In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Buddhism in Taiwan

  • Introduction
  • Digital Databases
  • History
  • Popular Practice and Customs in Taiwan Buddhism
  • Modernist Influence
  • Women and Buddhist Feminist Movement

Buddhism Buddhism in Taiwan
Wei-Yi Cheng
  • LAST REVIEWED: 26 May 2022
  • LAST MODIFIED: 26 May 2022
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195393521-0277


It is difficult to speak of a distinctive “Taiwanese” Buddhism since the majority of the population in Taiwan is ethnically Han Chinese and the mainstream form of Buddhism in Taiwan is of the Han Chinese Buddhist tradition. With political democratization in the late 1980s, restriction on religious expression was lifted and various Buddhist groups of both foreign and local origins became active. Consequently different Buddhist traditions such as Theravada Buddhism, Japanese Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism, etc. can now be found in Taiwan. The current Buddhist landscape in Taiwan is relatively diverse. In regard to English translation of names or titles in this article, it is necessary to note that romanization is a contentious issue in Taiwan. While the Pinyin Romanization is popular worldwide, people in Taiwan may use a number of other systems for Romanization. In this bibliography, the English names published by a person or an organization will take precedence; otherwise, the Pinyin Romanization will be used.

General Overview

Most studies on Buddhism in Taiwan are, unsurprisingly, published in the Chinese language. The authors of Jiang 2020 and Kan 2004 are the two most prolific writers on the history of Buddhism in Taiwan. Scholars who publish in both Chinese and English are represented in the works Li 2016, Kuo 2008, Yü 2010, among others; these works tend to focus on the study of Buddhism in contemporary Taiwan. Most studies published in English are about Buddhist organizations in Taiwan such as Laliberté 2004 and Madsen 2007 (cited under General Overview).

  • Jiang, Canteng. Taiwan Fojiaoshi. Taipei: Wu-Nan Book, 2020.

    (History of Taiwan Buddhism.) This book outlines the history of Buddhism in Taiwan, illustrating important events, personalities, and organizations from 1662 to year 2008. It reveals how Buddhism has evolved and adapted along the political changes on the island. In Chinese.

  • Kan, Zhengzong. Zhongdu Taiwan Fojiao: zhanhou Taiwan Fojiao- beichuan fojiao pian. Taipei: Darchen, 2004.

    (Rethinking Taiwan Buddhism: Buddhism in postwar Taiwan—a chapter on northern Buddhism). Kan introduces major players and important Buddhist organizations in Taiwan in the postwar era. The work contextualizes the development and transformation of Taiwan Buddhism since the end of World War II. In Chinese.

  • Kuo, Cheng-tian. Religion and Democracy in Taiwan. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2008.

    On Buddhism, see chapter 2, “Taiwanese Buddhism.”

  • Laliberté, André. The Politics of Buddhist Organizations in Taiwan, 1989–2003: Safeguarding the Faith, Building a Pure Land, Helping the Poor. London and New York: Routledge Curzon, 2004.

    The book offers a detailed survey of the relationship between politics and Buddhist organizations.

  • Li, Yuchen. Zhanhou Taiwan Fojiao yu Nuxing. Taipei: Boyoung Culture, 2016.

    (Buddhist women and postwar Taiwan). Li combines historical and anthropological studies to illustrate the role women have played in Buddhism in Taiwan since the end of World War II. In Chinese.

  • Yü, Chün-Fang. Xiangguang Zhuangyan -wuyin fashi hangchuan. Taipei: Ruoyu Zhenghe Hangxiao, 2010.

    (Xiangguang Zhuangyan—biography of Master Wuyin). Master Wuyin (b. 1940) is one of the most eminent Buddhist nuns in Taiwan. Although Yü is normally renown as a historian, in this book, she adopts ethnographical studies to introduce the life story of Master Wuyin. In Chinese.

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