BY HIDEO KISHIMOTO
I THINK it better to explain my situation in a few words before presenting this paper. The study of comparative religion in Japan very naturally lays emphasis on Buddhism, and, as a student of comparative religion, my own interest is more in Buddhism than in any other religion; but what I am going to do here is to take an objective and critical attitude and to describe the situation and the task of Buddhism in the modern age in Japan, rather than in the world in general. I am going to confine myself to Japan, not only because I am a Japanese, but also because Japan is almost the leading Buddhistic country in the modern world.
Buddhism is said to be vitally alive in Japan. Buddhism went through its hardest time and was at its lowest tide in the middle of the last century, when the anti-Buddhistic sentiment prevailed all over Japan, accompanied by the nationalistic spirit of the Meiji restoration and the separation movement of the Shintoists. But it has been reviving with great speed during the last twenty-five years. And perhaps a later historian may describe the present condition as one of the most prosperous periods of Buddhism in our history. There are twelve denominations, which include fifty-six minor sects, over one hundred thousand temples, almost a hundred and fifty thousand priests and monks, over twenty Buddhistic universities and colleges, and schools, hospitals, and settlements, as well as a huge amount of land and property belonging to each temple. Such numbers may give some notion of the prosperous condition of Buddhism in Japan today, but not exactly.