Shingon is an esoteric school of Buddhism founded in Japan by Kukai (774-835; also called Kobo Daishi) early in the 9th century. It is based on tantric Buddhism that Kukai studied in China and is thought to be the only non-Tibetan school of vajrayana. It remains one of the largest schools of Buddhism in Japan.
"Shingon" means "school of the true word," which refers to the importance of mantras in Shingon practice. Shingon also is known for its use of mandalas and other artistic representations of the dharma. Many of the teachings and rituals of Shingon are esoteric, passed orally from teacher to student and not made public. Shingon's historic "home" is Mount Koya, or Koyasan, a monastery about 50 miles south of Kyoto.