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Early Developments

By the Song dynasty, Chan had become the most dominant Buddhist school in China. Japanese Buddhist monks traveled to China to study, and returned to establish Zen in Japan.

Schisms and Sects

Zen in Japan was divided into two schools, Rinzai and Soto, founded by Eisai and Dogen. Rinzai emphasized koan study, while Soto emphasized the practice of sitting meditation.

Missions and Expansion

Zen became a dominant religious force as it developed ties with the ruling family, and then declined in power when that family was overthrown. In the 17th century, a new school from China, Obaku, was established.

Exploration and Conquest

Zen was affected historically by several short but virulent anti-Buddhist movements. Reactions to 19th-century western incursions also reshaped Zen in East Asia, and eventually led to western versions of the tradition.

Modern Age

There were anti-Buddhist movements in China, Japan, and Vietnam in the 20th century. Zen in Japan would adapt and reinvent itself, and Zen in the West continued to grow and evolve.