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Prince Shōtoku and
Early Buddhist Japan
Important Dates in the Early History of Buddhism in Japan and the legendary Career of
Prince Shōtoku
Earliest recorded date of the formal introduction of Buddhism to Japan. King
Seongmyeong of the Korean Kingdom of Paekche sends a Buddhist statue and
sutras to Japan
Official date of the introduction of Buddhism to Japan
Shōtoku born as son of Prince Tachibana no Toyohi (later Emperor Yōmei, the 31st
Emperor of Japan)
Yōmei falls ill, vows to construct a temple with an image of the Healing Buddha
Yōmei dies; struggle between pro and anti-Buddhist factions among the aristocracy;
anti-Buddhist Mononobe clan destroyed by Soga no Umako, Shōtoku and allies.
Shōtoku vows to create a temple dedicated to the Four Divine Kings, known as
Shitennō-ji (present-day Osaka)
Establishment of Hōkō-ji (present-day Asuka-dera). Paekche sends
temple-builders monks and artists
Accession of Empress Suiko, 33rd sovereign of Japan.
Shōtoku becomes regent and director of state affairs; pagoda at Hōkō-ji constructed
and relics installed inside
Shōtoku dispatches the first embassy to the court of the Sui Emperor, Wendi, to
study civic, religious and cultural affairs
Shōtoku constructs Ikaruga Palace
Shōtoku establishes a system of twelve court ranks
Shōtoku establishes a Aconstitution@ in seventeen clauses; start of the use of a
regular calendar
Lectures on the Lotus Sutra and the Shōmangyō; large gilt bronze statue of
Śākyamuni installed at Asukadera
Completion of the statue of the Healing Buddha originally pledged by Yōmei;
installed at the recently completed Hōryū-ji (Wakakusa-dera) built on the site of the
Ikaruga Palace.
Death of Shōtoku
Death of Soga no Umako
Death of Empress Suiko
First emmisary sent to the Tang court
Systematization of monastic ranks
Taika reforms
Important works
Śakyamuni Triad (Shaka Triad). Datable to 623. gilt bronze. Hōryūji.
Standing Kannon, known as the Guze Kannon. ca. 630. Wood. Hōryūji.
Four Divine Kings. ca. 650. Wood. Hōryūji.
Personal Devotional Shrine, known as the Tamamushi (Beetle Wing) Shrine. Wood with
lacquer and gilt bronze fittings. ca. 650. Hōryūji.