However he also attracted fierce opposition from the Buddhist establishment. In 1207 the Emperor Go-Toba issued a decree banning Pure Land practices and exiling the sect’s leaders. The ban was lifted in 1211, but Hounen died soon after returning to Kyoto.
Shinran (1173-1263) was a younger Tendai monk who became Hounen’s follower, but left to form his own school, Joudo Shinshuu (New Pure Land Sect, often called “Shin Buddhism” in English.)
Hounen encouraged his followers to repeat the nembutsu as many times as possible to maximize their chances of reaching the Pure Land. (You sometimes hear anime characters rattling it off very rapidly: “namandabunamandabunamandabunamandabu.”) Shinran said that this was just another form of jiriki. He taught that Amida Buddha, in his great compassion, immediately grants admission to the Pure Land to anyone who sincerely requests it. Repeating the nembutsu merely serves to thank Amida and feel his call to the Pure Land.
Contrary to what some detractors have claimed, most Pure Land Buddhists do not just recite the nembutsu and then feel free to live a life of depravity. Believers are encouraged to meditate, attend regular meetings to study the dharma, and apply it in their daily lives.
Today the Joudo Shuu and Joudo Shinshuu sects account for the vast majority practicing Buddhists in Japan. Shin Buddhism in particular enjoyed a major revival after World War II when it was embraced by many Japanese who were disillusioned by the failed promises of State Shinto.
When an anime dub or subtitle refers to someone “going to Heaven,” more often than not the characters are actually talking about the Pure Land (joudo or gokuraku.) A literal reference to “Heaven” would be ten or tendo.