This article outlines the history of Jōdo Shinshū in the UK, and asks why it has remained little known despite being one of the largest schools of Buddhism in Japan, with sizeable overseas branches in the Americas. I argue that this can be understood partly in relation to the absence of a settled Japanese migrant population in Europe, in contrast to the Americas, where Jōdo Shinshū has been sustained historically by its ethnic Japanese base, although this has changed somewhat in recent years. Another important factor is the unfamiliarity of “other power” Buddhism in Europe. With its emphasis on reliance on Amida Buddha, rather than more familiar forms of Buddhist practice like seated silent meditation, Jōdo Shinshū challenges popular conceptions of Buddhism outside Asia, and this may affect its appeal in a European context.
Department of Social Sciences
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