The Obaku Sect (黄檗宗)

The Obaku sect is a sect of Buddhism in Japan and one of the Zen sects, after the Rinzai and Soto sects. It was named after Kiun OBAKU (a master of Gigen RINZAI), a monk of Tang. While the Rinzai and Soto sects have evolved in the Japanese style, the Obaku sect has retained the Ming Dynasty's style in modern times.

The head temple is Obakusan Manpuku-ji Temple in Uji City, Kyoto Prefecture, which was founded by Ingen.

In Japan the Obaku sect was started by Ryuki INGEN, a Zen master of the Chinese Rinzai sect, who was invited from China at the period of Ming and Qing dynasties in 1654, during the early Edo period. Traditionally, it had invited the chief priest of the temple from China, until Zen Master Ryuto, who in 1740 took up a new position as the fourteenth chief priest of a Buddhist temple. At the early stage it identified itself as the 'Rinzaisei sect' or 'Rinzaizen sect Obaku-ha,' implying that it transmitted Orthodox Rinzai Zen. Its style has been influenced by a mixture of Zen, so to speak, which reflects the Kegon, Tendai and Jodo sects and is characteristic of Chinese Zen during the Ming Dynasty. As background for the protection of the government (the shogunate), it was supported by Japanese feudal lords and made efforts to civilize people through social works by monks such as Doko TETSUGEN, so that it gradually extended its influence. There are 33 Tatchu (subtemples located in the precincts of a larger temple) of Manpuku-ji Temple, and 'Subtemple Notes' of 1745 recorded 1043 subtemples.

Because the Meiji government's Ministry of Religion restricted Zen to the two sects of Rinzai and Soto in 1874, it was forced to change its name to 'Rinzai sect Obaku-ha'; however, in 1876 it formally gained independence as the Obaku sect, one of the Zen sects.

Tetsugen Issai-kyo Sutra

Zen Master Doko TETSUGEN, who was a successor (法孫) of Ingen, carved out a pattern of Daizo-kyo on a woodblock, which is called "Tetsugen-ban Version (Obaku-ban Version) Issai-kyo Sutra," based on the Daizo-kyo introduced by Ingen describing the trials and tribulations, and published it so that not merely the research of Buddhism in Japan would make dramatic process but the technology of publishing did as well. On the other hand, Zen Master Ryoo Dokaku helped Tetsugen to carve Issaikyo wood blocks with revenue from the sales of the Chinese herb "kintaien," and he built Kangakuin in many places in order that everyone could read it, thus setting a precedent for the library system in Japan. After that, Tetugen Issai-kyo Sutra was designated as an important cultural property and was printed continuously at the Hozoin Temple of Obakusan Manpuku-ji Temple.

Obaku Toin
The sutras of the Obaku sect have been recited according to ancient Chinese pronunciation, which is called 'Obaku Toin.'

[Original Japanese]