Kamakura Bukkyo (鎌倉仏教)

Kamakura Bukkyo (Kamakura Buddhism) refers to the movement for Buddhist reform developed from the end of the Heian period to the Kamakura Period. Sometimes the Buddhist sects which were newly established by the influence of the spread of Jodo-shiso (Pure Land Buddhism) and the introduction of the Zen sect are especially called 'Kamakura Shin Bukkyo' (Kamakura New Buddhism'). However, using that term causes some problem as explains below.

Kamakura Shin Bukkyo (Kamakura New Buddhism)

Based on the common view, Kamakura New Buddhism refers to the following.

The Jodo sect (Honen)
The Jodoshin sect (Shinran)
The Rinzai sect (Eisai)
The Soto sect (Dogen)
The Ji sect (Ippen)
The Hokke sect (the Nichiren sect, Nichiren)
(However, strictly saying, the Jodo sect was established at the end of the Heian period.)

Although Heian Bukkyo (Buddhism in the Heian period) had been for court nobles, Kamakura New Buddhism spread among newly rising samurai class (especially, the Rinzai sect and the Soto sect) and among the common people (especially, the Jodo sect, the Jodoshin sect, the Ji sect and the Nichiren sect). However, partly because of the suppression by Sanmon (the Tendai sect) and by the powerful families who cooperated with Sanmon, it was after the Sengoku period (period of warring states, Japan) that those sects began to have a power (except the Rinzai sect which was protected by Kamakura bakufu [Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun]).

Kamakura Old Buddhism

Among old Buddhism (called 'Nanto Bukkyo'), there occurred new movements affected by New Buddhism. The followings are the priests who developed the movement.

Myoe and Gyonen of the Kegon sect
Jokei of the Hosso sect
Kakuban of the Shingon sect
Eison who established the Shingon-ritsu sect and participated in social works at many places, and his disciple Ninsho
These movements are sometimes called Kamakura Old Buddhism.

The expression of 'Kamakura New Buddhism'

Categorizing Kamakura Buddhism into 'Old Buddhism' and 'New Buddhism' is relatively new idea. These terms were first used in "Nihon Bukkyoshi-ko" (Outline of the History of Japanese Buddhism) published in the Meiji period (1898-1899) by Senjo MURAKAMI who is regarded as the pioneer of the research on the history of Buddhism in Japan.
He described the term 'new Buddhism' with the explanation of the movement of the reform by the priests of the old Buddhism including Myokei, and defined the temples which did not join in such movement as 'conventional Buddhism' or 'old sect.'

In the Taisho period, there appeared the views which distinguished above 6 sects that established in the Kamakura period from the other sects. After Zennosuke TSUJI used the terms 'old sect' and 'new sect,' Tokujo OYA used 'old Buddhism' and 'new Buddhism' like today, then these terms became fixed.

About positioning the Shingon-ritsu sect
However, recently some problems about the categorization are pointed out. Naturally there also arises the problem about the period of the establishment of the Jodo sect by Honen.
Among them, the biggest problem is 'whether the Shingon-ritsu sect founded by Eison and Ninsho was a new Buddhism or not.'

Kenji MATSUO proposed a theory that the Shingon-ritsu sect was one of the Kamakura New Buddhism as following. He considered that 'the independence from the nation' and 'the relief of the individual' were the most important factors of Kamakura New Buddhism, and these two factors made them possible to change from the Buddhism for the court nobles to Kamakura New Buddhism, the Buddhism for the common people. From these points of view, he pointed out the facts that the Shingon-ritsu sect established original Kaidan (platform for Buddhist rite of giving the commandments) for the official Kaidan which had been designated by the nation to give people the commandments independently, and taught people through 'the relief of the individual' including the relief of the socially vulnerable people such as hinin (the people at the lowest rank in Japanese caste system of the Edo period) by conducting social works, and the approval for giving the commandments to women (nun) who had been forbade to receive them by the nation. As all the schools of Kamakura New Buddhism had some relationship with the Tendai sect (among the founders of the above six sects, the five practiced at Enryaku-ji Temple and the rest Ippen practiced at the branch temple Keikyo-ji Temple as well), the Shingon-ritsu sect belonged to new Buddhism practically, although it originated from the Shingon sect and the Ritsu sect (Nanto Bukkyo).

In addition, Kenryo MINOWA, Chihiro OISHIO and others adopt the view to consider the Shingon Ritsu sect as a new Buddhism, although there are some differences.

Some people criticize that as the Shingon-ritsu sect directly succeeded to the temples of Nanto Bukkyo and to its branch temples such as Yakushi-ji Temple, Saidai-ji Temple (Nara City) and provincial monasteries of various provinces, and it was merely a movement of Nanto Bukkyo under the conventional system as were the movement in the Nara period including the activities by Gyoki.

It can be said that this argument shows some questions including what defines 'Kamakura New Buddhism' and the appropriacy to use the term 'Kamakura New Buddhism' itself.

[Original Japanese]