Zazen Tour

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

      

 

 We had a zazen tour last Sunday at Chokoji in Numazu. This temple belongs to the Myoshinji school of the Rinzai Sect. All of the participants tried zazen for the first time. Some of them were worried about whether they could sit in the lotus or semi-lotus posture or not. We prepared chairs for the people who might have  difficulties or find it hard to get used to. We use Japanese flat cushions (zabuton) and a pillow-like round cushion which make it easier for us to keep a good posture for zazen.

 

 

     

    

   

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since we are beginners, Reverand Matsushita explained various details. We live in a very stressful society. Many people are suffering mentally and physically. Zazen can be one of the solutions for it. He showed us a Daruma doll. In fact a famous Daruma festival is going on in Fuji City. We have to sit like Daruma or Mt. Fuji. We have to breath slowly and deeply and concentrate on our mind. We hold power at the point called Tanden which is located around 3 centimeters below our bellybuttons. The priest used an air pump for bicycles to show us how to breathe properly. This breathing method can be a key to stay healthy and to be successful.

   

 

After zazen we relaxed with confectionary and powdered green tea. We enjoyed the scroll painting and talked about it. Usually at tea gathering, the scroll and the arranged flower constitute a message from the host to the guests. Todays scroll was Mt. Fuji.

 

 

   

 

   

 

Then we moved to a nearby restaurant named Garden Bells. The owner is a great chef. Today she made a Buddhists meal. In zens teaching, eating is a kind of training. They have certain rules to have meals and we got to know a little. As they chant sutra we serve food by ourselves. Its a kind of busy but fun.

We give a lot of thanks for the food and the people who prepared it and reflect if we are really worthy of it. We consider the meaning of eating and try not to devour the food greedily.

 The food was so delicious that I devoured it . Im sure the food I had was too good for me. I feel like talking about the restaurant to many people but on the other hand Id liketo keep it as a hidden diamond.

 

Well have the same kind of tour on June 21st and 27th. If anyone feellike coming, please contact me.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Confectionary from Kyoto

Friday, February 19th, 2010

A friend of mine who lives in Kyoto makes this confectionary. His company is near Fushimi Inari Shrine. This confectionary is sold through an internet shop. I havent asked him about his business but it seems to be doing really well. Because he always looks busy, smiling and positive. In fact this one called Hanakazura got a prize at a competition. Being cut into two, I can see round healthy Azuki beans. It doesnt taste too sweet and we can see the ingredients they use are really good. Whenever I look at the beans, it reminds me of his smile.

Heres another kind called Hanagasumi no Utage . Soon well have cherry blossoms and this one must be perfect for tea ceremonies in that season. Again I cut it into two, I saw a cut pink petal and subtle smell of cherry blossoms. Some kinds of confectionary must be eaten on the day they are produced or within a few days. On the other hand, yokan and some dry confections can last much longer. And this one can be eaten at its best for up to a month and half.

You can buy this confectionary at http://www.rakuten.ne.jp/gold/miyako-kyoto/

 

 

Plum Blossoms

Monday, February 15th, 2010

 I like plum blossoms because they give off a subtle scent . This plum tree is in front of the main hall of Chokoji temple where I do zazen on Sundays. Since January was too busy for the priest to hold a meeting We started the first meeting in February .We usually have it at Kobokudou which is smaller than the main hall. But on that day the usual place couldnt accommodate the people so we moved in to the main hall. There are many temples but its not always easy to find a temple where you can try zazen. We were all happy and amazed to see that twice as many people took part in that morning’s zazen meeting. The youngest one must be a junior high school boy. We had a New Year party at the end of January and I discovered a wide range of jobs and ages. Zazen may be booming now. People might feel a lot of insecurity. If I know nothing lasts forever or nothing stays the same, Im not very much shocked to see unexpected changes and am able to stay relatively calm.

 

         

                     On the same day at Iwamotoyama Park in Fuji City I saw a very interesting plum tree. I like its branches. Many people go on a picnic or walk their dogs here. Since its a very nice place to take photos of Mt.Fuji and plum blossoms or cherry blossoms, we see photographers with expensive cameras and other gear.

 

 

 

Sumo Champion Asasyoryu

Monday, February 8th, 2010

    

 Asashoryu  announced his retirement. He has already been involved in several scandals and his recent violent behavior toward a man has provoked this consequence. Some are great fans of him and others think of him as a disgusting guy. I think he is a very interesting sumo wrestler so I miss him. Of course he should have behaved better but I dont think we can only blame him because sumo society and outside of sumo society couldnt stop his behavior and they just let him do as he wanted. I always wonder why sumo wrestlers can often go for a drink so late at night, as late as the wee hours of the morning.  Originally sumo was a sacred event to foretell if the following year would bring an abundant harvest or not. It was a kind of ritual art. Then it turned into a martial art. Now look what it has become! In many parts of the world, merely making money is not enough to gain any respect any more. Asashoryu won the Emperors Cup as many as 25 times . The authorities told him to behave with more class as a sumo Grand Champion but they didnt show him or make him understand what class was.  We have some traditional sports and games such as kendo, judo, or shogi.  Being strong is important but being polite and fair is essential. Whenever Asasyoryu won a Championship, Takasago sake brewery in Fujinomiya ( this is my favorite ) received an order and sent a lot of sake to the Takasago stable to which he is attached.

Setsubun

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

 February 3rd is Setsubun this year. It is the day before the first day of spring. We throw beans and shout Out with demons ! In with good luck ! And these days this kind of sushi roll called Ehoumaki is eaten on this day. We have to eat the whole roll as it is, facing in a lucky direction.  We mustnt say a word until we finish the roll. The lucky direction is different every year. This years lucky direction is west south west.  We dont cut the rolls because cutting them means cutting our relationships with others. In 1977 the sea laver union in Osaka came up with this idea to enhance consume of sea laver. Since then this undertaking seems to have been working very well. However I cant afford to eat that huge roll all by myself. Im worried about gaining weight. So I cut the roll in some pieces and ate them while talking with my family. After that I learned why we shouldnt cut them. But Im sure my family will be together and are going to be happy as usual.