Origins of Buddhism in Japan
Buddhism was first championed by Prince Shōtoku Taishi (574-622 AD) at Hōryu-ji temple near Nara. During this reign, the nanto rokushu – six schools of Buddhism – were established in Japan.
By 752 CE the Emperor Shōmu had commissioned the large Buddha at Tōdai-ji temple, the largest bronze statue of the Buddha Vairocana in the world, still visited by millions each year.
It was the increasing power of the Buddhist schools and the influence on politics which eventually saw the relocation of the capital to Heian-kyō (Kyoto). From this period onwards Buddhist teachings spread more widely to the general public. Buddhism is still prevalent in Japan today, though perhaps for most can be seen in the habits of daily life, as opposed to dedicated worship. Funeral ceremonies, for example, involve Buddhist rituals, and some Japanese homes have small Buddhist altars for the worship of ancestors.