Which religious tradition influenced Japan during the Nara Period?

Question:

Which religious tradition influenced Japan during the Nara Period?

The Nara Period:

The Nara period in Japanese history corresponding to roughly 710-794 CE. During this time, the city of Heijo-kyo (modern day Nara) was the center of political and cultural life in Japan.

Answer and Explanation:

During the Nara period, Japan was heavily influenced by two religions: Buddhism and Shinto.

Buddhism originated in India and spread to East Asia, first arriving in Japan in the 6th century CE. However, it was not until the Nara period that Buddhism became established as a permanent part of Japanese society. This was largely thanks to Emperor Shomu (r. 724-749), who was one of the first to embrace Buddhism. After he abdicated the throne, Shomu even renounced his worldly things and became a Buddhist monk.

As Buddhism experienced this first major growth among the elite members of Japanese society, it interacted with the native Shinto religion. Many precepts of Buddhist and Shinto are not mutually exclusive, so it was in this time that the first identifiable syncretism, the melding of Buddhism and Shinto, occurred. This would eventually lead to the establishment of distinctly Japanese sects of Buddhism.


Learn more about this topic:

Nara Period in Japan: Art, Architecture & Clothing
Nara Period in Japan: Art, Architecture & Clothing

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Chapter 10 / Lesson 15
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Learn about the history of the Nara period. Explore how Buddhism influenced the Nara period, Nara architecture, clothing during the Nara period, and other art forms.


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