Buddhism with its various schools has occupied a leading role in the history of Japanese culture. The EKŌ belongs to the school of Shin-Buddhism, Jōdoshin-shū, which goes back to Shinran (1173-1262). It in turn emerged from Pure Land Buddhism, a direction which formed in the 2nd century A.D. within the Mahāyāna. Shin-Buddhism is not nearly as well-known in the west as Zen-Buddhism, but in Japan it is the school with the largest number of adherents.
The teaching of the historical Bhudda Shakyamuni has the aim of leading humanity, through demanding practices, stepwise away from self-attachment, so that, free from the desires which produce suffering, they can attain to the stillness of Nirvana, and so themselves become a Buddha, "one who is awakened". For Mahāyāna Buddhism, which became widespread in China and Korea, and from there in Japan, an intermediary figure became significant: the Bodhisattva. He is "one who is awakening", that is, about to attain the highest enlightenment, that of a Buddha, but out of compassion and sympathy dedicates himself to salvating other creatures from their suffering. "