The Great King Emma

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

   

I went to see the wooden statue of The Great King Emma.This wooden statue is made in Genroku period in Edo era ( 17th century ). It was made by a man serving Lord Kira. His master Kira is a historical figure and has been depicted as a bad person. As we can see it in the Kabuki play Chusingura This man was always frustrated and angry since his lord was not bad in fact.

He was desperate and did not know how to comfort his dead lord and the dead co-workers. He decided to make this great king Emma a statue. 

He made every effort to earn money to build it. When it was completed, he was in tears but by that time he found himself free from grudges

According to Buddhism, after ones death ones acts while alive are investigated. This is the mirror which reflects what one did while one was alive. We cant hide anything. We go through seven judges every seven days. The Great King Emma is one of the seven judges. Thats why we hold ceremonies such as syonanoka , meaning first seven days, and shijyukunichi , meaning the 49th day, hoping the dead person will receive favorable judgments. Depending on the judgment the persons next life can be determined. If the person were very bad, he or she must keep suffering in hell for a long time. When I was a child my grandmother and great grandmother used to tell me this story and told me not to do wrong things. Even if I could cover up my wrong doing , after death I would have to make up for it. This old wooden Emma statue is taken good care of by the people in that area. Now the new hall for this statue is under construction. These days Buddhist statues are popular and some people steal them. I hope nobody will do this; perhaps fear of judgment will deter them from doing anything like that.

What’s your soul food ?

Sunday, January 24th, 2010

   

 Whats your soul food ? Miso soup is my soul food. This is our familys favorite miso which is made for Eiheiji Temple in Fukui. This miso is made from soybeans, salt and rice koji as a fermentation agent.

 One of my children caught a cold and he didnt feel like eating anything but he had this miso soup this morning. It has minced green onion, mitsuba herb and fried Fu. Fu is made from wheat protein. Baked fu is very common . Raw fu is also available but it is more expensive than baked or fried. You may find many kinds of raw fu in Kyoto. Miso soup is also good when you are suffering from a hangover. In that case I dont put anything in it and have only soup. The content of the miso soup stock plays an important role in making it delicious. I use dried fish but some vegetarians may use kelp or mushroom.

When I was younger and traveling in Europe I was really missing Japanese food. I didnt bring things like umeboshi, miso, shoyu when because I was determined to enjoy local food. That time I happened to find a Portuguese restaurant. To my surprise, the food they served was very familiar to me, even though I was trying it for the first time. They had soy bean soup (I was not sure if it were fermented or not ) and grilled fish. If I had a bowl of rice, it would have made Japanese meal. This is one of the reasons why I love Portuguese dishes. 

Hakuin, Zen

Sunday, January 17th, 2010

 I was always wondering about the meaning of the name of the zazen hall at Chokoji Temple in Numazu. The meaning is ” dead tree hall”or ” Koboku dou”. It doesn’t sound very happy or lucky to me.

One day at the zazen meeting our priest talked about the meaning of it.

The hall was named by one of the ex-head priests of Ryutakuji Temple. In Hakuin’s teaching, something you have acquired is less valuable than what you have already in yourself. Since we have lots of unneccessary things we can’t see things clearly. We do zazen to get rid of what we don’t need.

When trees lose everything and almost look dead, their inate ability is activated. The same goes for people. We have to believe in our inate power since we are all Buddha originally.

Zen often gives me the totally opposite idea from what I had before. To be free from fixed notions, learning zen is effective. I found it really exciting.

Mt. Zao

Monday, January 11th, 2010

   

 I went to Yamagata Zao hot spring. Yamagatas hot spring is different from the spring on the Miyagi side of Zao. The hot spring is very effective. Its really good for your skin, stomach, après-ski bruises and cuts, high blood pressure and nervous tension. Since it contains hydrogen sulfide , if the water gets in your eyes it causes smarting. Its better to take off any metal things such as rings. The water will rust the metal. Or if you soak cloth in the water the cloth will weaken.  I am a bath fanatic and whenever I stay at a hot spring resort I take baths for too long and too often. It is said on the first day, one should take a bath just  once or twice for a short time and on the second day one can take more and stay in longer. I wish I could stay at that resort for a week without doing anything.I also sleep long hours when I go there. I could sleep 10 hours in a row. Am I too lazy ?

 

    

 

 

This resort is located as high as 880 meters above sea level. The hot spring shrine is on the hill. In Shinto we worship nature and are always thankful for its blessings. This is Ashiyu or foot bath. After enjoying skiing your feet are cold and tired but this hot bath might soothe them.

 

 

More about Ginza and Mr. Iehiro Tokugawa

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

In the previous entry I wrote : The Edo Bakufu was established by Ieyasu Tokugawa in 1603. Since then Ginza has been one of the centers of culture.

However, Mr. Tokugawa kindly pointed out a few inaccuracies in the following E-mail to me:.

“I believe Ginza did not become the center of high-end consumer life in Edo/Tokyo until Meiji 5 (1873), when the area was devastated by a fire and an English style brick-built neighborhood was newly constructed. During the Edo period, it was Ueno Hirokoji that was the busiest. And Nihonbashi, of course.” 

 

Thank you for the information Mr. Tokugawa.

 I would be really happy to have opinions or comments on my entries from blog readers. 

 

Ginza

Monday, January 4th, 2010

 On December 27th I went to a seminar organized by Tra 3http://tra3.jp. This company has been organizing many interesting events to introduce Ginzas past and present.  Have you been to Ginza ?  What comes to your mind when you hear the word GinzaIt has a 400-year history. The Edo Bakufu was established by Ieyasu Tokugawa in 1603. Since then Ginza has been one of the centers of culture.  Originally Ginza was the place where coins were minted. At that seminar, the main speaker was Mr. Iehiro Tokugawa who is 19th generation descendent of Shogun Ieyasu Tokugawa. Ive heard his name before since he is a translator and writer and translated a book by George Soros. His own book has been released recently. I was very interested in his speech. He talked about the future of Japan and the world. He seems to know a lot about history, politics and economics. He also talked about The Tokugawas, mentioning some specific shoguns and giving his own comments about the persons. I really enjoyed it. If he talked on something about his ancestors in history class at school, many students would become interested in history. About economics and politics, its not easy for me to know whats really happening in the world only by watching TV or reading newspapers.But listening to someone like Mr.Tokugawa might help me to open my eyes or make decisions. Later, Mr. Sawakami who is said to be a pioneer of a new type of mutual fund in Japan joined with some shop owners in Ginza joined to talk about the future of Japans economy. Many of them lamented the bad economy. Or they talked about the changing trends. They are all distinguished business people but things arent always easy. Personally I like Ginza. Things may be a little expensive but you can get something you feel like cherishing for long time. You might use it or keep it for a long time so eventually it wont be expensive for you. People in Ginza are friendly and helpful. Why dont you visit Ginza.

Happy New Year

Friday, January 1st, 2010

 We welcome the new year god . At the alcove we offer ” kagamimochi” or two layered rice cake. The pine tree is considered to be a lucky tree since it’s evergreen.

   

                                       I often spend New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day with my family  in Fukushima.

It was very cold there this year. Trees and the ground were slightly covered with snow and it was such a quite morning. Nice touch.

We had to leave for Shizuoka in the morning. It took about six or seven hours to get back to Fuji by car.On my way home I saw wonderful Mt. Fuji .

 

 I hope to see many wonderful people this year !