The Largest Sect of Buddhism in Japan: Teaching & Way of Life

While Zen is more popular in the West, Jodo Shinshu is the largest sect of Buddhism in Japan. Here is a brief summary of Jodo Shinshu belief and practice: 


Attaining the “entrusting heart”–awakening to the compassion of Amida Tathagata (Buddha) through the working of the Primal Vow–we shall walk the path of life reciting Amida’s Name (Nembutsu). At the end of life, we will be born in the Pure Land and attain Buddhahood, returning at once to this delusional world to guide people to awakening.

Way of Life

Guided by the teaching of Shinran Shonin, we shall listen to the compassionate calling of Amida Tathagata and recite the Nembutsu. While always reflecting on ourselves, amidst our feelings of regret and joy, we shall live expressing our gratitude without depending on petitionary prayer and superstition.


The Hongwanji school is a community of people joined together revering the teaching of Shinran Shonin and saying the Nembutsu. We seek to share with others the wisdom and compassion of Amida Tathagata. By doing so, we shall work toward the realization of a society in which everyone is able to live a life of spiritual fulfillment.

Shinran Shonin described Amida Buddha as Dharma-body or Buddha-nature. In reciting the Nembutsu, the name of Amida Buddha, we awaken to the True Self. In the words of Shinran, “There is no Buddha apart from the mind.”