This text presents a study of Japanese mandalas, interpreting them as sanctified realms where identification between the human and sacred occurs. The author investigates 8th to 7th century BC paintings from three traditions - esoteric Buddhism, pure land Buddhism and the Kami-worshipping (Shinto) tradition. A theme of this study is that certain paradigmatic Japanese mandalas reflect pre-Buddhist Chinese concepts, including geographical concepts. The author chronicles the intermingling of visual, doctrinal, ritual and literary elements in these mandalas that has come to be seen as characteristic of the Japanese religious tradition as a whole. The study begins with an introduction to the ""Book of Documents"" and ends in present-day Japan, and identifies specific sacred places in Japan with sacred places in India and with Buddhist cosmic diagrams. Explaining why certain fundamental Japanese mandalas look the way they do and how certain visual forms came to embody the sacred, the text shows a complex mixture of Indian Buddhist elements, pre-Buddhist Chinese elements, Chinese Buddhist elements and indigenous Japanese elements.