What essential roles did the ubasoku play in the assimilation of the Buddhist religion into the folk culture?
Of the most influential people in early Buddhism the ubasoku were the main driving forces in the integration of rural Japan. These traditional shamanistic, Buddhists had come over from China and Korea. In their own country states they had supported the wrong group of politicians or they were just run out of their homelands for other various reasons. They had brought over the ways of Buddhism and superiour technology to help the native Japanese. The ubasoku were exiles, but with their superior technology they had no problem gaining acceptance in the upper class of Japanese society.
The ubasoku had many unusual magical powers that intrigued both the upper and rural classes. Many of the ubasoku dwelled in the mountains and relied on the mountins to provide them with shelter and hard to come by land. On occasion a powerful member of the upper class would come to need the services of a shaman, and make the journey out to the mountains. The powerful person and their entourage would usually draw the attention of the rural people. This would provide the obasoku with sort of a commercial endorsement. This was probably one of the reasons that the peasants first elected to make the difficult journey into the mountains to observe the powers of the ubasoku. The peasants may have also needed guides on their pilgrimages to pray in the mountains. The style of ubasoku that they would encounter in the mountains would have been the yama-bushi, or holy men who sleep in the mountains. The only way that these men would have been discovered or sought out would have been with the reputation that the their cousins the junrei, known as pilgrims who traveled the country side with the intention of helping remove evil sprits or just helping people on their way to nirvana. Most of the ubasoku had strange mystical powers. Many were hired by upper class people to ward off evil spirits by way of exorcism. Due to the advances made by people of their homelands these people were able to sell themselves as mystics of Buddhism. Many of them had little or no knowledge of how to speak Japanese, so they had to teach threw skits during gatherings after having given the native peoples new technology. This left the native peoples present at the gatherings to spread the word to their family and friends. After word spread around these mountain mystics had developed a good deal. They managed to make a decent living preaching the ways of Buddhism. Many of them married local women and started new in Japan.
In conclusion the ubasoku who had brought irrigation, bridge building, wheelbarrows, architecture and various new ways to produce food such as the three field system, and as a by product of that technology many people in Japan had to observe demonstrations of Buddhism. Many of the people that bought into the ideas of Buddhism did so out of the need to be more like the superior Koreans and Chinese. Still others decided to accept the ideas due to the fact that Shinto was the perfect religion to absorb the ideals of another religion. This worked out rather nicely due to the fact that the ubasoku were rather intelligent people, who were able to convince the simpler rural peoples of Japan. The ubasoku had to be smart enough to escape imminent death in their homeland and to navigate the difficult waters between Korea and Japan. The advances that they possessed did not hurt them either. Many of the ubasoku were intelligent enough to make a career out of simply being a holly person.