Visiting Hakuin’s temple

Friday, November 27th, 2009

On 23rd of Nov. my Australian friends and I went to Ryutakuji Temple in Mishima. ( Shizuoka , near Hakone )

Honestly speaking, I was not sure if they would enjoy visiting Japanese temples but I was very happy to see they are very interested in the temple, art work and the monks who are training at the temple. They are interested in the monks’ lives because they are  almost the same generation but they are spending very different lives.

I was also amazed that they asked me very difficult and sharp questions while viewing art work. And I found myself being amused answering and thinking  about their questions. They asked many questions to the monks and I’m sure the monks felt the same as I did.

There were many surprises and discoveries. We all had a great time. The weather was lovely and it was such a wonderful day.



Hi everyone this is Rob. I’m an English teacher in Shizuoka prefecture, Japan.
I was fortunate enough to have been invited to attend the once in a year opening of Ryutaku-ji, a Buddhist temple,  in Mishima.
It was a really great opportunity to see 300 or more year old Japanese scrolls and to speak to Japanese monks about the temple and their experiences as Buddhist monks.
Also, the Autumn leaves were really nice as the backdrop to the temple.
If you ever have the opportunity you should try to visit and experience it for yourself.


I went to a real Buddhist Temple, on Monday the 23rd of November, 2009.  It was a great experience.  I saw beautiful paintings and artwork from past monks from the monastery.  I saw the history of the temple and felt the calmness and tranquility of the temple.  We even got some photos with priest.  It was great.  I learnt about Buddhism, and enjoyed hearing what the monks had to say about their daily lives. 


Hakuin ( Zen part 3 )

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

The author of this scroll is Hakuin, the master of Zen.

Hakuin was born in Numazu( Hara ) in Shizuoka in 1685. ( the Edo era) Hara was one of the stations of the Tokaido Highway. His family ran an inn in the town. As a child he was very weak physically and couldn’t stand until he was three years old. He was very bright and memorized many difficult passages, though. His mother had been religious and often took him to nearby temples. One day a priest of the Nichiren sect told a story about hell while showing scary pictures depicting the afterworld. The priest talked about ” inga ou hou” which means that if you do something bad, it will come back to you and if you do good, it also comes back to you. Hakuin became almost obsessed with hell. He finally decided to be a priest and went to Shoinji Temple. He went through harsh training in many places to be a great priest. He is also said to be the restorer of Rinzai Syu. The Rinzai doctorin was brought to Japan from China by Eisai in the Kamakura period. It spread among the warrior class. However it gradually declined, but in the Edo era Hakuin restored this sect.

        Ryutakuji Temple ( Hakuin founded for priests’ training ) has many of Hakuin’s calligraphy and painting scrolls.

Every year on 23rd of Nov. they are displayed. They need get some fresh air as maintenance so we can take advantage of this chance to visit them.

It is said that every year, 23rd of Nov. tends to be sunny and dry so they set the date for that.  And it is true. The weather was beautiful and enjoyed our visit to the temple. This temple is not for tourists but for priests ‘ special training. That means 23rd of Nov. is a special day. Hakuin became a great and famous priest but he didn’t show any interest in power. He stayed in his hometown and was always concerned to take care of commmoners.Many priests all over Japan came to Hara to see Hakuin. He also invented a special breathing method to cure disease. People say Suruga ( Shizuoka) has two extraordinally things. One is Mt. Fuji , the other is Hakuin.                                                          

Cooking Chrysanthemum

Friday, November 20th, 2009

As I was taking a walk I smelled something really nice.

Chrysanthemums. This flower is a symbol of the Japanese Royal family.

In some countries, it is a symbol of funerals. In any case, it doesn’t have a casual image. But the chrysanthemums I discovered were all friendly and lively.

The smell always makes me happy. Japanese eat some kind of chrysanthemums. Here are some edible ones.

I’m not sure if all chrysanthemums are edible or not. I always buy some at the

supermarket. You can make tempura from whole flowers.

Today I cooked only their petals. I ripped off all the petals and boiled them for

a short time. Then I combined some walnut paste, a little sugar, a little salt,

and vinegar. Then the salad is ready. Here you are.

Autumn Colors

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

It’s a good time for viewing autumn colors. As I took a walk near my house I enjoyed beautiful maple leaves. Daytime is rather hot but early in the morning and after sunset, it gets a little cold here. This weather helps the leaves develope their colors.

Many people enjoy trekking at the foot of Mt. Fuji since there are many interesting places to walk. I recommend they go with nature guides. With nature guides, you’d learn more and enjoy the nature more.




By the way, here is a traditional Japan’s confectionery. Isn’t it beautiful ? It’s mostly made from beans and sugar. This one depicts Autumn colors. It can be tasted before sipping powdered green tea.

Natamame ( sword beans )

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

They are sword beans which I saw at the vegetarian restaurant in Mishima.I heard the beans are originally from somewhere in Southern Asia. They were brought to Japan from China in the Edo era. A person at the restaurant told us that they are very good for our health. I checked about them and discovered tea made from the beans. I tried it and found it very tasty. It smells of beans. It tastes kind of sweet and mild.



This tea works as follows;

1. Aids one’s kidney

 2. Facilitates urination.

 3. Reduces inflammation.

 4. Reduces swelling and eases joint pains.

  5. Lowers high blood pressure.

I don’t have any health problems now but as my age advances, my body gets older If my kidney gets tired, I look older. I want to do my best to stay young. So I’m going to keep drinking it.

Kimono, Japanese traditional outfit

Sunday, November 1st, 2009

I visited a kimono teacher’s house. She teaches how to put on kimono. You may think it’s strange but not many Japanese people can put on kimono by themselves so they take lessons. Basically you can wear whatever you want but kimono has its rules. Depending on the age, occasion and season, we need to choose a suitable kimono to wear.

People think kimono is a luxurious garment. It may be right but kimono can be handed down from gernration to generation, as long as we take good care of them. Mrs. Sudo, the kimono teacher, also helps people to have their portraits taken in kimono.

She showed me some examples.

  They are her kimono students. They chose their favorite kimono and a professional photographer took their portraits. There are some nice site to take photos around her neighborhood. This one was taken at Yonenomiya Sengen Shrine in Fuji city. At that shrine we can enjoy cherry blossoms as early as February. In this photo you can see a daughter and her mother, each of them wearing kimono suitable for their age. Of course as I said before you can choose whatever you want but I can see at any age people can show their own beauty.

This one is also her kimono student. She hs been dreaming to wear this type of kimono with a white parasol. By coordinating parts such as sashes, strings, hair style or parasol, etc, kimono enable us to create numerous possibilities.

If you are interested in trying them on or taking photos, please contact us. They have some kimono for men, too. Just trying it on costs about 5,000 or 6,000 yen. Or you can buy second-hand kimono at her place. They are very reasonable.