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  • Japanese: 末法 (mappou)

Mappô, literally meaning "the end of the law," was an end-times or apocalyptic notion which possessed some considerable currency in the late Heian period. It was believed that, following a 500-year period of "the true law" (正法, shôbô), and a thousand-year period of "simulated doctrine" (像法, zôbô), the spread of Buddhist teachings, belief in Buddhism, or the teachings themselves would begin to weaken, degrade and decay. Many in the late Heian period believed they had entered this third of the three stages of the Buddhist Law, mappô, at that time, and that it would continue for an indeterminate length of time.

The practice of burying sutras in containers became widespread in northern Kyushu in the 11th-13th centuries, with the intention that these might be later retrieved and used to help revive Buddhism.[1]

The concept is not much-discussed after the early Kamakura period, however.


  • Sources of Japanese Tradition. vol 1. New York: Columbia Press. p192n1.
  1. Richard von Glahn, "The Ningbo-Hakata Merchant-Monk Network And The Reorientation Of East Asian Maritime Trade 1150-1300," talk given at UC Santa Barbara Confucius Institute, 17 May 2018.