Buddhism was founded in India more than two thousand years ago, but the Japanese molded it to suit their culture, and it became one of the most enduring and far-reaching cultural and intellectual forces in Japan's history.
The stamp of Japanese Buddhism is unmistakable in the nation's poetry, literature, and art; and the imprint of Japan's indigenous culture is clear from the amalgamation of pre-Buddhist worship and esoteric Buddhism in the practice of the Shugendo ascetics.
Japan's Buddhism and the nation's cultural infrastructure are so inextricably linked that it is impossible to understand one without the other. Japanese Buddhism is both a history of Japanese Buddhism and an introduction to Japan's political, social, and cultural history. It examines Japanese Buddhism in the context of literary and intellectual trends and of other religions, exploring social and intellectual questions that an ordinary history of religion would not address.