This introductory chapter provides a background of the revival of women's monasticism in Japan. During the second month of the first year of the Kenchō era (1249), twelve women received the complete nuns' monastic precepts (bikuni gusokukai) of the Four-Part Vinaya from the priest Eison. For several years, these women had been living as lay monastics in the ancient temple Hokkeji (the Lotus Temple) in Japan's southern capital of Nara. Taking 348 vows from Eison, they received conferral as full-pledged members of the Buddhist monastic community, or sangha. This ordination of twelve bikuni marked the first time in at least four hundred years that a group of women took the entire set of nuns' precepts in a manner recognized as legitimate by the male authorities of Buddhist monastic institution in Japan.
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