Seeking Śākyamuni: South Asia in the Formation of Modern Japanese Buddhism. By Richard M. Jaffe. University of Chicago Press, 2019. 320 pages. $32.50 (paperback). ISBN 9780226391151.
For readers familiar with the turmoil associated with the transition to modernity for both Japanese Buddhism and Japan as a nation-state, Richard Jaffe’s recent monograph provides a wealth of richly-detailed and carefully-mined information on these densely interwoven historical processes. Jaffe’s book centers explicitly on Japanese Buddhists’ travel to the heartland of Buddhism, South Asia, as well their concerted attention to the texts and teachings of the historical Buddha himself. These foci facilitated sweeping changes beginning in the late nineteenth century in one of the few Asian countries to escape European colonization.