Sōtō Zen temples in Japan kept necrologies in which the ancestors of outcaste members of their congregations were clearly identified, sometimes by derogatory titles such as “beast” or “less than human.” Indeed, Sōtō priests routinely allowed access to these memorial registers by private investigators, who perform background checks to insure that prospective marriage partners or company executives do not come from outcaste families.

After pledging to stop discriminating against “outcasts” in the late ’70s, the Sōtō Zen school in Japan is still grappling with the challenges of modernity.