A New Edition of Accounts of Those Born in the Pure Land


In Buddhism, ōjō means rebirth in the “Pure Land of Ultimate Bliss,” where Buddha lives. Believers in the Pure Land (Jōdo) school of Buddhism fervently pray to Amitabha to ask for this rebirth. An ōjōden is a collection of the biographies of people who have achieved ōjō. It is thought that attainment of this paradise by an individual is indicated by miracles that occur at the person's death, such as an unutterably sweet smell lingering several days afterwards, beautiful music coming from nowhere, or the appearance of Buddha in the sky. An ōjōden describes these miracles. Ojōden first were created in China during the Tang dynasty (618‒907). Large numbers of these collections of biographies came to be compiled in and after the Sung dynasty (960‒1279). Such collections also were used in Japan to spread belief in the Pure Land. Shinshū jōdō ōjōden (A new edition of accounts of those born in the Pure Land) is one such ōjōden. It was compiled in 1084 during the Sung dynasty and published in 1105. The copy presented here was made only about 20 years later, in 1128‒1130, and is the oldest existing copy of the work. It was copied at a time when belief in the doctrine of the Pure Land was rapidly expanding in Japan, and it is believed that the document played a large role in the propagation of Buddhism in Japan. It is also very valuable as an example of an early document that reflects the acceptance of Chinese culture in Japan.

Subject Date


Title in Original Language

新修浄土往生伝 上, 下

Type of Item

Physical Description

2 volumes ; 26.0 x 14.8 centimeters


  1. “Material Recently Designated as a National Important Cultural Property—Shinshū jōdō ōjōden,” National Diet Library Newsletter, number 192 (December 2013). http://dl.ndl.go.jp/view/download/digidepo_9551742_po_NDL-Newsletter192_921.pdf?contentNo=1&alternativeNo=.

Last updated: May 31, 2016