Throughout the early years in many East Asian countries, there were many people who were looking for answers to this world's, and otherworldly, questions. When Gotama became enlightened, and began preaching the practices of Buddhism, it came at such a time when the Han dynasty was collapsing, citizens were tired of Confucianism and looking for a new ideology that they could put there hearts and souls into. Over the years, Buddhism proved to be much more than just a religion; it became a way of life. But over time, the powerful orthodoxy transformed, and many different Buddhist sects emerged. One of the more popular sects, Ch"an, or Zen, Buddhism, has become one of the most influential religions in China and Japan, and is still flourishing today.
In the year 220 AD, as the Han dynasty was collapsing, Confucianism, then the state ideology, began to lose its popularity. This, along with the demise of the Han order, set up a situation in which the people of China were hungry for new ideas. There were also many dignitaries within the Chinese government that were looking to gain good political footing in order to ensure staying power. These factors all opened up the gate for Buddhism to enter Chinese society and gain popularity with the Chinese culture. .
At first, Buddhism was transmitted to the different East Asian countries via the Silk Road, but as its domination grew, many people began to interpret their own meaning of the Buddhist doctrines that had been translated from Indian to Chinese. "By the fourth century AD a much greater number of sutras were available in both north and south China, and the Chinese were beginning to realize the immensity of Buddhist literature." Buddhism did not reach Japan, however, until October 13th, 538, from the Korean kingdom of Paekche. .
At this point in time, there were two major schools of Buddhism in China. The first form to emerge was known as Hinayana, or Theravada Buddhism.