This course focuses on study of Buddhist icons in Japan within broader Buddhist visual cultures. We will consider exemplary and unusual images of the Buddha and other deities; examine narrative representation; unpack multivalent meanings and ritual functions; consider the visuality of secret icons, visualization practices, and explore art historical looking. What are we to make, for instance, of legends that tell us that the very first image of the Buddha Śākyamuni (J. /Shakamuni/), supposedly carved during his lifetime, now resides in Japan? How and why have Japanese painters and sculptors represented the Buddha and other deities in particular ways? What benefits accrue to viewers through the act of image making and looking? Why do many sculptures have texts and other items placed inside them?What roles do relics and portraits have in Buddhist visual culture? Why is Japan filled with images if Buddhist teachings implore us to grasp the fundamental emptiness of all visual and material things?