Stories in Japanese Culture
Prince Shotoku was of the Soga Clan (connected to bringing in immigrant labourers/Koreans
and Chinese) and was connected very early to Buddhism due to trade.
• Fashioned a headdress from a sacred tree to avoid defeat, and an archer shoots the
Mononobe and wins.
• Represents the importation of Buddhism into Japan; supernatural/mythical abilities are
associated with the Buddha.
• Sacred biography was initially used for Christian saints; figures that may have been
spiritual may have had their history rewritten. (Important because there are few historical
• Created the first constitution of Japan/17 Articles (clear moral standards from right and
wrong, revere the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha)
• Passages that are from the readings are quoted in the exam.
• Considered to be able to hold ten conversations at the same time
Shinran had very famous dreams about Prince Shotoku.
• Dreams are extremely important in the Buddhist culture; powerful tools for storytelling
and foreseeing the future.
Because Buddha allowed women into the monastery, the Dharma would only last for about 500
• People made calculations on where the Dharma/Buddhism would end.
• Mappo (end of the Dharma) represented the end of Buddhism where virtually nobody
can reach enlightenment.
• In the Heian period (1052), the end of the Dharma would represent the end of an era.
“Pure Land Buddhism” enters in when Mappo occurs.
Samsara represents the cycle of endless rebirth.
• Six realms (Rokudo) represents the six worlds where you can be reborn depending on
• At the top of the realm, it represent the gods, humans, and titans
• At the bottom of the realms, it represents the animals, hungry ghosts, and hells (different
• Hells vary depending on what sins one has committed (different levels)
• Sins drive the cycle forward; birth/death is a continuous cycle
• Gods are complacent with their position, animals cannot hear the teaching of the
Buddha, and people in hell need offerings to balance their wrongdoings.
Stories describe hell in