Happy Belated New Year!

Hello Readers! Although the first couple weeks of 2021 have been kind of lousy for us all, I wanted to take a moment to say “happy new year!” to you all. In Japanese, people greet one another the first time they meet after the new year with a special greeting. First, people say to oneContinue reading “Happy Belated New Year!”

Counting Down to Bodhi Day

Bodhi Day, sometimes called Rohatsu in some traditions, is celebrated in the Japanese-Buddhist calendar every year on December 8th in accordance with the tradition that Shakyamuni (a.k.a. Siddhartha Gautama) attained full enlightenment on the morning of the 8th day of the 12th month of the lunar calendar. In Japan, this is known formally as shakaContinue reading “Counting Down to Bodhi Day”

Summer Heat and the Day of the Ox

Summers in Japan are nothing to sneeze at. The sun is hot, but the humidity is stifling. Since the Edo Period (1600-1868), there is a custom in Japanese culture that during the hot summer season, one can get relief from the summer heat and increase stamina by eating a kind of freshwater eel called unagiContinue reading “Summer Heat and the Day of the Ox”

Adventures at Sojiji, the other Soto Zen Temple

Since our trip to Japan is cancelled this year due to the pandemic, I have been posting old images of past temples I visited. Last time I posted about Zojoji temple and Tokyo Tower, this time I wanted to share some of photos of Sōjiji Temple (總持寺, homepage here) which happens to be fairly closeContinue reading “Adventures at Sojiji, the other Soto Zen Temple”

Chanting the Amitabha Sutra

One of the most popular and widely chanted sutras in the Pure Land Buddhist tradition is the Amitabha Sutra (阿弥陀経, amida-kyō in Japanese) which is known by scholars as the Smaller Sukhāvatīvyūha Sūtra. This sutra is a brief overview of Amitabha Buddha, his Pure Land, and why one would want to be reborn there (spoiler:Continue reading “Chanting the Amitabha Sutra”

Scattered Blossoms

96) 花さそふ Hana sasou あらしの庭の Arashi no niwa no 雪ならで Yuki nara de ふりゆくものは Furi yuku mono wa わが身なりけり Wa ga mi narikeri It entices the flowers— the storm—but through the garden’s white, it is not snow, and what it is that’s scattering are, in fact, the years of my life! translation by Professor MostowContinue reading “Scattered Blossoms”

Japanese Imperial Reigns and Calendars

One of the more interesting, and still commonly-used practices, in Japanese culture is the use of imperial reigns in place of years in the Gregorian calendar. This is most often used now when talking about generations or one’s birth year, whereas the Gregorian calendar is often used for other historical discussions or other such situations.Continue reading “Japanese Imperial Reigns and Calendars”

Boss Coffee is Back in Town, Yay

Coffee in Japan is a relatively new phenomenon but it has certainly found its way into the culture. Starbucks in Japan is pretty easy to find in major metropolitan areas, and I can say with certainty that the food is terrific, and the dark-mocha frappacinos are worth it.¹ But coffee in Japan is also commonlyContinue reading “Boss Coffee is Back in Town, Yay”