Jian Zhen

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Jian Zhen (688-763) of the Tang Dynasty, originally surnamed Chunyu, tried five times to sail from Yangzhou in Jiangsu Province to Japan, at the invitation of Japanese Buddhists. On his sixth attempt, in 754 he finally reached southern Kyushu. The next year, in Nara, he began to preach and spread Buddhist teachings. He was founder of the Ritsu Sect in Japan. Accompanying him to Japan were architects, artists, doctors and pharmacists, who took along a large library and many works of art. The Tang-style Toshodai Temple at Nara still looks much the same as it did when it was built under Jian Zhen’s direction.