Sunday, June 20th, 2010

I’m going to organize zazen tours on 21st and 27th of this month. Most of us are beginners so our sessions will consist of two 20-minute sessions each time. One of the participants has already experienced zazen more than 25 times in the US. In fact Hakuin is very popular overseas although he is not as well-known here in Japan. He was from Numazu ( Shizuoka ), but many local people are not aware of him. I read books about Zen and I learned that zen is rather the study of the self. I think this is the thing we really need. As unexpected incidents can always occur, if we know how to stay calm we might work out our problems. I heard the famous basketball player Michael Jordan learned Zen. He could play really well under tremendous pressure and when he shoots baskets the air around him is unusually calm. Isn’t it cool ?  I’m really happy that many people showed their interest in this tour. After zazen, another attraction will be a vegetarian meal. In zen everything we do in daily lives are training; eating, cooking, taking a bath and cleaning etc. When I am tired of doing household chores or feel like complaining about it, I always try to remember this. Anyway I’m really excited. For those who can’t take part in June’s tours we are planning to have a session on September 26th. The seats are limited so please contact us if you are interested in earlier time.

Two Tearooms

Saturday, June 12th, 2010


MOA Museum in Atami has many wonderful things on display. We can’t take photos of most them but there is an exception for some items. One of them is this the golden tearoom. This is a copy of Hideyoshi Toyotomi’s ( the ruler of Japan from 1590~ 1600) favorite golden tearoom. It is said Hideyoshi loved the tea ceremony. Tea master Senno –Rikyu who developed the art of tea ceremony to a higher level  – was under the patronage of Hideyoshi. Hideyoshi preferred expensive gorgeous things but Rikyu was said to be totally the opposite. This type of tearoom is typical. The small sliding door is called Nijiriguchi. Anyone must make their body small and be humble to enter the tearoom and in the room everyone was supposed to be equal. This is what I was told by a tea ceremony teacher. I forgot most of the things I learnt in tea ceremony class but I still remember this. Hideyoshi’s golden tearoom was designed to be taken apart, carried away piece by piece and then reassembled. He enjoyed tea ceremony even when he was at battle. Probably the moment of tea ceremony healed warriors and provided them with energy and concentration. Rikyu served Hideyoshi as a great tea master but later he made Hideyoshi very angry and Rikyu ended up killing himself by so-called Harakiri. According to a book, Hideyoshi didn’t mean to kill him. And many people made efforts to have Rikyu pardoned but Rikyu refused. To me Rikyu was very revengeful. He had been patient for long time under Hideyoshi and he must have thought “ enough is enough”. Am I wrong ? Please email me, Rikyu-san. One of the tea ceremony schools, Urasenke, is decended from Rikyu’s school and they serve tea for Rikyu on his memorial days.


Sunday, June 6th, 2010

I went to Atami in Shizuoka. From Tokyo station by bullet train, it takes only about one hour.It’s famous for its hot springs.

In Chinese characters ( Kanji ), Atami is written “hot sea”

It is said that a long time ago, a hot spring emerged under the ocean. Since hot water sprung up fish swam away and fishermen were in trouble.

A certain priest prayed and his power moved the hot spring to the land!

Since then Atami has been one of the biggest hot spring resorts.

The Tokugawa Shoguns loved it very much. But the Shogun was too busy to visit Atami ( or perhaps did not travel for security reasons ) so they carried hot spring water all the way to Edo ( Tokyo )! It must have been heavy. Besides, since the water is for Shogun, they were not supposed to put it on the ground to rest. The day we stayed in Atami, the weather was cloudy. The hotel we stayed in is located on the hill overlooking the ocean. They had many guests but they were all quiet. The people working there were all tactful so I enjoyed myself staying there. The hotel doesn’t display many things. I like their style but some people might find it boring. They displayed only a few hanging scrolls and a vase made by ex-prime minister Morihiro Hosokawa (who resigned about 17 years ago) and he is often compared with ex-prime minister Hatoyama these days. I think both of them are from good families but their characters look very different to me. I don’t know them personally though. I remember the weather of 17 years ago was very similar to this year’s. History repeats and so does weather ?

Or does weather affect people’s behavior ?