Seeking SakyamuniSouth Asia in the Formation of Modern Japanese Buddhism

Seeking SakyamuniSouth Asia in the Formation of Modern Japanese Buddhism

Richard M. Jaffe

Print publication date: 2020

ISBN: 9780226391144

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Abstract

Though fascinated with the land of their tradition’s birth, virtually no Japanese Buddhists visited the Indian subcontinent before the nineteenth century. In this richly illustrated book, The book reveals the experiences of the first Japanese Buddhists who traveled to South Asia in search of Buddhist knowledge beginning in 1873. Analyzing the impact of these voyages on Japanese conceptions of Buddhism, the book argues that South Asia developed into a pivotal nexus for the development of twentieth-century Japanese Buddhism. The book shows that Japan’s growing economic ties to the subcontinent following World War I fostered even more Japanese pilgrimage and study at Buddhism’s foundational sites. Tracking the Japanese travelers who returned home, as well as South Asians who visited Japan, Jaffe describes how the resulting flows of knowledge, personal connections, linguistic expertise, and material artifacts of South and Southeast Asian Buddhism instantiated the growing popular consciousness of Buddhism as a pan-Asian tradition—in the heart of Japan.