All posts by Mugo

Kosho-ji, Uji.

Hi there. It is raining to-day and I felt like I needed a rest…however we took off late from the Hostel for Uji. Uji is sort of the green tea capital of Japan, from the train we saw rows of tea bushes and I’m growing used to drinking green tea. The green tea ice cream is growing on me, as it were!

At Kosho-ji Zen Master Dogen wrote some of his major works notably Fukanzazengi, and about half of the Shobogenzo as well as Daishingi and Gakudoyojinshu. I will type some information I was given while at the temple:

“Dogen returned to Japan at the age of 28, and first of all returned to the temple Kennin-ji (we will visit there tomorrow I think), but later moved to live alone in a tiny dwelling. To this place came many disciples and from this humble beginning developed the temple of Kosho-ji. During a period of 11 years of staying at Kosho-ji temple, Dogen strove to expound the principles of Buddhism, not only by direct teaching but also from four important books…..” (which are list above)

Latter in the information is the following:
“The temple has endeavored to follow and expound the Zen Buddhist teachings of Dogen and today this temple continues in this tradition. In the present difficult situation for Japanese Buddhism, this temple endeavors to continue to be true to the essence of Dogen’s interpretation of Zen Buddhism, and to exist as a Buddhist temple rather than as a tourist showplace”.

I was amazed that it was possible to walk into the shrine for Dogen, offer incense and make bows. This temple was very much ‘alive’ with practice and it did indeed feel like a temple rather than, as they put it, a tourist showplace. The setting was amazing, it being up in a wooded valley away from the town, fresh green trees in every direction. There were four monks going about their work, one was mending the paper on the sliding doors that act as walls as well as doors in Japanese buildings . We left them as they were having a tea break in the kitchen which was equipped, from what I could see through the door, in a traditional temple way.

That’s about it for to-day. My one hour of free Internet access is almost up and it is time to get back to the Hostel. Thank you to all of you who write comments, it is good to know you are there traveling along side. Now who is going to be the brave person to add there photograph to their Blogger ID. Adrienne, how about it?

In Kyoto.

Just landed in Kyoto and this computer is in the dining room of the Hostel where I have a room for four nights. Thankfully there is not a que behind me to use the computer so I have taken this opportunity to catch up with email and to check the Blogger. As it is late I’ll not attempt to write in detail but just give you the event that stands out in my mind for each day since last writing.

Raigakuji, Koho Zenji’s temple. Eating dinner informally in the temple kitchen with Misawa Roshi who revealed the year of his birth. Iain and I spent the next ten minutes doing silent mental arithmatic and both coming to the conclusion that he had to have made a mistake. He looked at least 20 years younger. We did a memorial for Koho Zenji at his grave marker both in Japanese and then in English.

Yokoji, the temple where Koho Zenji was ordained and at one time was Abbot, the 512th! For Iain seeing Keizans grave, yes Keizan died here at this temple. For me, gulp, it was celebrating morning service chanted in Japanese. That came about by my saying ‘yes’ to what I thought was an invitation to join the lone priest for morning service, only to find him advancing on me hold a lotus sceptre. A great big long red one and there was no turning back! Iain said afterwards ‘I’ll never forget that’, and nor will I. I can only say ‘I did my best’. We did a memorial for Koho Zenji here too.

Eiheiji, founded by Dogen Zenji and one of the two main training temples in the Soto Zen Sect. Let’s see…having tea with Matsunaga Roshi after evening meditation rounded off a day on trains, five of them. The joy and serenity that eminated from him was awesome. And for Iain? ‘The warmth of the welcome we discovered there’. Morning service, in the presence of 330 trainees was ‘big’ really big and then being led up to offer incense in memory of Dogen Zenji was beyond words.

And then there was the adventure into the mountains to visit Hokoji a temple established by a contemporary of Dogen Zenji. Poor yet happy monks, eleven of them. More on all of this another day.

Attention to Detail.

While transferring trains this morning I had a cup of tea ‘to go’ on a station platform. The tea bag label was stuck down with scotch tape to the side of the cup so it wouldn’t fall into the liquid, the way it invariably does. And, if that wasn’t enough, there was a small sticker over the hole one drinks from so that the heat wouldn’t escape. In Japanese the label carried a reminder that the liquid inside was very hot. It was!

For a Briton this is all good news.

Created on Chino Railway Station in a public access Internet room. That’s approx. 50p an hour or 80c USD

Rev. Okabe

At Fukuji-in we met Okabe Roshi, who had served as Keido Chisan Koho Zenji’s chaplain for many years, including the time when Rev. Master Jiyu was serving as his junior chaplain. Here, left to right, are Prof. Shimizu, Okabe Roshi, myself and Noguchi Roshi. Reverend Okabe is my Dharma uncle and Reverend Noguchi a Dharma cousin It certainly felt like being with family while visiting at this small temple as we were able to meet in an informal way.

This was the last visit on a very full day. First Sojiji in the morning where we met Oyama Roshi a senior lecturer who had visited Shasta Abbey in 1979 and remembered Rev. Master Jiyu, I could write pages on that visit alone. Then there was the memorable Japanese lunch and then the time with these wonderful monks. Noguchi Roshi did much to make arrangements for a stay at a temple while we are traveling this next week and asked if we would come back on May 1st, ‘for more talking’ as he put it. We will be there.

Fukuji-in

In the afternoon we visited Fukuji-in with Professor Shimizu. This is a small temple in the Asakusa area of Tokyo where Keido Chisan Koho Zenji was resident priest during World War 2 – when the original temple was destroyed in 1945 – and which he worked to rebuild.

At Fukuji-in we met the present resident priest – Rev. Noguchi – and together we held a short service at Keido Chisan’s memorial tablet in the cemetery, which was just a short hop across the road. We did a second memorial for Koho Zenji’ mother and parents of Professor Shimizu. Fukuju-in is Professor Shimizu’s family temple.