Publication Date

Fall 11-1-2012

Journal

Japanese Journal of Religious Studies

Volume

39

Issue

2

First Page

333

Last Page

351

Abstract

In the early decades of the twentieth century, as Japanese society became engulfed in war and increasing nationalism, the majority of Buddhist leaders and institutions capitulated to the status quo. One notable exception to this trend, however, was the Shinkō Bukkyō Seinen Dōmei (Youth League for Revitalizing Buddhism), founded on 5 April 1931. Led by Nichiren Buddhist layman Seno’o Girō and made up of young social activists who were critical of capitalism, internationalist in outlook, and committed to a pan-sectarian and humanist form of Buddhism that would work for social justice and world peace, the league’s motto was “carry the Buddha on your backs and go out into the streets and villages.” This article analyzes the views of the Youth League for Revitalizing Buddhism as found in the religious writings of Seno’o Girō to situate the movement in its social and philosophical context, and to raise the question of the prospects of “radical Buddhism” in twenty-first century Japan and elsewhere.