Zen Buddhism in Japan Culture

Topics: Japan, Japanese tea ceremony, Japanese garden Pages: 3 (1105 words) Published: June 3, 2013
Zen Buddhism in Japan Culture
The two main religions of the Japanese people are Shintoism and Zen Buddhism. While they both play major roles in Japanese culture today, Shintoism is as old as the Japanese culture itself while Zen Buddhism was imported from the mainland in the sixth century. Zen Buddhism teaches that everyone is an enlightened being, but we have yet to comprehend that. It also teaches to take away anything that is unnecessary in our life and leave only the bare essentials. The main idea that is thought is that one must be in harmony with nature and society to lead a fulfilled and purified life. The ideas of Zen Buddhism can be seen in Japanese architecture, gardens and the Japanese tea ceremony.

Japanese Buddhist architecture is derived from styles born in China and other Asian countries throughout the centuries, but due to Japan’s different climate we see the difference in the buildings overtime. Japanese buildings are characterized by the use of wood; stone is only used for certain objects. The use of the inner space can be altered due to the use of moveable paper walls. A strict symmetry pattern had to also be followed, along the North-South axis. (Gordon) Another important new factor to Japanese architecture was the pagoda, which was built to hold statues or relics of Buddha. The roof of the main building is a characteristic that we all can link to Japanese culture. Extending past the walls, the oversize of the roof gives the interior a dimness which makes the atmosphere more peaceful. The outside walls can be moved, opening the temple up to the outside, showing that it is still part of nature, and still in harmony with it. (Gordon) The Shitennō-ji temple in Japan is a great example of Zen Buddhism ideals mixing with Japanese architecture. (Osaka) It is one of the first and oldest Buddhist temples in Japan to this day. It consists of the pagodas, the main hall and three gates. Zen Buddhism took architecture away from being a shelter from...
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