Buddhists in Japan — aided by an Irishman — established the religion's first Western mission in London, according to research by a team of academics in Ireland and Japan.

The recent discovery overturns the long-held assumption that the first Buddhist mission in the West was set up in California in 1899.

Brian Bocking, one of the team members from University College Cork, said in an interview: "It's a rather remarkable discovery. It transforms the story of how Buddhism first came to the West."