Zen Buddhism By the 12th century, Zen Buddhism was a dominant form of Buddhism in Japan. As a sect of Buddhism that places great emphasis on intuition outside of conscious thought, Japanese Zen Buddhism has helped to mold Japanese culture. Including things like tea ceremonies, landscape gardening, and martial arts, Zen Buddhism is what most Westerners tend to think of when they think of ancient Japan. Historically, Zen Buddhism has been broken down into several different schools of thought, with two of the most influential sects being the Rinzai and Soto Schools. In Rinzai Buddhism, enlightenment is believed to be attained through an abrupt awakening to enlightenment. In order to attain this rather sudden enlightenment, Rinzai Buddhism is often practiced with loud shouting and sometimes even physical blows to sort of shock one into quick enlightenment. On the contrary, Soto Buddhism emphasizes a gradual movement toward enlightenment. Very unlike Rinzai, it is usually practiced through calmness, sitting, and meditation. In order to help me keep them straight, I usually like to use some alliteration, thinking of Rinzai Buddhism as the 'rapid way' to enlightenment and Soto Buddhism as the 'slow way' to enlightenment.