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Born into a working class family, Hakuin Ekaku was attracted to Buddhism at an early age, studying its literature before dedicating himself to Zen practice at the age of twenty-two. During the final decades of the early modern period (1600–1868), Confucian scholars intensified their long-standing criticisms of Buddhism, depicting it as immoral and economically wasteful.

Born in Kanazawa, he grew up with Nishida Kitarō*, Japan’s most famous modern philosopher.

In the meantime, he maintained contacts with neo-Confucian scholars, .

Miura Baien lived in the small village of Tominaga (present-day Oita prefecture) on the island of Kyushu, where he taught and developed his philosophical ideas. Ninomiya Sontoku was born into a dysfunctional family, but through dedicated hard work, a fascination with learning, and a survival-driven devotion to self-help, he was able to attain high office, an impressive following, and a legacy in .

His father, Fujitani Nariakira was an erudite and imaginative scholar who authored several works analyzing Japanese .

Fujitani Mitsue, or Narimoto as he was also known, was born into a prominent family of intellectuals in Kyoto. Hirata Atsutane, one of the most influential religious and political figures of the first half of the nineteenth century, was active in establishing what would later come to be known as restoration Shinto.

The bulk of the supporting material, which comprises nearly a quarter of the volume, is given to original interpretive essays on topics not explicitly covered in other chapters: cultural identity, samurai thought, women philosophers, aesthetics, bioethics. The aristocracy had lost its political power to the newly risen samurai who aspired to capture the cultural . Tradition says he was born of an aristocratic family, orphaned, and at the age of twelve .

The philosophical significance of each tradition is laid out in an extensive overview, and each selection is accompanied by a brief biographical sketch of its author and helpful information on placing the work in its proper context. The Kamakura period (1185–1333) was a time of political upheaval, conflict, and an unusual series of natural disasters. In Japanese religious history, Dōgen (1200–1253) is revered as the founder of the Japanese school of Sōtō Zen Buddhism. Musō Soseki was one of the central figures in the extraordinary first generation of native-born and native-trained Japanese Zen masters who oversaw Zen’s emergence as a widespread spiritual and cultural force in fourteenth-century Japan. The word and the discipline it designated entered Japan in the mid-nineteenth century as part . Born in the Tsuwano domain (presentday Tsuwano town in Shimane Prefecture), he was educated in Zhu Xi philosophy .. Fukuzawa Yukichi, in his own estimation, was the initiator, or at least an inspiration for, many of the reforms that took place during Japan’s process of modernization. Nakae Chōmin (Nakae Tokusuke) was a journalist, an advocate of natural rights, free thinker, and politician. Modern Academic Philosophy in Japan began with disputations about the meaning and scope of the very term philosophy. Nishi Amane is known for his pioneering work in introducing European philosophy and other disciplines into Japan. Because of the important place it is recognized to have in the intellectual history of Japan, the Kyoto School has been extracted from the rest of twentieth-century philosophy for special treatment. A major Japanese advocate of the neo-Confucian philosophy of Wang Yangming, Kumazawa Banzan gravitated from the metaphysical toward more practical, sociopolitical, and economic applications of that intuitive, mind-centered . Although born the son of a rōnin in Aizu-Wakamatsu, Yamaga Sokō became the first major neo-Confucian scholar to mature from the new intellectual milieu crystallizing in Edo, the shōgun’s capital.

Kaibara Ekken, a prominent Japanese neo-Confucian scholar, who has been called the “Aris totle of Japan” because of his study of natural history, was born on the island of Kyushu.

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