Buddhism and the Parable of the Two Rivers

Since this week is the Japanese-Buddhist holiday of Ohigan (lit. “other shore” お彼岸), I wanted to share a famous parable in the “Pure Land” Buddhist tradition, written by a 7th century Chinese monk named Shan-dao (善導 613-681).  This is usually called the Parable of the Two Rivers and the White Path.  You can find translationsContinue reading “Buddhism and the Parable of the Two Rivers”

Gone Before You Know It

Now that the miserable long winter here in the Pacific Northwest is becoming a faded memory (not to mention unusually persistent this year), Spring is finally here!  At times like these I love to go back and re-read poems from the famous Japanese anthology, the Hyakunin Isshu. In particular, one of my favorite is thisContinue reading “Gone Before You Know It”

Spring Fever

Warm weather has finally arrived! I wanted to post an old poem from my other blog here to celebrate: 久方の Hisakata no 光のどけき hikari no dokeki 春の日に haru no hi ni しづ心なく shizu gokoro naku 花のちるらむ hana no chiruran Porter’s translation is: THE spring has come, and once again The sun shines in the sky; So gentlyContinue reading “Spring Fever”

In Praise of Takoyaki

Japanese takoyaki (たこ焼き) is a dish you rarely find in overseas restaurants but it is a great comfort food. Explaining what they are to someone who’s never tried them, while making sound appetizing, isn’t easy. Afterall, how often do people eat octopus parts cooked in batter (sometimes with pickled ginger) topped with dried, shaved tuna,Continue reading “In Praise of Takoyaki”

Girls Day is Nigh

My son made this in Japanese preschool yesterday. This is the prince and bride depicted in the Japanese holiday of hinamatsuri (ひな祭り) or Girls Day. Girls Day happens every year on March 3rd. We have the doll display setup already, and my wife is preparing a nice sashimi feast for my daughter. Looking forward toContinue reading “Girls Day is Nigh”

Yakudoshi? More Like Yaku-no-shi!

In Japanese culture, certain years are considered inauspicious based on the year you were born and are called “yakudoshi” (厄年). The logic behind these particular years comes from Chinese homophones (words that sounds alike). According to this helpful book, the years listed can also be homophones for bad things. For example “42”, if you sayContinue reading “Yakudoshi? More Like Yaku-no-shi!”

The Twelve Year Zodiac in Japan

With the Chinese New Year recently concluded, I got to thinking about the traditional 60-year zodiac in Japanese culture. The Japanese calendar was originally based off the Chinese Lunar calendar, though this changed in the late 19th century when Japan moved toward rapid Westernization and industrialization. However, the 12-animal zodiac, or jūnishi (十二支), is stillContinue reading “The Twelve Year Zodiac in Japan”