Zen Buddhism was transmitted from India to China by the First Zen Patriarch Bodhidharma (Daruma) around 1,500 years ago. It spread throughout Tang-dynasty China under the aegis of the Buddhist priest Linji Yixuan (Rinzai Gigen, died 867) before finally arriving on Japan’s shores during the Kamakura period (1192–1333). In Japan it received the patronage of the warrior class, the imperial family and the nobility, and it went on to have a major impact on Japanese society and culture. The Obaku school, which follows in the traditions of Rinzai, was transmitted to Japan from China during the Edo period (1603–1868), with Zen subsequently spreading throughout the general populace thanks to the efforts of Hakuin Ekaku (1685–1768) and other high-ranking Zen priests.
This exhibition commemorates the 1150th Memorial of Linji Yixuan, the forefather of the Rinzai and Obaku Zen schools, and the 250th Memorial of Hakuin Ekaku, the Zen priest who revived the Rinzai school. It also reveals how Japanese culture has been influenced by Zen teachings and the contributions of Zen priests. Images of temple founders and many other valuable cultural assets were received on loan for this occasion. It is being held with the full support and cooperation of all the head temples and affiliated temples of Japan’s fifteen branches of Rinzai and Obaku Zen.