Zen is the Japanese version of the Chinese Ch'uan or Chán. It has a distinctive style. It is not so much a set of beliefs as a set of practices. Those practices center around the personal efforts of the would-be master to attain "enlightenment".
Zen uses meditation to try to move beyond thought and habits to enlightenment. The word zen is translated from the Chinese word Chán, which means "meditation".
In the 1960s in California, Aldous Huxley and others led students and others into a kind of Zen cult. From there it spread to many parts of the western world. Gurus and zen masters such as D.T. Suzuki became admired. Suzuki spent over fifty years teaching Zen to the world with a series of books in English. Other forms of meditation also flourished, and Buddhism generally became better known in the West.