Legend of the Devil Mask

Devil mask at Higashi Honganji Yoshizaki Betsuin temple, Japan

By Rev. Ken Yamada

When visiting Japan last Spring for the 800th Anniversary of Jodo Shinshu Buddhism’s founding and Shinran Shonin’s 850th Birthday, our tour group traveled to an historic site on the Japan Sea coast made famous by Rennyo Shonin.

Considered the “Second Founder of Jodo Shinshu,” Rennyo revitalized the Honganji temple and sangha, attracting legions of followers. In Yoshizaki (present-day Fukui Prefecture), he built a temple atop a hill that quickly became a lively and important religious and social hub of activity.

A large part of Rennyo’s appeal was his focus on women. Not only did they face discrimination in male dominated society, women also faced a kind of spiritual discrimination. Viewed as weak and vulnerable, ancient Buddhist teachings spoke of the near impossibility of their religious salvation. Continue reading “Legend of the Devil Mask”