Yasuko Akiyama is a Japanese woman living in London. She was haunted and moved by the recent disasters in Japan, and decided to undertake a fundraiser for the people who were hurt and displaced by the tsunami, quake, and nuclear disaster.
She along with several others around the world, including Manitoba's Sensei Ulrich, translated Miyazawa Kenji's beautiful poem "Unbeaten By Rain" into English. She then produced a beautiful poster with a lovely typographic treatment of the poem. She's selling the poster as a fundraiser for £20, with all net proceeds go to Ashinaga, a 40-year-old Tokyo nonprofit that provides "education-focused financial and emotional support to children who have a parent/guardian with a serious disability, or who have lost one or both parents/guardians due to illness, accident, disaster, or suicide."
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Actor, Ken Watanabe has recited the poem as a tribute to the people of Japan. But thats not all. He has also created a web site that hopes to heal Japan and bring a smile back to the people. He calls it Kizuna311. Kizuna means “bonds” or “ties” and 311 is for March 11th, the date of the earthquake and tsunami.
To overcome this painful catastrophe, we must find a way to unite and find our Kizuna among people. We decided to create a video library showing the power and benefits from voluntary work efforts. We wish to deliver the message of hope to the victims and kindle a light in each one's heart.
We understand that each medium has its role. We would like to show a different point of view from what the mass media reports everyday. Our hope is that our message will show the uplifting efforts we Japanese are making to come together and help one another rebuild our lives after the earthquake and tsunami. We believe that this message inspires the power of Kizuna among the victims of these tragedies, and demonstrates our Kizuna to the world.
For more than two terrifying, seemingly endless minutes, the most powerful earthquake ever recorded in Japan shook apart homes and buildings.
Then came a devastating tsunami that slammed into northeastern Japan and killed hundreds of people. The violent wall of water swept away houses, cars and ships. Fires burned out of control. The magnitude of the devastation and flooding is extensive. Now, over 10,000 people are feared dead.
Nuclear explosions and the chance of meltdown burden the earthquake-stricken country.
In Canada, many members of the Manitoba Buddhist Temple still have friends and family that live in Japan. Our sect of Buddhism originated in Japan over 800 years ago. We continue to have a very close relationship with the country where Jodo Shinshu Buddhism began. To be able to help is a privilege. It is now time to show compassion and help the people of Japan.
Speaking at the Sunday service following the earthquake, the Minister of the Manitoba Buddhist Temple, Sensei Fredrich Ulrich told the congregation,
“The best part of ourselves is each other. It’s the compassion we show after a tragic event like this that shows just how close the we and the other really are.”
From PeeVee corporation:
"BUTSUDAN(the Buddhist altar)" has been a major Japanese furnishing goods not only as an altar to enshrine Buddha, but also as superior traditional handicrafts. However today, as the living environment around Japanese families change, there are only a few families have "BUTSUDAN" in their homes. We have worked out to create a compact "BUTSUDAN" that may fit in the modern Japanese families and homes. Now, we have brought to complete "BUTSUDAN" application for iPad. As you know iPad is very thin device, so that it's easy to place "BUTSUDAN" in your home, and you may also use this device as an iPad when you don't use "BUTSUDAN". enshrine picture and name plate "BUTSUDAN" application has some important functions that makes what this is as "BUTSUDAN" Selecting a picture from picture library and inputting name on the name plate, then you can enshrine pictures and name plate in "BUTSUDAN". This application also has other ordinary "BUTSUDAN" functions such as lighting candles and sticks of incense, offering flowers and rice-cakes, sounding a temple block and a bell.
*This App is not a formal buddhist altar.
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His Eminence is the 24th generation descendant of the founder of Jodo Shinshu, Shinran Shonin. The Monshu is the spiritual Leader of the Honpa Hongwanji and the Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Temples of Canada.
Jodo Shinshu Buddhism, a Pureland tradition, was founded nearly 800 years ago in Japan.
On June 20, at an informal discussion with over 200 Buddhist priests in Nagano, Japan, His Holiness the Dalai Lama said Japan with its highly developed scientific knowledge combined with its ancient Buddhist tradition can produce Buddhist scientists.
He said Japanese Buddhist practitioners should engage in dialogues with scientists to explore areas where science and religion can find a common ground i understanding universal values like compassion and kindness.
Meditation is a healthy way to develop a calm mind. You don’t have to use injections or drugs to achieve peace of mind,” he said. Interests in Buddhist science, which has little to do with abstract and esoteric notions of religion like after-life, has grown over the past years as scientific findings increasingly point to the inherent connection between physical and emotional well-being, he said.
In the United States, universities of Stanford, Wisconsin, and Emory have already established programs to study the development of a peaceful life. Tibetan monks in India now study modern science in addition to regular Buddhist curriculum. All western scientists interested in Tibetan Buddhism were either Jews, Christians or non-believers, he said, but Japan with its background in Nalanda tradition of Buddhism that emphasizes logic and investigation in reaching the ultimate reality has the potential contribute a lot in such secular dialogues.
According to Ven. Yukai Shimizu, an official with Zenkoji Temple, this exchange of ideas between His Holiness and Japanese priests on Buddhism which was held at the convention hall of Kokusai Hotel is a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” because not many Japanese priests get such forums to discuss and debate. “It’s a great opportunity for them to learn from His Holiness,” he said.
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"A ZEN LIFE - D.T. Suzuki" is a 77-minute documentary about Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki (1870-1966), credited with single-handedly introducing Zen Buddhism to the West.
D.T. Suzuki was highly successful at getting Westerners to appreciate the Japanese mentality, and Japanese to understand Western logic. The effect he had on Western psychoanalysis, philosophy, religious thinking, and the arts was profound. His numerous writings in English and Japanese serve as an inspiration even today. Dr. Suzuki message is all the more important now, in light of contemporary conflicts stemming from divergent ways of thinking.
Gary Snyder calls Dr. Suzuki "probably the most culturally significant Japanese person in international terms, in all of history."
Along with Gary Snyder, there are exclusive interviews of many people, respected in their own right, who knew D.T. Suzuki in person, including Huston Smith, Mihoko Okamura, Dr. Albert Stunkard, Elsie Mitchell,
Robert Aitken, Donald Richie, Wm. Theodore de Bary, and rare footage of Thomas Merton, John Cage, Erich Fromm, and Suzuki himself.
The DVD contains an additional 10-minutes from a hitherto unknown interview of Daisetz Suzuki by Huston Smith. There is also a printed "Supplementary Text" inserted in the case, with quotes from Dr. Suzuki's talks in English never before published.
"A ZEN LIFE - D.T. Suzuki" can be ordered at:
Looking for quick cup of tea and enlightenment in Tokyo? Why not try a restaurant in the area called “Café de Shinran”. Patrons can enjoy organic food and the temple’s Buddhist atmosphere. By the way, what are those monks drinking?
Tsukiji Hongwanji Temple held an innovative and very extraordinary event called Tokyo Bouz Collection. This event is supposed to introduce Buddhism more casually to today’s people to make them feel that Buddhism is relevant by showing live music which is a mix of sermon and rap, bonzes’ costume display and meditation.
Japanese monks try to promote Buddhism through fashion, rap music
International Herald Tribune
December 15, 2007
In the "Tokyo Bouz (monk) Collection" held at Tsukiji Honganji, nearly 40 monks and nuns from eight major Buddhist sects joined in the event aimed at winning back believers.
Following a rap version of a Buddhist sutra, five monks from each school walked on the runway, then chanted prayers and wrapped up in a grand finale with confetti resembling lotus petals.
"We wanted to show the young people that Buddhism is cool, and temples are not a place just for funerals," said Koji Matsubara, a chief monk at Tsukiji.
More than 1,200 years after it first arrived from mainland Asia, Buddhism in Japan is in crisis, priests say. Almost three-quarters of Japan's population of 120 million are registered as Buddhist, but for many, the only time they enter a temple is to attend a funeral. That has sent many of the country's 75,000 temples into financial trouble.
"Many of us priests share the sense of crisis, and a need to do something to reach out to people," said priest Kosuke Kikkawa, 37, one of the organizers of Saturday's event. "We won't change Buddha's teachings, but perhaps we need a different presentation that can touch the feelings of the people today."
The Tsukiji Honganji offers theological seminars in English for foreign visitors, and has fitted its main hall with a pipe organ for Western-style weddings to attract young couples. Some other temples have also introduced cafes, art galleries and other innovations to reach out to young people who are interested in a different lifestyle.
Japan's aging population has meant more funerals, but the declining population and birth rate means fewer young people to share the bill to keep temples afloat.
Buddhist monks traditionally wear simple black robes. But to appeal to more fashion-conscious youth, the monks wore green and yellow clothes, some with gold embroidery. Others wore elaborate, multilayered robes.
"Their robes were gorgeous," said Sayaka Anma, one of the audience in her 20s, after the monks' show. "I was a bit surprised in the beginning, but it was very moving."
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Hongwanji, the headquarters of Jodo Shinshu in Kyoto, has asked Canadians to assist these temples by contributing to the Tasukei Campaign. Your support will make a tremendous difference and will be wisely spent to rebuild these wooden structures. To help, make a donation to your local temple by October 16, 2007. Tax deductible receipts will be issued.
The writer goes to the Koganji Temple in Nagato, Japan. He speaks to Buddhist monk, Kensai Matsumura to explain the history of whaling and Buddhism in this fishing village.
This tells a story concerning Shinran Shonin (the founder of the sect). "He was in a fishing village in 1207. A fisherman and his wife approached him and told of their worries, saying 'we live on catching fish and eating them and selling them - would we go to hell after we die?' "And monk Shonin said, 'if you thank them and give proper service to them, praying for the resting in peace of those fish, then there will be no problem at all'. The husband and wife listened and cried with relief on hearing this."