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  • Even after classes have commenced, course descriptions and online syllabus information may be subject to change according to the size of each class and the students' comprehension level.

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Course Information

Year 2019  School School of International Liberal Studies
Course Title
Buddhism in Japan 01

Instructor TRENSON, Steven
Term/Day/Period spring semester  01:Tues.3/02:Thur.3
Category Advanced Subjects Eligible Year 3rd year and above Credits 4
Classroom 01:11-709/02:11-503 Campus waseda
Course Key 210PR41300 Course Class Code 01
Main Language English
  Course Code PHLR381L
First Academic disciplines Philosophy
Second Academic disciplines Religious Studies
Third Academic disciplines Others
Level Advanced, practical and specialized Types of lesson Lecture

Syllabus Information

Latest Update:2019/03/04 13:08:53

Course Outline In this course we will highlight the development of Buddhist thought in Japan. Founded in India in the fifth century BCE, Buddhism was brought to Japan via China and Korea in the sixth century CE. Due to the influence of local structures and beliefs, Buddhism in Japan acquired some particular features which make it distinct from other forms of Buddhism in East and Southeast Asia. Concretely, in this course we will examine the Buddhist teachings that had been influential in Japan at one time in the past, trace the interaction of Buddhism with other religions such as Shinto during the premodern period, and shed light on the process of its development and transformation in the modern age.
Objectives The purpose of this course is to provide advanced and up-to-date information on the development of Buddhism in Japan from the sixth century up to the present time. Students taking the course will learn about the various Buddhist philosophies that were once propagated in Japan and will acquire the ability to discuss complicated matters of Buddhist philosophy, beliefs, and practice. Additionally, they will also gain insight in the differences between Japanese Buddhism and other forms of Buddhism in East Asia.
Course Schedule Session 1: Guidance and Introduction to the Course.
Session 2: Introductory Discussion of Buddhism
Session 3: The Teaching of Emptiness I: Mādhyamika
Session 4: The Teaching of the “Non-dual Gate”
Session 5: Buddhist Idealism: Consciousness-Only
Session 6: The Buddhist Philosophy of Interpenetration
Session 7: The Teaching of Emptiness II: Tendai Buddhism
Session 8: Introduction to Esoteric Buddhism (Mikkyō)
Session 9: Shingon Buddhism I: Doctrine and Practice
Session 10: Shingon Buddhism II: The Twin Mandalas
Session 11: The Lotus Sutra
Session 12: The Philosophy of “Original Enlightenment”
Session 13: Pure Land Buddhism I: Introduction
Session 14: Pure Land Buddhism II: Shinran and Absolute Faith
Session 15: Discussion and Mid-term Quiz
Session 16: Japanese Buddhist Heterodoxy: The Tachikawa Lineage
Session 17: Kami and Buddhas I: Ryōbu Shintō
Session 18: Kami and Buddhas II: Shinto Mysticism
Session 19: Zen Buddhism I: Introduction
Session 20: Zen Buddhism II: Dōgen's Philosophy A
Session 21: Zen Buddhism III: Dōgen's Philosophy B
Session 22: Buddhist Eccentrics
Session 23: Nichiren, the Buddhist Prophet
Session 24: Japanese Buddhism in the Modern Age I
Session 25: Japanese Buddhism in the Modern Age II
Session 26-29: Student Presentations
Session 30: Conclusion and End-term Quiz
Please note that the above schedule is subject to change.
Textbooks There is no textbook. Instead, handouts will be provided on a continuous basis.
Reference Bowring, Richard. The Religious Traditions of Japan 500-1600. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005.
The above title serves as a practical and general reference work to Japanese Buddhism. References on more specific themes will be announced in class.
Evaluation Students will be evaluated on the basis of two quizzes (30%) and one of the following two optional tasks:
Option 1: Writing two short papers of minimum 2000 words (each weighted 35%) or one long paper of minimum 4000 words (70%)
Option 2: Writing one paper of minimum 2000 words (35%) and presenting the contents of the paper during one of the final sessions of the course (35%)

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