by this sect. Nunneries and monasteries are unknown within its pale. The family takes the place of monkish seclusion. Devout prayer, purity, and earnestness of life, and trust in Buddha himself as the only worker of perfect righteousness, are insisted upon. Other sects teach the doctrine of salvation by works. Shinran taught that it is faith in Buddha that accomplishes the salvation of the believer.
Buddhism seems to most foreigners who have studied it but Roman Catholicism without Christ, and in Asiatic form. The Shin sect hold a form of the Protestant doctrine of justification by faith, believing in Buddha instead of Jesus. Singleness of purpose characterizes this sect. Outsiders call it IkkŎ, from the initial word of a text in their chief book, MuriŎju KiŎ ("Book of Constant Life"). By others it is spoken of as Monto (gate-followers), in reference to their unity of organization. The Scriptures of other sects are written in Sanskrit and Chinese, which only the learned are able to read.
Those of Monto are in the vernacular Japanese writing and idiom. Other sects build temples in sequestered places among the hills. The Shin-shiuists erect theirs in the heart of cities, on main streets, in the centres of population. They endeavor, by every means in their power, to induce the people to come to them. In Fukui their twin temples stood in the most frequented thoroughfares. In TŎkiŎ, Ōzaka, KiŎto, Nagasaki, and other cities, the same system of having, twin temples in the heart of the city is pursued, and the largest and finest ecclesiastical structures are the duplicates of this sect. The altars are on a scale of imposing magnificence, and gorgeous in detail. A common saying is, "As handsome as a Monto altar." The priests marry, rear families, and their sons succeed them to the care of the temples. In default of mate issue, the husband of the daughter of the priest, should he have one, takes the office of his father-in-law. Many members of the priesthood and their families are highly educated, perhaps more so than the bonzes of any other sect. Personal acquaintance with several of the Monto priests enables me to substantiate this fact asserted of them.
The followers of Shinran have ever held a high position, and have wielded vast influence in the religious development of the people. Both for good and evil they have been among the foremost of active workers in the cause of religion. In time of war the Monto bonzes put on armor, and, with their families and adherents, have in numerous instances formed themselves into military battalions. We shall hear more of their martial performances in succeeding chapters.
After the death of Shinran, RenniŎ, who died in 1500, became the revivalist of Monto, and wrote the Ofumi, or sacred writings, which are now daily read by the disciples of this denomination. With the characteristic object of reaching the masses, they are written in the Common script hiragana writing, which all the people of both sexes can read. Though greatly persecuted by other sectaries, they have continually increased in numbers, wealth, and power, and now lead all in intelligence and influence. To the charges of uncleanness which others bring against them, because they marry wives, eat and drinkand live so much like unclerical men, they calmly answer, the bright rays of the sun shine on all things alike, and that it is not for them to call things unclean which have evidently been created for man's use; that righteousness consists neither in eating nor drinking, nor in abstinence from the blessings vouchsafed to mortals in this vale of woe; and that the maxims and narrow-minded doctrines, with the neglect of which they are reproached, can only have proceeded from the folly or vanity of men. They claim that priests with families are purer men than celibates in monasteries, and that the purity of society is best maintained by a married priesthood. Within the last two decades they were the first to organize their theological schools on the model of foreign countries, that their young men might be trained to resist ShintŎ or Christianity, or to measure the truth in either. The last new charge urged against them by their rivals is that they are so much like Christians, that they might as well be such out and out. Liberty of thought and action, an incoercible desire to be free from governmental, traditional, ultra-ecclesiastical or ShintŎ influence - in a word, Protestantism in its pure sense, is characteristic of the great sect founded by Shinran.
To treat of the doctrinal difference and various customs of the different denominations would require a volume. Japanese Buddhism richly deserves thorough study, and a scholarly treatise by itself. The part played by the great Buddhist sects in the national drama of history in later centuries will be seen as we proceed in our narrative.