Meaning of nembutsu in English:


(also nenbutsu, nembutzu)

Pronunciation /nɛmˈbʊtsuː/


  • 1In some forms of Japanese Buddhism: an invocation of Amida (Amitabha) chanted to achieve self-purification and spiritual awakening in this life (satori) and rebirth into Amida's Pure Land after death, to express gratitude to Amida on realization of enlightenment, or to cancel bad karma.

  • 2In extended use: the action, practice, or doctrine of reciting the nembutsu; Pure Land Buddhism.


  • Of or relating to the recitation of the nembutsu; belonging to the school of Pure Land Buddhism.


Late 19th century. From Japanese nembutsu from a Middle Chinese compound from a base meaning ‘to think about, repeat from memory’ + the first syllable of Sanskrit buddha, after Sanskrit buddhānusmṛti, lit. ‘Buddha-contemplation’, ‘Buddha-recitation’.